<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Facing a tough electoral battle in Punjab next year, Congress has decided not to let sitting MLAs in general seats change their assembly segments and strictly apply the “one family, one ticket” formula by not allowing two people from a family to contest. “These two rules are non-negotiable. We have decided that all sitting MLAs in general seats must defend their own segments. They will not get to replace their seats. Replacements will be allowed only in case of 34 reserved seats. Also, the decision to allot one ticket per family is final. It will not be bent,” Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh said in an interview.He said the remaining party tickets for Punjab are likely to be finalised by early next week when the party’s Central Election Committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi would meet. The former Punjab Chief Minister said allowing sitting MLAs to shift to other constituencies would send “wrong signals” to the party workers. “Everyone must go into this battle thinking they are winning,” Amarinder said at a time when many sitting MLAs of Congress, including some senior leaders, want to shift to other constituencies.Among those are six-time MLA from Sanaur Lal Singh, who wants to shift to Samana, but is unlikely to be obliged. Another MLA demanding a change is Indian Youth Congress President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who is hoping to shift to Muktsar though he represents Gidderbaha in the Punjab assembly. “No changes will be allowed for any general candidates,” Amarinder categorically said.Singh also said the first list of 61 candidates announced a few days back reflected the sentiment that the MLAs will have to defend their turfs when it comes to general seats. Former Punjab CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who was seeking to contest from Sunam has been fielded from Lehra, which she currently represents in the assembly. Similarly, the “one family, one ticket” rule will apply, said Amarinder.”The CEC is likely to meet on Tuesday,” he said, as 56 seats are pending declaration. Punjab assembly has 117 seats. On “one family, one ticket” rule, Amarinder referred to his own family in which his wife and Patiala MLA Preneet Kaur had stepped down in his favour. Similarly, sitting MLA from Qadian Charanjit Kaur Bajwa has stepped down in favour of her brother-in-law Fateh Jung Bajwa. Guriqbal Kaur Babli, the Nawanshahr MLA has vacated her seat for her son Angad Saini whose name has been announced in the first list.Also, former Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer Amar Singh, who was principal secretary to AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh when he was the state’s chief minister, has been fielded this time from Raikot reserved seat instead of his brother and sitting MLA GS Boparai. Congress is seeking to wrest power from the ruling Akali- BJP combine after two successive defeats. The state appears set for a tough three-cornered fight with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party seeking to queer the pitch for both Congress and Akali-BJP alliance.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress released its first list of 61 candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls in Punjab on Thursday, fielding state unit chief Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi and Sunil Jakhar. The party has retained 31 sitting MLAs, while dropping only three including Preneet Kaur, who made way for her husband Amarinder from the Patiala Urban Assembly seat.The Congress has chosen seven new faces backed by “strong credibility and winnability criteria”. The list includes five youths, six women, eight former MLAs and one former MP. The names were cleared earlier by the Central Election Committee headed by Congress President Sonia Gandhi.Amarinder said since there were too many aspirants, those who could not make it to the final list for Assembly polls will be accommodated once the party forms its government. He appealed to all Congress workers to come together to campaign for the party’s victory in Punjab.He said winnability is key criteria for selection and chose to go with winnable candidates across various cross-sections, striking a balance between youth, new faces and experience while giving adequate representation to women. Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal, who had joined the Congress a few months ago, will contest from the Bathinda Urban Assembly seat, while former Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla will contest from the Sangrur Assembly seat.Party’s Punjab unit Vice President Sunil Jakhar will contest from Abohar, from where he is the sitting MLA, while former deputy chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal will contest from her Lehra Assembly constituency and CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi from Chamkaur Sahib (SC), from where he is the sitting MLA. Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi will fight on the Congress ticket from Guru Har Sahai, while former minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa has been nominated from the Fategarh Churian seat.The ticket for the high-profile Majithia constituency has gone to Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli Majthia, while Rana Gurjit Singh will contest from Kapurthala. Former IAS officer and former Moga Deputy Commissioner Kuldeep Singh Vaid, has bagged the party ticket from Gill reserved constituency.Three sitting MLAs have been changed under “one family, one candidate rule”. While Rajya Sabha MP Pratap Singh Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa has been replaced with his brother Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa in the Qadian Assembly seat, sitting Nawan Shahar MLA Gur Iqbal Kaur Babli has given way to her son Angad Saini.Twenty-five-year-old Angad Saini is the youngest nominee in the Congress list.
The dastardly terror-attack on the Nagrota army camp in Jammu and Kashmir took place on the same day that Pakistan got a new Chief of Army Staff in General Qamar Javed Bajwa. No wonder then that India’s former home secretary and now member of Parliament RK Singh said: “We need to take note of the fact that this is the (Pakistan) new army chief sending a message. His policy will be the same as followed by the predecessor.”
