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    PUNJAB POLITICS ::: GETTING HOTTER IN COLD WEATHER

    Capt warns to crack whip, Cong once again at war with its own

    REBEL TROUBLE Party woes self­inflicted, rebels say false surveys, loyalty to leaders decided tickets

    CHANDIGARH: It is a poll ritual. All the 1,600-odd Congress ticket applicants had signed a ‘loyalty’ pledge to accept the official candidate announced by the party and not unfurl a banner of revolt.

    In 2017 elections too, the Congress is battling more of its same old woes. After a delayed distribution of tickets, the Congress is once again at war with its own as withdrawal of nominations ends on Saturday.

    In a remake of 2012 elections, when Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh had inadvertently announced a “qatal-e-aam” (massacre) of rebels at a rally, Capt on Friday again issued an ultimatum to party rebels to “toe the party line or face expulsion from the party for life”.

    Before the stick, Amarinder had dangled the carrot — by promising to accommodate in key positions those who withdrew from the fray in support of the party nominees, after the Congress came to power.

    But with many of them still defiant and the party worried by unconfirmed reports of deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal again propping Congress rebels with “funds”, Amarinder said in a statement on Friday that he and general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari have successfully quashed rebellion in most of the 20-odd constituencies where there have been reports of rebel trouble. The unofficial list has nearly 29 rebels, some of them with potential to cause major damage.

    LOYALTY MATTERS?

    But the bushfires are far from over. And party insiders believe much of the Congress woes are self-inflicted. “Banga MLA Tarlochan Soondh and Gurbinder Singh Atwal were denied tickets not owing to surveys but for being close to Amarinder’s known baiter, Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Singh Dullo. Both are now contesting as rebels from Banga and Nakodar, respectively, and will dent party’s prospects there,” party sources said.

    Party spokesperson Nimisha Mehta denied she has agreed to withdraw from the race from Garhshankar seat. “Asha called me up on Friday asking me to withdraw. I challenge her to show me the surveys that show Luv Kumar Goldy as a winner from this seat. It was she who played favourites in the ticket game,” Nimisha said.

    Some Congress MLAs also question if surveys decided the candidates of Ludhiana South and Sunam seats. “The surveys were just an excuse to adjust loyalists. And while Amarinder wanted enough of his own to ensure he can be the CM, other MPs and screening committee members too have served their own interests. Surveys and ‘one family, one ticket’ rule were used as elimination round for others,” a senior MLA said.

    PAST REBELS WHO GOT LUCKY

    Though the Congress has loyalty affidavits, if you rebel, you stand a greater chance of being rewarded with a ticket in the next election.

    Past rebels who lost elections but dented the party prospects, such as Sukhjinder Singh ‘Lalli’ Majithia, Madan Lal Jalalpur and Deepinder Dhillon, have been allotted tickets this time. So has been Rajnish Kumar ‘Babbi’, who won as a rebel from Mukerian.

    Badals’ interests in conflict with state exchequer: Sidhu

    CHANDIGARH: Cricketer-turnedpolitician Navjot Singh Sidhu kick-started his poll campaign from Chandigarh with the bashing of the Badals. He accused the state’s first family of “looting” Punjab in excise collection, tourism and transport sectors during SAD-BJP’s 10-years rule.

    RAVI KUMAR/HTNavjot Singh Sidhu addressing mediapersons in Chandigarh on Friday.

    “The Badal family’s intention was to become richer with people’s money. Punjab has suffered a lot due to the never-ending greed of the Badal family, which has a direct conflict of interest with the state exchequer,” he said.

    Sidhu, who addressed the media here in the presence of Congress in-charge for Punjab affairs Asha Kumari on Friday, will fight as a Congress candidate from Amritsar East constituency for the February 4 elections.

    Comparing the excise collection figures of Punjab and Tamil Nadu, he said Punjab has 12,500 liquor vends and the annual revenue collection from these stands at ₹5,610 crore as against Tamil Nadu’s ₹26,188 crore from its 6,323 vends. “Punjab has the highest per capita alcohol consumption. This trade has been monopolised by the Badal family for the last 10 years. Indirectly, every bottle in Punjab is sold by the Badals,” Sidhu said.

    He said due to poor implementation of policies during the 10-year rule of the Akali-BJP government, Punjab lost ₹1.5-lakh crore. “Had this money used, the state could have been free of debts, which rose from ₹44,000 crore to ₹3-lakh crore in 10 years,” he said.

