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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 02 Dec

'If it wasn't slain NSG's house, even dogs wouldn't visit'

Press Trust Of India

TRAGIC TALE: Sandeep's father said politicians were under duress to express solidarity with victims' kin.

Thiruvananthapuram/Bangalore: "If it had not been (Major) Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have glanced that way."

This was how Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan heaped scorn on Monday on the family of NSG Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan slain in the Mumbai terror attack during commando operations, igniting a controversy after smarting under the snub from the father of the angry officer's when he went to Bangalore to offer his condolences.

The octogenarian CPI-M leader was turned away from the Bangalore home of Sandeep, a Keralite, on Sunday for what K Unnikrishnan perceived as Kerala government ignoring his son's supreme sacrondolence call in time.

"He (Sandeep's father) says that the Kerala Chief Minister did not come whereas the Karnataka Chief Minister came in the morning itself...and that Kerala has ignored him. He got all worked up over this," Achuthanandan told a news channel in Thiruvananthapuram

The Chief Miniser asked "Is there a rule that the chief ministers of Kerala and Karnataka should be there at the same time?

After a pause, the Chief Minister went on to say "If it had not been Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have glanced that way."

"It is Sandeep's family and that is why we went. A soldier's father should have had the sense to understand that," the Chief Minister said.

But Sandeep's father said politicians were under "compulsions and duress" to express solidarity with victims' kin in an apparent attemapt to get political mileage and "I did not want to respond to them."

'But for slain major, not even a dog will visit his house'

PTI | December 01, 2008 | 20:39 IST

'If it had not been (Major) Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have glanced that way.'

This was how Kerala Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan heaped scorn on Monday on the family of NSG Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed in the Mumbai terror attack during commando operations, igniting a controversy after smarting under the snub from the father of the angry officer when he went to Bangalore to offer his condolences.

The octogenarian Communist Party of India-Marxist leader was turned away from the Bangalore home of Sandeep, a Keralite, on Sunday for what K Unnikrishnan perceived as Kerala government ignoring his son's supreme sacrifice by not making a condolence call in time.

'He (Sandeep's father) says that the Kerala chief minister did not come whereas the Karnataka chief minister came in the morning itself, and that Kerala has ignored him.

He got all worked up over this,' Achuthanandan told television channel Times Now in Thiruvananthapuram.

The chief minister asked, 'Is there a rule that the chief ministers of Kerala and Karnataka should be there at the same time?'

After a pause, the chief minister went on to say, 'If it had not been Sandeep's house, not even a dog would have glanced that way.'

'It is Sandeep's family and that is why we went. A soldier's father should have had the sense to understand that,' the chief minister said.

But Sandeep's father said politicians were under 'compulsions and duress' to express solidarity with the terror victims in an apparent attempt to get political mileage and 'I did not want to respond to them.'

2 die in stampede during Army rally

Over 10,000 youths rushed in through a small gate during recruitment drive

Sanjay Bumbroo

Tribune News Service

Khasa (Amritsar), December 1

Two youths of this border region were killed and 10 others injured in a stampede during an Army recruitment rally. Over 10,000 youths had gathered for the rally here today morning.

Dalbir Singh, one of the candidates, who escaped death by a whisker, said the incident occurred when the Army authorities opened the small gate of the venue at 5.15 am and asked the candidates near the gate to sit before allowing them in. As soon as they asked them to move in, thousands of youngsters standing and enthused over the recruitment tried to push them in from the gate resulting in the breaking of the barbed wire and the two fell into a pit dug by the Army. They died due to asphyxiation as thousands of youths ran over them to enter the venue thinking the recruitment would be on first come-first serve basis.

The dead identified as Harjinder Singh of Buttar village near Mehta and Ranjodh Singh of Kaler village in Tarn Taran district were taken to a nearby private hospital where they were declared brought dead. The Khasa police registered a case under Section 174, Cr PC. The bodies were later taken to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar for postmortem and handed over to relatives.

Jaspal Singh, uncle of Harjinder, said his nephew was the only hope of the family as his father had died a few years ago leaving behind his wife. But with the death of his nephew, the mother had been left to fend for herself. He said the authorities must give proper compensation so that the old woman could make both ends meet while overcoming this gruesome tragedy.

In spite of the deaths of the two youths, the recruitment continued giving scant regard to value of human lives. A large number of people present there were shocked at the callous behaviour of the Army recruitment authorities and said better and adequate arrangements were required in view of the massive turnout of rural youths to join the Army.

Deputy commissioner Kahan Singh Pannu has ordered a magisterial probe into the deaths of two youths and urged the state government to provide Rs 2.5 lakh as compensation to the kin. He has further urged the state government to take up the matter with the Defence Ministry on inadequate arrangements during the recruitment rallies. He rued that the Army was following a 200-year- old recruitment mechanism and added that the recruiting module needed to be changed forthwith so that such incidents did not occur again.

However, Col K.K. Kiran, supervising the recruitment, without showing remorse over the killing of the two youths, washed his hands of the incident, saying they were simply following the procedure laid down by the Recruitment Board of the Army. He said they had made proper lighting arrangements in the area as the surface outside the venue was uneven and added they did not expect such a huge rush of candidates.

Colonel Kiran said though the recruitment rally today was being held for the youths of Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts only, people from Gurdaspur district who were supposed to come tomorrow, had also arrived today as well and contributed to the crowd.