Whether Tuesday morning’s attack was Bajwa’s “opening stroke” or the “parting shot” of his predecessor in General Raheel Sharif is not exactly clear. As the attack, masterminded by the Pakistani Army and implemented by its ‘non-state’ agents, took place when Sharif was still in charge – he handed over the command to Bajwa on Tuesday afternoon.
Worse still, in his farewell speech, Sharif had virtually threatened India: “I want to warn India that considering Pakistan’s policy of patience and restraint as its weakness will be dangerous for India.” In contrast, in his interactions with the press soon after assuming office, Bajwa said: “Everything will be all right on the Line of Control (LoC) soon.”
What did the new army chief mean when he said “all right”? This question assumes significance in context of the prevailing situation at the LoC, that is marked by high tensions between India and Pakistan, manifested in repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing, terrorists attacks in Uri and now Nagrota, unrest in Kashmir and India’s surgical strike in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Does this mean that peace will be restored? Or does it point to an escalation of the war-like situation that Sharif believes will be such that “India would not be able to forget it for generations to come and will be teaching its children about Pakistan’s surgical strike.”
It may be noted here that Sharif was quite hawkish towards India, the common perception being that his hostility stemmed from the 1971 war that Pakistan lost, in which two of his family members had died. On the other hand, Bajwa has a reputation of being a pragmatist. Though he has a rich experience of serving as Commander FCNA (Force Command Northern Areas) of Gilgit-Baltistan and as General Officer Commanding of 10 Corps (the Rawalpindi-based Pakistani Corps responsible for operations along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir), his tenure was a period of relative quiet following the 2003 ceasefire accord between India and Pakistan.
As it is, Bajwa was the proverbial dark horse for the post of army chief. And if Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chose him for the most powerful office in Pakistan, superseding two officers in the process, it was mainly because he prefers to keep a low profile and is not known for his hawkish views on what Pakistan’s politics and foreign policy should be.
The choice of Bajwa, therefore, is based on political considerations; though one cannot doubt his professionalism and experience. Nawaz expects his new army chief to be less-interfering in areas that any elected prime minister would consider as his exclusive domain. He does not want any interference while determining and implementing the core policies for governing Pakistan and promoting its cause and image in rest of the world. In other words, Nawaz hopes that Bajwa will go along with him in restoring the delicate civil-military relationship in Pakistan.
It may be noted here that it was Nawaz who, as prime minister back in 1999, had chosen General Pervez Musharraf as the army chief. And it so happened that it was Musharraf who eventually toppled Nawaz in a military coup. It was Nawaz again in 2013 who chose General Sharif (no relative of his) as the army chief.
It is true that Sharif did not turn out to be a ‘Musharraf’ and peacefully handed over the command, but the fact remains that a hyperactive Sharif did gravely undermine the prime minister’s position. He literally took over the responsibility of internal law and order by establishing numerous military courts to deal with those indulging in acts of terror; brought television and other forums of media under control; and dealt directly with policies concerning India and Afghanistan. In effect, Pakistan was ruled by Sharif from Rawalpindi, and not by Nawaz from Islamabad.
It is also worth-noting that Sharif was a ‘popular’ army chief, in the sense that Pakistani people at large supported his policies in fighting terrorism emanating from the so-called Pakistani Taliban. Unlike politicians like Nawaz and Imran Khan, who talked of “good Taliban, bad Taliban” and favoured “negotiations” with the religious extremists and coexistence with their hatred against non-Sunnis, Sharif decided to take them on.
After all, Pakistan has also been a victim of religious fanaticism, having lost as many as 50,000 people since 2001, including 16,000 military personnel, at the hands of Pakistani extremists. Sharif wanted Pakistan to come out of this partially “self-created bloodbath of terrorism.”
In a way, Sharif was pursuing, though more vigorously, the thesis of his predecessor General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani that, “the war against extremism and terrorism is not only the army’s war, but that of the whole nation. We as a nation must stand united against this threat. The army’s success is dependent on the will and support of the people.”
In fact, it was under Kayani that the Pakistani Army had come out with a new doctrine that, for the first time, talked of Pakistan facing a “multifaceted threat” and not just the threat “from India”. Sharif took this doctrine further by forcing the civilian rulers to agree upon a “National Action Plan” to defeat terrorism, under which 20,000 registered and 40,000 unregistered madrasas, or religious schools (where three million children are enrolled), were regulated to impart education on ‘moderate Islam’.
In his fight against fundamentalist extremists in Pakistan’s frontier areas (North Waziristan and Khyber tribal regions bordering Afghanistan), Sharif also started curtailing the activities of extremist groups (including the Al Qaeda) coming from Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, China, Russia, Chechnya, and many Arab states. These groups, according to experts, have turned between one-quarter to one-third of Pakistan into “no-go” areas.
