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Saturday, 6 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 06 Dec

Strategic Motivations for the Mumbai Attack

December 1, 2008 | 1818 GMT

By George Friedman

* Militant Attacks In Mumbai and Their Consequences

Last Wednesday evening, a group of Islamist operatives carried out a complex terror operation in the Indian city of Mumbai. The attack was not complex because of the weapons used or its size, but in the apparent training, multiple methods of approaching the city and excellent operational security and discipline in the final phases of the operation, when the last remaining attackers held out in the Taj Mahal hotel for several days. The operational goal of the attack clearly was to cause as many casualties as possible, particularly among Jews and well-to-do guests of five-star hotels. But attacks on various other targets, from railroad stations to hospitals, indicate that the more general purpose was to spread terror in a major Indian city.

While it is not clear precisely who carried out the Mumbai attack, two separate units apparently were involved. One group, possibly consisting of Indian Muslims, was established in Mumbai ahead of the attacks. The second group appears to have just arrived. It traveled via ship from Karachi, Pakistan, later hijacked a small Indian vessel to get past Indian coastal patrols, and ultimately landed near Mumbai.

Extensive preparations apparently had been made, including surveillance of the targets. So while the precise number of attackers remains unclear, the attack clearly was well-planned and well-executed.

Evidence and logic suggest that radical Pakistani Islamists carried out the attack. These groups have a highly complex and deliberately amorphous structure. Rather than being centrally controlled, ad hoc teams are created with links to one or more groups. Conceivably, they might have lacked links to any group, but this is hard to believe. Too much planning and training were involved in this attack for it to have been conceived by a bunch of guys in a garage. While precisely which radical Pakistani Islamist group or groups were involved is unknown, the Mumbai attack appears to have originated in Pakistan. It could have been linked to al Qaeda prime or its various franchises and/or to Kashmiri insurgents.

More important than the question of the exact group that carried out the attack, however, is the attackers’ strategic end. There is a tendency to regard terror attacks as ends in themselves, carried out simply for the sake of spreading terror. In the highly politicized atmosphere of Pakistan’s radical Islamist factions, however, terror frequently has a more sophisticated and strategic purpose. Whoever invested the time and took the risk in organizing this attack had a reason to do so. Let’s work backward to that reason by examining the logical outcomes following this attack.

An End to New Delhi’s Restraint

The most striking aspect of the Mumbai attack is the challenge it presents to the Indian government — a challenge almost impossible for New Delhi to ignore. A December 2001 Islamist attack on the Indian parliament triggered an intense confrontation between India and Pakistan. Since then, New Delhi has not responded in a dramatic fashion to numerous Islamist attacks against India that were traceable to Pakistan. The Mumbai attack, by contrast, aimed to force a response from New Delhi by being so grievous that any Indian government showing only a muted reaction to it would fall.

India’s restrained response to Islamist attacks (even those originating in Pakistan) in recent years has come about because New Delhi has understood that, for a host of reasons, Islamabad has been unable to control radical Pakistani Islamist groups. India did not want war with Pakistan; it felt it had more important issues to deal with. New Delhi therefore accepted Islamabad’s assurances that Pakistan would do its best to curb terror attacks, and after suitable posturing, allowed tensions originating from Islamist attacks to pass.

This time, however, the attackers struck in such a way that New Delhi couldn’t allow the incident to pass. As one might expect, public opinion in India is shifting from stunned to furious. India’s Congress party-led government is politically weak and nearing the end of its life span. It lacks the political power to ignore the attack, even if it were inclined to do so. If it ignored the attack, it would fall, and a more intensely nationalist government would take its place. It is therefore very difficult to imagine circumstances under which the Indians could respond to this attack in the same manner they have to recent Islamist attacks.

What the Indians actually will do is not clear. In 2001-2002, New Delhi responded to the attack on the Indian parliament by moving forces close to the Pakistani border and the Line of Control that separates Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, engaging in artillery duels along the front, and bringing its nuclear forces to a high level of alert. The Pakistanis made a similar response. Whether India ever actually intended to attack Pakistan remains unclear, but either way, New Delhi created an intense crisis in Pakistan.

The U.S. and the Indo-Pakistani Crisis

The United States used this crisis for its own ends. Having just completed the first phase of its campaign in Afghanistan, Washington was intensely pressuring Pakistan’s then-Musharraf government to expand cooperation with the United States; purge its intelligence organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), of radical Islamists; and crack down on al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghan-Pakistani border region. Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had been reluctant to cooperate with Washington, as doing so inevitably would spark a massive domestic backlash against his government.

