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Thursday, 4 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 04 Dec

From Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema


Mumbai terrorist attack has shaken the nation out of slumber. A number of steps are being taken to improve the security system. The individuals whose responsibility it was to provide security have been asked to go. Some more heads too may roll. Political leadership has become alert to the requirement of security. All party meet called by the Prime Minister has suggested certain steps which will be taken in due course of time. A Federal intelligence Agency has been mooted. NSG strength is being increased and they are being re-located to reduce reaction time. Many more steps are in the pipe line. All efforts will be made to ensure that all loop holes in our security system are plugged to make our country more secure from such attacks in future. All these and many more steps not withstanding since the initiative is always with the terrorists such attacks cannot be totally ruled out in future. In order to defeat the enemy’s nefarious designs under all circumstances it is imperative that we understand his ultimate aim of carrying out such attacks and react in a manner that the enemy fails to achieve his aim. His aim to my mind is to break the secular, plural, tolerant and open fabric of our society. India and Pakistan are trying coming closer by shedding their age old enmity. This does not suite their designs. There being a number of power centers in Pakistan the exact power equation is not very clear. Not all in power in Pakistan however are for improvement of our relations for their personal reasons; hence their clandestine support to the terrorist organizations. So what should we do? We as a nation must ensure that what ever be the provocations we must remain united. No divisions based on cast, color, creed, community, region or any other grounds must be allowed by the people. The terrorist has no religion should be under stood in letter and spirit. In this the Muslim body has shown the nation the way by refusing to burry the Mumbai terrorist as they do not recognize them to be Muslims. All other religious bodies must draw inspiration from this lead and announce to do like wise should there be such situation. While diplomatic pressure on Pakistan for total cooperation against terrorists must continue we must continue work for improved relations amongst us. We must try helping strengthen democratic forces with in Pakistan who are trying to assert themselves, for a democratic, progressive Pakistan is in the interest of India. Any hawkish attitude on our part may give an excuse to the Military in Pakistan to take charge once again. While efforts must continue provide impregnable security system in our country the ultimate answer lies with the people to defeat the nefarious designs of the terrorists.

Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema,

Satguru Partap Singh Apollo Hospital,


New DG Infantry takes charge
Lt Gen Jasbir Singh has taken over as Director-General of Infantry at the Army Headquarters here, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. An alumnus of National Defence Academy, Gen Singh was commissioned into the Dogra Regiment on March 31, 1972. A graduate of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, he has held various staff and command appointments. Singh had commanded an Infantry battalion in counter-insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir. — TNS

Antony warns of airborne attacks

New Delhi, December 3
With India’s coastal security already breached by terrorists in Mumbai, defence minister A.K. Antony today warned the armed forces of possible terror attacks from airborne platforms similar to the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Antony asked them to be prepared to counter the threat of terrorists from the air and prevent a repeat of World Trade Center-type of attacks carried out by the Al-Qaida.

At a meeting with the three services chief and defence officials, Antony called for greater coordination among all security and intelligence agencies so as to make the intelligence inputs actionable.

The meeting, attended by Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and defence secretary Vijay Singh, also reviewed the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in the wake of reports that its Army was on a “high alert” following the Mumbai terror attacks.

Antony, sources said, worked out measures with the armed forces for tightening security and vigil along the LoC to prevent infiltration of terrorists through the land route, as “Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) is known to be an important area for recruitment and training of terrorists.” The top defence brass discussed plans for beefing up coastal security and hastening acquisition process for systems and platforms, including coastal radars and interceptor boats.

A particular concern expressed at the meeting was the intelligence warning that airports around the country could be the targets of terrorists, forcing the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to issue a red alert to secure all important airports, the sources added.

Though it was pointed out that the intelligence agencies had issued regular warnings just before important dates such as the Babri Masjid complex demolition anniversary on December 6 and Republic Day on January 26, the defence ministry sources said. Antony asked the forces, particularly the Air Force, to be more vigilant to prevent any such threat.

Antony was particularly unhappy over the lack of coordination among various agencies, both defence and intelligence, so that the inputs from the latter could become actionable.

He expressed his dismay over the armed forces, particularly the Navy and the Coast Guard, not seeking specific details from the intelligence agencies when they had warned about terror attacks through the sea route.

“The gaps existed from both sides of the security apparatus, be it the defence forces or the intelligence agencies. So, both must seek clarifications on points, warnings raised by the other and ensure the inputs are actionable so as not to be caught sleeping when Mumbai-type attacks take place,” defence ministry officials said.

During the security review of the LoC, sources said they discussed the problems of infiltration by terrorists from across the border, both through the land and sea routes.

With all points leading to the PoK as the recruiting ground for terrorists targeting India and credible reports of training camps functioning there coming out, the minister assured the armed forces of making available all resources, be it personnel or equipment, to plug the holes in the border.