What explains Pakistan's ambivalence?

Conflicting views have emerged from Pakistan in response to the request to depute the ISI boss to India to exchange information on the Mumbai terror strikes. It is time Pakistan helped in eliminating terrorism in its own interest and India's..

CJ: Jaya Srivastava , 11 hours ago Views:196 Comments:1

OPINION IN Pakistan is divided over helping India in respect of the Mumbai terror strikes that commenced on November 26 and continued till November 29. While the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a recent press conference on Saturday (November 29) in Islamabad asked India to provide all evidence about the Pakistani links, President Asif Ali Zardari assured India that his government would close down all terror camps and co-operate in the probe into the Mumbai attacks. He promised that India would be provided access to the LeT chief, Hafiz Syed. He also said that the DG of ISI would visit India to assist in the probe. Being a victim of terror himself, it would be in his interest and the interest of his country to curb terrorism.

Even though the Pakistani President assured India of help, the Pakistani Foreign Minister had something else in his mind. According to him, the Indian government had not provided any firm evidence on which he could act. He doubted the involvement of any Pakistani group since such involvement was only 'suspected'.

He took a dig at the Indian media when asked about the possible Pakistani involvement, saying, "We are not defensive…we are not involved in this ghastly act. I took the Indian media head on and asked them to act responsibly.

" He also added, "The Indian government should have pondered more, reflected more before coming to a conclusion."

When asked about his views on sending the ISI chief to India to co-operate in the investigation, Qureshi said, "The Indian government has not made any request for an immediate visit. It is too early for India to make any request; as and when they make a request we will co-operate. The Pak premier agency will co-operate with India as we have nothing to hide."

I wonder how India should take Pakistan's ambivalence towards the request to depute its ISI boss to the country. Should we applaud the Pakistani president's willingness to support India in fighting terror or should we condemn the foreign minister's statements as being unsupportive and absolutely unfriendly towards Pakistan's neighbours? I believe it's time Pakistan took a firm stand on terrorism and the terrorist organisations operating on its soil and put an end to its double standard.

Mumbai Heat
India summons Pak envoy
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 1
Amid mounting tension between the two countries over the Mumbai terror strikes, India today unambiguously told Pakistan that the audacious attack was carried out by elements from Pakistan and demanded a strong action against them.

Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik was summoned to the foreign office by Vivek Katju, special secretary in the external affairs ministry, this afternoon and was told that Islamabad's actions needed to match the sentiments expressed by its leadership that it wished to have a qualitatively new relationship with New Delhi.

"He (Malik) was informed that the recent terrorist attack on Mumbai was carried out by elements from Pakistan. The government expects that a strong action would be taken against those elements, whosoever they may be, responsible for this outrage," an external affairs ministry spokesman told reporters here.

Sources, meanwhile, said India had sought the extradition of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and Lashkar chief Hafiz Sayeed for their involvement in heinous crimes on the Indian soil.

New Delhi also shared with Pakistan the investigations carried out so far into the attacks, which had made it abundantly clear that the Mumbai attacks were masterminded by elements in the neighbouring country.

The sources said India expected Pakistan to match its words with deeds and cooperate fully with the investigations, as had been promised by its President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.

It is becoming clear that India's patience with Pakistan is running out because of its inability to rein in the 'jehadi' elements operating from its soil.

BSF Increases Patrolling,
Vigilance at India-Pakistan Border


New Delhi/Amritsar
Anticipating possible changes in India's relations with Pakistan after last week's Mumbai terror attack, the central paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) Monday said it has increased patrolling and surveillance along the border.

"We have increased the vigil, patrolling and surveillance all along the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes. It is the regular practise that we adopt after any terror attack in the country," a top BSF official told IANS in Delhi.

"There is no question of increasing the numbers of personnel at the border since we are already short of manpower. So far we have not received any alert from any of the intelligence agencies and noticed any movement either from Pakistani Rangers or army," the official added.

Additional Deputy Inspector General of BSF (Punjab frontier) J.S. Sra told IANS that they have not cancelled pre-sanctioned leave of any of the personnel.

"There is no additional deployment at the India-Pakistan border. But we are keeping a close watch," added Sra, who is posted in Jalandhar.

India has a little over 550 km of border with Pakistan in its Punjab state.

Evidences prove that terrorists were from Pak: BSF

Press Trust of India / New Delhi December 01, 2008, 14:33 IST

The terrorists who conducted the bloody campaign in Mumbai came from Pakistan irrespective of the claims made by the neighbouring country, a top paramilitary official has said.

The government has sufficient evidences to corroborate that the terrorists who struck Mumbai last week were from Pakistan, Director General Border Security Force M L Kumawat said today.

"We have got sufficient evidences that they (terrorists) were from Pakistan irrespective of what it says," Kumawat, who was special secretary (internal security)in the Ministry of Home Affairs before taking charge at BSF, told reporters on the occasion of BSF Raising day celebrations.

Refusing to comment on the build-up of Pakistani forces along the Indo-Pak border, the DG said the BSF, which is present on the same border, is all prepared to meet any challenge.

The western metropolis witnessed unprecedented terror attacks, including prime landmarks -- Taj Hotel, Trident-Oberoi hotel and a Jewish centre -- on Wednesday night when heavily armed terrorists struck killing over 180 people and injuring hundreds of others.