The crisis with India produced an opening for the United States. Eager to get India to stand down from the crisis, the Pakistanis looked to the Americans to mediate. And the price for U.S. mediation was increased cooperation from Pakistan with the United States. The Indians, not eager for war, backed down from the crisis after guarantees that Islamabad would impose stronger controls on Islamist groups in Kashmir.

In 2001-2002, the Indo-Pakistani crisis played into American hands. In 2008, the new Indo-Pakistani crisis might play differently. The United States recently has demanded increased Pakistani cooperation along the Afghan border. Meanwhile, President-elect Barack Obama has stated his intention to focus on Afghanistan and pressure the Pakistanis.

Therefore, one of Islamabad’s first responses to the new Indo-Pakistani crisis was to announce that if the Indians increased their forces along Pakistan’s eastern border, Pakistan would be forced to withdraw 100,000 troops from its western border with Afghanistan. In other words, threats from India would cause Pakistan to dramatically reduce its cooperation with the United States in the Afghan war. The Indian foreign minister is flying to the United States to meet with Obama; obviously, this matter will be discussed among others.

We expect the United States to pressure India not to create a crisis, in order to avoid this outcome. As we have said, the problem is that it is unclear whether politically the Indians can afford restraint. At the very least, New Delhi must demand that the Pakistani government take steps to make the ISI and Pakistan’s other internal security apparatus more effective. Even if the Indians concede that there was no ISI involvement in the attack, they will argue that the ISI is incapable of stopping such attacks. They will demand a purge and reform of the ISI as a sign of Pakistani commitment. Barring that, New Delhi will move troops to the Indo-Pakistani frontier to intimidate Pakistan and placate Indian public opinion.

Dilemmas for Islamabad, New Delhi and Washington

At that point, Islamabad will have a serious problem. The Pakistani government is even weaker than the Indian government. Pakistan’s civilian regime does not control the Pakistani military, and therefore does not control the ISI. The civilians can’t decide to transform Pakistani security, and the military is not inclined to make this transformation. (Pakistan’s military has had ample opportunity to do so if it wished.)

Pakistan faces the challenge, just one among many, that its civilian and even military leadership lack the ability to reach deep into the ISI and security services to transform them. In some ways, these agencies operate under their own rules. Add to this the reality that the ISI and security forces — even if they are acting more assertively, as Islamabad claims — are demonstrably incapable of controlling radical Islamists in Pakistan. If they were capable, the attack on Mumbai would have been thwarted in Pakistan. The simple reality is that in Pakistan’s case, the will to make this transformation does not seem to be present, and even if it were, the ability to suppress terror attacks isn’t there.

The United States might well want to limit New Delhi’s response. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is on her way to India to discuss just this. But the politics of India’s situation make it unlikely that the Indians can do anything more than listen. It is more than simply a political issue for New Delhi; the Indians have no reason to believe that the Mumbai operation was one of a kind. Further operations like the Mumbai attack might well be planned. Unless the Pakistanis shift their posture inside Pakistan, India has no way of knowing whether other such attacks can be stymied. The Indians will be sympathetic to Washington’s plight in Afghanistan and the need to keep Pakistani troops at the Afghan border. But New Delhi will need something that the Americans — and in fact the Pakistanis — can’t deliver: a guarantee that there will be no more attacks like this one.

The Indian government cannot chance inaction. It probably would fall if it did. Moreover, in the event of inactivity and another attack, Indian public opinion probably will swing to an uncontrollable extreme. If an attack takes place but India has moved toward crisis posture with Pakistan, at least no one can argue that the Indian government remained passive in the face of threats to national security. Therefore, India is likely to refuse American requests for restraint.

It is possible that New Delhi will make a radical proposal to Rice, however. Given that the Pakistani government is incapable of exercising control in its own country, and given that Pakistan now represents a threat to both U.S. and Indian national security, the Indians might suggest a joint operation with the Americans against Pakistan.

What that joint operation might entail is uncertain, but regardless, this is something that Rice would reject out of hand and that Obama would reject in January 2009. Pakistan has a huge population and nuclear weapons, and the last thing Bush or Obama wants is to practice nation-building in Pakistan. The Indians, of course, will anticipate this response. The truth is that New Delhi itself does not want to engage deep in Pakistan to strike at militant training camps and other Islamist sites. That would be a nightmare. But if Rice shows up with a request for Indian restraint and no concrete proposal — or willingness to entertain a proposal — for solving the Pakistani problem, India will be able to refuse on the grounds that the Americans are asking India to absorb a risk (more Mumbai-style attacks) without the United States’ willingness to share in the risk.

