Sunday, September 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

2 cr Bangladeshis in India: Fernandes
Says proxy war by Pak main challenge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, said today that the failure of the country’s leadership to drive a tough bargain when Pakistan was on its knees after the 1971 war had led to problems like Kargil, Siachen, Kashmir and cross-border terrorism.

“We had 90,000 Pakistani troops taken prisoner in Bangladesh. We kept them and fed them for months in Indian camps”, said Mr Fernandes. “But we did not try to solve the Kashmir problem. No decisive action was taken. The result was Kargil. The LoC in Kashmir was drawn by two lieutenant-generals from India and Pakistan on a map. The LoC was 140 km long and at places, it was 2 to 4 km broad. It was not clear which area, valley or mountain fell in which country. Kargil would not have taken place had the line been drawn on the ground rather than on a map”.

The Defence Minister was speaking after inaugurating a two-day seminar on the country’s integrated defence organised by the newly formed Forum on Integrated National Security. Besides Mr Fernandes, a former Defence Secretary, Mr N. N. Vohra, and the RSS chief, Mr K. S. Sudershan, spoke at the inaugural session.

Mr Fernandes identified terrorism and proxy war mounted by Pakistan against India as one of the biggest challenges facing the country.

Mr Fernandes said corruption in paramilitary forces guarding our borders had led to large-scale illegal cross-border migration of Bangladeshi nationals, which was a cause of major concern.

“My discussions with the Eastern Army Commander this week revealed that about one lakh Bangladeshi nationals are crossing over to India every year, “Mr Fernandes said. “It is shameful to point out the reason for this,” he added. There are about 2 crore Bangladeshi migrants in India, which are altering the demographic character of the north-eastern states.”

The Defence Minister said another major disturbing trend was the nexus between the ongoing Maoist movement in Nepal and the Naxal movement in India. “The Defence Ministry has evidence that Nepalese Maoists are receiving arms training in Bihar and Jharkhand and this information has been passed on to the Home Ministry,” he said. Stating that some action has been initiated on this front, he added that presently there is no state in India which is not affected by the Naxal movement.

Unemployment and indiscipline were the other challenges listed by him. He said as many as one and a half lakh people died in the country last year because they had failed to maintain discipline on the roads. Corruption was another challenge which faced the country because once a person accepted a bribe, he could be bought by anyone and compromise even the national security in the process. Thus, both indiscipline and corruption were connected with national security.

Turning to media, he said, while it was no doubt a force multiplier in an hour of national crisis, it was guided by the adage that “anything positive is propaganda while negative is news”. The so-called coffin scam was a case in point. Without checking the facts, one newspaper had latched on to a half-lie based on a report given by a constitutional authority and created the “scam”. Mr Fernandes explained the position in some detail to emphasise that there was nothing in it.

Mr Vohra, said the country’s borders could not be fully secure if the hinterland remained in turmoil. India was a vast country and its security problems were due to a host of factors, including history and colonialism. Another factor complicating the problem was that the law and order was a state subject, but not every state treated it with the seriousness it deserved. In the past 20 years, there had been a sea change in the security environment with the arrival on the scene of the highlymotivated and trained youths ready to take on the might of the state. There was now extremist violence in nine states. Precious little had been done to check their growing connectiv3ity with Pakistan’s ISI. They were operating as if at their bidding, he added.

Mr Vohra also said complete politicisation of the police force was another cause of concern. The government had also failed to break the nexus between criminals and politicians and people with criminal records continued to get elected to legislatures. He also underlined the need for creating a federal crime agency and identifying federal crimes.

Mr Sudershan, traced the history of the country’s security environment over the past centuries and said while Indians had evolved certain rules of war and observed them even in adverse conditions, the invaders had no such qualms, with the result that indigenous rulers suffered defeats. They had also failed to keep pace with the latest military developments. Nor did they have any means of gathering intelligence. The result was enslavement of the country for centuries together. He emphasised the need for evolving a comprehensive plan for national security.


Defence management inadequate, says
Vice-Admiral Das
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
Bringing out glaring lapses in higher defence management in India, former Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, Vice-Admiral P.K. Das, said today that military planning in India had suffered from lack of vision and coordination.

He was here to deliver a paper on a seminar on the integrated management of national security organised by the Forum on Integrated National Security here.

He said for 50 years the defence ministry did not have a national security policy. “No one knew where we wanted to go and what hurdles to cross,” he said. “All along we kept commenting on national security policies of other countries when we ourselves did not have one,” he said.

“If there is no national security policy, how are we to produce the Defence Minister’s directive for the armed forces?” he questioned. “If there is no directive, no integrated requirements for the forces can be put forward,” he added.

Stating that defence planning in the country had been arbitrary and ad hoc, the Admiral said despite three years into the 10th Plan, the plan for the armed forces had still not been formalised. As far as integrated planning was concerned, he said, “We are still groping in the dark”.

A major inadequacy in defence planning, he said, was that the proposed Chief of Defence Staff was still not in position. “Instead, the Integrated Defence Staff has been set up. It is doing what the erstwhile Directorate General Defence Planning (DGDP) used to do with a relatively fewer staff,” he said. He was of the opinion that setting up the DGDP was a wise move and it had produced good results, but after about a year of remarkable functioning it had become a non-performing asset.

He said while successive defence ministers, who were political institutions, had interests much beyond defence matters, the service chiefs had not been able to give direction on substantive issues. The finance wing of the government had been exercising power in an arbitrary manner.

Admiral Das said the other elements of national security, that is, defence production and defence research and development too had failed to deliver. “The DRDO has become more of a producing organisation and should be kept away from non-essential items and focus on critical technologies,” he said.

He said the government’s recent decision to establish two integrated commands, the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Strategic Command was a step in the right direction. He said the future requirements would be establishing integrated theatre commands.

Earlier, the former Vice-Chief of the Army, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, delved upon the national security scenario and threats emerging from various internal as well as external sources. He also took into account unconventional threats such as food and water security, environmental factors and socio-economic trends.

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