One of the senior-most army commanders in the country has dropped a bombshell by declaring that Chinese troops are stationed on the line of control (LoC) between India and Pakistan. Lt Gen KT Parnaik, who heads the operationally critical Northern Command, warned that China’s military presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was too close for India’s comfort.
Parnaik said, “We hear many people today who are concerned about the fact that if there were to be hostilities between us and Pakistan what would be the complicity of the Chinese. Not only because they are in the neighbourhood but the fact that they are actually stationed and present on the LoC.” Parnaik was speaking at a seminar in Jammu last week. Top military commanders are usually tight-lipped when it comes to China matters.
Gen Parnaik said China’s links with Pakistan through PoK facilitated quicker deployment of Pakistani forces to complement its communist neighbour’s military operations, outflanking India and jeopardising its security. “It poses military challenges to India and not only along the Sino-Indian border but also along the LoC,” Parnaik said.
The possibility of China and Pakistan joining forces in India’s farthest frontiers, illegally occupied by the two neighbours, would have “direct military implications” for New Delhi, a defence ministry report had warned two years back. The ministry’s annual report for 2008-09 had alerted against the possibility of China “enhancing connectivity” with Pakistan through disputed territories in J&K, including PoK.
Parnaik said, “The Chinese links with Pakistan through PoK lend strength to the China-Pakistan nexus that has been of great security concern for us. It jeopardises our regional and strategic interest in the long run, the Chinese footprints are too close for comfort.” The 1962 India-China war ended with China seizing some 38,000 sq km of Indian Territory in Aksai Chin in the eastern-most fringes of J&K. Pakistan went on to unilaterally and illegally cede another 5,120 km of territory in northern Kashmir to China under a 1963 pact.
(http://www.hindustantimes.com/rssfeed/NewDelhi/General-alert-Chinese-troops-on-Indo-Pak-LoC/Article1-681633.aspx 05/04/11, Hindustan Times)
The judgement delivered by Justice L Narasimha Reddy of the Andhra Pradesh High Court on Wednesday asking the Centre to make public the contents of a portion of Justice Srikrishna Committee report on Telangana statehood gave a first glimpse of its content marked “secret”. Contents of Chapter-VIII were submitted by the five-member Committee as a “secret” note to the Union Home Ministry and have so far been held back. The Home Ministry submitted the Chapter-VIII in a sealed cover to the high court based on its earlier order while hearing the writ petition filed by former MP M Narayan Reddy.
As per the High Court judgement yesterday, the committee has mentioned in its note that “if the state of Telangana is formed, as suggested in the V option, it would become an epicentre for Maoist violence, and communal violence. The committee, in its note, suspected both the religious communities of being desperate and outreaching each other.
Some salient points made by the Committee in its note are: about Muslims, it said, “there is a certain sense of mutual suspicion between two communities who are living in the above mentioned areas (parts of Telangana).” If communal passions become an additional factor in an atmosphere where unemployment, social unrest, etc. exist, it may give rise to birth of militant, Jihadi elements.”
As regards Hindus, it said “Telangana has large number of Muslim pockets and to counter Muslim influence, Hindu fundamentalists may compete with them and try to polarize the Hindu population.”
Fissures on caste lines were also projected. The committee’s note suggests that Maoists will extend their activities to various districts of Telangana, spread Maoist violence and that Maoists are trying to make a comback through Telangana region.
In the event of the demand of a separate Telangana state not being realized, some militant elements which have been in the forefront of the agitations may go underground to revive the Maoist movement in certain pockets of Telangana which, however, could possibly be tackled within a small timeframe with firm political will and strong administrative action, the Committee report says.
The Maoists who are active in Dandakaranya and Andhra Pradesh-Orissa border areas like Khammam, East Godavari, Vizag, etc and certain forest areas of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Warangal may continue to operate along the borders with Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa, it says. Their activities might be more intense in Vizag and Khammam regions but the fall out of violence may mostly be confined to these few districts.
As the state has, by and large, been able to neutralize most of the Jihadi elements in the last two decades and has evolved suitable mechanisms to contain communal and factional resistance, there may not be much change on the position on these two fronts. The status quo may remain. Since the alignment of political forces on communal lines is likely to be less probable, the outbreak of communal violence would be contingent upon extraneous factors, the Committee says.
More than the contents of the Committee’s note, a larger question arises, the Judge observed. “Existence of peace and tranquillity is always a thing which everyone can wish and relish. In a society, where several conflicts of interests and ideologies exist, it is but natural that dissents and dissensions are expressed. Sometimes, they are expressed in the legislative bodies and on other occasions, outside them.