Setting the Stage for a New Indo-Pakistani Confrontation

That will set the stage for another Indo-Pakistani confrontation. India will push forces forward all along the Indo-Pakistani frontier, move its nuclear forces to an alert level, begin shelling Pakistan, and perhaps — given the seriousness of the situation — attack short distances into Pakistan and even carry out airstrikes deep in Pakistan. India will demand greater transparency for New Delhi in Pakistani intelligence operations. The Indians will not want to occupy Pakistan; they will want to occupy Pakistan’s security apparatus.

Naturally, the Pakistanis will refuse that. There is no way they can give India, their main adversary, insight into Pakistani intelligence operations. But without that access, India has no reason to trust Pakistan. This will leave the Indians in an odd position: They will be in a near-war posture, but will have made no demands of Pakistan that Islamabad can reasonably deliver and that would benefit India. In one sense, India will be gesturing. In another sense, India will be trapped by making a gesture on which Pakistan cannot deliver. The situation thus could get out of hand.

In the meantime, the Pakistanis certainly will withdraw forces from western Pakistan and deploy them in eastern Pakistan. That will mean that one leg of the Petraeus and Obama plans would collapse. Washington’s expectation of greater Pakistani cooperation along the Afghan border will disappear along with the troops. This will free the Taliban from whatever limits the Pakistani army had placed on it. The Taliban’s ability to fight would increase, while the motivation for any of the Taliban to enter talks — as Afghan President Hamid Karzai has suggested — would decline. U.S. forces, already stretched to the limit, would face an increasingly difficult situation, while pressure on al Qaeda in the tribal areas would decrease.

Now, step back and consider the situation the Mumbai attackers have created. First, the Indian government faces an internal political crisis driving it toward a confrontation it didn’t plan on. Second, the minimum Pakistani response to a renewed Indo-Pakistani crisis will be withdrawing forces from western Pakistan, thereby strengthening the Taliban and securing al Qaeda. Third, sufficient pressure on Pakistan’s civilian government could cause it to collapse, opening the door to a military-Islamist government — or it could see Pakistan collapse into chaos, giving Islamists security in various regions and an opportunity to reshape Pakistan. Finally, the United States’ situation in Afghanistan has now become enormously more complex.

By staging an attack the Indian government can’t ignore, the Mumbai attackers have set in motion an existential crisis for Pakistan. The reality of Pakistan cannot be transformed, trapped as the country is between the United States and India. Almost every evolution from this point forward benefits Islamists. Strategically, the attack on Mumbai was a precise blow struck to achieve uncertain but favorable political outcomes for the Islamists.

Rice’s trip to India now becomes the crucial next step. She wants Indian restraint. She does not want the western Pakistani border to collapse. But she cannot guarantee what India must have: assurance of no further terror attacks on India originating in Pakistan. Without that, India must do something. No Indian government could survive without some kind of action. So it is up to Rice, in one of her last acts as secretary of state, to come up with a miraculous solution to head off a final, catastrophic crisis for the Bush administration — and a defining first crisis for the new Obama administration. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld once said that the enemy gets a vote. The Islamists cast their ballot in Mumbai.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to www.stratfor.com

LeT Stage-Managed Mumbai Strikes
from Karachi, Lahore: NYT

By Arun Kumar

Washington
For three months before the terror attackers landed on Mumbai's shores, a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) operative was in Karachi to manage the assault, the New York Times reported, citing a Pakistani official.

The Lashkar commander, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi who is normally based in Kashmir, helped organize the plot from Karachi for the last three months, said a Pakistani official in contact with Lashkar, the influential US daily reported Friday.

Fresh evidence unearthed by investigators in India, the daily said, indicated that the Mumbai attacks were stage-managed from at least two Pakistani cities by top leaders of the Pakistan-based terror group LeT, prime suspect in last week's attacks.

Indian and American intelligence officials have already identified a Lashkar operative, who goes by the name Yusuf Muzammil, as a mastermind of the attacks, it noted.

While Muzammil appears to have served as a control officer in Lahore, Lakhvi, his boss and the operational commander of Lashkar, worked from Karachi, the daily said citing investigators in Mumbai.

It now appears that both men were in contact with their charges as they sailed to Mumbai from Karachi, and then continued guiding the attacks even as they unfolded, directing the assaults and possibly providing information about the police and military response in India, the daily said.

The attackers also kept in contact with their handlers in Pakistan with cell-phones as they rounded up guests at the two hotels, the New York Times said, citing officials in a report from Karachi.

The attackers left a trail of evidence in a satellite phone they left behind on the fishing trawler they hijacked near Karachi at the start of their 500-mile journey to Mumbai.

The phone contained the telephone numbers of Muzammil, Lakhvi and a number of other Lashkar operatives, according to a report on the Mumbai siege released Thursday by M.J. Gohel and Sajjan M. Gohel, two security analysts who direct the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London, the New York Times said.