Similar assurances were given by Antony on the sea front too and his keenly discussing immediate acquisitions for coastal security indicated the serious intent in this regard, the sources said. “Greater vigil is required along the LoC, the coastal areas and in the third dimension. The country cannot afford laxity in any of the dimensions,” they said. — PTI

Heavy Pak army movement along border: Intelligence
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
A day after external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said India could strike at terrorist camps in Pakistan if deemed necessary, intelligence agencies today revealed that the Pakistan army was in a state of ‘heightened activity’.

Inputs gathered by the agencies disclosed that the army was shoring up ammunition, sending men to their units and stocking additional rations. Also, there has been an increased frequency of reconnaissance visits by senior Pakistani army officers along the border in Punjab, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

Notably, the neighbouring country has not officially ordered any mobilisation of troops, while India has also denied that that any troops were being moved or the fighter squadrons were being readied for an attack. However, the agencies have brought to the notice of the government at least five-six issues that surely indicate movement by the Pakistan forces.

Sources said the Pakistan army has activated its artillery guns. The guns are being moved and the time required for moving them from one place to another and re-assembling them was being monitored, said a source.

All the training programmes have been suspended and the drills that need actual field practice are being enforced. Normally, winter is the time when a lot of training is done and tactics are refined. All the men at the training programmes are being moved back to their respective regiments. More ammunition is also being drawn. Technically, it means the personal arms of the men are being augmented. Another aspect that has been pointed out is the fact that senior officers have visited certain sensitive sectors along the border. The information of the Indian agencies is based on human monitoring and telephone intercepts. The information was first collated, then assessed and matched with other sources.

A major activity has been reported from the Lahore and Kasur areas that border Amritsar, Tarn Taran and Ferozepore. Movement is also being reported from North-western Rajasthan, besides the portion of the International border in J&K and the Line of Control.

Pakistan has been threatening the US that it will have to move its troops from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to the border with India, as it fears a military strike by India following the Mumbai terror attacks.

Battle of ballot for Kargil war hero
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Neem Ka Thana, December 3
When politicians were making eloquent speeches about the brave security men and martyrs in the Mumbai attacks, thousands of kilometres away, Digendra Singh, a Kargil war hero and Mahavir Chakra winner, had a wry ironic smile on his face.

Contesting the elections for the first time from Neem Ka Thana seat, Digendra, who is credited with killing 48 Pakistani soldiers and hoisting Indian flag on the Tololing Peak, smiled sarcastically as he had personally experienced how hollow the appreciation was.

“They rave about your bravery and encash on it but if one seeks share in the governance, it is denied. It happened with me. Neither the Congress nor the BJP, the so called secular parties, gave me the party ticket. I did not have money to buy the same. My bravery was not considered enough to attract votes,” he said, showing his chest where five bullet marks had pierced in the battle of Kargil.

Hell bent to take on the politicians in the election war, Digendera chose to fight them alone. Eventually, Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janashakti Party came to his aid and made him the party’s candidate.

“Paswan ji called me saying he wanted heroes like me representing his party. I accepted the offer with tears in my eyes. Parties like the Congress and the BJP can give easy breaks to TV and film actors but not to real life heroes,” he said.

Digendera promises a district status for Neem Ka Thana, presently a tehsil. The town achieved fame after the brave feats of Digendera and Ashok Chakra winner Jagdish Prasad Yadav, who laid down his life thwarting terrorist attack on Parliament.

“These politicians have been sucking our blood by false promises and corruption. Mein chahun to sab ko tapka du, par yeh jung bullet ki nahi ballot ki hai, inhe aap ko harana hoga (I can defeat them in a duel. But this is war of the ballot, not bullet, only the masses can defeat them)” he roars in his speech.

Digendera was all over the national TV when he achieved the near impossible feat of wresting the Tololing Peak from Pakistan.

After Rice, Top US Commander to Visit India

New Delhi
Admiral Michael Glenn Mullen, the highest ranking official of the US Armed Forces, will visit India Thursday to extend US cooperation in beefing up the country's coastal security in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the US Armed Forces, comes a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited India to show her country's solidarity with India in fighting terrorism.

“Mullen will come to New Delhi tomorrow (Thursday). His visit is significant in the wake of the Mumbai attacks where the terrorists breached the Indian coastal security to land on the city's shore unchecked,” a defence official said on condition of anonymity.

The Nov 26 attack killed 183 people, including six Americans among 22 foreigners.

During his two-day visit, Mullen will meet his Indian counterpart, the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and Indian Navy chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta to discuss various aspects of coastal security.

Mullen served as the US Navy's Chief of Naval Operations from July 2005 to September 2007. He also commanded the US Naval Forces, Europe, and Allied Joint Force Command, Naples, and served as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations from August 2003 to August 2004.

