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Sunday, 7 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 07 Dec

Defence in the hands of amateurs

I read Maj-Gen Pushpendra Singh's article "Sapped from within: National defence in the hands of amateurs" (Sunday Oped, Oct 26).

I would like to add a few more points. He has correctly described that our defence is really in the hands of amateurs, not professionals. We have not learnt any lessons from the past.

In fact, after Independence, our government feared that like Pakistan, our forces may also declare Martial Law in the country. I think these leaders have yet not understood our troops correctly.

Our troops are no less patriotic than these leaders. And now, the Sixth Pay Commission has further downgraded the status of the armed forces. Nehru had described civil services as superior to the military.

No one denies that elected representatives are superior to civil servants, but babus cannot be accepted as superior to the armed forces personnel. An IAS officer having 18 years of service becomes senior to a Major General having more than 30 years of service.

In 1959, relations between the Defence Minister Krishna Menon and Chief of the Army Staff General Thimmayya became strained over the issue of strengthening our defence forces. Like Krishna Menon, Nehru also rejected the demand of General Thimmayya.

As a result, the Indian Army had to face a humiliating defeat in the 1962 Indo-China conflict. India lost about one lakh km area that the Chinese occupied forcibly.

The government should consider these points before it is too late. It should be made compulsory for the IAS officers to serve in the armed forces for five years before joining regular duty. Retired armed forces professionals must be accommodated at strategic policy making fora.


Tribute to valour

In "Days of Horrors" (Spectrum, Nov 16), Lt-Col Chanan Singh Dhillon has described the heart-rending and harrowing account of the hardships faced by the soldiers captured during the World War II.

It is ironical that while the British government raised a memorial (India Gate) to pay tributes to the soldiers killed during World War I, our government has not made a similar gesture to pay tribute to those killed in World War II.

Not only this, the government was ignorant of the supreme sacrifices of the late Maj Shaitan Singh and his comrades, who were buried under snow while fighting the enemy with exemplary valour, for quite some time.

Sadly, those who are not aware of the horrors of Army life decide the future of the armed forces personnel. The government has been dragging its feet in removing the anomalies in the Sixth Pay Commission about the pay and status of the men in uniform vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts.

Major NARINDER SINGH JALLO (retd), Mohali


Lt-Col Dhillon has given a vivid account of the hazards and hardships faced by him and his comrades in North Africa during World War II.

Equally heart-rending and bone-chilling were the two pictures published with the piece — one showing the "exhausted" Indian soldiers taking rest in the dense forests of Burma and the other showing an enemy soldier shooting an unarmed helpless Indian soldier. Such accounts of the valour of veterans are highly inspiring..


Act now, or we will step in, US warns Pakistan

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has told Pakistan that there is "irrefutable evidence" of involvement of elements in this country in the Mumbai terror attacks and it had no option but to act urgently and effectively to avert a strong international response.

Rice "pushed" the Pakistani leaders to move against the perpetrators of the terror strikes warning that "otherwise, the US will act", the Dawn reported on Saturday.

The clear message was conveyed to Pakistan's top leadership by Rice during her brief stopover in Islamabad [Images] on Thursday, diplomatic sources said, giving credence to the report.

Rice said that there was "irrefutable evidence" of the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai attacks, the sources said.

She travelled to Pakistan after a visit to India, where she was shown the extensive evidence gathered by investigators to prove the linkages between the Mumbai attackers and Pakistan-based elements, especially the banned Lashker-e-Taiba terror group, the sources said.

They said Rice, during her interactions with President Asif Ali Zardari [Images], Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [Images], Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, made it clear that Pakistan needs to act effectively to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mumbai Heat
Pak to take on Lashkar
Action in 48 hours: Post

Washington, December 6
Pakistan has agreed to a 48-hour timetable set by India and the United States to formulate a plan to take action against Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and to arrest at least three Pakistanis who, Indian authorities say, are linked to the multiple attacks in Mumbai, a top US daily reported citing a top Pakistani official.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said India had also asked Pakistan to arrest and hand over LeT commander Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhwi and former chief of Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Hamid Gul, in connection with the probe into Mumbai carnage, which killed nearly 200 persons, the Washington Post reported today.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who has expressed his country's solidarity with India, is expected to review plans by his nation's top military and intelligence officials and follow through on India's demands, the official said.