Pakistan government can't rein in ISI

Arif Mohamed Khan | December 01, 2008 | 23:04 IST

India has been attacked again. The financial capital has proved to be our soft underbelly and terrorists, apart from holding Mumbai to ransom for more than 60 hours, have left behind a gory tale of blood and human suffering.

But the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26 is unprecedented in nature and extent. It bears the mark of an officially trained and highly motivated team, who were under clear instructions to inflict maximum possible damage before they were killed or caught.

An operation of this magnitude may have arranged some local support as well. But the fact that the whole exercise was planned; directed and executed from across the border under the care of some professional organisation cannot be doubted.

The involvement of Pakistan's Intelligence agency ISI with terror outfits is now public knowledge. On July 12, 2008, CIA Deputy Director Stephen R Kappes made a visit to Pakistan to confront the top Pakistani civilian and military leaders with hard evidence to show the close involvement between ISI and the terror outfits.

The assessment report of the CIA held this nexus responsible for surge of violence in Afghanistan, including the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul. Further, ISI was suspected of leaking crucial information to the terror outfits with regard to planned attacks on their hideouts in border areas.

According to American press reports, the CIA officials welcomed this hard line on ISI and it was at this stage that their proposal to allow American forces to target terror hideouts inside Pakistan without informing the ISI received presidential clearance.

Since then, American forces have carried out a number of operations within Pakistani territory, which have been publicly protested against by the Pakistan leadership who have described them as intrusions and violation of Pakistani sovereignty.

During his visit to US in the last week of July 2008, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was repeatedly asked by the media to respond to this new CIA assessment of ISI-terror nexus. In a popular TV program The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Gilani asserted that 'some in the ISI are sympathetic to the militants, this is not believable. We will not allow that'.

We need not doubt the intentions of Prime Minister Gilani; we may even empathise with him for Pakistan itself is facing the threat of terrorism. But is he or his civilian government in a position to allow or disallow ISI its freedom of action?

According to Pakistani newspaper reports, for long ISI has been pursuing its own agenda and at times it became difficult even for military rulers to exercise control over ISI what to say of a feeble and weak civilian government that simply cannot afford to annoy powerful military and intelligence bosses.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto herself wrote in year 2000 in Pakistan daily The Nation dilating on the political rise of ISI in Pakistan. She had given details of how officers, who have served in the ISI, have been rewarded with diplomatic assignments, and how the resources of military and civilian intelligence agencies have been expanded so that they are now operating down to the Tehsil level.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a recent history. A casual glance of the newspaper reports will show that many people suspected ISI involvement in the crime. The Pakistan People's Party leadership demanded that the probe into the assassination be conducted under the supervision of UNO. This demand itself raised doubts about involvement of an agency that cannot be booked by the ordinary investigators.

In 1985, Shah Nawaz Bhutto was murdered by poisoning on the French Riviera. It was alleged to be the handiwork of ISI to intimidate Benazir Bhutto into not returning to Pakistan, but she refused to be cowed down and returned home, only to be toppled by the ISI soon after becoming prime minister in 1988.

In 1996, Murtaza Bhutto, the surviving brother of Benazir, was assassinated outside his house in Karachi, with the complicity of some local police officers. After the murder, it was alleged that the ISI started a disinformation campaign blaming her and her husband, Asif Zirdari, for the murder leading to her dismissal.

The former Army Chief General Aslam Beg admitted in an affidavit before the Supreme Court that the ISI had received Rs 140 million from Mehran Bank to rig the 1990 election confirming allegations made by Benazir Bhutto about ISI involvement in political activities.

Apparently, the ISI had cobbled together the Pakistan National Alliance to prevent the PPP from returning to power after it had been thrown out by the president.

Lieutenant General Asad Durrani, a former director-general of the ISI, said in a BBC interview earlier this year that he had taken personal responsibility for 'distributing money to the alliance against Benazir Bhutto' during the 1993 election.
After the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, to keep the Shias of Pakistan under control, the ISI encouraged the formation of ant-Shia Sunni extremist organizations such as the Sipah Sahaba, and extended material support to engineer anti Shia riots all over Pakistan.

To contain the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM -- now called the Muttahida Qaumi Movement) of Altaf Hussain, Sindhi ultra nationals were armed by ISI to kill the Mohajirs, and subsequently ISI engineered
a split between Mohajirs of Uttar Pradesh origin (in Altaf Hussain's MQM) and those of Bihar origin called MQM (Haquiqi--meaning real).

The agency trained about 83,000 Afghan Mujahideen from 1983 to 1997, and dispatched them to Afghanistan. Pakistan paid a price for its activities. Afghan and Soviet forces conducted raids against mujahideen bases inside Pakistan, and a campaign of terror bombings and sabotage in Pakistan's cities, guided by Afghan intelligence agents, caused hundreds of casualties.

In 1987, some 90 per cent of the 777 terrorist incidents recorded worldwide took place in Pakistan.

The role played by the ISI in the promotion of Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden was succinctly outlined by Bruce Riedel, National Security Council senior director for South Asia under Clinton and Bush. He said, "Al-Qaeda was a creation of the jihadist culture of the Pakistani army".

If there was a state sponsor of Al-Qaeda, Riedel said, it was the Pakistani military, acting through its ISI.

Commenting on the deep link between Pakistan Army and Al-Qaeda, Asia expert Selig S Harrison has pointed out that on September 19, 2001, just six days after Musharraf had supposedly agreed to US demands for cooperation against the Taliban regime and Al-Qaeda, he gave a televised speech in Urdu in which he declared, "We are trying our best to come out of this critical situation without any damage to Afghanistan and the Taliban."

