United Kingdom-based expert, Colonel Russell Combe has handed over to Government his final report on the Security Sector Reform Programme (SSRP).The document was handed over to President David Granger at the State House on Wednesday in the presence of top-ranking Police and military officers.While the report focuses primarily on reforms within the Guyana Police Force, Combe explained that there were measures also included to address issues plaguing the Prison and Fire Services as well as the Coast Guard of the GuyanaUK security expert Colonel Russell Combe handing over the SSRP report to President David Granger on Thursday at State HouseDefence Force (GDF).During a meeting with then British Prime Minister David Cameron back in 2016, President Granger had requested that the multimillion-dollar SSRP be revived.The US$4.7 million security sector pact was initially launched in 2007, but was scrapped two years later, after major disagreements between the then Administration and the UK Government over some of the conditions of the plan.According to President Granger, with this report, his Government will now try to correct errors.Recalling all the previous attempts at security reform, the Head of State posited that the root cause of the escalation in crime in Guyana was narcotics trafficking.However, the UK-based security expert explained that tackling the cause of crime was outside of his current capacity.“(Cause of crime) is driven by economics and whilst that’s an important area to tackle, that’s not an area where I would be in the position to offer advice to the President. He needs to look at that along with his other government strategies and… hopefully, there will be resources to improve in that area with the oil and gas exploration taking place in Guyanese waters,” he asserted.Nevertheless, Combe went on to posit that the presentation of the report was not just the beginning or end of efforts to reform the local security sector.“The report is dynamic; it’s not to represent just the beginning. Activities supported by the United Kingdom have already commenced: the training of (Police’s) Strategic Planning Unit last year and then in November, there was consultancy on the marine capability of the Police Force and indeed engaged with the Coast Guards as well… So, this is not the beginning, nor is it the end,” he noted.The Colonel added that the report did not only contain his views on issues facing the security services in particular the Police Force but was a compilation of previous reports.“I also want to stress that it’s a dynamic document, one that will be built upon throughout my period of return, and also a reference document for the various security sector players and actors,” he outlined.The UK expert further stated that they do not want to see the report sitting on a shelf, gathering dust. In fact, he noted that the report was compiled in such a way that it can be broken up and separated into parts to be dealt with by different groupings.Colonel Combe is expected to return in April this year to oversee the implementation of his recommendations. His new tenure will see him in Guyana until March 2019.
Expressing concern over the military assistance provided to Pakistan by the US, India conveyed its message to Washington over the rising military cooperation and resumption of military supplies. The State Department of the US approved a military assistance package of $125 million for the continued support of the F-16 programme. The Pentagon asserted that the military sales would result in the monitoring of the F-16 fighter jets in Pakistan’s inventory and not alter the basic military balance in the region. Pentagon’s decision comes after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s US visit that, as per his view, was successful in amending US-Pakistan ties. No matter how much cover the US provides for its decisions, the decision to aid Pakistan does not go down well within the Indian corridors. Just as Indo-US bilateral relations are brimming to be at their personal best, signs of reconciliation with Pakistan pose a serious threat to it. America should take cognisance of the fact that it is the very same F-16s that Pakistan deployed against India in February when the Balakot Airstrike happened and one of our pilots had crash-landed on Pakistan soil. Though the US maintains that proposed sale does not indicate any change in the US policy of maintaining a freeze in military assistance to Pakistan, there lies a suspicious perception towards the same. At a time when the US is leading the charge at the FATF’s meetings to see that Pakistan curbs terror funding and narrows down on terror outfits to avoid getting blacklisted, facilitating a $125 million military sales does not fit in the picture. Somewhere, it denotes America’s double standards. Recently, US President Trump had stated that he was offered an opportunity to mediate the Kashmir issue by Indian Prime Minister which was clearly denied by India. Citing the Lahore Declaration and Shimla Agreement as the norms as per which the issue is to be bilaterally resolved, India maintained a no-third-party interference policy. In fact, India looks up to the US as a strategic ally who can push Pakistan to a corner, like it has when FATF strictures are concerned and live up to its commitment to eradicate terrorism and terror funding in the wake of several terror instances in past times. But its military sales do not keep its commitments of cornering Pakistan in high regard. There may be another ambition that the US is pursuing with regard to its South Asia policy but clearly, that is not sitting well with India who sees US aid to Pakistan as highly concerning. There are concerns whether this military sale would result in an upgrade for Pakistan’s F-16s, further strengthening them. These concerns are not irrational for India who looks at US’s aid to Pakistan as a detrimental sign. To this effect, and given the shaky trade relations, the United States has a lot to clarify and rectify, if wrong, when US deputy secretary of state John Sullivan visits New Delhi in August. It is strange that at the G20 summit in Osaka, Trump’s attitude with Prime Minister Modi and their discussions suggested smoother cooperation between India and the US but back home, there have been turbulences that certainly do not augur well for the bilateral relations. It is to this concern that the United States must allay any underlying concerns of India and ensure it of their commitment. The pseudo-aid provided by US to Pakistan gives the latter a stronger and bold outlook towards state of affairs when in reality Pakistan should be carrying out crackdowns on terror outfits to redeem these. If the US provides aid, of any kind, to it then there is less motivation to do what is necessary–eradicate terrorism from its soil. US must realise that its actions have dire consequences which may not affect it but will affect India who has been at the receiving end of such terrorism emanating from Pakistan soil for years. US, with its CAATSA policy and the entire episode of cornering Iran, must realise that it is not the best portrayal of its policies when it aims to solidify relations with India while acknowledging the terror threat that Pakistan holds.