The numbers dialled on the phone found on the trawler used to call Muzammil matched the numbers on the cell phones recovered from the Taj and Oberoi hotels, the report said.

Based on evidence found on the trawler, it was possible that five other men were involved in the plot and were still at large, the report said.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, whose name means "army of the pure", was founded with the help of Pakistani intelligence officers more than 20 years ago as a proxy force to challenge Indian control of Kashmir.

Since then, the group has broadened its ambitions, its reach and its contacts with an international network of jihadi groups. Its fighters have turned up in Afghanistan and Iraq and have been blamed for several other high-profile attacks in India before, the Times said.

"Today, it is technically banned in Pakistan but operates openly through affiliates. Its links to Al Qaeda remain murky, as does the extent of its current ties to Pakistan's main spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI," it said.

In an interview to the New York Times this week, Muhammad Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a parent organization of Lashkar, denied that Lashkar or its leader Haffiz Muhammad Saeed had any connection to the attack.

The surviving gunman in Mumbai claimed to have met Saeed at a training camp in Pakistan.

It Was a Terrorist Invasion of India:
Operation Bluestar Commander

By Shudip Talukdar

New Delhi
Lt. Gen. K.S. Brar, who led the traumatic military action against terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple in 1984, has dubbed the horrific massacre in Mumbai and other serial bombings across the country as a "terrorist invasion of India".

"What we have seen in Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad and elsewhere can be best described as a terrorist invasion of India by well trained, highly motivated fidayeen and jehadis," the now retired Gen Brar told IANS from Mumbai.

He regretted that though there was ample evidence pointing to the direct or indirect involvement of Pakistan, India has failed to demonstrate the strength to take suitable retaliatory actions or even prevent them.

Gen Brar attributed this to the lack of political will and the government's reluctance to deal with the grave situation on a war footing as well as to genuinely address the concerns of the common man "who is always at the mercy of ruthless killers".

"I am appalled by how it was possible for terrorists to walk into the heart of Mumbai through the coastal route and wander off to their designated targets without detection," he said.

Brar led the Indian Army's storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984 that led to the killing of fiery preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale among scores of Sikh rebels who had taken sanctuary inside the shrine and had converted it into a militant outpost.

"The media should also realize that even the NSG (National Security Guard) personnel who exterminated the terrorists were members of the army's Special Action Group in the NSG, the country's prime counter-terrorist unit."

He pointed out how NSG commandos were rushed into combat without providing them with reasonable "real time" intelligence inputs and they were unaware of the exact locations of the terrorists.

"Besides, they did not receive proper briefings from the commanders of the forces engaged in the firefight. There was no unified command from whom they could receive instructions," he said.

"Neither was there specified coordination among the police, paramilitary, army, marine commandos and NSG personnel. This is only possible under a unified command; nor were there any formalized communications among them.

"They were apparently communicating with others on cell phones, which is unthinkable in a battlefield scenario."

US to Make Pakistan Keep its Word
on Mumbai Attacks

By Aruna Kumar

Washington
Making clear that to keep its word on fighting terror Pakistan needs to act with resolve and urgency and keep communication lines open with India, the US has said it will try to "to make that happen."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been phoning in updates for President George W. Bush about her conversations with Pakistani leaders about last week's Mumbai terror attacks, White House spokesperson Dana Perino said Thursday.

Asked what does Pakistan have to do to live up to its commitment to root out terrorists suspected to be involved in Mumbai attacks, she said: "Pakistan needs to act with resolve, urgency; they need to cooperate fully and transparently, and they need to keep the line of communication open between their country and India."

"And we will continue to try to help to make that happen," she said.

"Those are the basic" benchmarks, Perino said, noting that Rice herself had said that "she was encouraged by what she had heard from the Pakistanis and she's going to continue to push them."

"Because, one, it's horrible enough that it happened to innocent Indians and also citizens from 10 different countries," Perino said. "And so we take this very seriously. And we're going to continue to try to work with the Pakistanis to make sure they follow this to the conclusion that we expect."

At the State Department, Spokesman Robert Wood said the purpose of Rice's meetings with Pakistani leaders including President Asif Ali Zardari and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani "was to underscore the need for Pakistanis to cooperate fully in trying to find out who carried out these attacks."

The US was "trying to be cooperative and supportive as best we can" with India's investigation of the attacks, he said. And Rice's "message in Islamabad was that Pakistan needed to provide full, complete and transparent cooperation with the investigation."

Asked if the US was satisfied so far from the response from Islamabad, Wood said: "President Zardari has said all of the right things."

"What's important now is that we have action. And so the secretary stressed the need for Pakistan to follow through on its pledges. And we'll see how things progress."