“Intensity thereof would depend upon the genuineness of the cause, on the one hand, and the response of the state or the lack of it, on the other hand. The best course to put an end to such agitations is to engage the persons in meaningful discussion, accede to their demands, if they are genuine, or to explain them as to how their demand is not genuine or not capable of being accepted, even if genuine”, the judge said.
“Use of forces can be justified only when the agitators resort to it first,” Justice Narasimha Reddy noted. This judgement, however, shall not be construed as expressing opinion on any of the alternatives suggested by the Committee or as limiting the power of the government to take a decision on the issue concerned, the judge added.
Referring to Option No. 3 of the committee about merger of Rayalaseema with Telangana, the Judge pointed out that while almost a rosy picture was painted about it in the main report, even while expressing the view that no political party may agree for that course, the Committee in its note presented a divergent view.
“Since BJP has a strong presence, it may try to consolidate in Telangana area and further extend its base. AIMIM (Majlis) may try to expand in Rayalaseema regions, resulting in birth of militant communalism in certain pockets,” the Committee said in its note. The judge commented that “one can easily find the difference of approach of the Committee, as reflected in the report, on the one hand, and the note, on the other hand”.
“After a great deal of study, an in-depth pondering over, and after weighing the factors, such as propriety, this Court opines not as matter of choice, that the objective in preparing a separate note and delivering it to the respondent (Home Ministry) was more an effort to persuade the Union of India to desist from showing any inclination towards Option No. 5, that is formation of Telangana state, said the judge.
“In a way, it can be said that, whatever positive was said in support of option No. 5, was just neutralized through the note even at the cost of several contradictions”, the Judge observed in his verdict.
(http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Telangana–HC-verdict-brings-out—–secret—–portion-of-Srikrishna-report/766634/ 24/03/11, Express India)
Pakistan wants a “just settlement” of the Kashmir issue with India in accordance with UN resolutions and the “aspirations” of the Kashmiri people, President Asif Ali Zardari said today.”Full spectrum dialogue process has been resumed with India. We seek a just settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN resolutions while respecting the aspirations of the people of Kashmir,” Zardari said in his address to a joint sitting of the two houses of parliament.
Zardari, who created history by becoming the first civilian President to address joint sittings of parliament for the fourth consecutive year, dwelt on several foreign policy issues but made only a brief mention of Pakistan’s relations with India. The two countries recently agreed to revive a peace process that was stalled in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group. Zardari said Pakistan’s foreign policy is aimed at advancing the country’s national security and promoting peace and an economic agenda while safeguarding national dignity, sovereignty and independence.”We seek trade, not aid,” he said.
Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan have “undergone a sea change” while ties with Iran too have improved, he said.”With the United States, we remain committed to building a long-term partnership based on mutual respect, mutual interest and sovereign equality,” he said, without making any reference to recent strains in ties with the US caused by the standoff over CIA contractor Raymond Davis. Davis, a former Special Forces soldier, was arrested in Lahore in January after he shot and killed two armed men. He was pardoned and freed by a court after he paid over two million dollars as “blood money” to the families of the dead men. Zardari said Pakistan’s strategic cooperation with China continued to “grow from strength to strength”.
The country has also engaged the European Union at the summit level for the first time, he said.”Long term cooperation with the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain has helped advance our economic agenda,” he added. Pakistan has also upgraded its relations with Japan to a “comprehensive partnership for peace and development,” Zardari said. Expressing sadness at the tragedy unleashed by the recent natural disaster in Japan, he conveyed the sympathy of the people of Pakistan.”The tragedy has also brought into focus environmental issues connected with nuclear energy,” he said.
(http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/pakistan-wants-just-settlement-of-kashmir-issue-zardari/618938.html 22/03/11, IBN Live)
Maoist violence, terror activities of some right-wing groups and reforms in policeforces will be high on agenda at the Chief Ministers conference on internal security to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on February one.
The meeting is likely to see some fireworks as Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan may oppose linking of organisations like VHP and RSS with terror groups.
The situation in Kashmir, strengthening of intelligence-sharing mechanism, coastal security and reforms in police forces will also be discussed at the day-long session.
The chief ministers are expected to present their views on cross-border terrorism, infiltration from across the border, burgeoning Naxal threat and give directions to the security forces dealing with these internal security issues.
Activities of Pakistan-based terror groups and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast, combating of economic offences, especially fake Indian currency notes, will also come up at the meeting.
The conference will review action taken on issues prioritised in the last meeting held in August 2010 which covered wide-ranging areas of capacity building in the state police and police reforms.