For India the effort to make the 7,516-km coastline impregnable has been proving to be an arduous task.

The coastal areas in the western region are considered more sensitive and intelligence agencies have voiced concern over the influx of militants into states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, both of which face the Arabian Sea.

These coastal routes coupled with the land border along Nepal and Bangladesh are the preferred routes of terrorists to infiltrate and smuggle in arms and explosives into the Indian territory.

Coast Guard Defending India's Shores
with Depleted Assets

By Ritu Sharma

New Delhi
The brazen Mumbai terror attack has underlined that India's vast 7,516-km-long coastline is the country's Achilles' heel with the Coast Guard grappling with depleted assets and a Marine Police force that has miserably failed to supplement coastal security.

The Nov 26 assault on India's commercial and entertainment capital has brought into focus several gaping holes in India's coastal security architecture. A porous coastline, touching nine states and four union territories, 13 major and 185 minor ports, and a huge 2.01 million sq km Exclusive Economic Zone is proving to be difficult to patrol.

"The Coast Guard has an authorized strength of 106 vessels and 52 aircraft. However, currently it is working with its force level of 92 ships and boats, many of them ageing, and 45 aircraft to protect the maritime and other national interests of India," a Coast Guard official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

However, there is a total mismatch between this and the Coast Guard's projection of its force requirement.

"On our part, the projected requirement is of as many as 268 ships, 113 aircraft, 18 UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and a wide array of radars by 2017 to effectively meet the growing operational challenges of maritime security," the official added.

For a city that got a warning of the open seas being exploited by the perpetrators of the 1993 serial bombings when a large amount of ammunition landed on its shores undetected, the attack on Nov 26, when the terrorists used the sea route to sweep into Mumbai, is a wake-up call.

If this were not worrisome enough, what is of greater concern is the slow pace at which the Marine Police forces are being set up in the coastal states. The Marine Police have been envisaged as the first line of defence along India's coastline to patrol the waters up to 10 km from the shore. Currently, this area is secured by the Coast Guard.

The concept was mooted for the first time in 2006 against the backdrop of the 1993 terror attacks in Mumbai but it took off only in the beginning of 2007. The Coast Guard was asked to impart training to the state police forces and help them find their 'sea legs'.

Sanction has been accorded for setting up 73 coastal police stations, 97 check posts and 58 outposts.

"So far about 58 coastal police stations have already been made operational, which is a little more than the halfway mark," the official said.

"The coastal police stations are to be equipped with 204 boats, 149 jeeps and 312 motorcycles for increasing the mobility of police personnel on the coast and in close coastal waters. So far, orders for some 90 high speed boats of 10-tonne and 20-tonne class have been placed with various shipyards across the country," the official added.

Once the Marine Police force takes off fully, the Coast Guard will be responsible for the coastal waters between 10 km from the shore and 50 km, with the Indian Navy guarding the waters beyond that.

The coastal areas in the western region are considered more sensitive and intelligence agencies have voiced concern over the influx of militants into states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, both of which border the Arabian Sea.

These coastal routes coupled with the land border along Nepal and Bangladesh are the most preferred routes of terrorists to infiltrate and smuggle in arms and explosives into Indian territory.

US Worried Mumbai Attacks May Hit War
in Afghanistan

By Manish Chand

New Delhi
The rapid downslide in India-Pakistan relations in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes has alarmed the US as it feels that any confrontation between the two nuclear-armed neighbors could ruin its hopes of defeating a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

The decision by US President George W. Bush to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on a day-long visit to India Wednesday seems motivated primarily by American concerns about the impact of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan on the NATO-led campaign in Afghanistan.

US Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who lost to Barack Obama in the November election, also made an unscheduled stop in New Delhi Wednesday.

McCain made it clear that while the US was pledged to giving full cooperation to India to combat terrorism, it is also committed to preventing a conflict between India and Pakistan. New Delhi, which holds elements in Pakistan responsible for the Mumbai carnage, has served a demarche to Islamabad asking it to take strong action against terrorist groups operating in its territory.

In a message to New Delhi, McCain asked for "hard evidence" about Pakistan's alleged complicity in the terror strikes amid speculation that India was considering various options.

Rice is expected to reinforce this message during her brief trip to India.

Pakistan has already sought to cash in on these anxieties by making it clear to Americans that any confrontation with India would force Islamabad to move its troops from its Afghan border to the Indian border.

Presently, there are more than 100,000 Pakistani troops on its border with Afghanistan and the US needs these troops to take on the Taliban in Afghanistan which has links with militants in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Any diversion of troops could seriously derail the US' ambitions for defeating Taliban and its ally Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It will also be a major blow to US president-elect Barack Obama's plan for the region that revolves around focusing on the violence in Afghanistan.

Obama's plan also includes getting India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue so that Islamabad is left with no excuse but to focus single-mindedly on Afghanistan.