Asked if in these conversations it's all carrot and no stick with Pakistan, Wood said: "It's going to take more than just cooperation between the United States, India and Pakistan. It's going to take the cooperation of, you know, the entire international community, because terrorism's a global threat."

"And so we're all going to do what we can," he added.

Asked if Rice urged the Pakistani leadership to go after any particular leaders of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a Pakistan based terror group that is prime suspect in the Mumbai attacks, Wood said: "We don't know yet who's responsible for this."

"But what we've said to the Pakistanis is that we need to make sure that Pakistan is doing everything it can to prevent any kinds of attacks like this from originating from their soil."

Asked if Rice had made any suggestions to the Pakistanis about handing over any of the top 20 terror suspects that India wants extradited, Wood said: "It's not for us to basically get involved or to tell the Pakistanis specifically how they should respond or not respond."

"What's important here is that Pakistan do everything it can, in its power, to cooperate with this investigation and help all of us bring to justice these perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks," he added.

Toxic Brew of Militancy in Pakistan: Editorial

Islamabad
Pakistan is "under a great deal of international pressure" in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks because of the "toxic brew of militancy" in the country but dealing with the myriad groups would not be easy for the government, an editorial in a leading English newspaper said Friday.

"If Pakistan is under a great deal of international pressure then it is because of the toxic brew of militancy present in the country for a long time," Dawn said in an editorial.

Headlined "US crisis diplomacy", the comment came a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Islamabad to urge Pakistan's proactive role in the probe into the Mumbai attacks.

However, the editorial cautioned: "The government must make the point that the various jihadi, militant, terrorist, sectarian and criminal groups here have morphed and overlapped since 9/11 in such a way that isolating one group is no longer easy".

Noting that Pakistan is already "actively fighting" militants in at least two tribal agencies and the northern region, Dawn said: "There are links between the militants there and the so-called Punjabi Taliban, many of whom believe India is the original enemy because of its acts in Kashmir.

"All these linkages, spreading across the length and breadth of the country, have potentially grave ramifications that the outside world must be made to understand."

"Simply asking Pakistan to bag militants or else deal with India's anger will get neither India nor Pakistan anywhere closer to where they want to be. Pakistan must be in a position to win the battles it is already fighting before it opens new fronts," it added.

As for Rice's visit, the newspaper noted that in her remarks to the media, she appeared relatively relaxed and spoke of the "reasonable and responsible" discussions she had in New Delhi and Islamabad.

"Ms. Rice would not have left Islamabad in the mood she did had she not gotten some assurance from the civilian government and military leadership that Pakistan will act against any individuals or groups that India may show are linked to the Mumbai attacks," Dawn said.

Saying that the government "must prepare for this possibility", the editorial added: "Cracking down on militant groups that have deep roots in Pakistani society and have fanned out across the country will be a tough task that will require substantial groundwork.

"The government must also prepare for the possibility of a backlash from militants, with a new round of violence possibly engulfing Pakistan's cities if the government goes after militants in earnest."

Urging the civilian government and military leadership to "speak with one voice against the scourge of terrorism", the editorial said: "Any signs of a rift in that relationship will further complicate matters and hamper Pakistan's efforts to credibly respond to India."

The Daily Times said Pakistan must support a "flexible approach" that protects the country's interests "without challenging the international community into taking punitive measures".

Thus, Pakistan would have to be "very careful" on how much "defiance" it displayed in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, the newspaper said in an editorial headlined "Let us not isolate Pakistan".

"When we oppose even the slightest measure of flexibility in the face of international opinion it betrays our deep-seated fears; it doesn't convince anyone of our bravery," it noted.

"An internationally organised punishment to bring Pakistan to heel would be beyond Pakistan's capacity to sustain," the editorial added.

Striking Pak: India's military options

Vishal Thapar

CNN-IBN

MILITARY OPTIONS: If India uses military power in anger it risks falling into a trap.

New Delhi: India is ready to take on Pakistan for its alleged backing of terrorists, but can it take on the country militarily? Military options exist but exercising them isn't that simple, say experts.

India's military options against Pakistan include:

* Surgical air strikes not just on infrastructure which supports terrorism, but also on politico-economic targets.

* The use of artillery firepower to address alleged Pakistan Army support to infiltration and terror camps close to the Line of Control.

* Commando operations to hit out at critical vulnerabilities of the Pakistan military and the Inter-Services Intelligence, which is suspected to have trained the terrorists who attacked Mumbai last week.

India's military establishment is confident that they can take on Pakistan. “Deterrence first and if that fails punishment. Air power is the best tool,” says Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, former chief of the Indian Air Force.