The history and track record of ISI leaves no doubt about the agency being a 'state within the state' and nobody in his right senses can believe that Pakistan government can rein in ISI. Even if they have the will, they lack the capability particularly when a section of Pakistan establishment is clearly in sympathy with terror outfits. The recent statement of President Zardari about
'terrorists' operatingin Kashmir and then his hurried recantation is a case in point.

After Mumbai, we must realise the enormity of the threat and need to put our act together. We must not hesitate to take the help of countries like Israel, who have developed a highly advanced system to fight the menace of international terror. We must with or without the cooperation of Pakistan get rid of the terror training camps, and let Pakistan know that any action against terror outfits inside their territory is no violation of their sovereignty. Instead, it will help them restore their authority and save India from murder and mayhem.

Were the bulletproof vests substandard?

PTI | December 01, 2008 | 18:59 IST

The police officers who died in the gunfire unleashed by terrorists on the night of November 26-27 were wearing defective bullet-proof jackets, suspects a former IPS (Indian Police Service) officer.

Y P Singh, who quit the police department in 2005, said the vests that were sent to him for testing sometime in 2001 were found defective.

"In 2001, I tested some of these vests and found them to be substandard. I do not know if the vests from this lot were finally purchased or not," he told PTI.

"But in 2004, another batch of vests was tested by another officer and they too were found to be defective. Most likely, the police officers who died on Wednesday night were wearing these vests," Singh said.

The purchasing is done by the department headed by the joint commissioner of police (administration), Singh said.

"There is a big cartel operating here," Singh, who quit after being fed up with corruption in the police force, said.

Head of Anti-Terrorist Squad Hemant Karkare, encounter specialist Vijay Salasar and additional commissioner of Police Ashok Kamthe died when a terrorist opened fire on the vehicle they were riding in on the night of November 26.

An hour before that, TV channels had shown Karkare putting on a helmet and bullet-proof vest and heading out as the first reports of terror attacks came in.

Sino-Indian ties: Troubled times ahead

Harsh V Pant | November 24, 2008 | 16:19 IST

It is a remarkable spectacle. Both the India and Chinese foreign ministries argue that they are willing to find a solution to the Sino-Indian boundary dispute that is 'fair, reasonable and acceptable' to both sides by conducting bilateral negotiations 'in a spirit of mutual understanding and adjustment'. Yet, if recent events are anything to go by it is clear that trouble is brewing and all those years of effort at resolving the border issue has come under a cloud.

Last year, India strongly protested against a reference to Arunachal Pradesh by former Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing at an international forum. Now, the Chinese foreign ministry has challenged the statement of the Indian External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. While Mukherjee argued that China was fully aware that the state of Arunachal Pradesh had long been an integral part of India, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman made it clear that the present and past governments in China have never recognised the 'illegal' McMahon Line.

Despite occasional rhetorical flourishes about India and China being partners, the reality of Sino-Indian relations is getting more complicated by the day as the two Asian giants continue their ascent in the global inter-state hierarchy. The tensions over the boundary dispute between the two sides are escalating with China opening another front recently by raising objections over an area that was previously thought to have been settled.

A few months back China contested Indian control of 2.1 sq km area, known as the Finger Area, in the in the northernmost tip of the Indian state of Sikkim. This came as a surprise to Indians as the issue of Sikkim was widely considered to have been settled some years ago.

In 2003, when then Indian Prime Minister A B Vajpayee had visited Beijing a bilateral agreement was signed in which India recognised Tibet as part of the territory of China and pledged not to allow "anti-China" political activities in India while China acknowledged India's 1975 annexation of the former monarchy of Sikkim by agreeing to open a trading post along the border with the former kingdom and later by rectifying its official maps to include Sikkim as part of India. This was hailed as a major breakthrough in Sino-Indian bilateral ties though the Chinese government did not issue any formal statement recognising Sikkim as part of India.

Five years down the line, things are getting murkier with each passing day. Last year, the Chinese forces destroyed some Indian army bunkers at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction and more recently it has threatened to undertake cross-border forays to destroy stone demarcations in the Finger Area.

The Indian government has informed the Parliament that Chinese forces have stepped up regular cross-border activities over the past year. In a latest case, the Chinese soldiers entered 15 kilometres into India at the Burste post in the Ladakh sector along the Sino-Indian Boundary and burned the Indian patrolling base. According to some estimates, the intrusions by the Chinese forces into the Indian territory have escalated to 213 incidents, up from 170 reported last year. China persists in refusing to recognise the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh as part of India, laying claim to 90,000 sq. kms of its land. Even as China has solved most of its border disputes with other countries, it seems reluctant to move ahead with India on border issues. The entire 4057-km Sino-Indian frontier is in dispute, with India and China the only known neighbours not to be separated even by a mutually defined Line of Control.

Despite the need for an expeditious demarcation of the Line of Actual Control, the Sino-Indian boundary talks seem to be continuing endlessly and the momentum of the talks itself seems to have flagged. China continues to refuse to exchange maps of its existing position in Aksai Chin, despite Indian readiness to go ahead with its own, thereby keeping the settlement of the boundary dispute in abeyance for a more 'opportune' moment. China apparently wants major territorial concessions on Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh which India seems to be in no position to offer. As a consequence, a breakthrough on this issue seems to be the key to the larger boundary settlement. China has adopted shifting positions on the border issue, time and again enunciating new principles but not explaining them. This deliberate opacity and springing surprises are typical of Chinese negotiating tactics to keep the interlocutor in a perpetual state of uncertainty, even as the faade of negotiations continues.