No other terror strike in India has stirred American anxieties as much as the Nov 26 Mumbai terror strikes that killed 183 people, including six Americans among 22 foreigners.

The US is worried that the Mumbai attacks were not simply an assault on India but also on the West as terrorists specifically targeted Israelis in a Jewish centre and those carrying Western passports.

According to the US, the attacks bore the imprint of Al Qaeda acting in collaboration with Islamic extremists, diplomatic sources told IANS.

Bush was one of the first world leaders to call Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the Mumbai nightmare and express full support to India's fight against terrorism. Obama quickly sprung into action and was in constant touch with the Bush administration, monitoring the Mumbai developments from Chicago.

The composite dialogue between India and Pakistan is already under severe strain. President Asif Ali Zardari's rejection of India's demand for handing over the 20 fugitives demanded by New Delhi is sure to provoke New Delhi, which has made it one of the key demands in its Dec 2 demarche.

India Tuesday indicated it was keeping all options open and underlined that it would take "appropriate action" to protect its territory from terror attacks emanating from Pakistan.

"What will be done, time will show and you will come to know," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

Our action depends on Pak response: Pranab Mukherjee

NDTV Correspondent

Wednesday, December 03, 2008 11:04 PM (New Delhi)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in New Delhi on Wednesday conveyed America's full support to India saying India is not alone in its fight against terror.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee in turn said at a joint press conference that India's sense of anger and outrage had been conveyed to America and that India has the right to protect its citizens and its territorial integrity.

And Condoleezza Rice responded sharply to the Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari's comment that the terrorists who attacked were "state-less".

PTI adds: Stepping up pressure on Pakistan, the US on Wednesday rejected its contention on non-state actors being responsible for the Mumbai terror attacks and demanded that Islamabad take "direct and tough" action against them.

Condoleezza Rice made it clear that Pakistan must 'act with urgency and transparency' on the leads in connection with the Mumbai incidents and implement its commitments to "cooperate fully" with India in the probe.

Rice's tough message came after her talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee who asserted that India is "determined to act decisively to protect its territorial integrity and the right of citizens to a peaceful life with all the means at our disposal."

Rice, who also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and will be in Islamabad on Thursday to discuss the Mumbai attacks, said Pakistan must cooperate in the investigations and rejected the contention of President Asif Ali Zardari that "non-state actors" could be behind the terror strikes.

"The fact is sometimes non-state actors operate from the confines of the state. There has to be very direct and tough action (by Islamabad) against them," she said.

She bluntly told Pakistan that non-state actors were "still a matter of your (Pakistan) responsibility that somehow relates to your territory".

"Pakistan has to act transparently, fully and urgently," said the Secretary of State who was rushed here by President George W Bush in view of rising tensions between India and Pakistan over the Mumbai attacks.

Brazil to sell 100 missiles to Pakistan

Agence France-Presse

Wednesday, December 03, 2008 (Brasilia)

Brazilian authorities gave approval for the sale of 100 missiles to Pakistan, which can be used in air-to-surface attacks on radar tracking installations, Defence Minister Nelson Jobim said.

The MAR-1 medium-range missiles made by the Brazilian firm Mectron are tactical anti-radiation weapons whose existence was kept under wraps for many years, according to Jane's Information Group.

Jobim called them "very effective ways to monitor" areas flown by war planes, and said the deal with Pakistan, originally signed in April 2008, was worth 85 million euros ($108 million).

He dismissed suggestions that the transaction might be questioned in light of last week's Islamist extremist massacre perpetrated in Mumbai, India, which some Indian officials suspected was launched from within Pakistan.

"Brazil negotiates with Pakistan, not with Pakistani terrorists," he said.

"To cancel this deal would be to attribute terrorist activities to the Pakistani government," he added.

Antony holds parleys with three service chiefs

Press Trust of India / New Delhi December 3, 2008, 15:58 IST

A K AntonyDefence Minister A K Antony will review the security situation in the country post Mumbai attacks when he hold talks with the three service chiefs later today and chalk out a detailed action plan to deal with it.

The crucial meeting comes a day after the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chalked out plans for enhancing internal security through a variety of measures, including tough laws and establishment of a federal agency, to deal with terror attacks.

In the past few days after the multiple terror strikes in Mumbai, Antony has held deliberations with Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta in the War Room of the Defence Ministry.

Measures to prevent recurrence of such attacks from the sea and strengthening of coastal security are understood to have been discussed at this meetings.

The CCS had yesterday also finalised the additional cost for repair and refit of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (formerly Admiral Gorshkov).

Negotiations have been on between India and Russia over the past year following the latter's demand for $2 billion over and above the $1.5 billion that New Delhi paid in 2004 for purchasing the large warship for induction into the navy.