Strategists say any military action should aim at achieving a political impact. "Two or three Mirage 2000s (fighter jets) go and drop a bomb on the bridge on the Sutlej River—the bridge on Sutlej, a powerhouse in Gilgit—so that the people in Pakistan think that this (backing terrorism) is costing us. The elite in Pakistan then have to put pressure and say enough is enough," says strategic analyst Air Commodore (retired) Jasjit Singh.

But India will have to plan what to do after a military strike. Public opinion is exerting tremendous pressure on the government to be seen as imposing costs on Pakistan, but if India uses military power in anger it risks falling into a trap laid by those in Pakistan who use terrorism as statecraft.

“Some want India-Pakistan tension to increase and in this process the Pakistan army gets back into the saddle. Ashfaq Kayani (Pakistan military chief) then has every justification to say Musharraf II,” says strategic Analyst Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak

Experts reckon that military force ought to be used only as the last resort and efforts mounted first to exert international pressure to make support for terror very costly for Pakistan.

US to send 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan

IANS

US TROOP IN ACTION: US troop is preparing to fight against Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Washington: The US military is preparing for a build-up of as many as 20,000 troops next year in Afghanistan to step up the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgency, a top US commander said on Friday.

The military has started building housing, latrines and other infrastructure needed to support the increase, Major General Michael Tucker, the deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon via teleconference.

The first troops will begin arriving in January, Tucker said. Although the winter usually results in a slow down in fighting because it is more difficult for the insurgents to operate, US forces were anticipating "a very active winter," Tucker said.

"If he wants to continue to fight through the winter, we'll be here to fight him," he added.

Pentagon officials have said that they will begin shifting troops to Afghanistan as conditions in Iraq continue to improve and forces begin leaving.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to move troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan, which has seen an upswing in violence in the last two years.

US and NATO forces have been unable to snuff out the ability of the Taliban and al-Qaeda to slip across the rugged mountainous border with Pakistan to carry out attacks. Other NATO countries have been reluctant to send more troops and the stretched US military has fewer soldiers available to send.

The Pentagon is currently reviewing the strategy in Afghanistan and is expected to announce a revised approach in the weeks ahead designed for improved counterinsurgency operations, reaching out to tribal leaders and better tackle the cast rural areas of the country.

The new plan could be similar to the "troop surge" strategy in Iraq that has helped to sharply reduce violence, but Tucker said the buildup was not modelled entirely after Iraq.

"It's not necessarily a surge as much as it is a reinforcement," he said. "Our intent is to shore up security so that we can set the conditions for governance to take hold."

There are more than 30,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan, about half of them are under NATO's command.

'People of India and Pakistan are against war'

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | PTI | December 05, 2008 | 20:53 IST

The leadership of India and Pakistan are handling the fallout of the Mumbai attacks in a 'responsible manner' as people in neither country want a war, Pakistan's Interior Ministry said on Friday, offering unconditional support in the terror probe.

Those responsible for last week's terror strikes should be brought to justice, Pakistani interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said.

"The leadership of India and Pakistan are taking this matter forward in a responsible manner. The people of Pakistan do not want a war and neither do our Indian brothers," Malik told reporters in Karachi.

Malik, who had earlier ruled out action against Jaish-e-Mohammed founder Maulana Masood Azhar till India provided evidence of his complicity in the Mumbai attacks, was in Karachi to review the situation following ethnic clashes between Urdu-speaking people and Pashtuns.

He said: "We think that the perpetrators (of the Mumbai attacks) - whether they are Indians, Pakistanis or from any other country - should be brought to justice. And we will give India unconditional support to identify the criminals and take action against them."

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had on Thursday asked Pakistan's top leadership to act sincerely and quickly in providing unequivocal assistance to India in probing the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 200 people.

India put the composite dialogue process with Pakistan on hold soon after the attacks. Sources have indicated it will not be resumed till Islamabad acts on New Delhi's concerns about Pakistani soil being used for terrorist acts directed against India.

Reports today quoted Pakistani officials as saying that trade talks between the two sides, scheduled to be held in early December, could not be held as the Indian team did not arrive in Islamabad. Pakistan has proposed that the talks be rescheduled to December 18 though there has been no response from India, the officials said.

Foreign countries continued their efforts to reach out to Pakistan as part of efforts to ease tensions in the region.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon had a telephonic conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi to discuss the situation in the region and bilateral relations.

Qureshi condemned the Mumbai attacks and reiterated Pakistan's 'offer of full cooperation to the Indian government in investigation of the deplorable crime', an official statement said. He also appreciated Canada's assistance for better management of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Russia to supply 80 military copters to India
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
In a crucial development that will augment nation’s air prowess, India today signed an agreement with its oldest military ally for the supply of 80 new medium lift helicopters. Also, the two countries inched ahead on the issue of India acquiring a nuclear submarine and the transfer of technology for T-90 tanks, hence making it an all-round package that would aid the Air force, the Navy and the Army.

