Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Draws Heat from Congress for Attempts to Demilitarize Jammu and Kashmir

Tension between Omar, Congress over Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar:  Omar Abdullah’s move to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir has in the past few days led to a confrontation with the Army. Today, Mr Abdullah’s ally, the Congress, also questioned his announcement.

Mr Abdullah is chairman of the unified command of various security agencies in his home state.

“He (Omar Abdullah) must understand, he is not the only important actor. I wish he had consulted around, then he would be on a stronger footing. Today he is not on a strong footing because he has not done the consultation exercise fully,” said Saifuddin Soz, the head of the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Soz also said that the Chief Minister seems to have deliberately left the Congress out of the loop. “Look, he is the chairman of the unified command, he didn’t discuss it there. He has a cabinet, he didn’t discuss it there… he makes statements on his own, he thinks that he is the Chief Minister, he can do anything. These laws are very important, it needs very calm reflection in a congenial atmosphere.”

“I have no grouse at not being consulted by the Chief Minister. He could have even sought my opinion over phone… However, the main players like Union Home Ministry, Defence Ministry, Congress party and Army should be taken on board on the issue. It does not seem to be the case at the moment,” Mr Soz said. “There is no game in the world where you can score a goal all by yourself… you have to have a team,” he added.

Mr Abdullah’s response was terse. “As Chief Minister, I am well aware of my responsibilities of consultation and carrying my alliance partners with me,” he said. “At every step of the way, I have kept the Home Minister of India briefed…not only about discussions here but also about future intentions,” he added. Mr Abdullah suggested that Mr Soz could have brought up any differences of opinion over AFSPA at the coordination committee that is meant to handle relations between the National Conference and the Congress. The committee is chaired by Mr Soz and includes four other representatives of both parties, including Tara Chand, the state’s Deputy Chief Minister who is from the Congress.

Even as his ally questioned his style and decision, the Chief Minister tried to stress that his initiative to revoke AFSPA in some areas like Srinagar and Jammu is not an attempt to undermine the Army, or to demonize it. “The Army has played a crucial role in controlling militancy in the state and the removal of AFSPA from certain areas is being done in consultation with the Army,” he said.

Today, Army Chief General V K Singh said the matter is now being reviewed by the Home Ministry.

The Act, its critics believe, gives the Army sweeping powers – like the right to arrest someone without a warrant. The Army says working without the Act makes it vulnerable. Sources say intelligence inputs and intercepts report that currently, around 2,500 militants are present in 42 training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Of these, 800 are poised to cross over to India. Around 30-odd militants have been killed along the Line of Control (LoC) in the last two months while attempting to cross over. Sources further say that intercepts indicate that infiltration attempts are likely to continue even during the winter months – usually, the weather ensures against this.



US sows discord in South Asia

[Once again Mr. Bhadrakumar doesn’t disappoint us with the power of his analysis of the situation on the sub-continent and throughout the Central Asian theater of psywar.  The time is rapidly approaching when the fluid Afghanistan situation will reach a “moment of decision,” when American control over events will be decide for us by the participants themselves.  Like the recent surprise revelation that Iraq will refuse to meet American demands to keep a smaller military force in country, Afghans themselves may deny us the authority to peacefully keep American bases and Special Forces kill teams in Afghanistan past the alleged “withdrawal date.”  If the upcoming Loya Jirga fails to endorse semi-permanent US super-bases, then Obama will receive a second embarrassing rebuke to his attempts to seduce or buy his way with the Afghan govt.  If the Afghan govt. refuses to go along with our demands, then how can the US Congress continue to authorize funds to train and equip them?  Either Obama will soon get everything that he wanted or he will be cut-off from the preferred path of “Mr. Nice Guy,” leaving him with only one option to get his way–Ultimate force.  He cannot blow his carefully crafted cover to the world and reveal the Establishment hit man that lies just beneath the surface. 