"The next 48 hours are critical," the official was quoted as saying by the US daily.

A week after the terrorist assault in the Indian financial capital, Indian officials have stepped up their efforts to make a clear case of link between the carnage and Pakistani elements. According to the Post, a high-level source in the Indian government, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said India has "clear and incontrovertible proof" that LeT had carried out the attacks and that the group's leaders were trained and supported by Pakistan's ISI.

"We have the names of the handlers. And we know that there is a close relationship between the Lashkar and the ISI," the source said. Indian and US investigators have identified Yusuf Muzammil, an Let leader, as the mastermind behind the attacks, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has asked Pakistan to hand him and other suspects over, the report said.

Islamabad: Earlier in the day Condoleezza Rice told Pakistan that there was "irrefutable evidence" of involvement of elements in this country in the Mumbai terror attacks and it had no option but to act urgently "otherwise, the US will act."

Rice, who travelled here after a visit to India earlier this week, "pushed" the Pakistani leaders to move against the perpetrators of the terror strikes. The clear message was conveyed by her to Pakistan's top leadership during her brief stopover here on Thursday, diplomatic sources said. Rice said there was "irrefutable evidence" of the involvement of Pakistani elements in the Mumbai attacks, the sources said.

In India, Rice was shown the extensive evidence to prove the linkages between the Mumbai attackers and Pakistan-based elements, especially the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba terror group, they said. — PTI

Indo-China Joint Military Exercise
'Hand-in-Hand' annoys Tibetans
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 6
The Indo-China joint military exercise, currently underway in the forests of Belgaum in Karnataka, has raised the hackles of Tibetan refugees living in Karnataka. "I am hurt," said Thondup Tsering, principal of Tibetan Children Village in Bylakuppe in Mysore in Karnataka.

While Tibetans are generally not happy with any kind of improvement of ties between India and China, the latest joint military exercise has a particular significance for the Tibetans. This is because the Chinese troops, participating in the joint exercise with a Maratha Light Infantry Battalion in Belgaum, are affiliated to the Chengdu Military Region. The Chengdu Military Region (CMR) is a military administrative command located in the southwest of China. The areas covered by the command include Sichuan, Yunnan and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

Tibet originally comprised the three provinces of Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang. While Amdo has been split by China into the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan, a large area of Kham has been incorporated in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai. U-Tsang, together with western Kham is today referred to by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region. The overseeing command of the army unit doing joint exercise here, thus, looks after the operations in TAR and vast tracts of areas that have historically formed a part of Tibet.

CMR forces are also deployed along the borders China has with Myanmar and the Himalayan nations.

"We are very unhappy about the joint exercise," Tema Tsewang, who is president of the Tibetan Youth Congress unit in the Tibetan settlement of Bylakuppe in Karnataka, said. He did not rule out holding a protest demonstration against the joint military exercise.

A 137-member strong Chinese Army contingent led by Senior Colonel Huang Xue is taking part in the joint exercise which is said to be indicative of the mutual concerns the two countries have on tackling terrorist violence in Asia. Starting from today, the exercise is slated to continue till December 14.

Called Hand-in-Hand 2008, the exercise involving the third largest army in the world and the largest army of the world is a continuation of Army-to-Army cooperation initiated between India and China in 2006. The exercise will finally culminate in a joint counter-terrorist operation against enemy in simulated conditions.

The "Hand-in-Hand 2007" had taken place in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province of China.

China is facing threat from insurgents in its Xinjiang province. Xinjiang, however, falls under Lanzhou Military Region.

Is Mumbai attack a ploy for a coup in Pakistan

Political analysts have opined that the Mumbai attack was a prop that could be used for coup in Pakistan. The Pakistani military establishment is also not comfortable with the government, which is seen as acting soft towards India.

If reports emanating from that country are to be believed, it is being feared that the attack could be used as a smokescreen for a coup de etat in the neighbouring country, which has been accused of fomenting terror in India. Speculation is rife in political circles in Pakistan that army could pull the rug and call it a day for the civilian government.

At least 200 people lost their lives and several hundred injured, when a well planned attack was executed by terrorists in Mumbai on November 26. Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan are being accused of executing these attacks by the Indian intelligence agencies.