The CCS also approved the ministry's proposal to acquire 80 MI-17 helicopters for Indian Air Force at the earliest. These choppers are used for transporting troops and carry all supplies to the high altitude forward areas of Jammu and Kashmir.

End blame-game
Needed better intelligence-security coordination

INTELLIGENCE agencies have been blaming one another for what happened in Mumbai. Through inspired reports and leaks in the media, they have been passing the buck. If one such report is to be believed the Research and Analysis Wing had given precise warning about the possible attacks against the Taj and the Oberoi. The Navy Chief has openly denied receiving any “actionable” intelligence input on the terrorist attack. Such a wrangling does not show the institutions concerned in a good light. What is undeniable is that the Pakistani terrorists, who struck on November 26, did not have much difficulty in evading the Navy, the Coast Guards and the Maharashtra Police before wreaking havoc at the Taj, the Oberoi and Nariman House. If anything, they exposed the lack of vigil on the part of the intelligence and security agencies in the country.

First and foremost, these agencies must admit that they have collectively failed in averting the attack that took a heavy toll of lives and assets. Afterwards, they should sit together and coolly analyse why the terrorists could not be intercepted while they were entering the territorial waters of India or at any stage before they began killing innocent people. The external and internal intelligence agencies, the Indian Navy, the Coast Guards and the Maharashtra Police, to name a few, have to work in unison. The manner in which the Taj and the Oberoi were liberated from the terrorists is something to go by. The National Security Guards and the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police pooled their resources to fight the enemy. It was thanks to the self-sacrificing act of a Maharashtra policeman that a terrorist, who would have otherwise committed suicide, could be nabbed. He will help the police understand not just the psyche of a cold-blooded terrorist but also his and his master’s modus operandi.

There can be no denying that terrorism will continue to haunt the nation so long as the ideology from which it springs up is alive and there are state and non-state agencies to support it. Few will ever come to know about the many successes of intelligence agencies whereas one failure on their part can result in mayhem. This is all the more reason that there is constant coordination among all intelligence and security agencies so that the terrorists are defeated every time they make an attempt.

Glaring intelligence failure
Mumbai attack shows meticulous planning
by Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)

ONCE more the authorities were totally taken by surprise and caught unawares when terrorists attacked Mumbai on November 26. The daring and scale of the attack were something India had not faced in the past. The timing, selection of targets and the manner of going about the job are indicative of detailed knowledge of the places selected for the attack, through earlier reconnaissance of the area. Apparently, there were detailed planning and preparations for the operation.

The Indian reaction to the developing situation was slow and tardy. The reaction was piecemeal and disjointed, lacked planning and an orderly execution. The practice of assembling all manner of forces, from the local police to the ATS, the RAF, the Home Guards, the NSG commandos from Delhi, the Army, etc, with no central command and control set-up is a sad picture as viewed from America, and commented upon by the media and experts on counter-terrorist operations. In such situations numbers are of little consequence.

A small group of well trained troops can deal with such situations much better. Whereas varied groups who had never trained together in joint operations or even known each other found themselves assembled together to deal with a highly complex and delicate situation. Predictably, they were at a complete loss as to how to go about the job and coordinate their actions. It is a scene repeated every time on every such occasion.

Engaging and liquidating terrorists is one thing, but when there is a hostage situation, it is a different ball game. The latter is a more difficult operation requiring detailed planning and very careful moves, so as to avoid stampeding the terrorists into killing the hostages, or hostages from being killed by the fire and actions of security forces.

Since terrorists were essentially targeting American-Israeli and British citizens, the attack has aroused intense interest in the United States. Both President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama have expressed sympathy and concern over the incident. They have also offered all manner of help. It is believed that the FBI team is already in Mumbai to coordinate and exchange information between the intelligence agencies of the US, Britain and India. An Israeli anti-terrorist squad also arrived in Mumbai.

In a confused state of affairs and with a multitude of security forces deployed, the chances of casualties from friendly fire is a very much there. The picture of a commando holding his weapon well above his head and firing on to the windows of the Jewish Chabad is indeed a shocking sight and is a reflection of the level of training, etc, of our commandos.

The NSG took too much time to get to Mumbai, but once deployed along with the Navy Marcos, they got to grips with the situation. Dealing with terrorists holding hostages is a complex and specialised job. Rushing into such an operation or simply assaulting the place can prove very costly for the hostages.

From the scale, spread and sophistication of the attacks and the range of weaponry carried by the terrorists, it is apparently the job of a highly trained group. Their getting hold of a police vehicle and subsequent connected actions is indicative of local support. The group after disembarking from merchant vessels got into inflatable boats. and reached the Mumbai coast. The claim by a group calling itself the “Deccan Mujahideen” is, perhaps, to confuse and confound the intelligence agencies.