Assessing information collection system – both technical and human intelligence — its proper sharing and necessary follow-up action, procurement of arms and ammunition, filling of vacancies besides providing training to security forces are also likely to be discussed.
(http://news.oneindia.in/2011/01/30/govtconvenes-cms-meet-on-internal-security-ontuesday-aid0126.html 30/01/11, One India News)
Baburam Bhattarai, vice-chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), arrived here on Wednesday to engage in political consultations and attend a conference on Nepal-India relations. During the three-day visit, he plans to convey the serious nature of the political crisis in Nepal and ‘clear misunderstandings’ between the Indian establishment and Nepali Maoists.
On Wednesday evening, the Maoist leader is learnt to have met Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Adviser Shiv Shanker Menon, and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu immediately after his arrival, Dr. Bhattarai said: “The 12-point understanding signed between political parties and Maoists in Delhi in 2005 has virtually broken down.” He added, “After our victory in the Constituent Assembly [CA] elections, regressive forces could not accept the ground reality that Maoists are the most popular political force. They engaged in a strategy of encircling and isolating the Maoists.”
Asked if India had played a role in keeping the Maoists out of power, Dr. Bhattarai said: “That is the general perception. Maybe the Indian side had more expectations, and we did not fulfil it. I hope during my visit, I get a chance to interact with important leaders, understand their position and clarify our stand on behalf of my party.”
The Maoist leader said his key message to Indian interlocutors would be to change their mindset. “Nepali people and parties are quite sensitive to India’s genuine interests in the regional context, but we request them to understand that things have changed. If India honours the aspiration of the Nepali people and agrees to restructure the old relations to suit the conditions of the 21st century, both sides will benefit. Peace, stability, democracy and development in Nepal are in India’s interest.”
Dr. Bhattarai refuted allegations that Maoists harboured authoritarian ambitions. “We are committed to the principle of multiparty competitive politics. We have explicitly said so in our draft constitution, and have practised it including while we were in government.” Accusing the other parties of turning their back on the peace agreement, he said: “Maoists have consistently stood for the integration of the Maoist Army and the democratisation of the Nepal Army. It is the other leaders, including the Defence Minister, who have publicly spoken against this.”
Admits to differences
Dr. Bhattarai, who recently registered a note of dissent against chairman Prachanda’s document at a party central committee meeting, admitted that there were ‘political and ideological differences’ within the party. “There are some debates on whether to give primacy to democracy or nationalism. But all of us agree that we will do our utmost to make the peace and democratic process a success. Only if there is counter-revolution, or the task of socio-economic transformation is blocked, people have a right to rebel as the last resort theoretically.” He also ruled out any possibility of a split in the party. “I have been in the movement for 30 years. There is absolutely no question of walking out.”
He warned that the peace process is in a very critical phase, with the scheduled departure of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) on January 15, and the deadline for Constitution writing on May 28. “In this final phase of implementation of the peace process, UNMIN is needed more than ever. If UNMIN leaves, the peace process could well collapse which will benefit no one.”
Appealing to all forces ‘inside and outside’ the country to forge a political consensus on the Constitution, Dr. Bhattarai said: “If the CA is dissolved, all the democratic gains of the past 60 years will be frittered away. Nepal will fall into the spiral of political vacuum, autocracy and counter-revolution and conflict.”
(http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article1035997.ece?homepage=true 06/01/11, The Hindu)
India has said an ‘overreach’ by Pakistan led to the failure of the Foreign Ministry-level talks in Pakistan this July but has expressed confidence that this is not a setback for the peace process as New Delhi remains committed for a resolution of all outstanding issues through dialogue. Speaking at a seminar organised by the Jamia Milia Islamia in the Capital, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said while the talks were thwarted, both sides ‘appear to be committed to ensuring that the spirit of Thimphu is not lost’.
“Notwithstanding the cordial and frank exchanges, our efforts to bridge the trust deficit and pave the way for a serious and comprehensive dialogue were thwarted by a level of overreach by Pakistan that complicated the resumption of a sustained dialogue process,” the Foreign Secretary said, adding that the Pak Foreign Minister has accepted an invitation to visit India.
Underlining that there is an ‘engulfing’ trust deficit between the countries that needs to be bridged, Rao said efforts for peace will continue to fail unless both sides ‘show an unwavering commitment to stay the course’.
At the same time, Rao said India’s stance for a gradual approach to address the trust deficit is not an attempt to avoid tackling difficult issues but the sub-conventional conflict directed by Pakistan for over two decades cannot be ignored.