There are a number of reasons being forwarded to support the possibility of a future coup as the Pakistani army wants to deflect the intense pressure being put on the government. The Pakistani army has grown restive after it's close ally, the ISI was accused of being in cohorts with the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Another strong reason that could push the army towards replacing the civilian government is the fact that Pakistan wants to move its troops from the western borders. These troops are engaged in a war against terror, which the army feels is being fought at the behest of America.

Majority of Pakistani troops, especially the officers are fighting against the Taliban, Lashkar and Al Qaeda operatives in the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan.

In fact, some of the political analysts have opined that the Mumbai attack was a prop that could be used to set up a coup in the neighbouring country. The Pakistani military establishment is also not comfortable with the government, which is seen as acting soft towards India.

In Pakistan, however, the likelihood of a coup is being discounted for the present but top officials are not denying the fact that Pakistani army could try to be more adventurous as it wants to play for higher stakes.

Another important factor cited by analysts is that the men in Green want to send the message that army alone is the deciding factor in the country. It also wants to play on the anti-India sentiments in Pakistan and win over the support of the people.

Russia Against Military Strike,
Asks India to Seek UN Support

New Delhi
Cautioning against a unilateral Indian military strike against Pakistan, Russia Saturday said New Delhi should seek the support of the international community and present its case to the UN after collecting "concrete evidence" of the complicity of elements in Pakistan in the Mumbai attacks.

Russia and India will hold a meeting of their working group on countering terrorism in New Delhi Dec 16 and focus on the situation arising out of the Nov 26 attacks, Russia's ambassador to India Vyacheslav Trubnikov told reporters hours after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ended his three-day visit to India.

"In case India provides very well substantiated proof, absolutely pucca (concrete) evidence, the UN Security Council could discuss the issue," Trubnikov replied when asked what kind of action India can take to deal with terrorism flowing from Pakistan.

"There are enough international fora to discuss the issue," he added. "With the assistance of the international community, we might come to concrete conclusions about organizations involved in these attacks," he said.

He, however, rued that there was no consensus on a definition of terrorism at the UN and pressed for a ratification of the Comprehensive Convention on Combating Terrorism.

The Russian envoy cautioned India against a unilateral military strike as such an action would jeopardize peace and stability in the region. "In case any state takes the law into its hands, it will wreak havoc," the envoy stressed.

"A forceful imposition of solutions on both sides would aggravate the issue," he said while underlining that India and Pakistan should not allow terrorists to derail their peace process. "Any risky step will lead to domino or snowball effect," he warned.

"This was the handiwork of those who were trying to blow up the process. The process of melting the ice between India and Pakistan should be irrevocable," he said.

Virtually giving a clean chit to the civilian government in Pakistan, the Russian envoy said it was trying to "cut down the ISI to size" and should be strengthened in these efforts.

"I would not like to jump to conclusions. The stronger the government, the stronger its ability to deal with terrorism," said Trubnikov, who has represented Russia in several inter-governmental panels dealing with counter-terrorism.

The envoy also advised Indian law-enforcement agencies and take tougher measures to prevent terror attacks.

Alluding to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks at a joint press interaction with the Russian president Friday, the envoy said the Indian prime minister was seeking support of the international community and wanted to involve major powers in any step New Delhi takes against Islamabad.

With the Mumbai terror attack underlining the global nature of terrorism, the two leaders called upon all states to cooperate actively with and provide support and assistance to the Indian authorities in their efforts to find and bring the perpetrators, organizers, sponsors, patrons or those in any way connected to these barbaric acts to justice in India.

"It's the obligation of all countries concerned that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to the book," Manmohan Singh replied when asked what India proposed to do about the perpetrators of the Mumbai assault who he said came from the "neighboring country."

The terrorist attack, which began the night of Nov 26 and led to a 60-hour hostage crisis, killed 172 people including 22 foreigners, and injured nearly 250. Indian authorities have maintained the 10 terrorists had come from Pakistan.

India Should Join NATO

A new political outfit, Jago (Awake!) Party, Saturday demanded India give up its non-aligned status and join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to more effectively combat terrorism.

"The more than five-decade old Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is no longer relevant in the current world order. The world is no longer divided in blocs headed by two superpowers. Now the questions faced by our country need fresh answers," party chief Deepak Mittal said here.

"We should join NATO to fight the menace of cross-border terrorism", he said, adding that if this country were part of the alliance, "any attack on India will be considered an attack on NATO and all the member countries will reply with their combined strength to fight the source of the attack".