The only dichotomy in Sharif’s approach was that he did not pursue this with regard to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and other Punjab-based Sunni extremist groups because they were targeting India, including Kashmir.
In fact, he allowed the ISI to train and finance them and used these terrorists groups as a potent weapons against India. Here, he differed with Nawaz who wanted to respond constructively to the peace gestures coming from the Narendra Modi government. But ‘hate India’ is such a unifying slogan in Pakistan that Sharif vetoing Nawaz’s India-policy did not dent the former’s popularity.
The other reason for Sharif’s growing popularity was the increasing incompetence and corruption of the elected government, whose politicians depended on patronage, bribes, and a backward feudal culture for their survival. Of course, this trend did not start with Nawaz, but he is now its signing symbol, particularly after the release of the so-called Panama papers that “established” money-laundering by his family in foreign banks.
In fact, the situation is such that with each passing year, Pakistani people are becoming more comfortable with the Pakistani Army running even the country’s economy. The army now runs the banks, industries, vast housing projects, and the largest transport and construction company in the country. The army’s economic muscle is already so strong that it does not allow Parliament to make a full disclosure of its annual military budget.
As Ayesha Siddiqa wrote in her book, Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy: “‘Milbus’ (military capital used for the personal benefit of military fraternity) operates in three areas: Agriculture, manufacturing and services and at three levels: Through direct involvement of the military, obtaining unfair economic advantage for its subsidiaries and obtaining direct favours for individual members of the military fraternity.”
Despite constraints to evaluation posed by the lack of transparency, which the author laments, she puts through her main argument that the commercial ventures of the military’s subsidiaries use the influence of the military to obtain business contracts and inputs, financial as well industrial, at subsidised rates. This puts these ventures ahead of their competitors in the private sector. Obviously, this profitable connection with the economy is the reason why the Pakistani Army is unwilling to yield to civilian power.
All told, Pakistan has already become “an army with a country” rather than “a country with an army”. It is well established that there are three lakshman rekhas (limiting lines) that the army has drawn for the civilian prime ministers and presidents: One, they would not interfere in any manner in the organisational and administrative work of the armed forces. Two, they would abide by the advice of the army chief on matters of foreign and defence policies. Three, they would not interfere with the army-controlled nuclear weaponisation and missile programmes.
Will Bajwa forgo this legacy and make himself a pliant army chief of the prime minister? It is highly unlikely. There is a remote possibility of any significant shift in the existing civil-military imbalance in Pakistan. And this means that there will be no radical change in the heightened tensions with India. RK Singh is right in saying that Bajwa’s policy will be the “same as followed by his predecessor.”
First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 17:34 IST
Rawalpindi: General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif and promised to improve the tense situation at the Line of Control soon.
Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of a four-star general.
Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension. There was speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead the war on terror. The post of the army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.
After taking charge as the COAS from Raheel, Bajwa spoke to reporters.
“The situation at the LoC will improve soon,” he was quoted as saying by Geo News.
Bajwa sought support from the media to play a role in the keeping the morale of troops high. He said he had a heavy responsibility on his shoulders. Bajwa took over the command of the army in garrison city of Rawalpindi, where outgoing military chief Raheel handed over the symbolic baton at an impressive ceremony.
Several high level military and civilian officials attended the ceremony during which national songs and war anthems were played by traditional military bands.
His appointment coincides with the rising tensions and heavy exchange of fire at the LoC. Analysts believe Bajwa’s announcement that the LoC situation would improve might be a reconciliatory gesture towards India.
However, General Raheel was not so conciliatory in his final speech as the army chief, as he cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in Kashmir. Raheel, 60, said in recent months “India’s increasing terrorism and aggressive stance” in Kashmir have “endangered” the region. “India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” he said.
“This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said. He also stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress.
“It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” General Raheel said.
“The army will remain alert to threats, whether external or internal,” Raheel said.
For regional peace, he said, issues should be resolved politically. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a major factor in ensuring regional peace, he said.
“The departure of the first cargo from Gwadar port has shown this journey cannot be halted now,” he warned. “The time is here now that the enemies of CPEC stop working against it and become a part of it.”
Bajwa was eariler serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army’s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).
As a major general, Bajwa led the Force Command Northern Areas. He also served in the 10 Corps as lieutenant colonel. He also served with a UN mission in Congo as a brigade commander alongside former Indian army chief Gen Bikram Singh, who was also there as a division commander.
The new army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and northern areas.
According to reports, General Bajwa’s “pro-democracy credentials” and his low-profile influenced the Prime Minister to appoint him to the powerful post of army chief superseding four top generals. The military has been in charge of the country for more than half of Pakistan’s nearly 70-year history since independence from Britain.