While it will be some time before the full picture emerges, and the blame game starts all over again, there is no denying that it is an intelligence failure of stupendous proportions. Once again, those who need to be held accountable for the failure will get away scot-free. In fact, they may even be rewarded, as in the case of intelligence failure at Kargil, where the RAW chief was elevated to the post of a governor. The whole episode will end up with demands for more police forces, weapons, equipment and greater deployment on security duties, yet missing the essential issue of intelligence failure and accountability.

The Opposition is already out with daggers, and smelling blood, alleging the government’s lack of ability and inclination to firmly deal with terrorism. The demand for POTA, TADA, etc, will be renewed all over again. While the instant case is simply an intelligence failure, the existing laws give the police enough power to deal with the menace of terrorism. The demand for draconian laws, after every such attack, is a convenient stick to beat the government of the day with and draw political milage from a national tragedy. A comparison with the 9/11 incident in the US will illustrate how the opposition there, cutting across party lines, rallied behind President Bush. Perhaps, there is a lesson for Mr Advani in this.

During March 2008 an American technology company promoting CATE (Computer-Assisted Threat Evaluation) technology had organised a presentation in Mumbai for the Indian Navy, the Coast Guard, etc, as to how a terrorist group could mount an attack on Mumbai taking the sea route. This technology, when deployed, would provide surveillance of the coast line and warn the Coast Guard and the Navy of the approach of an unknown and unidentified sea vessels/boats. In the instant case, an attack similar to the one in Mumbai had been envisaged and depicted in the presentation. The case for acquisition of this equipment got wrapped in red tape and found a final resting place in some cupboard in Delhi.

The Mumbai attack is not the last of such terrorist acts that we will face. There is need for India to put its act together, so that it can, in future, deal with such situations in a more orderly and meaningful manner and with a degree of professionalism and efficiency. Some of the following points need to be looked into: One, improve the quality of intelligence by inculcating professionalism and accountability. Two, each state from within its resources should form a small group of personnel, trained in anti-terrorist tasks and be available to deal with hostage situations. This would obviate the need to call NSG personnel from Delhi. The strength of the NSG would in this case require to be scaled down.

We should have a plan to put in place a command and control structure (wherever required) immediately when such a situation arises. The command and control group(s) should coordinate the actions of various types of forces deployed, including fire brigade resources and control of crowds. Some prior training and coordination between various forces likely to be committed should be undertaken.

In the case of a hostage situation, expert(s) in this field should take charge and start dialogue with terrorists without delay. Strict control must be exercised over fire from own troops to avoid casualties among the hostages. Suitably deploy snipers to take out the terrorist(s) without any harm to the hostages. There is need to provide regular, consistent and clear information to the media and local residents to prevent the spread of misinformation/confusion.

We have now been combating terrorism for over two decades and yet do not have a viable and dependable intelligence system. A sound and reliable method of engaging terrorists and handling hostage situations is yet to be worked out. An acceptable and workable command and control set-up for a situation where a multitude of forces are deployed continues to be missing.

Nation displays rare unity

Mohammad Jamil

Leaders of almost all noteworthy political parties expressed their solidarity with the government on the issue of national security and firmly supported the government and the armed forces in defending Pakistan’s security interests. A seven-point declaration was issued which among other things included strong condemnation of reprehensible terrorist attacks in Mumbai, sharing the grief of the people of India and unswerving resolve of the Pakistani nation to defend its honour, dignity, sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity. We should now call a parliament session to take the lawmakers into confidence, and also convene a joint meeting of all the services’ chiefs to plan for any eventuality. India’s intents are very dubious therefore we must put up a joint front to its bluster and bullying. The nation must stand united till the threat is warded off because Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s demand for ‘positive steps’ with regard to the list of 20 wanted persons smacks of sinister designs.

Indian leadership’s conjectures in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage smack of a real threat to Pakistan. In keeping with its past traditions, the Indian leadership accused Pakistan of having masterminded the blasts even before any preliminary investigation was held. Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was in India when the terrorists struck and Indian government requested Pakistan to send ISI chief to cooperate in investigations. Pakistan government immediately agreed to India’s request or demand without discussing the matter in the cabinet meeting. It has to be mentioned that political parties now in power had condemned former President Pervez Musharraf that he joined war on terror without discussing the matter in the cabinet or the parliament. But now they do not deem it necessary to bring the matter to the cabinet or in the parliament even the security of the country is threatened.

Anyhow, better sense prevailed later and the decision to send the ISI chief to India was reversed within hours. Simultaneously, in a briefing to the TV anchorpersons, an army official clarified the position stating that since India had adopted the threatening posture, and war preparations seemed to be in the offing vis-a-vis orders to the Indian Air Force to be ready and meetings with services’ chiefs, it was not appropriate to send the ISI chief or even representative of the ISI to India. It is a sad reflection on the part of information ministry that it did not counter the Indian propaganda effectively. In fact, there was need to highlight that Pakistan was already the victim of terrorism and suffered more than any other country in the world. Secondly, Pakistan had incontrovertible evidence of RAW’s involvement in terrorists activities in Balochistan and in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). And that India was trying to deflect opposition to its machinations.