The party was set up Aug 2007 and the Election Commission registered it as a political party Jan 2008.

The party fielded 30 candidates in the recently concluded assembly elections in Rajasthan. It is also planning to contest the forthcoming general elections.

Mittal, a local businessman, said the party, led by "educated and competent individuals, is dedicated to awake the sleeping populace of our country".

All political parties, national or regional, are playing divisive politics based on caste and religion, he said, adding they decided to enter politics to protest the current scenario and were against "all deceitful politicians".

"Our party candidates will be intellectuals drawn from the common people and professional politicians who have contested elections from other parties will never be considered as our candidates," said Mittal.

Chinese Troops Spring Surprise,
Sing India's National Anthem

By Sahil Makkar

Belgaum (Karnataka)
It was a surprise that had Indian Army officials completely stunned. Chinese army troops, here for a joint military exercise, sang India's national anthem accurately and with great respect.

The Indian Army personnel were taken aback when around 90 troops of the 1st company of the infantry battalion of the Chengdu Military Area Command stood in line and sang "Jana Gana Mana" in unison during an informal interaction here.

The rendition was almost perfect by the smartly dressed Chinese soldiers, a move the Indian side least expected of the one-time enemy. India and China have fought a bitter war in 1962.

Their gesture was hugely appreciated by the Indian officers at the command office of 8 Maratha Light Infantry Battalion in Belgaum town of Karnataka.

"We have practiced it for one month and are happy that people actually acknowledged and appreciated our efforts," a Chinese solider said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Huang Xue Ping, a senior colonel (equivalent to Brigadier of the Indian army) of the Chinese army, who is leading the troops, said it was a tradition of China.

"It is a tradition of our country that we express our gratitude and regard to the other country by singing their national anthem," Huang told IANS.

After singing the national anthem, the Chinese troops dispersed and one by one entered the large auditorium to join their already waiting Indian counterparts for an informal interaction over drinks. Soon, they settled down on benches, facing the Indians.

Then the glasses were filled with the choicest of whisky and rum - that too on the rocks. And to go with the drinks were typical Indian snacks - mirch pakoras, chicken tikka, peanuts and eggs - served on blue plates.

After short speeches from senior officers of both sides, an Indian Army officer came forward, shouted "Ram Ram" and tossed his glass towards them, signaling that the drinks may now begin.

The soldiers' response was almost deafening. They clapped, cheered and gulped down their drink in one go. And in no time, their glasses were refilled.

But the Chinese had yet another surprise for the Indians - they broke into a hit Bollywood song from Shah Rukh Khan-starrer "Mohabbatein". The Indian soldiers too joined them in sing "Aankhe Khuli Ho Ya Ho Band".

The songs, cheers and the flowing alcohol seemed to rekindle the spirit of "Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai".

The Indians were not ones to be left behind and they too had a few surprises in store. Indian army officer S.K. Tiwari sang a Chinese song amid much applause and the Chinese couldn't help but ask for more.

Yang Jie, a Major in the Chinese army, said all his men were moved by the hospitality shown and the services made available to them since their arrival in India.

The dinner that followed was also a full Indian spread including poori, aloo gobi, raita, mutton and chicken curry, palak paneer and rice - and the troops from the neighboring country were seen enjoying the food.

"I am enjoying every bit of India, especially the chicken curry. The food is great and spicy," said a Chinese Captain.

Nearly 130 Chinese troops, including 40 officers, are taking part in the joint military exercises with their Indian counterparts for eight days beginning Saturday. Though this is the second military exercise between the two nations, it is being held on Indian soil for the first time.

Last year, Indian soldiers had participated in a joint exercise with the Chinese military in Kunming city, following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between India and China in May 2006 during a visit by the then defence minister (and current external affairs minister) Pranab Mukherjee.

US Missile-Defence Test Successful

The Pentagon carried out a successful test of the missile-defence system planned for deployment in Eastern Europe with a hit over the Pacific Ocean Friday.

At 3.04 p.m. EST (2004 GMT) the target missile took off from Kodiak Island, Alaska. Nineteen minutes later, the interceptor missile shot up from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and smashed into the target about 10 minutes later, at a speed of 24,000 km per hour and 160 km above the Earth.