The real problem, however, is that India has no real bargaining leverage vis--vis China and negotiations rarely succeed in the absence of leverage. India, moreover, is not making any serious effort to get any economic, diplomatic or military leverage vis--vis its neighbourhood dragon.

India has few incentives to offer or pressures to apply that its neighbourhood dragon will find either too tempting or frightening to ignore. India seems to have lost the battle over Tibet to China, despite the fact that Tibet constitutes China's only truly fundamental vulnerability vis--vis India. India has failed to limit China's military use of Tibet despite its great implications for Indian security, even as Tibet has become a platform for the projection of Chinese military power.

Not only has China pumped in infrastructural investments in developing roads, railways, airfields, hydroelectric and geothermal stations, leading to a huge influx of Han Chinese in Tibet, it is also rapidly expanding the logistical capabilities of its armed forces in Tibet. India's tacit support to Dalai Lama's government-in-exile has failed to have much of an impact either on China or on the international community. Even Dalai Lama has given up his dream of an independent Tibet and is ready to talk to the Chinese as he realises that in a few years Tibet might get overwhelmed with the Han population and Tibetans themselves might become a minority.

Encouraged by the growing isolation of Tibetans, the Chinese government now seems to have little interest in a genuine dialogue with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama now concedes that his drive to secure autonomy for Tibet through negotiations with the Chinese government had failed, thereby strengthening the hand of younger Tibetans who have long agitated for a more radical approach and who have demanded independence.

It is a possibility that recent turmoil among the Tibetans in China may be hardening Chinese perceptions vis--vis India. During the last visit of the Indian foreign minister to China, the Chinese government reportedly raised objections to the media prominence being given to the Dalai Lama and his supporters in India. Though Indian government can do little about how India media treats the Tibetan cause, it will inevitably impact upon Sino-Indian ties. This despite the fact that the Indian government has not been able to summon enough self-confidence to even allow peaceful protests by the Tibetans and forcefully condemn Chinese physical assaults on its Tibetan minority and verbal assaults on the Dalai Lama.

China also seems to be concerned about Indian foreign policy becoming proactive in recent years and being able to play the same balance of power game which the Chinese are masters of. India's growing closeness to the US and the idea that democratic states in the Asia-Pacific such as India, Japan, Australia and the US should work together to counter common threats is generating a strong negative reaction in Beijing.

Whatever the cause, the recent hardening of positions on both sides does not augur well for regional stability in Asia. Sino-Indian ties will, in all likelihood, determine the course of global politics in the coming years. The consequences of this development, however, remain far from clear. Pranab Mukherjee was right when he suggested in Beijing sometime back that India-China relations will be one of the more significant factors that will determine the course of human history in the 21st century. If the present indications are anything to go by, human history is in for some tough times ahead.

The writer teaches at King's College London.

Tackling terror
A federal agency is badly needed

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rightly stressed the need for a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to tackle terror. This has become imperative following the growing number of terrorist attacks in the country, including the latest one in Mumbai. At an all-party meeting in New Delhi on Sunday, he also announced a slew of other measures, including the creation of four hubs of National Security Guards in major cities for prompt action. Though the Prime Minister had mooted FIA earlier, the government was finding it difficult to go ahead because of the resistance from some non-UPA ruled states. Even at Sunday's meeting, the opinion was sharply divided. While the BJP and the AIADMK insisted on stringent laws like POTA to tackle terror, the Left parties opposed draconian measures but were open to suggestions for strengthening provisions in the existing laws to combat terror. The new Union Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, told them that the Centre was committed to strengthening the legal framework and streamlining the system. The government should not waste time any more and go ahead with its plans to tackle terror more effectively.

The idea of a federal agency itself is not new. The K. Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms, the Justice V.S. Malimath Committee on Criminal Justice Reforms and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have all called for a strong federal law and agency to tackle terror firmly. Moreover, FIA, unlike the CBI, will be in a better position to tackle terror effectively since it will have direct jurisdiction to investigate terror-related offences having national and international ramifications. Equally important is the Supreme Court ruling in December 2003, while upholding TADA and POTA, that since terrorism threatened India's territorial integrity and sovereignty, terrorism forms a part of the Union List's "Defence of India" rather than the State List's "Public Order".

While the setting up of FIA cannot be delayed, there is an urgent need for effective coordination between the Centre and the states to combat terror. On their part, the states need to streamline their intelligence machinery and their police units, most of which are badly managed, politicised, ill-trained and not fit enough to meet the present-day challenges. Police reforms, as directed by the Supreme Court, are as important as strengthening air and maritime security. The states should deploy the police judiciously and there is no need for wasting a chunk of it on those who think they are VIPs. The beat constable system, too, needs a revamp.

No politics, please
Need to equip security forces better
by S. Nihal Singh

Looking beyond the immense Mumbai tragedy, the country needs to take stock of its failings. While the Congress-led governments at the Centre and in Maharashtra were found wanting in coping with determined and co-ordinated militant attacks on Mumbai's iconic targets, the inadequacies that led to so many deaths and so much destruction cut across party lines. Their roots lie in our lack of consistency and our notorious disregard for discipline.