First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 08:55 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif, who warned India against adopting an “aggressive stance” in Kashmir.Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of four-star general. Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension. There were speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead war on terror. The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.In his final speech as the army chief, 60-year-old Gen Raheel cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in the region. He said that in recent months “India’s increasing terrorism and aggressive stance” in Kashmir have “endangered” the region. “India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” he said. “This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said.He also stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress. “It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” Gen Raheel said. “The army will remain alert to threats, whether external or internal,” he said.For regional peace, he said, issues should be resolved politically. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a major factor in ensuring regional peace, he said. “The departure of the first cargo from Gwadar port has shown this journey cannot be halted now,” he warned. “The time is here now that the enemies of CPEC stop working against it and become a part of it.” Bajwa was eariler serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army`s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).(
Abdul Basit, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India at New Delhi showed a glimpse of classic chutzpah by announcing that the onus for any bilateral engagement on sidelines of the forthcoming Heart of Asia conference at Amritsar is on India. Well-timed, his statement comes right before the arrival of Pakistan’s de facto foreign minister Sartaj Aziz on 4 December to participate in the event.
Basit’s logic behind the ‘onus being on India’ is because India is the host nation for the Heart of Asia conference. But Basit would be at pains to explain which international regulation or norm binds the host nation to take the initiative to propose bilateral dialogue. Why isn’t Pakistan asking for such dialogue at Amritsar? The media describing Basit’s announcement as having put the ‘ball in India’s court for any bilateral engagement’ is certainly way off the mark.
The fact remains that nether Aziz nor Basit, or for that matter Pakistan, has the guts to ask India for opening up the stalled India-Pakistan dialogue not only because of Pakistan’s heightening proxy war on India, but also through demonstrative future plans with respect to India. That is why Aziz is slipping into Amritsar directly for the Heart of Asia conference and slinking back immediately after the event. There is no way he could have requested for a bilateral dialogue and planned to make it more meaningful with a stopover at New Delhi. Basit’s statement hopes to provide ‘Dutch courage’ to Aziz as he represents a country notorious for being the epicentre of terrorism.
There is clear evidence of Pakistan’s complicity in the beheading of an Indian Army soldier in the Machil sector of Jammu and Kashmir recently; the handiwork of a Pakistan Army-backed BAT (border action team) equipped with grenades sporting Pakistani markings as well as night sights and radio sets with US markings, as the search of the area found. It is a different issue that after the mutilation of our soldier’s body, the heavy retribution extracted by the Indian Army through a fire assault in PoK forced the DGMO of Pakistan to call up his Indian counterpart for ‘unscheduled talks’, after which there has been lull in ceasefire violations by both countries after over a month of heavy exchanges.
The ceasefire along the LoC has been violated by Pakistan hundreds of times since it was agreed to by both nations in 2003. Its sanctity was anyway irrelevant with Pakistan not only breaching it time and again through artillery and mortar fire but also providing cross-border covering fire for every infiltration — which happens on an average at least once a week. Of late, Pakistan has also been violating the International Border in addition to the LoC, plus deliberately targeting civilian villages. What the Pakistani Army did not expect was the surgical strikes by Indian Special Forces into PoK, following the Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack at the army base at Uri, and although Pakistan (Nawaz Sharif and Raheel Sharif included) maintained that the said surgical strikes had not taken place, a telephonic intercept of the superintendent of police of Mirpur in PoK confirmed the casualties that the surgical strikes had inflicted. More recently, Pakistan suffered heavy casualties because of Indian fire assaults in response to the Pakistan army’s BAT action that saw an Indian soldier mutilated.
The ceasefire violations by Pakistan may have somewhat reduced (temporary break?) but the terrorist attacks in Jammu and Kashmir continue to occur on a daily basis — the directions for which come from the Pakistan military and its proxies including the covert arm of the Inter-Services Intelligence. At the time of writing, encounters between terrorists and security forces are taking place in the Nagrota and Samba areas of Jammu and Kashmir. So, the Pakistani military is in no mood to change its policy of inflicting ‘thousand cuts’ on India, irrespective of Pakistan’s army chief having been changed. By avoiding ceasefire violations but increasing the terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan is avoiding casualties on its side of the LoC, yet stepping up attacks on Indian security forces. This, despite Lieutenant-General DS Hooda — Northern Army commander — categorically stating that de-escalation depends on Pakistan checking terrorism against India, thereby implying we will continue to hit back across the LoC when deemed necessary.