The test marks the eighth success in 13 tries for the long-range system designed to counter the growing ballistic missile threats posed by Iran and North Korea. The most recent test took place in September 2007. There had been earlier concerns that poor weather over Alaska would force a delay.

The Bush administration has stepped up the controversial development of missile defence, spending about $10 billion annually on various short, medium and long-range systems.

The biggest dispute has been over plans to deploy 10 interceptors to Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic by 2013. Russia has been hostile to the deployment and has threatened to target the sites.

The United States maintains the Eastern European locations are needed to counter Iran, while Moscow says Iran's threat is minimal and warns the system poses a risk to Russia's strategic deterrent.

Critics also charge the system is too expensive and faces too many technical challenges. They also argue the tests are not realistic, charges rejected by the Pentagon's Missile Defence Agency.

Richard Lehner, a spokesman for the agency, said the system's crew does not know exactly when the "enemy" launch will take place, and that the missile uses decoys to try to confuse the interceptor as it nears.

"It's very realistic because the target is carrying the type of countermeasures that we would expect from Iran or North Korea," he said. Countermeasures usually include balloons or chaff. Lehner said the decoys for this test were classified.

The United States has spent more than $100 billion in the last few decades on missile defence. The money has also been used to develop short- and medium-range systems, which have proven more effective in testing than the long-range version.

While missile defence has been a top priority for Bush, president- elect Barack Obama could scale back the plans after taking office in January. He has not said whether he will proceed with the deployment to Eastern Europe, and has been skeptical of the long-range system.

Under Bush, a limited missile defence system has been deployed to Fort Greely, Alaska, and at Vandenberg.

Pakistan PM chairs high-level meeting

Press Trust of India

Saturday, December 06, 2008 (Islamabad)

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting that included Army and ISI chiefs amid speculations that preparedness of the armed forces was reviewed.

Though a government release issued after the meeting did not give details about the meeting, television channels reported that the meeting reviewed the operational preparedness of the armed force and resolved to defend Pakistan's territorial integrity.

Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Qureshi, army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha participated in the meeting, the release from the Prime Minister's House said.

Qureshi briefed the gathering on the foreign policy response to India's allegations that Pakistan-based elements were involved in the Mumbai attacks, the reports said. India has accused Pakistan-based elements, including the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, for planning and executing the attack that killed over 180 people and injured scores.

New Delhi has asked Islamabad to take action against these elements. The US too has backed India's call for action, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged Pakistan's top leadership to act "sincerely" while providing "unequivocal assistance" to India in probing the attacks.

Meanwhile, during a telephone conversation with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, Qureshi said Pakistan too was a victim of terrorism and was fully cooperating with the international community to fight the menace.

Condemning the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Qureshi reiterated that Pakistan would "fully cooperate in the investigation" into the incident, said a statement from the Foreign Office. Smith and Qureshi discussed the situation in the region following the Mumbai attacks and bilateral relations.

Smith lauded "Pakistan's role in keeping the tension down in the region by adopting a constructive approach", the statement said. In a separate development, Gen Tariq Majid, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, told Chinese Ambassador Luo Zhaohui during a meeting of "Pakistan's strong desire to maintain peace and stability in the region," said a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations.

The envoy called on Majid to discuss the "post-Mumbai evolving security environment in the region" and Majid's upcoming visit to China.

Majid also dispelled the "undue apprehensions being aired by some quarters in the Western countries about the safety of the strategic assets of Pakistan". He said Pakistan has an effective command authority and foolproof custodial controls. The security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal "will be ensured at all costs", Majid said.

ATS has no evidence against me, says Purohit

PTI | December 06, 2008 | 22:20 IST

Terming the invocation of Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act against them as inappropriate, Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Purohit and Abhinav Bharat treasurer Ajay Rahirkar, both accused in the September 29 Malegaon blast case, on Saturday moved the special MCOCA court seeking bail.

Purohit and Rahirkar, in their bail applications, claimed that the Anti-Terrorism Squad had no evidence linking them to the blast and that they have nothing to do with the case.

Special MCOCA Judge Y D Shinde directed the prosecution to file its reply on the application by December 16.

Purohit and another accused Rakesh Dhawade, whose police custody ended today, were remanded to judicial custody till December 16 along with eight other accused, including Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

The ATS, in its remand application, sought judicial custody of Purohit and Dhawade, stating that they would seek police custody of the two if required later.