    He said government-run hotels in Punjab have been closed and put on sale on the excuse that they were loss-making ventures. “The Badals sold government hotels and resorts to their associates at throwaway prices. A hotel built by the Badals in the periphery of Chandigarh reportedly charges up to ₹5 lakh per night,” he said.

    “Before coming to power in 2007, the Badal family owned 50 buses, but now the number stands at 650 and the number of transport companies owned by the family has risen from two to eight,” he said, adding, “Government companies having larger fleets are running in huge losses, but Badal family’s buses are profiting.”

    On his joining the Congress, Sidhu said, “I joined the party without a condition. I will have a role in campaigning to make the party win the polls,” he said .

    Attacking the opposition in typical Sidhu style, he said: “Pagri sambhal jatta, bairian ney lutt liya sara maal oye (It’s time to save the turban… enemies have looted the riches),” he said .

    DAY OF SIDHU VS BADALS

    Friday saw a ferocious war of words between the ruling Badals and Navjot Sidhu. Sample this:

    SIDHU’S STRIKES

    They (Badals) sidelined me in Amritsar. Jealousy is jaundice of soul.

    The loss of Punjab is directly proportional to Sardar Badal’s gain.

    Badal saab, tu kar kar hera-pherian, charr baitha teesi (Mr Badal you made it to the top by wrong-doings).

    BADALS’ BARBS

    Sidhu has changed so many mothers … First, it was BJP, then AAP and now Congress.

    SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL

    Sidhu betrayed BJP. He is now a paid agent of Congress and can’t be trusted.

    PARKASH SINGH BADAL.

    Sidhu’s oratory is limited to laughter shows. In Lok Sabha he rarely opened his mouth.

    NO SHOES, NO BLACK!

    Cautious after a shoe attack on CM Parkash Singh Badal recently, the police on Friday asked attend- ees to remove their shoes before the CM’s daughter-in-law and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal arrived for the Akali workers’ meeting in Mansa’s Bhikhi town. Black clothes were also banned, lest these be used to mark protest.

    SIDHU’S TAKE

    OnCMcandidate: “I met Rahul Gandhi (AICC vice-president) a few times and never demanded anything. I have no personal agenda”.

    On BJP: “Before leaving BJP, I met all its leaders and requested them to save Punjab. I would have easily left Amritsar and contested from Kurukshetra if it was in Punjab’s interest.” On AAP: “I met Arvind Kejriwal and told him that I don’t want anything. They didn’t want me to contest the polls.”

    President’s daughter slams AAP

    LUDHIANA: Lambasting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, a senior Congress leader Sharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of President of India Pranab Mukherjee, claimed that there is no truth in claims made by AAP of development in Delhi.

    HT PHOTOSharmistha Mukherjee, daughter of President Pranab Mukherjee, addressing the media in Ludhiana on Friday.

    While addressing a press conference in Ludhiana on Friday, Mukherjee said that AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal is misguiding the people of Punjab by making false claims about development works in Delhi. District Congress president Gurpreet Gogi and Ludhiana West Candidate Bharat Bhushan Ashu were present during the press conference.

    Mukherjee claimed that no development has taken place in Delhi while liquor vends have been opened at various places. While attacking on SAD-BJP alliance, Mukherjee said that the SAD-BJP government is responsible for drug menace in Punjab.

    SAD office-bearers join Congress

     

    Tribune News Service

    Bathinda, January 20

    In another jolt to the SAD-BJP alliance in the city, many SAD office-bearers today joined the Congress in the presence of Manpreet Singh Badal at a function held in the trans-railway line area in Ward number 40 and 41.The leaders who came into the Congress fold were SAD vice-president (city) Gurcharan Singh Aulakh, SAD women’s wing vice-president (city) Baljit Kaur Bhullar, SAD women’s wing vice-president (city) Poonam Verma, organising secretary circle canal Bhola Singh, youth president of Ward Number 43 Dr Resham Singh, youth wing circle canal vice-president Anil Yadav and others.Congress candidate Manpreet Badal assured the new entrants that they would get due respect and honour.He claimed that after coming to power, record development would be undertaken in the trans-railway line area and this area would benamed new Bathinda.