“India’s advocacy of an incremental, graduated and forward-looking approach that seeks to address the deficit of trust is by no means an attempt to avoid tackling of the substantive differences that trouble relations with Pakistan. While there can be no guarantees for success, such an approach seeks to build first on what is achievable and simultaneously to also address the more intractable issues in a sustained manner,” she said, adding that sub conventional conflict directed against India is as substantive and issue as Jammu and Kashmir and the Siachen glacier.
(http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pakistan-overreach-thwarted-talks-says-rao/699798/ 20/10/10, Indian Express)
Pakistan on Tuesday said it is ready to engage with India to find an “amicable” solution to outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, and asked the US “to do everything in its power” to resolve this dispute. “Pakistan is willing to engage India in a comprehensive dialogue to the two countries by finding amicable solutions to all outstanding issues including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir,”
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said during a lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School. He said that the countries have to “realistically understand” that improved relations between the two nuclear armed powers of South Asia – Pakistan and India – “is the missing key to regional peace.”
“We urge the US, a friend of both India and Pakistan, to do everything in its power to resolve this conflict and remove one more source of Muslim discontent and anger, taking oxygen out of the terrorist’s fire,” he told a gathering of over 700 students and professors at the School here. He said “unfortunately” India and Pakistan have some “outstanding issues” and the “US has to realise” that those issues have to be addressed. “We can’t wish them (outstanding issues) away. They keep haunting us. We have to address them, the sooner we address them, the better it is for the entire region.”
He said while there is large constituency for peace on both sides of the border, there is also a “vociferous minority… jingoistic voices” on both sides. He, however, added that new generations are “taking control” on both sides, who have “not seen the pains of the partition” but realise what the “dividends” of peace would be.
“Pakistan views the prevailing situation in Kashmir with great concern,” he said, adding that “men and women of goodwill” in both India and Pakistan know that “this issue must be addressed once for all if the Kashmir time bomb was to be diffused.” Qureshi said terrorism is a “common enemy” for India and Pakistan and the two countries need to “collectively” fight the menace. He said that if India and Pakistan “turn away” from each other, terrorists and extremists will be the “net beneficiaries.”
He said the two countries can tackle extremism and terrorism if both sides realise that “this is the common enemy and we need a common approach to defeat this menace… If we turn away, if we disengage, they will be the net beneficiaries.”
(http://www.hindustantimes.com/Pak-wants-engagement-with-India-to-find-solution-to-all-issues/Article1-614896.aspx 19/10/10, Hindustan Times)
The has discounted reports that President would endorse India’s permanent membership of in return for resolving the issue, saying there is no link between them.
“I don’t see a link between the two,” said State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley when asked about reports that during his visit, Obama may offer New Delhi a seat on the international high table if it agreed to resolving the long standing dispute with Pakistan.
“I mean, we want to see India and work collectively together to resolve tensions regarding Kashmir,” he told reporters Thursday
“And we understand that India and a number of countries and the United States are also interested in UN reform, including reforms within the Security Council,” Crowley said. “Those are conversations which are ongoing with a wide range of countries.”
Asked if the Security Council seat was going to be a big agenda item for Obama when he goes to India in November, Crowley said: “It is an issue that comes up in our ongoing dialogue with India. I can’t predict whether it will come up in November.”
Meanwhile, Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who was here to lay the groundwork for the Obama visit Thursday met the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Crowley described it as a follow up on Clinton’s meetings with Indian External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna in New York and Defence Minister A. K. Antony here.
“But they will continue a similar agenda, talking about developments in our bilateral relationship and preparations for the President’s upcoming trip to India,” he said. Menon Wednesday met his US counterpart General James Jones. Earlier, he had meetings on the Capitol Hill with several prominent lawmakers including Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Independent senator Joseph Lieberman.
(http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/No-link-between-UNSC-seat-for-India-and-Kashmir-US/articleshow/6662903.cms 01/10/10, The Economic Times)
Though the much-anticipated Indo-Pak Foreign Ministers’ meeting did not materialise here, India on Thursday said it did not perceive it as a setback and was looking forward to the visit of Shah Mahmood Qureshi to New Delhi for talks.
“Certainly not,” External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said when asked whether the inability of the two Foreign Ministers to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session here had been a setback. “I have invited him (Qureshi) to come to Delhi after my Islamabad visit and I am looking forward to receiving him in New Delhi so the talks are going to continue,” he said.
