Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Sleeping with the regional bully

In yet another highly biased nay ignorant New York Times (NYT) editorial - Fuel for South Asia's Arms Race (03-29-2005) - which seems to be written by an Indian intern, in a typical hypocritical manner blasts Bush administration for giving its front-line ally Pakistan few F-16 fighter aircrafts, which acually amounts to peanuts.

The NY Times states, “The United States has far better ways to reward Pakistan for its helpful but selective pressure on Al Qaeda and the Taliban than President Bush's decision last week to break with 15 years of policy and sell Pakistan high-performance fighters whose only plausible use is to threaten India.”

Here is a newsflash for NYT, the only country Pakistan had fought wars is India. The only country which has moved its military against Pakistan is India. The only country that has dismembered Pakistan is India. The only country’s government officials to have publicly threatened Pakistan’s sovereignty after it exploded its nuclear weapons in 1998 is India. The only country in a clear violation of Shimla Accord to have illegally occupied parts of Azad Kashmir - Turbat and Kamar-la is India. The only country to have threatened Pakistan’s security by putting its million men armed to teeth military on Eastern Pakistani border for a year is India, and still for some illogical reason NYT believes using F-16s in the defense of Pakistan from its hostile and overwhelmingly armed eastern neighbor is appalling and are threatening to India?

The NY Times states, “Decades of swollen military budgets have virtually bankrupted Pakistan, leaving its government unable to afford adequate spending on education and job-creating economic modernization. Instead, its leaders have fed the Pakistani people a diet of belligerent nationalism and projects like nuclear weapons that are designed to enhance a sense of prestige.”

Had the NYT editorial staff done its homework, it might have dawned on them that there are worst countries than Pakistan, e.g. India has the world’s largest population (close to 700 million) that lives below the poverty line, i.e. less than $2 per day. Thanks to huge looses to American jobs, only in very recent years India has been barely able to increase its GDP to a level where now they can afford to go on a wild weapons buying sprees, and that too when it still has 700 million dirt-poor Indians who still lack the basic necessities of life like clean drinking water, nutritious food and sanitation system. Even today, over 700 million Indians answer nature’s call under wide open blue skies. It is well advised that NYT editorial staff should research the basic facts before going to lengths to defend its favorite son, i.e. India. It is India that is busy accumulating conventional and strategic weapons like there is no tomorrow. How come NYT always fails to notice India’s mad dash to become the regional power, but bends out of shape over Bush administration giving a chance to Pakistan to defend itself from the regional bully?

The NY Times states, “…Congress should think hard about the messages the United States wants to send to future proliferators. Pakistan developed nuclear weapons of its own after refusing to sign international nonproliferation treaties. Worse, it has spread nuclear weapons technology to Iran, North Korea, Libya…”

NYT is right in advising the Congress. While Congress is at it, how about it also take a note of which South Asian country has caused the most regional instability and has been in armed conflicts with virtually all of its neighbors? I am sure the name that will come to mind is India. As far as nuclear proliferation goes, how will we punish US and Soviet Union for starting the tradition?

The weapons systems India had been buying in only last couple of years range from Russian aircraft carrier (along with Mig-29 war planes), French and German subs, Russian top notch SU-30MKIs, new Russian main battle tanks, French Mirage-2000N (nuclear capable strategic bombers), ballistic missiles, mid-air refueling tanker to Phalcon AWACS systems, and for some unknown reason people like NYT editorial staff are blaming Pakistan for starting an arms race by daring to purchase mere 24 F-16?

It’s a high time that NYT comes out of its deep comma and take a notice of how the armed to teeth regional bullies like India have made the life of its smaller neighbors unbearably insecure. The Bush administration has prudently and justifiably tried to neutralize the bully’s aggression by barely reducing India’s overwhelming numerical military dominance.

As far as peace is concerned, there will never be a long lasting peace in South Asia and in specific between India and Pakistan as long as both countries either fear or trust each other, and this can only be achieved by bringing both countries at close parity in military terms. Either disarm both of them or equip both of them at parity where they will mutually respect other country’s potential to severely damage its national interests.

Adnan Gill

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Indians behind masks

For the life of me, I will never understand why Indians always assume non-Indian IDs? Maybe the reason is inferiority complex, or maybe its insanity, but the fact remains the same, most of Indians are afraid to authenticate their opinions by showing their real face. Following is yet another example of one such Indian who calls himself “Citizen Jay.” Enjoy!

Adnan Gill

Citizen Jay said... “Seems to me the reaons only keep piling up

Let’s hear some of those reasons?

