NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH

PAKISTAN

Militants, reportedly belonging to a splinter group of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), stormed the Pakistan Air Force Camp in Badaber on 18 September 2015, killing twenty-nine persons. The camp, used for accommodation of PAF officers and other ranks, is located on the Inqilab road, near the Surizai village in the limits of the Badaber Police Station. This has been the biggest attack in Pakistan after the one on the Army Public School on December 16, 2014 in which 147 people, including 122 schoolchildren, were killed.

According to Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa, Director General of the Inter- Services Public Relations (ISPR),13 militants, armed with rocket-launchers, hand-grenades and automatic weapons, and putting on the uniform of Frontier Constabulary, dismounted from their vehicle at 5 am, near the gates of the base. Using rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and automatic rifle fire to breach the gates, they split into two groups, with eight militants heading towards the administrative area of the base while the other group headed towards the technical area. The former group killed 16 worshippers present inside a mosque and the latter killed seven PAF personnel inside their barracks.

The quick reaction force (QRF) of Pakistan, army commandoes and local PAF troops managed to kill all 13 militants. They however lost Captain Asfandyar Bokhari, a Sword of Honour winner at the Pakistan Military Academy, and five more people, while trying to eliminate the militants. This included three PAF technicians, who were deployed at the guardroom when the attack occurred. As many as 25 other personnel were injured in the attack.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka’s United National Party (UNP) led coalition narrowly won the parliamentary elections, defeating the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA). The UNP won 11 of the 22 electoral districts, with the UPFA winning eight electoral districts. The remaining three predominantly Tamil districts of Jaffna, Vanni and Batticaloa South were won by the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK)-led Tamil National Alliance (TNA). In Sri Lanka’s electoral system, 196 out of the 225 parliament membersare elected through proportional representation system from 22 electoral districts. Each party is allocated a number of seats from the quota assigned to the district in proportion to votes secured by the party. The balance of 29 seats known as national list are allotted to parties according to the country-wide proportional votes they obtain in the election. Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the Prime Minister, and he has formed an all party government to include the UPFA.

The elections have sidelined former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had been fielded as the Prime Ministerial candidate by the UPFA. Having lost the Presidential elections earlier to his party colleague Maithripala Sirisena, this represents the second defeat of the former Sri Lankan strongman, whose political influence now stands reduced, though his political base among the conservative Buddhist nationalist southern Sinhalas appears to be largely intact.

DEALING WITH PAK’S PROVOCATIONS ON THE BORDER

Even as Home Minister Rajnath Singh told a team of Pakistan Rangers headed by Maj. Gen. Umar Farooq Burki on 11 September 2015, stating “India wants friendly relation withPakistan and will never fire the first bullet,” the same rangers were firing automatics andmortars across the International Border (IB) in south Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). MeanwhilePak army has been desperately inducting terrorists, trained and supported by it across the Line of Control (LOC), into parts of Kashmir valley. While responses to both by Indian Army and Border Security Force (BSF) have been swift and severe, it is quite obvious thatPakistan is in no mood to relent. Also, Pakistan seems to be compelled to keep the pot boiling both across the IB and the LoC and trying to build its case that it is India which is doing so-a very classic Pakistani ploy.

In July this year Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar held a meeting in the Home Ministry to review the situation along the LOC with Pakistan and India’s response. Following that meeting, Mr. Jaishankar said that while India remained committed to ensuring peace and tranquillity on the border, “there should be no doubt that any unprovoked firing from the Pakistani side would meet with an effective and forceful response from our forces. Nor will we let down our guard against infiltration and cross-border terrorism.”

Recent good news from J&K was that at long last, the state government got pushed into arresting Asiya Andarabi,the head of Dukhtaran-e-Millat (Daughters of the Faith) for waving/honouring Pakistani flags and addressing Hafiz Sayed’s meet by telephone. In an interview of hers, published in the 14 August ’15 issue of Outlook, she stated:“Inshallah, Kashmir will become a part of Pakistan….. I don’t believe in Kashmiriyat, I don’t believe in nationalism. I believe that there are just two nations -Muslims and non-Muslims. I am a Muslim; I am least bothered whether I will be called a Kashmiri. I’m Andrabi, I’m from the Syed dynasty. I’m not actually Kashmiri, I’m Arab, my ancestors had come from Arabia to Central Asia.I believe in Islamic nationalism”. In view of such statements, it may be advisable to keep her behind bars as she may be an ideal catch for the ISIS.

Another step reflecting New Delhi’s recent assertiveness on Pak-India relations, is the suspension of the 9 months short term passport issued to the senior most separatist, rather, traitor/ financer/organizer of Pak-sponsored anti-India terrorism, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. While this passport was issued to him on humanitarian grounds, he is reported to have accepted an invitation from the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to participate in a meeting scheduled to be held in New York on September 27. Besides Geelani, two more Kashmiri separatist leaders, including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq have reportedly also received invitations to participate in the OIC meeting. It may also be advisable for the Government to prevent any of these from attending this meet. Not that their presence at this meet will make any difference, but considering the fact that they and their ilk have been on their long anti-India spree and that too with their five-star bills being paid by the taxpayer, it is high time they are taught their long overdue lessons.

As far as Pak army’s leadership is concerned, not much seems to have changed since Pakistan’s second war waged against India in 1965, the 50th anniversary of which is being observed befittingly in India. Pakistan’s military leaders still seriously suffer from delusions as their predecessors did in 1965 and again in 1971. The only dangerous difference now is that Pakistan possesses too many nukes. A comment in a Rediff.com article by Colonel Anil A Athale (retd) is noteworthy: “Pakistan is yet to imbibe this basic truth of the nuclear age. The worrying aspect is the remark by an American who regularly deals with Pakistani military officers. Even their senior officers are delusional, the American said, unaware of the reality and live in a bubble. Indian policies of the last ten years are responsible for this as the peace lobby ignored Pakistan’s bad behaviour. Contrary to the ‘moralistic’ tone and stance, this has endangered peace and could in future bring on a nuclear catastrophe due to miscalculation”.

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