Cementing a relationship that dates back to the cold war era, the Russian delegation that is led by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was in the National Capital, where the contract for the choppers was signed.

The Indian armed forces will get these 80 military helicopters from Russia. These will be MI-17 V5 choppers. This will be an upgraded version of MI 17 that the IAF is already using. The new version has the capability of carrying much more weight and has a more powerful engine. It is a twin engine, single chopper with an anti-torque rotor.

The chopper will be used for the transportation of troops and cargo, in dropping troops quickly like the one needed in case of the Mumbai attack. It will help in special operations and has a combat role that will allow armoured battlefield support of ground troops and enable the destruction of heavy protected enemy lines. The chopper can be switched from one role to another by rapid installation of relevant equipment. It can carry about 24 fully armed troops and around 36 passengers.

India and Russia have been traditional allies and around 70 per cent of India’s military hardware still comes from Russia. The Russian President today told reporters that the matter of leasing out an Akula class nuclear submarine was discussed with India. He assured on technology transfer for T-90 tanks in India. “We have identified ways to move ahead in this field”, he added.

It may be mentioned here that the tanks are being manufactured here but some critical components still are sourced from Russia. India had placed an order for an additional 347 tanks.

Russia will export more than $8 billion of arms this year to India. This will be a new post-Soviet Union record for arms exports. Despite India’s growing ties with EU countries and the USA, Russia is also keen to maintain its position as the main arms supplier.

Both sides discussed issues related to ongoing projects such as the fifth generation fighter aircraft that the India and Russia are co-developing, the multi-role transport aircraft, new T-90 tanks, AWACS, upgrade of combat aircraft Su-30MKI, the pricing of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

Both countries also agreed that military-technical cooperation is a key area of cooperation. They express satisfaction at the effective role played by the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation and direct it to review constantly and take forward the progress on steps taken in the areas of joint research, development, production and marketing, regular service-to-service interaction and joint military exercises.

Govt plans single agency for maritime security
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
India is finally inching towards having a single agency for maritime and coastal security. The union home secretary Madhukar Gupta today reviewed a broad range of issues related to coastal security with various agencies. The general opinion in the government is that a single agency should control the maritime security.

The government also plans technological boost for coastal security agencies.

Transponders and global positioning systems (GPS) would be provided on the registered boats and vessels, besides digital identity cards would be issued to fishermen. Also, two hundred speedboats will be added to the fleet for better interception and patrolling within the next three to four months.

At present, the Navy takes care of areas, which are 200 nautical miles off the coast. The inner circle is under the supervision of the coast guards, with the coastal police being responsible for the area along the coast.

Sources said interconnected communication between the three agencies is the need of the hour. A single person should head it to avoid confusion. The need to enhance the capacity of security agencies to undertake real-time exchange and use of data and information relating to fishermen and boats patrolling the coastal areas would be enforced.

At the meeting, senior officials of nine coastal states were present, besides the representatives of the security agencies.

The home secretary said all the 73 coastal security police stations, 97 check-posts and 58 outposts should become fully operational within the shortest possible time.

The states have been asked to be ready with adequate and trained manpower to operate the new speedboats.

The delivery of 204 interceptor boats commences from March-April 2009. The biggest crisis is finding trained people. A suggestion was made that retired naval and coast guard personnel should be recruited.

At present, there are no deployment norms and standard operating procedures to ensure operational efficiency and effectiveness.

Some states have sought sanction of additional police stations. The home secretary asked the coast guard representatives and state governments to carry out a detailed vulnerability gap analysis to identify the requirements of additional police stations and their locations.

In this context, it was suggested that some of the police stations could be co-located with minor ports along the coast.

The state governments were asked to review their laws and regulations in this regard and also make available the details of the same so that uniform norms and policies could be determined.

Russia to supply 80 military copters to India
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 5
In a crucial development that will augment nation’s air prowess, India today signed an agreement with its oldest military ally for the supply of 80 new medium lift helicopters. Also, the two countries inched ahead on the issue of India acquiring a nuclear submarine and the transfer of technology for T-90 tanks, hence making it an all-round package that would aid the Air force, the Navy and the Army.

Cementing a relationship that dates back to the cold war era, the Russian delegation that is led by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was in the National Capital, where the contract for the choppers was signed.

The Indian armed forces will get these 80 military helicopters from Russia. These will be MI-17 V5 choppers. This will be an upgraded version of MI 17 that the IAF is already using. The new version has the capability of carrying much more weight and has a more powerful engine. It is a twin engine, single chopper with an anti-torque rotor.