Basit has said that Pakistan wants dialogue along the lines of the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD) that the two countries announced when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad in December 2015; dialogue on all outstanding issues, including terrorism and Jammu and Kashmir. But Basit fails to acknowledge that much water has flowed under the bridge since then, because of which India had conveyed to Pakistan that any bilateral dialogue would have to be preceded by Pakistan stopping terrorism against India. Should Basit, Aziz and co use a wee bit of intelligence, what India has said does not merely mean a temporary halt in terror attacks but it also means that Islamabad must take effective action against the anti-India terrorist groups in PoK and Pakistan, which in effect are patronized by the Pakistani military.
A cross-section in India may feel that Basit’s above statements are a change of heart or perhaps he is getting ‘de-radicalised’. Nothing could actually be farther from the truth. Meeting and briefing Hurriyat separatists along with his ISI-trained diplomats holed up in the Pakistani High Commission, Basit has been playing a major role in supporting and upping terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. If he is acting the peace parody before the arrival of Aziz in Amritsar, he is merely playing up Pakistan’s policy of TPAW (Talk Peace, Act War). In doing so, he is also playing up to Pakistan’s military constituency, particularly to Qamar Javed Bajwa, the new Pakistani army chief, lest he be ordered to get back home. Without doubt, Basit will be hoping to replace Aziz one day as the de facto foreign minister of Pakistan one day, if not the foreign minister proper.
There is plenty of speculation about what would be Pakistan’s India policy with Bajwa now holding the country’s reins from the background. The indications are already on ground through the setting up of a high-level committee in Pakistan to formulate ‘a doable and sustainable’ policy to highlight the Kashmir issue globally. This committee was obviously formed not only in consultation with the Pakistani military but perhaps on behest of the latter. More significantly, it will be ‘controlled’ and directed by the military with members as senior officials from ministries of defence, interior and information, the military operations directorate, ISI and Intelligence Bureau, but none from the foreign ministry. With the Kashmir obsession of the Pakistani military, it is unlikely that Raheel Sharif did not discuss formation of such a committee with the military hierarchy, which included Bajwa. So, it may be naïve to think about any change of heart with Bajwa assuming command.
Dawn described the real purpose of the above committee as a measure for “reaching out to Indians who are opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘extremist policies’.” So, we should expect ISI’s love blooming with the type of politician who pleaded to Pakistani news channel to help dethrone Modi. Interestingly this politician is known at home as the ‘pole tortoise’; doesn’t know how he climbed up, doesn’t know what to do atop, and doesn’t know how to get down. Pakistan will not only compensate these types for whatever they lost because of demonetisation, and cater for their next seven generations, but perhaps also confer them with the Nishaan-e-Pakistan, Pakistan’s highest civilian award.
Therefore, the only change in Pakistan’s policy towards India may perhaps be more non-kinetic measures added to whatever it is presently doing, to tray and destabilise India as much as possible. The five government mints in Pakistan are probably working round the clock already for faking the new Indian currency.
The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army
First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 13:45 IST
Islamabad: Pakistan’s outgoing military chief warned India Tuesday it would be dangerous to mistake his country’s “restraint” over recent tensions in disputed Kashmir for weakness, as he handed over power to his successor.
The hugely popular General Raheel Sharif spoke at a colourful ceremony welcoming the incoming chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at a stadium at army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, adjacent to the capital Islamabad.
“Unfortunately, in recent months, increasing state terrorism in (Indian) occupied Kashmir, and India’s aggressive steps have put the region’s peace in danger,” Sharif said.
“I want to make it clear to India that considering our policy of restraint a weakness would be dangerous for her,” he said to applause.
“This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he continued.
Tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan have spiralled following a deadly assault on an Indian army base in September that New Delhi blamed on Pakistan-based militants.
India said it had responded to the September attack by carrying out “surgical strikes” across the heavily militarised border, sparking fury from Islamabad, which denied the strikes took place.
There have been repeated incidents of cross-border shellings and gunfire from both sides since, claiming the lives of dozens of people, including civilians.
Sharif spoke Tuesday as Indian police said armed militants had launched a fresh attack near the border with Pakistan, killing two soldiers.
Officials said the attack took place in Nagrota in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, which borders Pakistan and has seen repeated outbreaks of cross-border firing in recent weeks, and blamed it on “terrorists”.
Pakistan on Saturday named Bajwa as its new military chief as Sharif stepped down from a three-year tenure, winning praise for respecting democracy even as many Pakistanis called for him to extend his term.
Military bands played as uniformed soldiers marched at the ceremony Tuesday, where the outgoing chief gives his wooden cane to his successor, symbolising the handover of power.
The Pakistani military plays an outsize role in national life, offering the armed reassurance against arch-rival India that many Pakistanis see as vital to their identity.
Kashmir is one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints, bitterly divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947 but claimed in full by both. The nuclear powers have already fought two wars over the mountainous region.