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    Ramp up copter production, Defence Ministry tells HAL

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, January 12

    With the armed forces projecting the need for some 700 helicopters — light utility and armed — the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has asked the public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to ramp up production, speed up existing under-development projects and start out-sourcing work.The HAL, headquartered at Bengaluru, produces some 22-24 advanced light helicopters (ALH), the Dhruv, annually and some 200 of these are flying; however, the requirement is huge.In the second phase, rapid production of light utility helicopters (LUH) and light combat helicopter (LCH) will start. Prototypes of both are ready but need operational clearance. The MoD wants HAL to produce up to 85-90 copters per annum of these three types – the Dhruv, LUH and LCH — said sources, while adding that out-sourcing of some work had been suggested on the lines of global manufacturing practices.Some 100 copters – are needed annually to meet the needs of the three armed forces, the Central Armed Police Forces, the Coast Guard and smaller friendly nations. While HAL continues to be a major player, some of the production can be given to a selected private partner.The three armed services need 484 of the LUH-type to replace Cheetah/Chetak fleet of helicopters for which the Army requires 259, IAF 125 and Navy around 100 such helicopters equipped with anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities.The Army and the IAF need some 180 attack helicopters. The Coast Guard and other paramilitary forces have their own requirements which are nearly 100 copters. The HAL has planned to expand capacity and a new facility at Tumkur, some 100 km from Bengaluru, will start production in 2018.HAL is making a 5.5-tonne-class LCH, which is currently under development and undergoing weapons integration.

    90 helicopters needed per annum

    • The MoD wants Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to produce up to 85-90 copters per annum of these three types — Dhruv and light utility and light combat helicopters

    A jawan complains Central forces need a closer look

    Constable Tej Bahadur Yadav of the Border Security Force has caused quite a sensation despite his humble rank. The Union Home Minister was forced to take note and several of his colleagues were compelled to swing into the damage control mode. But the superiors of the humble constable, the backbone of the force guarding most of our frontiers, did not come away smelling of roses. The response from the BSF was insensitive and tactless and it should be hauled over the coals for suggesting that Yadav was a chronic trouble-maker. For good measure, the BSF even labelled him an alcoholic. In the age of social media where there is a level-playing field, the balance was clearly tilted in the complainant’s favour.Yadav has infringed the set procedures in a uniformed force where adherence to the chain of command is the sine qua non for its efficient functioning. He also does not have the advantage of claiming protection under the Whistle Blower Protection Act for it prohibits the reporting of a corruption-related disclosure if the subject concerns the security of India. Yadav may yet escape the fate of other dissenters in a highly disciplined and authoritarian institution because of the goodwill earned for his apparent sincerity. Whether Yadav had breached discipline or had a bee in his bonnet, his allegations need to be thoroughly probed.But this is also the occasion to cast the net wider and examine whether the BSF and the CRPF are overstretched and if the strains are showing. The CRPF is often deployed frequently and somewhat whimsically. An amendment to the BSF Act in 2011 extended its area of operations and it is now on anti-insurgency duty as well. It also needs to be studied whether staffing their top levels with IPS officers is part of the problem. A thorough examination has become necessary after other BSF jawans spilt the beans about the poor clothing, housing and deployment as well.  Our soldiers and policemen deserve every bit of attention and comfort we can provide them. Muzzling is no answer.