Other writers are catching-on quickly, as well, that the game is about over, or else it has just begun.  Pay attention from here on out to M K Bhadrakumar from here on out; he knows what is really going down.  The bluffing is about over and we will have to show our hand.  God help us all, when the river of bullshit stops flowing and nothing is left but the brutal truth about American aggression.  Odds are, at that time, exposing the Beast will only increase the violence.] 

US sows discord in South Asia 

By M K Bhadrakumar

Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States’s campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.

The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.

It’s baloney 
A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.

There is a string of evidence to suggest that the Pakistani leadership appreciates the Indian stance. The general headquarters in Rawalpindi acted swiftly on Sunday to return to India within hours a helicopter with three senior military officers on board which strayed into Pakistani territory in bad weather in the highly sensitive Siachen sector. The official spokesman in Delhi went on record to convey India’s appreciation of the Pakistani gesture. Such conciliatory gestures are rare (for both sides) in the chronicle of Pakistan-India relationship.

Again, last week, India voted for Pakistan’s candidacy for the Asia-Pacific slot among the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the Pakistani ambassador promptly responded that he would work with his Indian counterpart in New York. Ironically, the UN has been a theater for India and Pakistan’s frequent clashes over the Kashmir problem.

Looking ahead, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are likely to meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation summit in Male on November 10-11. Washington would have been quick to insist that it acted as “facilitator” in fostering the improving climate in India-Pakistan relations. But the US is instead watching with a degree of discomfort that its complicated South Asian symphony is throwing up jarring notes. Calibrating India-Pakistan tensions traditionally constituted a key element of the US’s regional diplomacy.

Washington has “retaliated” to Krishna’s statement by issuing a travel advisory cautioning American nationals from visiting India because of heightened terrorist threats. Delhi, in turn, ticked off Washington saying it considered the US move “disproportionate” – a cute way of saying that the advisory is a load of baloney.

Jundallah in retreat 
What is happening in Pakistan-Iran relations is even more galling for the US. There has been a spate of high-level visits between Islamabad and Tehran and the two capitals have reached mutual understandings on a range of security interests. Last week, Tehran acknowledged that there had not been a single attack by the terrorist group Jundallah from the Pakistani side of the border in the Balochistan region during the past 10 months.

Tehran has accused the US of masterminding the Jundallah terrorists to stage covert operations to destabilize Iran. However, since the detention of Central Intelligence Agency operative Raymond Davis in Lahore in January, Islamabad has clamped down on hundreds of US intelligence operatives functioning on Pakistani soil, seriously cramping the US’s capacity to dispatch Jundallah terrorists into Iran.

Tehran is satisfied that the Pakistani security establishment is finally acting purposively to smash the US-backed Jundallah network. It reciprocates Pakistan’s goodwill by trying to harmonize its Afghan policy and scrupulously avoided pointing fingers at Pakistan for the assassination of Afghan Peace Council head Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was closely allied with Tehran.

Essentially, Iran appreciates that Pakistan’s “strategic defiance” of the US will be in the interest of regional stability, the bottom line being that Tehran is keen to force the American troops to leave the region.

Tehran succeeded in the pursuit of a similar objective in Iraq by prevailing on Shi’ite political elites in Baghdad not to accede to the desperate pleas by the US to allow US troops to continue even after the stipulated deadline of withdrawal in December 2011 under the Status of Forces agreement. But Afghanistan is a different kettle of fish and a common strategy with Pakistan will help.

Pakistan keeps an ambivalent stance on the issue of a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan, but it can count on the Taliban to robustly oppose the US plans apropos military bases. Unsurprisingly, Tehran purses a multi-pronged approach toward the Taliban.

Concerted effort 
In sum, the overall regional scenario is becoming rather unfavorable to the US. The easing of tensions in Pakistan’s relations with India and Iran undermine US strategy to get embedded in the region.

The US’s travel advisory was intended to raise hackles in India about the imminent possibility of Pakistan-supported terrorist activities. Again, US-sponsored disinformation is reappearing with claims that China and Pakistan are conspiring against India by setting Chinese military bases in the northern areas of Pakistan, which form part of Kashmir.