The chopper will be used for the transportation of troops and cargo, in dropping troops quickly like the one needed in case of the Mumbai attack. It will help in special operations and has a combat role that will allow armoured battlefield support of ground troops and enable the destruction of heavy protected enemy lines. The chopper can be switched from one role to another by rapid installation of relevant equipment. It can carry about 24 fully armed troops and around 36 passengers.

India and Russia have been traditional allies and around 70 per cent of India’s military hardware still comes from Russia. The Russian President today told reporters that the matter of leasing out an Akula class nuclear submarine was discussed with India. He assured on technology transfer for T-90 tanks in India. “We have identified ways to move ahead in this field”, he added.

It may be mentioned here that the tanks are being manufactured here but some critical components still are sourced from Russia. India had placed an order for an additional 347 tanks.

Russia will export more than $8 billion of arms this year to India. This will be a new post-Soviet Union record for arms exports. Despite India’s growing ties with EU countries and the USA, Russia is also keen to maintain its position as the main arms supplier.

Both sides discussed issues related to ongoing projects such as the fifth generation fighter aircraft that the India and Russia are co-developing, the multi-role transport aircraft, new T-90 tanks, AWACS, upgrade of combat aircraft Su-30MKI, the pricing of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov.

Both countries also agreed that military-technical cooperation is a key area of cooperation. They express satisfaction at the effective role played by the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation and direct it to review constantly and take forward the progress on steps taken in the areas of joint research, development, production and marketing, regular service-to-service interaction and joint military exercises.

Disability case
Settle claims of jawan, HC tells BSF

Kolkata, December 5
The Calcutta High Court has directed the BSF authorities to settle the claims of a retired BSF jawan who got a bullet embedded in his abdomen during an ambush in Manipur 11 years back.

Justice S.P. Talukdar yesterday asked the BSF director-general to ensure that Pijush Kanti Bhattacharya was given his proper dues, as per the rule in case of disability in the line of duty, within two weeks of receiving a representation from the retired jawan.

Bhattacharya had filed a case in the HC alleging disparity and denial of proper pension admissible to the jawans suffering from permanent disability during service.

Bhattacharya had joined the BSF as a constable in its 55th battalion in 1987 and was posted in Manipur.

On May 21 1997, ultras ambushed a BSF convoy killing 11 jawans.

Bhattacharya was severely injured after he was hit by five bullets, his counsel Subrata Mukherjee submitted before the court.

He was treated at a military facility in Manipur, where four bullets were extracted except one which was placed at a critical spot in his abdomen.

Suffering from severe abdominal pain for long, in January 2003 he was operated upon at Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan here to get the bullet out, but the bullet instead got embedded in his lumbar region during the surgery.

As he became unable to work, he was asked to take premature retirement by a medical board of the BSF.

On retirement, however, the authorities started paying him Rs 1,913 as pension, but he claimed the pension of Rs 5,000 according to permanent disability pension.

Bhattacharya also alleged that he was not paid full gratuity. — PTI

Pakistan army vows peace amid tensions with India

by Staff Writers

Islamabad (AFP) Dec 4, 2008

Pakistan's military chief Thursday vowed to maintain peace and security in the region, after the Mumbai attacks heightened tensions with nuclear armed rival India.

The pledge came as the chief of the army staff General Ashfaq Kayani, addressed a meeting of top military commanders in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near the capital Islamabad, an official statement said.

Kayani said the "Pakistan Army stood for peace and security," according to the statement, which was released after the meeting.

The commanders' meeting was the first since last week's militant attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai, which killed 172 people.

A war of words erupted when India pointed the finger at Pakistan, and demanded the extradition of 20 suspects it says are linked to the attacks.

The neighbours have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed state of Kashmir, since their independence from Britain in 1947. They also conducted tit-for-tat nuclear weapons tests in May 1998.

They came close to a fourth war in 2002 following a militant attack on the Indian parliament in December 2001.

A peace process launched in 2004 between them has been slow-moving, and mistrust is high.

Kayani earlier met with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who flew into Islamabad from New Delhi on Thursday in a bid to defuse tensions in the region.

The Pakistani statement said the army chief "hoped that peace and stability in the region will be maintained."

Rice, who also held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, said she found Pakistan's leaders to be "focused and committed" in helping India probe the attacks.

Pakistan has been a key US anti-terror ally since the September 11 attacks seven years ago.

Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told Rice on Wednesday that his country was considering all options in responding to the attacks.

The United States is concerned about any military stand-off with India that might see Pakistan move troops from the border with Afghanistan -- a crucial area where Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters have been gaining ground.

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