The symbol of the Congress-led government's failure was the recent announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after four and a half years in office to form a time-barred committee to recommend the revamping of security agencies, Yet the country has witnessed a regular drumbeat of terrorist incidents spread around the country. Whether it is fighting Maoist outfits or homegrown or foreign jihadis; it has been clear for years that the training, equipment and coordination of our security agencies are woefully inadequate.

What the Congress and sane non-partisan men and women must make clear is that the choice is not between incompetence on security issues and a hard-line regime oriented against Muslims or Christians. Rather, it is to gear up India's security by enforcing strict anti-terrorism laws and giving the security agencies the wherewithal to fight 21st century terrorism while ensuring that the rights of none of its citizens are transgressed.

We are in the season of state assembly elections and priming for the general election. It might be an effective catch phase for the Bharatiya Janata Party to suggest that it is the party that will protect the citizen. But harsh anti-terrorism laws alone cannot protect the citizens of a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country or a party that stands for Hindutva's supremacy.

We are a disorganised and rule-flouting people and discipline will not come to us overnight. But it is well to understand that the discipline of the style of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, with its emphasis on military drills and the supremacy of Hindutva, is not be conducive to strengthening the nation or encouraging unity. Rather, it would prove counter-productive.

We have disciplined armed forces that have proved their mettle, despite the few bad apples that have recently come to light. But a nation cannot be drilled like the Army; as such experiments as Hitler's have proved in history. We have, of course, the Indian variants in the form of the Bajrang Dal and the Shiv Sena and its offspring, but they cannot inspire confidence in conducting democratic politics.

Rather, the need of the hour is to focus single-mindedly on reorienting our security and intelligence agencies to their tasks in the 21st century. One central elite counter-insurgency force is far from sufficient in fighting the spreading contagion of terrorism; every state needs its own force suitably equipped and trained. It stands to reason that if an anti-terrorist force is to perform its task adequately, it needs the most modern equipment and technology. For instance, sharpshooters could not use their firepower on occasion in the Mumbai standoff because they did not have the modern technological equipment that could distinguish civilians from terrorists.

Traditionally, the government at the Centre has hidden behind the problem of getting state governments' consent in establishing institutions for fighting terrorism because opposition-ruled states in particular zealously guard their autonomy. But there are ways to surmount this hurdle by teaming up with willing states in the first instance, until others see the virtue of a unified answer to terrorist acts. The lesson the United States learned from 9/11 was to combine all relevant agencies under one roof, in the shape of Homeland Security. And it must surely redound to the credit of the US that it has not so far witnessed a terrorist act since it put into effect new mechanisms to counter terror.

At the same time, consistency is a virtue we must learn to acquire. How often have we seen the spectacle of extra security measures employed at key establishments only to see them wither away over time. Ensuring security for citizens and vital institutions cannot be episodic because the nature and sophistication of modern-day terrorism require foolproof counter-measures that are in place and working like clockwork all the time.

Police forces at the state level are often poorly equipped and trained and this weakness at the base level of any security structure can prove fatal. One must commend the bravery of such police officers as Hemand Karkare, but better equipment and tactics could have prevented the loss of valuable lives. Indian security officials have spoken about the determined and well-trained terrorists who took Mumbai on. The country needs better-trained security and police forces that can give terrorists a fitting reply.

It is a sign of the divisive and fractious times in which we live and the compulsions of the election season that after the briefest period of restraint, the Opposition and the government have been training guns at each other. This does not mean that there should not be a thorough enquiry into the authorities' failures in stopping the most horrendous of terrorist attacks in India. But surely the value of any analysis would be lost if the objective is to gain party advantage, rather than the interest of the country. Advertisements placed by the BJP in newspapers sought to use the Mumbai attacks to win more votes in the assembly elections.

The BJP probably believes that the winds are blowing in its favour in the assembly elections because the horrendous nature of the Mumbai attacks has wiped out its embarrassment in defending persons attached to the Sangh Parivar allegedly carrying out anti-Muslim terrorist attacks. It certainly fits the party's campaign plank of the Congress-led government being soft on terror.

While the electors will soon deliver their verdict on the parties they choose in the states and later at the Centre, the problem of fighting terrorism will not disappear. And that problem needs to be separated from the game of electoral politics. A solution can be found only on the basis of planning and equipping security forces to deal with a modern scourge gathering pace with technology.

Mumbai Unites Pakistanis

By Aamir Latif, IOL Correspondent

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"We will not leave the government alone at this critical juncture," Ahmad told IOL.

ISLAMABAD — Indian accusations of a Pakistani involvement in last week's Mumbai attacks and threats of troops build-up on the borders are uniting all political and religious parties, even Taliban tribesmen, against a possible threat from arch rival India.

"We will not leave the government alone at this critical juncture," Qazi Hussein Ahmad, leader of Jammat-e-Islami, Pakistan's largest Islamic party, told IslamOnline.net.

"India must not have this wishful thinking that the Pakistani nation stands divided. The nation stands fully united and is ready to thwart any outside aggression."

India on Monday formally accused "elements" in Pakistan of being behind the 60-hour attacks, which left at least 172 dead and 300 wounded, and demanded "strong action" from Islamabad.

Officials claim their investigations had shown that all the attackers were Pakistani nationals.