This is coinciding with a distinct improvement in the security situation in the Kashmir Valley, to the point that chief minister Omar Abdullah openly advocated last week in Srinagar that decades-old emergency regulations should be progressively withdrawn and that Delhi should initiate a serious engagement of Pakistan to settle the Kashmir problem.

United States-backed propaganda about the prospect of Chinese military bases in the Pakistani part of Kashmir is intended to serve a dual purpose: namely, creating discord between Pakistan and India and in Sino-Indian relations, too.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a significant statement last week that he was “convinced” that the Chinese leadership wanted a peaceful resolution of all problems between India and China, including the long-running border dispute. Significantly, he expressed his “sincere hope [that] it is possible for us to find ways and means by which the two neighbors can live in peace and amity despite the persistence of the border problem”.

Manmohan’s remarks assumed significance since the two countries are to shortly hold the 15th round of talks on the border issue in New Delhi. In a meaningful move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Manmohan’s political overture. Beijing said China was “ready to work with India to enhance the China-India strategic partnership”. The statement said:

As important neighbors to each other, China and India have maintained sound momentum in the bilateral relationship. As for the border issue left over from history, the two sides have been seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through friendly consultations. Pending a final solution, the two sides are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in border areas.

A season for propaganda 
The speculative, unattributed – and unverifiable – reports regarding Chinese intentions to establish military bases in the upper reaches of the Kashmir region under Pakistani control are surging again at a formative point in regional security. Their labored thesis is that Delhi should be extremely wary about the “devious” intentions of China and Pakistan and should go slow on the normalization of relations with these “treacherous” neighbors.

Curiously, Delhi is also being bombarded at the same time with US propaganda that Washington is striking a “grand bargain” with Pakistan over the Afghan problem whereby there will be a mutual accommodation of each other’s concerns, which may include US intervention to mediate the Kashmir problem and US pressure on Delhi to roll back its presence in Afghanistan.

In a motivated commentary in Foreign Policy magazine last week on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad, two prominent US think-tankers wired to the Washington establishment actually tried to alternatively bait Islamabad and frighten Delhi by putting on the table the ingredients of the “grand bargain”. Truly, this is all turning out to be a season for propaganda.

The heart of the matter is that the US is desperate to clinch a strategic agreement with the government of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul that would allow the establishment of a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.

On Monday, hundreds of Afghans demonstrated in Kabul against US bases. The same day, the lower house of the Afghan parliament rejected terms guiding the operations of the Afghan government’s existing agreement with the International Security Assistance Force as violating the country’s sovereignty. The mood in the Afghan parliament seems hostile.

Karzai is convening a loya jirga (grand council) to seek endorsement for the US-Afghan pact. Matters will come to a head when it meets on November 16. Karzai promises that the US-Afghan pact will be sent to parliament for approval after being discussed in the jirga. Washington insists that the jirga approves the draft pact before the Bonn II conference convenes in December. Karzai’s political future depends on whether he can deliver on the pact.

All sitting parliamentarians, some former members, one-third of the provincial council members, representatives of civil society and distinguished people, religious scholars and influential tribal leaders have been invited to the jirga. Two hundred and thirty representatives of Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan, Iran and Western countries will also be in attendance in the 2,030-strong jirga.

On September 13, Afghan National Security Advisor Dadfar Spanta told Afghan parliamentarians that the US might set up military bases in Afghanistan after the signing of the pact, but that the pact wouldn’t be inked unless approved by parliament. Spanta added, “Concerns of our neighbors [over the US-Afghan pact] are genuine, but we will not allow our soil to be used against them.”

The Afghan parliament fears, however, that Karzai might choose to bypass it after extracting endorsement from a pliant jirga and interpreting that as the collective opinion of the Afghan nation. Parliament directed the speaker on Monday to address an official communication to Karzai highlighting its constitutional prerogative to approve foreign policy issues.

The Afghan endgame is moving into a crucial phase; much will depend on regional politics. The worst-case scenario for the US is that subsuming the contradictions in the intra-regional relationships between and among Pakistan, Iran, India and China, these countries might have a convergent opinion on the issue of American military bases.