Within hours of Mumbai carnage, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared involvement of a neighbouring country, and in all its probability he meant Pakistan. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee openly blamed Pakistan. In this backdrop, India’s intents are patently vile. The very premise on which its ruling leadership is presently whipping up war hysteria in the country with an orchestrated hostile vicious campaign in collusion with its conformist media is specious. Even some sane voices in the Indian media also started supporting the lies of the Indian government. It is travesty of the truth that terrorists had sailed all the way from Karachi to Mumbai by merchant or Pakistani naval ship over the seas intensively patrolled round the clock by its fleets of warships and coastal guards. And if its naval officers still insist that they saw the terrorists disembarking from these carriers, but was not it their bounden duty to prevent illegal human cargo’s transshipment and arrest immediately the trespassers? Did they turn a blind eye to those terrorists so that India could exploit the situation?

Our electronic media should have discussed in the talk shows that Pakistan faces a volatile situation in FATA and Balochistan and cannot afford confrontation with India when its 1,00,000 troops are deployed at Pak-Afghan border. Secondly, Pakistan could not imagine of indulging in such provocative acts when the composite dialogue was now moving from general to the specifics. According to reports, India and Pakistan were about to resolve Sir Creek and Siachen issues and thirdly India had promised to resolve the Kashmir issue after other issues are resolved. It has to be noted that whenever there was either pressure to resolve the Kashmir issue or the time to discuss Kashmir issue came, something happened that roiled the dialogue. There is a perception that India was concerned over US president-elect Obama’s statement that to end terrorism resolution of Kashmir dispute is important.

India has tried to exploit Mumbai blasts to convince president-elect Obama that India is threatened by terrorists from across the border and Pakistan is aiding and abetting terrorists. The Indian media right from the beginning drummed the government version, and invariably all newscasters, anchorpersons and analysts started tirade against Pakistan. Now even when Indian interior minister and national security advisor have resigned and chief minister of Maharashtara does not buy Indian government’s logic of Pakistan’s involvement and sees this act of the domestic terrorists, yet they continue with their campaign to defame Pakistan. International news networks picked up the stories from the Indian media to Pakistan’s disadvantage. On the other hand, Pakistan’s relevant ministries have been found wanting, as a prompt rebuttal could have offset this and exposed the Indian mendacity considerably.

One of the so-called defence analysts in a talk show in a Pakistani private TV channel said that since the terrorists conducted a very sophisticated attack, it was assumed by India and elsewhere that only ISI could have done it so immaculately. But this is a flawed perception. In fact, India is home to multiple insurgencies, separatist movements and rabid militant outfits, whose fighters have been fighting Indian army and security forces for decades. The most important element of the Mumbai assault is the local support its perpetrators had, which the Indian leadership finds it convenient to ignore. Although in most of the states, resistance is localised but like Tamil Nado there is possibility that any group could have ventured to go out of its area to prove that it could act whenever and wherever it wants.

Pakistan is also facing insurgency in Balochistan and our Foreign Office has more than once accused RAW of planning and helping insurgents and declared that there was incontrovertible evidence of RAW’s involvement in these incidents. The question is that why it has not been brought to the notice of international community. Both India and Pakistan should stop the blame-game and resolve the outstanding disputes like Siachen, Sir Creek and Kashmir. They should also resolve the issues of Baglihar and Kishanganga dams, etc. and focus on poverty alleviation and improving the living standards of the teeming millions living below the poverty line. This is the right way to fight terrorism. India is upping the ante by making accusations against Pakistan and may move the army to forward positions, but it should bear in mind that war is not an option between the nuclear states.

The writer is a freelance columnist

India, Russia to step up defence cooperation

Sandeep Dikshit

Focus on trade during Medvedev’s visit

Both already finalised plans for expanding ties in nuclear sector

Joint panel meet held to iron out wrinkles in relationship

NEW DELHI: India and Russia on Wednesday set the stage for stepping up defence cooperation and signing a wide-ranging protocol during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit here this week.

The contours of the protocol on cooperation in trade, economic, scientific, technological and cultural sectors were discussed during a meeting between External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Alexander Zhukov. The two sides have already finalised plans for expanding cooperation in the nuclear sector.

The interaction was held under the aegis of the 14th session of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation.

In the area of defence cooperation, the two sides held the first meeting of the India-Russia High Level Monitoring Committee to iron out wrinkles in the relationship. The two-day meeting, co-chaired by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Mikhail Dmitriev, Director, Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, from the Russian side, ended here on Wednesday.