Pakistan has denied any link to the attacks and President Asif Ali Zardari has urged New Delhi not to "over-react."

"This is not a time where we are supposed to score political mileage," Siddique-ul-Farooq, a spokesman for the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (N) of former premier Nawaz Sharif, told IOL.

"This is a testing time not only for the government and the armed forces but for the whole nation, and the PML-N will stand alongside them."

PML-N sources said Sharif personally contacted Zardari and Premier Yousef Raza Gilani to offer his full cooperation.

"He has not conveyed his verbal support only. But he is busy in backdoor diplomacy and using all his contacts with the world leaders in a bid to stem pressure on Pakistani government," a senior PML-N leader told IOL.

He added that Sharif, a former two-time premier, has contacted the leaders of China, Saudi Arabia and Iran to seek their help in easing tension between India and Pakistan.

The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since their 1947 independence and came on the brink of a fourth over a 2001 attacks on the Indian parliament.

Taliban Support

"Thanks to India. It has got us untied," said Mir.

Even the pro-Taliban tribesmen, who have been fighting Pakistani forces in the tribal belt for the past four years, offered unconditional support to the government in case of any Indian aggression.

"Whatever our differences are with the government, there is no second opinion on the sovereignty and defense of the country," Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Tehrik-e-Taliban Swat, told IOL by telephone.

"We offer our unconditional support to the government at this hour of need."

The spokesman described Taliban leaders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulvi Fazalullah as "patriotic" Pakistanis.

"They have no differences with Pakistan but with the government and the army," suggested Khan.

"We offer the government to hand over the western borders to us and deploy the army of eastern borders to defend any Indian invasion.

"We assure them that we are fully capable of defending the western borders, and India knows that very well."

Pakistani security officials have threatened that the country would be forced to relocate its 100,000, now fighting militants in the tribal area, to the borders with India if case of any military escalation.

Intelligence sources confirmed that the main militant groups in South Waziristan have contacted the government after the Mumbai attacks offering a ceasefire if the army halted operations in their areas.

"We have no big issues with the militants in FATA (federally administered tribal areas)," a top security official told reporters on Saturday.

"We have only some misunderstandings with Baitullah Mehsud and Fazlullah. These misunderstandings could be removed through dialogue."

Unity Chance

Lawmakers are urging the government to halt its military operations in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

"Our appeal to the government is to halt military operations in tribal belt and pay attention towards eastern borders," Akhunzada Chattan, a parliamentarian from Bajur, told IOL.

"Ten hundred thousands tribesmen will defend the western borders voluntarily."

Akhunzada thinks that differences within different segments of society at this stage will only benefit the "enemy".

"India has no nerve to invade Pakistan unless the Pakistani nation is divided," he contends.

"Therefore, it is high time to halt military operations in the tribal areas and send a clear-cut message to India and its allies that they have to face a united Pakistan in case of any misadventure."

Defense and security analysts believe the government and army are seriously considering the militants' ceasefire offer.

"The Indian allegations against Pakistan have suddenly forced the military establishment to finally accept that they are not fighting an American war inside the Pakistani territory," Hamid Mir, a defense and security analyst, told IOL."Thanks to India. It has got us untied."

Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security

By Spencer S. Hsu and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, December 1, 2008; A01

The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response -- a nearly sevenfold increase in five years -- "would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable," Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted "a fundamental change in military culture," he said.

The Pentagon's plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011. The first 4,700-person unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was available as of Oct. 1, said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command.

If funding continues, two additional teams will join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops in supporting local and state officials nationwide. All would be trained to respond to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attack, or CBRNE event, as the military calls it.

Military preparations for a domestic weapon-of-mass-destruction attack have been underway since at least 1996, when the Marine Corps activated a 350-member chemical and biological incident response force and later based it in Indian Head, Md., a Washington suburb. Such efforts accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, and at the time Iraq was invaded in 2003, a Pentagon joint task force drew on 3,000 civil support personnel across the United States.

In 2005, a new Pentagon homeland defense strategy emphasized "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents." National security threats were not limited to adversaries who seek to grind down U.S. combat forces abroad, McHale said, but also include those who "want to inflict such brutality on our society that we give up the fight," such as by detonating a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city.

In late 2007, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed a directive approving more than $556 million over five years to set up the three response teams, known as CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces. Planners assume an incident could lead to thousands of casualties, more than 1 million evacuees and contamination of as many as 3,000 square miles, about the scope of damage Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005.

Last month, McHale said, authorities agreed to begin a $1.8 million pilot project funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through which civilian authorities in five states could tap military planners to develop disaster response plans. Hawaii, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia will each focus on a particular threat -- pandemic flu, a terrorist attack, hurricane, earthquake and catastrophic chemical release, respectively -- speeding up federal and state emergency planning begun in 2003.

Last Monday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered defense officials to review whether the military, Guard and reserves can respond adequately to domestic disasters.

Gates gave commanders 25 days to propose changes and cost estimates. He cited the work of a congressionally chartered commission, which concluded in January that the Guard and reserve forces are not ready and that they lack equipment and training.

Bert B. Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership, said the new Pentagon approach "breaks the mold" by assigning an active-duty combat brigade to the Northern Command for the first time. Until now, the military required the command to rely on troops requested from other sources.