Both sides have refrained from blaming each other, but Qureshi indicated that India changed its mind while Krishna said Pakistan was not prepared to have talks. “Well it takes two hands for a clap… my Foreign Secretary (Nirupama Rao) was ready… I called in the Joint Secretary who deals with Pakistan hoping that there would be talks with the Foreign Minister of Pakistan,” Krishna said.
“He came here without his Foreign Secretary and well talks didn’t happen,” he said. “So the question of preparedness will have to be verified isn’t it?”
Krishna and Qureshi were both here to attend the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly and a bilateral meeting was widely anticipated. The meeting, however, did not take place, apparently because India was put off by Qureshi raising the Kashmir issue at several fora there, including the United Nations.
Krishna, however, denied that the spat over Kashmir was the reason for the talks not panning out this week. “No not at all,” he said when asked whether Kashmir had thrown a spanner in the work. “No we are not afraid of Kashmir… he raised it at the United Nations… well India responded to that,” he added.
(http://www.indianexpress.com/news/indopak-fms-failure-to-meet-in-ny-not-a-setback-india/690449/0 30/09/10, Indian Express)
Forget those tennis volleys; the verbal salvoes have returned. India and Pakistan have moved back to their 20th century positions on Kashmir, virtually erasing a decade of incremental progress that had brought the contentious issue off the boil and closer to resolution.
India’s external affairs minister S M Krishna on Thursday asked Pakistan to “vacate” its “illegal occupation of certain parts of Jammu and Kashmir” before advising New Delhi “how to go about doing things in Kashmir,” after Islamabad sought US intervention on the issue and questioned the state’s accession to India.
The sharp escalation in tone and rhetoric came even as foreign ministers of the two countries attended events and held meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York amid unprecedented crises which have shaken both countries — the biblical floods, terrorism, and insurgencies across Pakistan, and the violence in the Kashmir Valley in India.
Apparently emboldened by the renewed civil unrest in the Valley, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Wednesday sought international intervention to resolve the issue, invoking specifically the US role in the Middle East as a precedent.
“We call upon the US particularly, which is pressing so responsibly for peace in the Middle East, to also invest its political capital in trying to help seek an accommodation for Kashmir,” Qureshi said at a think tank meeting in New York, before galvanizing the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to issue a 12-point declaration seeking, among other things, self-determination for Kashmiris.
In Islamabad, a Pakistani foreign office spokesman upped the ante by asking New Delhi to stop treating Kashmir as an integral part of India and seeking a solution within the ambit of Indian Constitution. The escalation, coming at a time when Pakistan’s civilian dispensation is at its weakest and the country’s military is expanding its influence (and readying for a return to power, according to some reports), not only torpedoed any meaningful exchange between the two sides in New York, but also provoked the usually Krishna to strike back.
“As far as Pakistan is concerned, they are in illegal occupation of certain parts of J&K. I think that it is desirable that they vacate that first and then start advising India about how to go about doing things in Kashmir,” Krishna told a television news channel.
His choice of words — referring to Pakistan-held Kashmir (PoK) by its undivided J&K appellation — suggested that New Delhi was ready to return publicly to its official position of claiming all of the undivided, pre-independence J&K state if Islamabad chose to go on the offensive.
Although neither country has officially resiled from their stated positions, more recent solutions proposed have centered on a status quo with soft borders and minor adjustments along the current borders. Krishna also sought to portray the civil unrest in the Valley as an example of domestic strife rather than a separatist insurgency as Pakistan is seeking to depict to the international community.
“The government of India is fully conscious about its responsibilities. There are institutional mechanisms and individual mechanisms, which will be put in place so that the genuine grievances of the people of Kashmir will be addressed. It happens in other parts of the country also. Whenever such strife is there we do the same mechanism so we will follow that,” he said.
Islamabad’s decision to escalate the Kashmir issue and bring it centerstage comes at a time the country is squarely in the cross-hairs of the international community, with President Obama saying the cancer of terrorism is squarely in Pakistan and has to be contained there. By pushing its Kashmir agenda, Pakistan is returning to its “root cause of terrorism” theory that had been discredited over the past decade.
The US itself is in no mood to intervene, its official position being it will mediate if both sides so desire (as in the case of Middle East). That is unlikely to change ahead of President Obama’s visit to India in November, ahead of which several key Indian cabinet officials, including defense minister A K Antony, finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, and national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, will arrive in Washington over the next fortnight.
Even otherwise, New Delhi position is that it will brook no intervention or mediation’ it believes existing bilateral agreements and mechanisms are sufficient to address the issue. But for now, even that is in disarray after the latest verbal escalation.
(http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-Pak-back-to-square-one-on-JK/articleshow/6616960.cms 24/09/10, The Times of India)