    INDIA HAS THE MOST ABSURD CIVIL MILITARY EQUATION IN THE WORLD by Maroof Raza

    Some years ago. when I was speaking to the Core Program of 16 senior officers of the ranks of Maj./Lt. Generals and their equivalent at the College of Air Warfare Secunderabad, on the subject of my book “Generals and Governments in India and Pakistan”, I was asked why have the Armed Forces been so marginalized even in military decision making in the India?
    My response was that, the situation was of their own making; and a fact that sociologists have no logical answers to.
    Moreover, my view was that if you feel strongly enough about something, you should either stand up for it or resign and walk off.
    This obviously didn’t go down well with my audience! That indeed is the key question. To what extent are the brass hats willing to stand up on a matter of principle?’ 
    Let’s take two examples of General Rodrigues or even Lt. General SP Raman. They both made remarks that they later withdrew under pressure and rendered a public apology. 
    How sad. Perhaps the lure of privileges was too dear to them!
    But this wasn’t always the case. After independence, when asked by the bureaucracy, to define the status of Officers by rank, Cariappa’s response was that the status of all Officers was the same, of a Commissioned Officer. Ranks were purely for administrative purposes. And, when prodded more for an answer, he curtly replied. ‘I do not wish to discuss this matter further.’
    The team led by Lt. Gen Srinagesh to finalise the Cease Fire Line in Karachi in late 1948, has distinguished military officers (though then of mid-level ranks) such as later Generals Prem Bhagat and SK Sinha. It also had the then Defence Secretary in it, by the way, but not as the team’s leader. But today, a Director (equal to a Colonel) in the Ministry of Defence, regularly questions the wisdom of a well-considered proposal put up by a Lt. General or even a Vice Chief. Anyone who has had any experience of how things get done in South Block, will agree with me.
    India has the most absurd civil military equation in the world.
    In most democracies, the military is either controlled by the Politicians (as in France and China) or by technocrats (as in the US).But in India, the Armed Forces are not only answerable to the politicians but well below the Bureaucrats and the police in the hierarchical pecking order.This must change.
    For a rank obsessed organization like our Armed Forces, which have for decades compared themselves only with the bureaucracy, the recommendations of successive pay commission are annoying.
    In fact, The Economist once did a piece about Britain’s class system and it showed the Armed Forces as a class apart. It’s about time our Armed Forces saw themselves as such.
    The bureaucracy needs to be reminded that the civil-service academy in Mussoorie (LBSNAA) was set up by an Army Officer, Brigadier Sharief and on his retirement as Chief, at the age of 54.
    General Srinagesh was asked to set up the Police Academy in Hyderabad.
    Tragically, both the IAS and IPS today see the Armed Forces as their inferiors. Why?An incident that took place in Ambala Cantt in the 1980s. could perhaps help explain this. When Officers were asked what can be done to improve their lot, a Young Officer stood up and said. “Sir, we should have a Chiefs fund, where every officer pays a rupee a month. This should be our assured gift to a Chief on his retirement. Hopefully, they’ll then, not sell us to the Government”.
    The strong sentiment expressed in this message was clear .
    “IT IS ABOUT TIME, OUR BRASS HATS DEVELOPED GUTS AND STAND UP TO THE CIVILIANS.”

    Flaws put lives of soldiers at risk, says army report

    SECURING FORCES Study talks of at least 50 gaps, points out proper fuel storage could have lowered toll in the 2016 Uri terror attack that claimed 19 lives

    NEW DELHI: At a time when military is increasingly coming under attack in Jammu and Kashmir, an army report has pointed out at least 50 gaps — ranging from body armour, night-vision gear to flawed fuel storage — that pose a threat to soldiers’ lives.

    AP PHOTOA soldier takes position outside a General Reserve Engineering Force camp in Akhnoor sector, near Jammu, on Monday.

    If the army doesn’t make fuel storage safer at its forward bases, it could risk the lives of thousands of soldiers.

    Militant strikes can cause greater damage not because of their sophistication but because tens of thousands of litres of fuel is being stored in make-shift shelters, says the document.

    “The enormity of the problem can be gauged from the aftermath of the recent terrorist action on the FOL (fuel, oil and lubricants) dump at Uri,” says the report on Future Core Technologies and Problem Statements.

    Nineteen soldiers were killed when suspected Pakistani militants struck at an army base in Uri in September. Fourteen of the troops were burnt alive as their tents were pitched next to a fuel dump. The attack, one of the worst against the army in the border state, forced a rethink on fuel storage. The army design bureau (ADB), inaugurated last August, has identified FOL storage in forward bases as one of the 50 problems that need to be resolved swiftly. An initiative of the Modi government, the ADB has been tasked with promoting research and development and act as a bridge between the force and the private sector to meet the army’s requirements. The ADB has stressed on the need for smart vests for soldiers with built-in codes for identification, sniper scopes to engage targets with greater precision and robots to carry equipment in high-altitude areas, including Siachen glacier. The document, published by the CII, says “vintage barrels and jerrycans” used for storage and transportation of fuel are vulnerable, increasing the “scope for collateral damage”. Make-shift fuel storage facilities are susceptible to enemy shelling and fire hazards, too.

    The army has sought the help of academia and the industry to develop alternative mechanisms for storage.

     

    BSF jawan at LoC alleges bad quality food; inquiry ordered

    BSF jawan at LoC alleges bad quality food; inquiry ordered
    Photo courtesy: Tez Bahadur Yadav’s Facebook account.