"This is a genuine recognition that this [job] isn't something that you want to have a pickup team responsible for," said Tussing, who has assessed the military's homeland security strategies.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the libertarian Cato Institute are troubled by what they consider an expansion of executive authority.

Domestic emergency deployment may be "just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority," or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU's National Security Project. And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of "a creeping militarization" of homeland security.

"There's a notion that whenever there's an important problem, that the thing to do is to call in the boys in green," Healy said, "and that's at odds with our long-standing tradition of being wary of the use of standing armies to keep the peace."

McHale stressed that the response units will be subject to the act, that only 8 percent of their personnel will be responsible for security and that their duties will be to protect the force, not other law enforcement. For decades, the military has assigned larger units to respond to civil disturbances, such as during the Los Angeles riot in 1992.

U.S. forces are already under heavy strain, however. The first reaction force is built around the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, which returned in April after 15 months in Iraq. The team includes operations, aviation and medical task forces that are to be ready to deploy at home or overseas within 48 hours, with units specializing in chemical decontamination, bomb disposal, emergency care and logistics.

The one-year domestic mission, however, does not replace the brigade's next scheduled combat deployment in 2010. The brigade may get additional time in the United States to rest and regroup, compared with other combat units, but it may also face more training and operational requirements depending on its homeland security assignments.

Renuart said the Pentagon is accounting for the strain of fighting two wars, and the need for troops to spend time with their families. "We want to make sure the parameters are right for Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. The 1st Brigade's soldiers "will have some very aggressive training, but will also be home for much of that."

Although some Pentagon leaders initially expected to build the next two response units around combat teams, they are likely to be drawn mainly from reserves and the National Guard, such as the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from South Carolina, which returned in May after more than a year in Afghanistan.

Now that Pentagon strategy gives new priority to homeland security and calls for heavier reliance on the Guard and reserves, McHale said, Washington has to figure out how to pay for it.

"It's one thing to decide upon a course of action, and it's something else to make it happen," he said. "It's time to put our money where our mouth is."

Pakistan, India deny troops build-up

Monday, December 01, 2008

NEW DELHI, RAWALPINDI: Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director-General and Pakistan Army spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said on Sunday that the Army had not found any solid evidence of unusual military movement by India on the international border.

Talking to newsmen, he said the Pakistan Army was ready for national defence and to tackle any untoward situation on the western border. He said the Army was closely monitoring Indian military movement on the international border, but no unusual activity was found. He advised the nation not to worry about India's reported ambitions.

"Our intelligence sources have also told us that no such directives were issued by the Indian government to increase the number of Indian troops on the Pak-India border," he said.

Meanwhile, the Indian external affairs ministry, rejecting the news telecast by some Indian TV channels, said India was neither considering suspending the ceasefire agreement with Pakistan nor were any directives for the movement of the Indian Army to the Pak-India border issued. An Indian Army official said, "We have not received any orders from the government for moving our troops to the border and there will be no Operation Parakram-like mobilisation," Press Trust of India quoted the official as saying. He was referring to the previous Indian Army build-up in 2002.

Earlier, some Indian TV channels had said the Indian government had ordered the build-up of troops on the border with Pakistan besides mulling over suspending the ceasefire pact with it. Also on Sunday, Pakistan's military said the country's ceasefire with India was holding and there was no military build-up on the border in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. The military was responding to Indian media reports that India has cancelled a five-year-old ceasefire on the border of the disputed Kashmir region, as tensions grow over accusations that the attackers came from Pakistan.

"We have seen reports in the media suggesting suspension of the ceasefire (in Kashmir) and movement of troops on the Indian side of the border," Athar Abbas told AFP. "As far as the official authenticated reports are concerned, there is no such movement or mobilisation of troops. The ceasefire is holding."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani phoned all the major political leaders of the country, who offered their complete support to the government in the wake of heightened tensions with India. The politicians who were contacted on Sunday included former Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali, AJK Prime Minister Atiq Ahmed Khan, Allama Sajid Naqvi, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Dr Abdul Malik, Israrullah Zehri, Munir Khan Orakzai and Senators Shahid Bugti, Ismail Baladi and Haji Hanif Tayyab.

They appreciated the prime minister for consulting all the democratic forces in the country. The prime minister lauded the unity among all the political forces. He said Pakistan would explore all possibilities to normalise its relations with neighbouring countries as it believed in peace and harmony.

Prime Minister Gilani also called a national security conference for Tuesday at 2:30pm in the PM's House to discuss the prevailing situation and evolve a joint policy. Prime Minister's Press Secretary Zahid Bashir told a TV channel the meeting would be attended by all politicians.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said good relations with India were in the interest of Pakistan. In an interview with CNN, he said, "The government feels good neighbourly relations with India are in the interest of Pakistan. Pakistan has said its premier intelligence agency will cooperate with India in probing the Mumbai incident as our hands are clean and we have nothing to hide and nothing to be ashamed of."

Qureshi said Pakistan itself was a victim of terrorism and both countries could jointly defeat the menace. To a question, he said the Indian government had not yet provided any evidence to Pakistan on its alleged involvement in the terror attacks. He said Pakistan would take action against groups or individuals if the Indian government provided proof or evidence against them.

In the meantime, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan phoned Qureshi on Sunday to discuss bilateral relations and views on the regional and global situation. Qureshi briefed his Turkish counterpart about Pakistan's relations with India after the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. He said, "Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attacks and offered all possible assistance to India. Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism and considers it a menace to humanity."

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