Both sides discussed issues related to ongoing projects such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, Multi-role Transport Aircraft, T-90 tanks, AWACS, Su-30MKI upgrade, aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and Medium Lift Helicopters. Cooperation between the defence forces of the two countries was also discussed.

This new forum was established during the last meeting of the India Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation held here in September this year under the joint chairmanship of the Defence Ministers of both countries. This forum was established to not only monitor implementation of the ongoing Military Technical Cooperation activities but also identify new activities for enhancing defence cooperation through joint research, development and production of military hardware, including transfer of technology and cooperation between the armed forces.

Indian defense minister huddles with miltary chiefs
December 03, 2008 10:27 EST

NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's defense minister has called together the nation's military chiefs to tell them to be prepared for terror attacks from the air and the sea.

The meeting comes in the wake of growing criticism in India of weak security, missed warnings about possible terror attacks, and a bungled response to last week's terror siege in Mumbai.

A statement says India's defense minister told the army, navy and air force chiefs they need to improve intelligence coordination so security forces can act on all credible threats. India's defense ministry is also reviewing air and maritime security.

The latest example of lax security came earlier today, whan a bag of explosives linked to last week's attacks was found at Mumbai's main train station. The militants sprayed the station with gunfire last Wednesday, but authorities reopened it and declared the busy station safe a day later. It's not yet clear why the bombs found today hadn't been discovered sooner.

Antony asks forces to be vigilant along Pak borders

New Delhi, Dec 3 (PTI) With India certain of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) being used for recruitment and training of terrorists, Defence Minister A K Antony today asked armed forces to beef up their vigil along land and sea borders with its neighbour in the wake of the Mumbai terror strikes.
Intelligence reports point an accusing finger at Pakistan as the base for the terrorists who struck at Mumbai's prime landmarks, Antony told the top brass of the armed forces and the Defence Ministry and asked them to adopt measures and tighten security along the Line of Control (LoC) and international maritime borders to stop infiltration by terrorists.

At a meeting attended by Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh here, the Defence Minister also asked them to be prepared for any possible airborne terror threats in the future.

With India's coastal security already breached by terrorists in Mumbai, Antony warned that a terror strike using rogue air platforms were possible on the lines of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Calling for greater coordination among all security and intelligence agencies so as to make the intelligence inputs actionable, he also asked them to be prepared to counter the threats from terrorists from air and prevent a repeat of World Trade Centre-type attacks carried out by al Qaeda.

The meeting also reviewed the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan in the wake of reports that its army was on a "high alert" following the Mumbai terror attacks. PTI

Here is a true account from an officer commanding a regt

From is gill------------------

1. I had an offr in my unit who was very good, tough and cdo type. Capt AK Singh (2003 senority). He wanted to go to NSG. Becoz of his strong desire, we relented and the offr was deputed to 51 SAG in NSG early this yr.

2. On 27 Dec, he was one of those sent to Mumbai for dealing with the terrorists. Launched straight into ops in the Oberoi Hotel, he est contact with one of the terrorists on the 18th floor at 1800 hr that day. Since the terrorist was holed up inside a room, they blasted the door open. However before they could throw a grenade inside, the terrorist threw a grenade outside. The grenade burst right in front of the offr and with splinter injuries all over, he fell unconscious. He was the only offr to be injured in the complete op (other than Unnikrishnan - who is no more)..

3. He was operated upon in a hospital in Mumbai and all splinters removed from his body -- less one. That splinter had pierced the left eye anddestroyed it completely. It cannot even be replaced with a doner eye. No news, no media coverage, not even a mention in the press statements.

4. The offr is now alone, in 'Bombay Hospital' with the left eye still bleeding and the NSG people have all gone back to Delhi. He does not know how he will be treated further or what will happen to him. He is crying "Save my eye! I want to continue to serve in army". There is nobody from the NSG to console him. His parents don't know who to turn to for help. The CO of the bn, an army offr, mind you, has not met him or even spoken to him till 01 Dec. When the matter was brought to the notice of the adjt of the bn, he called up the offr and started off not by asking him how he is but "do not give any interview or statement to anyone".

5. Ridiculous! If this can happen to an offr, what must be happening to men. If tis can happen to those who were hailed by the nation as heroes, what must be happeningto others. Whatever the intention may be, downplay cas or whatever, is this the way NSG treats its people. Like Cannonfodder.

6. Fortunately, my regt is loc close to Mumbai and I have mobilised my regt to help him. After all, He is MY OFFR. The Unfortunate part is I can't save his eye and I can't get him any official recognition. Your advice / guidance is this respect is solicited, w/o harming the offr's relation with his bosses in NSG.

7. Also tell your offrs. Be a leader, lead from the front, have initiative, be courageous and bold but don't get injured. DIE INSTEAD!! Becoz if you survive, you will die a thousand death every day.


IS Gill

Commanding 22 Fd Regt

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