Citizen Jay said... “what's not justifiable is propping up a dictatorship with weapons to start an arms race with its free, democratic neighbor.”

If I didn’t know any better, I would say you are an Indian. Next to Saudi Arabia, India has become the largest arms importer. It has been on arms buying spree for last few years. The weapons systems India had been buying in last couple of years range from Russian aircraft carrier (along with Mig-29 war planes), French and German subs, Russian top notch SU-30MKIs, new Russian main battle tanks, French Mirage-2000N (nuclear capable strategic bombers) to ballistic missiles, and for some unknown reason people like you are blaming Pakistan for starting an arms race by daring to purchase of mere 24 F-16? People like you need to understand that crying wolf over even such trivial matters makes rest of the sain world ignore you as a habitual whiner.

Citizen Jay said... “You yourself said it was a ‘highly volatile’ situation;”

Check again, I called it a “highly volatile neighborhood,” and the credit goes to India for exploding nuclear weapons first and amassing weapons more than it can possibly need to destroy many times over Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, or even Pakistan. Who is India preparing to fight, the world?

Citizen Jay said... “When it comes to fighting a war on a terrorism, Pakistan's contributions thus far are appreciated, but since Pakistan has also contributed a great deal to the opposite side, I see no rush to give out rewards.”

Moral and diplomatic support to freedom fighters in India and Afghanistan can not be misconstrued as terrorism, or else you will have to bracket the US in the category.

Citizen Jay said... “‘F-16's have nothing to do with fighting Al Qaeda and the Taliban.’”

Why not?

Citizen Jay said... “Perhaps you too are stuck in a Cold War-era mentality which forces you to take sides against India?”

You are right. Unlike Indians, who switch allegiance and alliances more often than I switch my socks, I tend to view India’s hegemonic designs at its face value.

Citizen Jay said... “Those days are long gone, pal, and as the times have changed, so should our evaluation of who we favor in South Asia.”

Then what are you complaining for?

Friday, March 25, 2005

Pakistani F-16s ready for action Posted by Hello

Bugti a merciless extortionist

I am glad someone has taken a lead on calling the slave master extortionist Bugti for who he really is. Yesterday Ikram Sehgal exposed the shameless extortionist's ugly face in an outstanding opinion in Jang.

Mr. Sehgal publishs his own magazine www.defencejournal.com Its Pakistan's one of the oldest and most respectable magazine that covers Pakistan's geo-strategic and military issues.

Neither Bugti nor anyone should be allowed to hold the nation hostage to his/her endless greed.

Adnan Gill

The Bugtis and Balochistan

On the evening of Feb 15, 1973, my unit 44 Punjab (now 4 Sindh) pulled out from Nabisar where we were concentrated for training close to our Forward Defended Localities (FDLs) in the southern desert; we entrained pell-mell the next morning at Mirpurkhas for Sibi en route to Quetta. We were told that we had to cope with a sudden "internal security" situation arising in Balochistan. At Ebad railway station, a few kilometers short of Jacobabad, our troops special ran full speed into a stationary goods train parked on the parallel line. Sabotage? With four dead and over a dozen or so badly injured, we limped into Sibi late on Feb 17.

If Capt (now Maj Gen about to retire) Fahim Akhtar Khan had not led volunteers to climb to the topmost railway wagon perched perilously on top of two other wagons laden with ammunition and explosives to rescue those trapped under their weight, at least seven more would have died. Fahim's bravery in battle during 1971 in the desert and in 1973 in Balochistan notwithstanding, that particular memory of outstanding selflessness at great personal risk "above and beyond the call of duty" remains forever etched in my mind. Barring exceptions like Fahim rising to two-star rank, brave and combat experienced officers seldom make it past the rank of major. Such attributes are great obstacles to advancement in most armies of the world. Pakistan is no exception in merit often being a disqualifier.

From Sibi my rifle company was heli-lifted into Quetta to secure the Governor's House, the rest of the battalion led by Lt Col (later Brig) Muhammad Taj, SJ and Bar (one of the most decorated soldiers in the Pakistan Army) racing in by road. At about this time we were told that the Federal Government had dismissed both the Balochistan Governor Ghaus Bux Bizenjo and the Chief Minister Ataullah Khan Mengal; we were to escort the new Governor into his official residence.