First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 13:32 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With its new army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa set to take charge, Pakistan has asserted that focus will remain on country’s eastern border with India, even as the US nudged Islamabad to keep the pledge of not allowing use of its soil for terror attacks against neighbours.Bajwa will take charge of the world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers from Pakistan’s outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, who paid farewell visits to President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif here today.Sharif and Hussain lauded Raheel’s valuable service as army chief and wished him the best for his post-retirement life, Radio Pakistan reported.”The military policy will continue and there will be no immediate change in it (under Bajwa),” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News.”The focus will remain on country’s eastern border and the armed forces backed by the nation will meet all challenges,” he said.”The legacy of General Raheel Sharif would continue in the light of the examples he set,” Asif said.The Defence Minister expressed hope that the government and military leadership will continue to work together for the betterment of the country.General Raheel will become the first army chief in more than 20 years to step down at the end of his term. Previous army chiefs have either obtained extensions or in the case of General Pervez Musharraf, staged a coup.Meanwhile, the United States yesterday welcomed the appointment of the new army chief and expressed hope that the country would never allow the use of its soil for terrorism against its neighbours.The US embassy in Islamabad, in a statement, welcomed Prime Minister Sharif’s appointment of Bajwa.”We look forward to continuing our work with Pakistan’s elected leaders, with Lieutenant General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and with the Pakistani military to advance our shared counter-insurgency and counter terrorism goals for Pakistan and the region, and to enable Pakistani authorities to honour their pledge to prevent the use of Pakistan’s soil for terrorist attacks against its neighbours,” it said.Raheel, who is set to retire tomorrow, was appointed as army chief in 2013 by Prime Minister Sharif at the retirement of Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani.According to Pakistani media and experts, General Bajwa’s “pro-democracy credentials” and his low-profile influenced Sharif to appoint him to the powerful post of army chief superseding four top generals.The military has been in charge of the country for more than half of Pakistan’s nearly 70-year history since independence.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Army Chief Bikram Singh, under whom the new Pakistan Army Chief Lt Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has served on a UN assignment, tonight said India should be “careful” and watchful with regard to his approach.Gen (retd) Singh described Lt Gen Bajwa as a “thorough professional” who gave an “outstanding performance” under him in Congo but said things change once an officer goes back to his home country. “There might be great bonhomie when the goal is world peace under UN mandate but things change once you go back to your country. This is because your national interest comes first,” Gen Singh told PTI. He said India should wait and watch and be “careful”.Asked if he sees any drastic change in Pakistani military policy once Lt Gen Bajwa takes over succeeding Gen Raheel Shareef who retires on November 30, he said, “I do not see any change”.Gen Singh hoped that Lt Gen Bajwa will continue to consider homegrown extremism as a greater threat than India as he has publicly said.The new Pakistan Army chief has wide experience of LoC affairs due to his extensive involvement with PoK and Northern Areas. “He has served in all these areas (bordering India) and knows pretty well what kind of terrain and conditions exist on both sides.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lashing out at Modi government, Congress leader Salman Khurshid has alleged that anybody who questions it is labelled a traitor, and said BJP should declare it will contest the next elections by only using cheques if it is serious about the fight against blackmoney.The former external affairs minister also urged all parties to refrain from playing politics over the SYL canal issue, saying, “It would be better if they get together and resolve it or they will have to go by the SC decision”.At a function at a private school here last evening, Khurshid said, “Anyone who questions the government is being labelled a traitor or an irresponsible person”.Speaking on the issue of black money, he said that the central government should also focus on the fake currency being pushed into the country from outside. “Modi government should disclose the amount of fake currency seized till now…. If the BJP says that it will contest the next elections only by using a cheque, then I will admit that black money has been wiped away”.On reports of infighting between Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh and Pratap Singh Bajwa, Khurshid said that Congress high command was aware of the situation and will take apt measures when required. “Captain’s hardwork and the enthusiasm of the cadres will lead Congress to a thumping victory in Punjab,” he added.Targeting AAP over SYL issue, Khurshid said, “AAP likes to point fingers at others, but it doesn t want to be questioned”. “Their leaders are used to giving irresponsible statements on serious issues,” he said, adding, “This might have helped them in the past, but they stand exposed now”.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An intelligence officer was on Monday shot dead by two motorcycle-borne gunmen in restive northwest Pakistan, in an attack claimed by the ISIS terror group.Akbar Ali, a sub-inspector with the police intelligence wing, was on his way to work and waiting at a bus stop near his home when the killers riding bike opened fire at him in Charsadda district, some 30 km from Peshawar, police said.The body of the 43-year-old officer was shifted to district headquarter hospital in Charsadda, where doctors carried out an autopsy. He was hit by four bullets from the front and died on the spot, doctors said.ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.In a short statement posted on Amaq, its affiliated news agency, the group said its “fighters have killed a Pakistan intelligence agent in the Sardaryab region… of Pakistan.” Pakistan military last month admitted that the ISIS had a presence in the country but said the plans by the dreaded group to target important personalities by and attempts to organise itself have been thwarted.”Daesh tried to make an ingress into Pakistan, but the core of its group have now been apprehended,” Army spokesperson Lt Gen Asim Bajwa had said, using an alternate acronym for the ISIS.Bajwa said the threat of ISIS is now from Afghanistan where it is present in at least three border provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar and Khost.
The BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil travels to Kasmir’s Line of Control – the de facto border between India and Pakistan, where tensions run high between the two nuclear powers.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Pakistan Army said that it was “sure” that Indian troops had suffered casualties in the surgical strike on terror launch pads in PoK, alleging that India was “hiding” its losses. Pakistan military spokesman Lieutenant General Asim Saleem Bajwa stated this while briefing reporters in Baghsar area of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Radio Pakistan reported him saying that Pakistani troops have given befitting response to Indian firing on the line of control.”We are sure that the Indian side would have suffered casualties but it is hiding details in this regard,” he said. Bajwa said the country’s armed forces are fully prepared to respond any aggression however, he also said that war was not in anybody’s interest. He once again rejected as “false” and “concocted” the Indian claim of surgical strikes within Pakistani territory following the Uri terror attack that killed 19 Indian soldiers last month. The terror launch pads were targeted by the Indian Army on the intervening night of September 28 and 29 in a nearly five- hour-long operation.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a fresh anti-India tirade, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has threatened to use nuclear weapons in case of war with India, saying his country has not made atomic device to display in a showcase.”We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us. Pakistan army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India,” the defence minister told private TV channel SAMAA.He was replying to a question about India’s intention to carry out surgical strike in Pakistan.”We have not made atomic device to display in a showcase. If a such a situation arises we will use it and eliminate India,” Asif said the channel.He said Pakistan Air Force is ready to give a befitting response to India if it violates Pakistan’s airspace.The Pakistani minister claimed that the “entire world knows now that India is not as serious about resolving the Kashmir dispute as Pakistan is”.He claimed India has not received support from anywhere despite launching a diatribe against Pakistan and added that China had, on the other hand, supported Pakistan’s viewpoint.Asif also alleged that the assault on an Indian army base in Uri that killed 18 soldiers was a ‘plan devised by India itself’.Maintaining that no proof implicating Pakistan in the Uri attack had surfaced yet, Asif told DawnNews that “it was evident the attack was a plan devised by India itself.” He claimed that India “orchestrated Uri attack to divert the attention of the world from the Kashmir issue”.India has said it has evidence showing involvement of Pakistan-based terrorists in the Uri attack and demanded that Islamabad refrain from supporting and sponsoring terrorism directed against this country.One of the four terrorists involved in the Uri attack has been identified as Hafiz from Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.Commenting on a bill moved in the US Congress to label Pakistan as a terrorist state, he said that anti-Pakistan elements are present in each and every country but the impacts of their voices depend on the policies of these countries.”Five or 10 voices raised against us are not enough evidence to declare Pakistan a terrorist state,” he said.Meanwhile, military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa has said Pakistan’s eastern borders are under close monitoring of the security forces who are ready to respond to any aggression.He urged people to be vigilant and keep an eye on any suspected movement in the border areas.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan Army on Tuesday said it was closely watching the Indian border and was “fully prepared to respond” to any kind of situation, in the wake of rising tensions with India after the Uri terror attack.”We are closely monitoring the developments on the eastern border and we are fully prepared to respond,” military spokesman Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said after a security meeting in Peshawar. The meeting headed by army chief General Raheel Sharif reviewed the security at the border with Afghanistan.Diplomatic tensions have spiked between India and Pakistan since the September 18 attack on an army base in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that killed 18 Indian soldiers. Pakistan has rejected allegations of its involvement in the assault with both countries hitting out at each other including at the UN General Assembly.Bajwa said that the meeting discussed the steps being taken for border management by the armed forces. He said work has been completed on 20 posts set up for border management.Defending Pakistan’s security measures at the border with Afghanistan, Bajwa said that the border management would be more effective if matching actions are taken by Afghanistan on its side.Bajwa also said that Pakistan had not accused any country without concrete evidence. He said that major actions under Operation Zarb-e-Azb which was launched in June 2014 have been completed but intelligence and combing operations were going in different areas.
India rejects Pakistan’s claims that it has arrested an “Indian spy” in the restive Balochistan province.