An accentuation of these contradictions, therefore, would serve the US’s geopolitical interests at the present juncture, hence the US’s “divide-and-rule” strategy.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

Uzbekistan Will Withdraw From CSTO When US Troops Deploy There

[Tajik expert predicts a lot of major changes in CIS countries, worst of all is deployment of US/NATO troops to Uzbekistan.  Not only is it predicted that Uzbeks will leave CSTO, but that a deal has been made to scuttle Tajikistan’s controversial Rogun Dam project, centerpiece of Uzbek/Tajik tensions.  At that time, Tajikistan will regret inviting US “border guard experts” into their midst, instead of allowing Russian forces to resume control of the border.  Tensions will very likely boil over between the two Central Asian antagonists at that time, since the Rogun project has been raising a hefty sum of cash for the government.  Obama must love to play with fire.]

Uzbekistan will initiate its withdrawal from CSTO itself

Nargis Hamroboyeva

DUSHANBE, October 27, 2011, Asia-Plus  — “A statement by Belarusian president about the necessity of withdrawing Uzbekistan from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) means nothing and it is not connected with his visit to Tajikistan,” Tajik political scientist Rustam Haidarov told an Asia-Plus in an interview Thursday afternoon.

“Most likely, this statement is connected with the upcoming deployment of the U.S. troops in Uzbekistan,” said Haidarov.  “Nothing will change in relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan if the latter quits the CSTO.  All unsolved problems will remain unsolved.”

According to him, official Tashkent will initiate Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Organization itself as soon as the United States deploys its troops in Uzbekistan.

“Uzbekistan is the only country in the region, upon which the United States may relay in terms of deployment of its troops.  I am sure that the issue of deployment of the U.S. troops in Uzbekistan has already been solved by political leaders of the neighboring country positively,” said Haidarov.  “This means that expert resolution by the World Bank, which is controlled by the United States, will block the completion of construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power plant (HPP) in Tajikistan.”

We will recall that during a meeting with parliament speakers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member nations in Minsk ahead of his visit to Tajikistan, President Lukashenko offered to review the issue of further participation of Uzbekistan in the Organization.

Some media outlets quoted Lukashenko as saying that Uzbekistan is playing a triple game that does not allow it to be in the CSTO.  “I have sent my observations to the President of Russia.  We must make a decision on Uzbekistan,” Belarusian leader was cited as saying.

The regional security organization was initially formed in 1992 for a five-year period by the members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) — Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which were joined by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Belarus the following year.  A 1994 treaty “reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force,” and prevented signatories from joining any “other military alliances or other groups of states” directed against members states.  The CST was then extended for another five-year term in April 1999, and was signed by the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.  In October 2002, the group was renamed as the CSTO.  Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO on June 23, 2006; and its membership was formally ratified by the Uzbek parliament on 28 March 2008.  The CSTO is currently an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.

Facebook Subversion Seminars Come To Armenia

[SEE:  Lukashenko Has A Plan–Belarus Keeps Social Networks, Prosecutes Those Who Promote Sedition  ;  A Glimpse Inside of Hillary’s Subversive “Intern Factory”]

Yerevan to host Facebook Workshop video seminar for media

Yerevan to host Facebook Workshop video seminar for media

October 27, 2011 – 12:09 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – On October 31, Yerevan will hostFacebook Workshop free video seminar on integration of mass media in social networks as well as Facebook-provided media possibilities.

The rapporteurs, Facebook Russia growth manager Yekaterina Skorobogatova and Facebook Russia and Eastern Europe development manager Angela Tse will brief the audience on transformed means of communication, modern use of media content as well as a number of alterations at Facebook platform and the way media partners may benefit from it.

The seminar will be held in Russian and English languages (simultaneous translation provided).

Video seminars with Yerevan, Moscow, St. Petersburg, (Russia) Kiev (Ukraine), Astana (Kazakhstan), Tbilisi (Georgia), Chisinau (Moldova) and Tomsk (Russia) have been scheduled.

The event is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of RIA Novosti news agency.