A month or so later Governor Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti honoured 45 Punjab (our sister battalion in 60 Brigade) and ourselves with a "Barakhana" (an Armed Forces lunch or dinner for jawans for a special occasion) to congratulate us "for saving Pakistan" or words to that effect. Some non-violent protest about the then "renegade" Akbar Khan Bugti apart, the Baloch leaders shown the door by him "to save Pakistan" circa 1973 did not take to the streets to militate against what was clearly an extra-constitutional exercise not in democratic good taste.

The real problem started when military operations against Marri tribals kicked off from Sibi on May 21, 1973, the hottest day of the year in one of the hottest places on earth. By late afternoon, helicopters were lifting the dead and incapacitated (due to heat stroke and heat exhaustion) of the leading battalion 46 Baloch. We reached our first objective Talli Tangi, the defile on the route to Maiwand without any opposition by late afternoon.

With experience of desert conditions behind us we had applied wet handkerchiefs on the back of our necks and (despite our brilliantly theoretical Brigade Commander's repeated admonitions) our helmets (the cause of 46 Baloch's woes) were lodged in our accompanying transport. Military operations began in earnest a few days later with all three battalions of the Brigade taking casualties. At defiles like Talli Tangi which my rifle company was tasked to securing, Marri tribals came at us night after night, we inflicted many casualties and suffered some, despite having no great expertise in "frontier warfare". Our luck ran out a few months later when 44 Punjab lost 16 in one go near Kohlu when one of our pickets was surrounded, cut off from the rest of the battalion and overwhelmed once out of ammunition.

At the outset of 1973 one was skeptical about military operations being needed, but by the time I left in January 1974 hardened guerillas trained by the Soviets in Afghanistan made me into a believer, reluctantly perhaps but a believer nevertheless. My unit suffered more casualties in Balochistan than any other unit, and dare one say, inflicted far more casualties than any other unit during battle; after all the guerillas coming at us were not throwing flowers. There is a time for political dialogue and a time for military solution, sometimes both are necessary in tandem.

Events in Bugti area must be separated from the rest of Balochistan. Even though there have been a number of incidents of sabotage in different areas of the province, the work of saboteur squads from the main Bugti tribal force in Dera Bugti, and mercenaries thereof, cannot be taken to be a concerted rebellion. The Sui rape incident was used to try and sabotage the gas installation there. But for the ultimate sacrifice of several dedicated soldiers of the Defence Security Group (DSG), this country would have faced an economic disaster of the greatest magnitude for an extended period. As it is, during a very cold winter, more than 40 million people all over Pakistan went without heating for days. One can be forgiven for being sceptical about the altruistic aims and objectives of those using the rape case as an excuse to send raiders to destroy the Sui Purification Plant. For the good of Pakistan? For the good of Balochistan?
Terrorism is a mechanism whereby small means are used to achieve major objectives; in this case the whole country was being held hostage! The subsequent ambush on the FC "Bambhore Rifles" convoy on March 17 was not unexpected. Besides sabotaging the Parliamentary Committee (on Balochistan) deliberations, the grave provocation was a deliberate act meant to incite military reaction and with a fait accompli confront the Baloch populace about the affront to Baloch honour. Don't the lives of our soldiers count? Give our military hierarchy credit for keeping their cool.

Balochistan definitively needs major political and economic initiatives. The province is in a state of utter backwardness, poverty is endemic and the masses live in the Dark Ages, mostly under cruel and callous sardars. It is a situation ready-made for exploitation and that is what the "Last of the Mohicans" is gambling on, in a desperate attempt to make Bugti-motivated interests in Sui synonymous with greater Baloch deprivation. One must be prepared for collateral civilian damage when the Bugtis are disarmed; to allow them otherwise would invite endless trouble.

The Bugtis can be quite callous about using non-combatants who do not fall in line with their diktat, as pawns. Case in point is their own tribesmen of Bekar UC. Sheikh Rashid normally does go overboard but when he called Akbar Bugti a "warlord" and not a politician (he never was), he was right on the mark. Few leaders are more autocratic or ruthless than the head of the Bugti clan. Anybody associating democracy with Nawab Sahib needs to have his head examined. When we started operations in Kahan and Kohlu in August 1973 we had to pass through Dera Bugti, where his private jail held one of his sons as an inmate.

Bugti's disarming should not be seen as a military operation, but as a police action by the law enforcement agencies necessary to put down crimes instigated by a warlord who considers himself outside the pale of any law except that which suits him. Problems in the rest of the province have to be addressed politically. They are far removed from the contrived grievances of the Bugtis as enunciated by the fulminations of their hereditary chief.

The writer is a defence and
political analyst
Email: isehgal@pathfinder9.com

Courtsy: Jang.com.pk