The court also granted Purohit permission to undergo an MRI scan at a private hospital as it found the state-run J J Hospital's refusal to do the same, claiming it might dislocate
his knee permanently, as pointless.

Earlier, the court had directed J J Hospital to conduct an MRI scan on Purohit's knee, which had been injured when he was in the army.

Missing: POTA and FBI-like agency

B Raman | December 06, 2008 | 10:49 IST

One hundred and sixty Indians and 25 foreigners were killed in an unprecedented terrorist strike in Mumbai from November 26 night to early morning on November 29.

The terrorists, who came by sea, opened fire indiscriminately on passers-by and then occupied two leading hotels and a Jewish religious-cum cultural centre for nearly 48 hours. All of them except one were ultimately killed by the Indian security forces. One person----a Pakistani national reportedly belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a Pakistan-based terrorist organization--- was caught alive and is under interrogation by the Mumbai Police.

The terrorist strike in Mumbai came in the wake of serial explosions in some cities since November,2007. These cases have not yet been satisfactorily investigated. The Manmohan Singh government has come in for strong criticism for the failure of the intelligence, physical security and crisis management machineries, which made the strike possible. It has also come in for criticism for failing to strengthen the legal infrastructure against terrorism.

The Indian Police and investigation agencies were known in the past for their successful record in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism cases. This record has been sullied since the present government came to power in 2004. It abrogated the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) enacted by its predecessor government, which gave the police additional powers for dealing with terrorism.

These powers related to longer periods of police custody for suspected terrorists, admissibility during trials of confessions made to the police, preventive detention of suspected terrorists, enhanced powers for the collection of technical intelligence, fast trial of terrorism cases etc.

Muslims, who constitute about 16 per cent of the country's population, saw the POTA as directed against them and demanded its abrogation. The Congress, which heads the ruling coalition , succumbed to their pressure and abrogated the POTA.

As a result, the police have been forced to deal with terrorists with criminal laws enacted long before terrorism became a major national security threat. After the Mumbai strike, the demand for strengthening and updating the legal powers of the police has acquired further momentum, but the Congress and other political parties, which rely on minority votes, are reluctant to reverse the abrogation of the POTA.

Another issue, which has come to the forefront, is the setting up of a federal investigation agency similar to the FBI of the US. India has a federal investigation agency called the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate important crimes of a federal nature, but its powers are limited. It can take up a case for investigation only at the request of or with the prior concurrence of the State in whose area the crime was committed. Often, the States are not prepared to agree to this, particularly if the state is ruled by a Party different from the party in power in Delhi.

To get over this difficulty, there has been a long-pending suggestion for setting up a federal investigation agency to investigate and prosecute only terrorism cases involving organizations, which are active in more than one State. There was only lukewarm support even for this idea before the Mumbai incident. There is now greater political support for it after the Mumbai terrorist strike. It is still to be seen whether there is the political will to set up a federal agency to investigate and prosecute terrorism-related cases having linkages in more than one State of the Indian federation.

Presently, all cases are investigated by the police of the State in whose jurisdiction the terrorist act was committed. The investigations have been piecemeal with very little co-ordination and integration of evidence.

Many point out that the US has been able to prevent another 9/11 because of the action it took to give additional powers to its police, the FBI, the Immigration and other departments fighting terrorism.There are repeated demands that the Govt. of India should emulate the US and other Western democracies and strengthen the legal infrastructure against terrorism.

The US is a two-party State. It has a very small Muslim minority. Bipartisan consensus on legal measures is easier to achieve. India is a multi-party democracy with a plethora of political parties and coalitions. It has the second largest Muslim population in the world after Indonesia. In some of the North Indian States, some political parties are dependent on the Muslim vote for doing well in the elections. Political consensus is, therefore, very difficult to achieve. This has been coming in the way of strengthening the legal infrastructure against terrorism.

Landmine victims on rise in India: Report

New Delhi, December 6
The number of landmine victims in the country has increased significantly in the last one year, according to a report.

At least 170 new casualties of victim-activated explosive devices have been identified where 41 people were killed and 129 injured, according to the Landmine Monitor Report 2008 published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Out of the total victims, 89 were civilians while 81 were military personnel.

This casualty rate is much higher than reported in Landmine Monitor 2007, which identified 107 casualties.