    New Delhi, January 9A BSF jawan, deployed along the Indo-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir, has alleged that troops are served bad quality food and even have to go “empty stomach” at times, prompting the border guarding force to initiate an inquiry.(Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)In videos uploaded on social media platforms, the jawan, wearing camouflage uniform and carrying a rifle, claimed that while government procures essentials for them, the high-ups and officers “sell it off” in an “illegal” manner in the market.In at least three different videos clocking over 4 minutes released online, constable T B Yadav (40) of BSF’s 29th battalion also goes on to show the food that is allegedly being served to him.(Video courtesy: Tez Bahadur Yadav’s Facebook account) 

    “We only get a ‘parantha’ and tea as breakfast and this is without any pickle or vegetables… we slog for 11 hours and at times we have to stand throughout the duty hours. For lunch, we get ‘dal’ (pulses) which only has ‘haldi’ (turmeric) and salt… with roti. This is the quality of the food we get… how can a jawan do his duty?”I request the Prime Minister to get this probed… no one shows our plight,” Yadav alleged.

    He said he “may not be here” hinting action might be taken against him and urged people to take the issue forward so that corrective action is taken.He further alleged that at times jawans have to go to sleep “empty stomach”.

    The Border Security Force took cognisance of the video and tweeted from its official handle that an inquiry has been ordered.”BSF is highly sensitive to the welfare of tps(troops). Individual aberrations, if any, are enquired into. A senior officer has already rchd (reached) the location,” the force tweeted after tagging the video.

    A senior BSF official said Yadav is currently deployed along the Line of Control in J&K and the BSF jawans here work under the operational command of the army which also provides for “food and other logistics of the jawans”.It has also been found, the official said, that Yadav has been given four major punishments in the past and has been issued reprimands for alleged violation of discipline.”However, the force has already ordered for a full investigation into the allegations made by Yadav who joined the force in 1996,” the official said, adding the jawan has also applied for voluntary retirement. — PTI

     

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    PoW’s family urges voters to boycott poll

    Balwant Garg

    Tribune News Service

    Faridkot, January 5

    The family members of a prisoner of war (PoW) have started a signature campaign to persuade the people to boycott the elections in this area.Annoyed with the elected MLAs and MPs for not pursuing the repatriation of Surjit Singh, a BSF seopy languishing in a Pakistani jail for the last 45 years, his family members said they wanted to tell the people that the political leaders were not serious about the lives of those who defend the country.Surjit Singh had gone missing in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. In the first week of April 2011, when some prisoners were released from Pakistan after 27 years in jail , the wife and son of Surjit Singh had came to know about his whereabouts.Amrik Singh, son of Surjit Singh, said for the last five years, the External Affairs Ministry was making just promises of getting his father released. But there was never any concrete and plausible effort at any level.“Fed up with empty promises, we have decided to launch a campaign to persuade people not to give vote to any candidate,” he added.


    Will not hesitate to use force, asserts Army chief Gen Rawat

    Will not hesitate to use force, asserts Army chief Gen Rawat
    General Bipin Rawat addresses the media. Tribune photo

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, January 1

    Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Sunday sent out a strong message saying India wanted peace and tranquillity at the borders, but if needed, they would not hesitate to use force.General Rawat was talking to the media after inspecting a guard of honour at the South Block here. He had taken over as chief on Saturday and this was his first ceremonial guard of honour.

    (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    Gen Rawat said, “We want peace and tranquillity at the border but the target of peace does not mean we are weak. If need be, we will not hesitate to use force.”India shares a 3,323 km boundary with Pakistan, including a 749 km Line of Control (LoC). The Indian Army lost 63 soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir in 2016 and there have been 225 violations of ceasefire by Pakistan across the LoC.On being asked about his priorities, he said, “There will be no change in vision and thrust areas of the army. It has been arrived at after due deliberations.”Earlier in his remarks, Gen Rawat said, “I am aware of the roles and tasks assigned to the army. This will include maintaining security at the borders.”On being asked about the fact that two of his seniors, Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi and Lt Gen PM Hariz, had been superseded, Gen Rawat said, “It’s a decision of the government. I respect the superseded officers. I hope we continue to work together to strengthen the Army.”Gen Rawat also sent across a message to all ranks of the army saying every soldier counted. “Everyone counts and is equal in my eyes,” he said in a possible effort to end the social media comments about promotion of Infantry over the Armoured Corps.