India and Pakistan on Tuesday sparred after the Pakistan Army released a video of an arrested ex-Indian Navy officer purportedly “confessing” his “involvement” in terror activities in Balochistan at his country’s behest, a charge rubbished by India, which alleged he could have been “abducted” from Iran. New Delhi also sought from Islamabad consular access to the Indian national.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The head of Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt Gen Asim Bajwa and Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid held a press conference in Islamabad to release the video, saying Kul Bhoshan Yadav “confessed” to working for Indian intelligence agency RAW to “foment trouble” in the restive province of Balochistan. Yadav had been arrested recently in Pakistan, which described him as an officer of the Indian Navy, a claim debunked by the Indian government which said he had no link with the Government since his premature retirement from the Navy but Bajwa claimed that Yadav was still a serving officer due to retire in 2022. “We have seen a video released by Pakistani authorities of a former Indian Naval officer, doing business in Iran, who is in Pakistani custody under unexplained circumstances. The video has this individual making statements which have no basis in fact. That the individual claims to make the statements of his own free will not only challenges credulity but clearly indicates tutoring,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a press statement released in Delhi tonight. Detained Indian spy confesses to RAW’s involvement in Balochistan http://goo.gl/8lAKhz
Express Tribune Video on Tuesday, March 29, 2016″Government categorically rejects allegations that this individual was involved in subversive activities in Pakistan at our behest. Our enquiries reveal that he apparently was being harassed while operating a legitimate business from Iran. “While we probe this aspect further, his presence now in Pakistan raises questions, including the possibility of his abduction from Iran. This would become clear only if we are given consular access to him and we urge the Government of Pakistan to respond immediately to our request,” it said. The statement further said, “It is also relevant to note here that despite our request, we have not been given consular access to an Indian national under detention in a foreign country, as is the accepted international practice.” “We are naturally concerned about his well-being in these circumstances,” it added. Citing Yadav’s case, Bajwa accused India of carrying out”state-sponsored terrorism” in Pakistan. There cannot be a clearer “evidence of Indian interference in Pakistan”, he claimed. The Pakistanis claimed that Yadav had established a small business in Chabahar in Iran and had “directed” anti-Pakistan activities in Karachi and Balochistan. “He converted to Islam and worked at Gadani under the cover of a scrap dealer,” Bajwa said at a joint press conference with Rashid.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan The Pakistani army said on Saturday the four gunmen who attacked a university in northwest Pakistan were trained in Afghanistan and the assault was controlled by a Pakistani Taliban militant from a location inside Afghanistan.
In a briefing to reporters from the city of Peshawar, military spokesman General Asim Bajwa said the militants who stormed Bacha Khan University in Charsadda on Wednesday, killing at least 20 people, received training in Afghanistan and crossed over into Pakistan from the Torkham border between the two countries.
Bajwa said the attack was masterminded by Umar Mansoor, a Pakistani Taliban militant based in Afghanistan who is also held responsible for the December 2014 massacre of 134 children in the city of Peshawar – the deadliest militant attack in Pakistan’s history.
A deputy of Mansoor helped the attackers reach the Torkham border from where they crossed over into Pakistan, the spokesman said.
The army’s claims once more highlight the need for improved relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan which would prevent militants from carrying out cross-border terrorism which have undermined peace efforts in the region.
Pakistani officials say the Pakistan Taliban chief known as Mullah Fazlullah has been orchestrating raids on Pakistan from Afghanistan, where he fled several years ago after a Pakistani army offensive against his stronghold in the Swat Valley.
Afghan officials see Pakistan’s suggestion that Afghans are supporting cross-border attacks as an attempt to distract attention from what they say is Pakistan’s long history of supporting Afghanistan’s Taliban movement and other insurgent factions.
“The attackers were prepared in Afghanistan,” army spokesman Bajwa said. “We have come to the conclusion that terrorism cannot be fought when there are accomplices and facilitators.”
Providing details of the planning of the attack, the military spokesman said the gunmen used public transportation from the Afghan border to reach Mardan city, about 30 kilometres from Charsadda, where they were received by four Pakistani men, now in army custody.
“After entering Mardan, the terrorists were received by Adil and Riaz,” Bajwa said, identifying two of the suspected accomplices who he said put up the militants in two houses in Mardan.
“Adil is a labourer and just a few days ago he did some masonry work in the university, and made a map of the university which he shared with the militants,” said the military spokesman.
“Adil is the one who helped the attackers carry out reconnaissance of the area around the university.”
Another accomplice, identified as Noorullah, bought an auto-rickshaw and transported the attackers from Mardan to the sugarcane fields next to Bacha Khan University, which they crossed through to finally scale the walls of the campus and carry out the assault.
On Friday, Umar Mansoor, the mastermind identified by the Pakistan military, released video footage of the fighters he said carried out Wednesday’s deadly assault and vowed more attacks on schools and universities in the future.
Pakistan has killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants under a major crackdown launched after the December 2014 school attack, which is seen as having hardened Pakistan’s resolve to fight militants along its border with Afghanistan.
(Editing by Clelia Oziel)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.