"Last year, landmine and IED casualties dropped worldwide. But in India, casualties of civilians and military personnel have increased. This is an irony," said Binalakshmi Nepram, secretary-general of the Control Arms Foundation of India. — PTI

The Kashmir Connection: A Puzzle

Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

All of the nightmares of the 21st century come together in Pakistan," in the words of the former C.I.A. officer Bruce Riedel. Among them is Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Army of the Pure, the group being blamed for the deadly attacks in Mumbai.

American intelligence on Lashkar falls into three categories. The biggest is the unknown. What little is known is bad enough. The what-ifs are worse: in particular, a possible strategic partnership between Lashkar and Al Qaeda's forces in Pakistan. Then there is the unknown.

If there were operational links between Lashkar and Al Qaeda in the multiple attacks that terrorized Mumbai for three days last week, American counterterrorism officials are still looking for the evidence. Beyond informed speculation, no proof in the public domain shows those two groups have a working alliance. But they have had some common goals and common ground.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, visiting India, said she would not "jump to any conclusions," given the absence of proof. But she also said: "Whether there is a direct Al Qaeda hand or not, this is clearly the kind of terrorism in which Al Qaeda participates."

Still, there are clues half-buried in the recent past. Here is some of what is known:

First, American intelligence officials are all but certain that Lashkar led the attacks, which left 163 people — including 18 members of India's security forces — dead along with 9 suspected terrorists. "The same group that we believe is responsible for Mumbai had a similar attack in 2006 on a train and killed a similar number of people," the director of national intelligence, Mike McConnell, said last week in a speech at Harvard. "Go back to 2001 and it was an attack on the Parliament." The Mumbai commuter train bombings killed at least 186. A dozen died in the assault on Parliament, which led to talk of war.

Second, Pakistan's intelligence services have used Lashkar as a guerrilla force to fight India over their disputed border in Kashmir. That fight has raged since the British partitioned India and Pakistan in 1947. The rival nations went to war that year over Kashmir, and again in 1965 and 1971. Tens of thousands have been killed in political warfare since then.

Third, and most significantly, Lashkar's roots, like Al Qaeda's, lie in another war — the battle between Soviet forces occupying Afghanistan and Islamic rebels who fought them in the 1980's. The rebels were backed by billions of dollars from the United States and Saudi Arabia. Their money and guns flowed through Pakistani intelligence.

In 1989, the Red Army left Afghanistan. The international Islamic holy warriors did not; many thousands of radicals from some 40 nations came to learn the lessons of jihad in Afghanistan, and Lashkar's first foot soldiers were among them.

Lashkar was founded in 1989, supported by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani spies, according to Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan's current ambassador to the United States, a former journalist who opposed Gen. Pervez Musharraf when the general was Pakistan's ruler. Pakistan's role as quartermaster and state sponsor of Afghan jihad forces created "a nexus between Pakistan's military and secret services, which was heightened by the state sponsorship of jihad against India," he has written.

After the attacks of September 2001, it was clearer that Al Qaeda had formed alliances with Lashkar: the first high-level Qaeda prisoner taken after 9/11, Abu Zubayda, was captured in a Lashkar safe house in Pakistan, as Mr. Riedel, now affiliated with the Brookings Institution, pointed out in an article posted online last Wednesday. Other Qaeda operatives who fled after American forces arrived in Afghanistan also holed up with Lashkar, he noted.

In December 2001, after the Lashkar attack on India's Parliament, President Bush added the group to the official United States list of international terrorist organizations. He asked General Musharraf to jail Lashkar's leaders and break up the group.

Some members were arrested. Others went to fight Americans alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan rather than continue their battles against India's Hindus in Kashmir, as the State Department and India's Defense Ministry have reported; by 2006, attacks by Lashkar and its allies in Kashmir were half what they were a few years before.

But on April 23, 2006, Osama bin Laden seemed to signal an open alliance with groups like Lashkar, and their goals. He issued a proclamation denouncing "a Crusader-Zionist-Hindu war against Muslims." He referred to the United States, Israel and India in the statement, as it was broadcast and translated by Al Jazeera. "A U.N. resolution passed more than half a century ago gave Muslim Kashmir the liberty of choosing independence from India," it said. "George Bush, the leader of the crusaders' campaign, announced a few days ago that he will order his converted agent Musharraf to shut down the Kashmir mujahedeen camps, thus affirming that it is a Zionist-Hindu war against Muslims."