    India needs a chief of defence staff, but don’t ape the west, says Lt Gen Shekatkar’s report

    The chief of defence staff will be a single-point military advisor to the defence ministers on military matters.

    Lt General Shekatkar

    LT General (retd) DB Shekatkar, Chairman of Committee on Combat Capabilities Enhancement of Armed Forces has said, “India needs a chief of defence staff but his role, responsibilities and accountability have to be defined as per Indian requirements and Ministry of Defence should not directly adopt a western model.”

    The general has just submitted his report to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who recently said a decision on appointment of CDS will be taken after studying the Shekatkar committee report.

    The 11-member committee has submitted a 550-page report to the Ministry of Defence. “Its contents are classified but on principle I can tell you a CDS is long overdue. We should not adopt a western model but keeping in mind the Indian environment appoint a CDS,” Shekatkar said speaking

    WHO IS CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF?

    Parrikar had in May 2016 set up a committee to work on enhancement of combat capabilities of the Indian armed forces. “There is need for integration of forces at two levels. One within the three services and the other with the ministry of defence. CDS should not be symbolic and the integration should not be cosmetic,” he added.

    Also read: Why Indian Army Special Forces are way behind US Navy SEALs or Israel’s IDF despite upgrade  

    Also read: We have tight military relations with India, says Russian minister countering Pakistan bonhomie

    The CDS will be a single-point military advisor to the defence ministers on military matters. He should have authority over the three chiefs but the chiefs are over all responsible for the functioning of the three forces. Keeping in mind future warfare enhancement of combat capabilities formation of a cyber space command and special forces command are included.

    There is likely to be a major debate on need to reorganise the armed forces to make them combat-ready for future wars. A section within the security establishment is of the opinion that hybrid wars, with the adversary using terror as a weapon is a bigger and immediate threat, more than conventional war in the near future. The elaborate report running into 550 pages is being studied by Parrikar and delves deep into aspects like joint planning, training and higher defence management.

    Also read: Home Ministry agrees to grant status of battle casualty to paramilitary personnel 

    Also read: Why Nagrota attack is a slap on security array of army establishments

    WHAT DOES THE REPORT LOOK LIKE

    The report looks into future requirements of the armed forces in terms of the operations to be undertaken. Despite joint training at the level of NDA initially, Defence Services Staff College at the level of majors and National Defence College at the level of Brigadiers, jointness in planning is missing in the armed forces.

    “Instead of different army, navy and air force war colleges – there should be an integrated war college for joint planning of operations. This can be at the level of commanding officers.”


    Obama signs defence bill; boosts security cooperation with India

    Obama signs defence bill; boosts security cooperation with India
    Barack Obama is currently vacationing in Hawaii. Reuters file

    Washington, December 24

    US President Barack Obama has signed into law the USD 618 billion defence budget for 2017, which enhances security cooperation with India and conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.Currently vacationing in Hawaii, Obama on Friday signed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, which asks Defence Secretary and Secretary of State to take steps necessary to recognise India as America’s “major defence partner”.

    (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    A summary of the bill released by Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain said NDAA-2017 “enhances security cooperation” between the US and India.It also asks the administration to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through inter-agency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defence trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.The NDAA, which among other things, creates a USD 1.2 billion Counter-ISIL Fund, imposes four conditions on Pakistan to be eligible for USD 400 million of the USD 900 million of the coalition support fund (CSF).The US Defence Secretary needs to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan and that Islamabad has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any of its territory as a safe haven.Early this year, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter refused to give a similar certification to Pakistan due to which it was not given USD 300 million under coalition support fund.In his signing statement, Obama did not mention to any of these provisions of the bill, but he did express disappointment over certain other provisions in NDAA-2017.He said: “I remain deeply concerned about the Congress’s use of the National Defence Authorisation Act to impose extensive organisational changes on the Department of Defence, disregarding the advice of the Department’s senior civilian and uniformed leaders.“The extensive changes in the bill are rushed, the consequences poorly understood, and they come at a particularly inappropriate time as we undertake a transition between administrations. These changes not only impose additional administrative burdens on the Department of Defence and make it less agile, but they also create additional bureaucracies and operational restrictions that generate inefficiencies at a time when we need to be more efficient.” PTI