Mr. bin Laden called for Islamic holy warriors to continue jihad against India over Kashmir. They did. Lashkar and other Kashmiri groups "continued regional attack planning" in 2007, and "continued to support attacks in Afghanistan," the State Department reported six months ago. The groups also continued to feature prominently in Al Qaeda's "transnational attack planning," the report said.

Then, in an August audio tape, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, proclaimed that "the American, Zionist and Indian flags were raised high" over the bodies of dead Islamic fighters in Pakistan. Jarret Brachman, who was director of research at West Point's Center for Combating Terrorism from 2004 to 2008, points to that statement as potentially significant.

"He starts redirecting Pakistani jihadi attention to the evils of India and linking it more visibly to the U.S. and Israel," he said. "The Mumbai attacks should really come as no surprise to anybody who's been listening carefully to Al Qaeda's rhetoric. Even if Al Qaeda had nothing to do with it operationally, their peddling of this anti-Indian sentiment undoubtedly inspires more parochial groups, like Lashkar, to operationalize those ideas."

Intelligence work is about secrets and mysteries, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who used to run the C.I.A., often says. The Mumbai massacres remain something of a mystery. Of late, "Al Qaeda has seemed strategically schizophrenic," Mr. Brachman said. "How do they turn their hate list into a target list?" He said that no one knows if this attack was the start of something new.

Indian Army displays counter-terrorism skills to Chinese army

6 Dec 2008, 2310 hrs IST, PTI

BELGAUM: Indian Army on Saturday showcased its around six decades of experience in handling counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations to the Chinese army at the 'Exercise Hand-to-Hand 2008' here.

"We want them to see the way we carry out operations against terrorists," Indian contingent commander Brig S K Patyal said.

Indian troops displayed how Indian units operate in various difficult situations faced during these operations.

"We have shown them how to carry out cordon and search operations in a semi urban area, road opening for movement of convoys and carrying out operations in side houses in similar situations," an officer said.

Officers from the Chinese side were also briefed about the various precautionary measures to be taken buy security officers while carrying out these operations.

The fortnight-long exercise was inaugurated in the morning on Saturday and its phase one started today with troops from both the Armies familiarising with each other's weapons and equipment. This was followed by a magnificent display of martial arts by the soldiers from both sides.

Now the phase two of the exercise will commence where the troops will carry out joint training and drills for counter terror. At its culmination, the troops will participate in a simulated counter-terror exercise codenamed Ex Fox Hunt in the phase three.
A total of 137 troops from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) including 35 officers have come to India to take part in the second edition of the Exercise Hand-to-Hand. The first exercise between the two sides was held in Dec 2007 in Kunming province there.

India Is a Key Ally in the War on Terror

Obama has a chance to build on sound Bush diplomacy.

more in Opinion »


At a Pentagon meeting in 2002, a Muslim official from an Asian country observed that there were nearly as many Muslim citizens of India as of Pakistan, yet it was virtually unheard of that an Indian Muslim would join al Qaeda, while many Pakistanis had done so. Why? Because India is free and democratic, he asserted.

His point was not that democracy is a cure-all, but that the problem of terrorism cannot be solved by military or law-enforcement means alone. In other words, it is also crucial to confront the challenge at the level of ideas: to counter extremist teachings, and to promote democratic reforms with the aim of undermining the appeal of extremist Islamism.

The 9/11 attack intensified the Bush administration's interest in India. President Bush had come into office intent on transforming the U.S.-India relationship into a strategic partnership -- one that would acknowledge India's emergence as one of the world's most populous democratic countries, with an information-age economy, formidable military capabilities, and the ambition to increase its role in world affairs.

U.S.-Indian strategic cooperation received a boost early on when Jaswant Singh, then serving simultaneously as India's foreign and defense minister, visited Mr. Bush in the Oval Office in April 2001. Mr. Singh highlighted the countries' shared concerns about Asian security, particularly Indian-U.S. joint interests in missile defense.

The latter was a bold point on a controversial Bush administration initiative. Administration officials appreciated that Mr. Singh was signaling India's eagerness to establish common ground with the United States, even at the risk of protests from Russia, India's close friend during the Cold War.

The Pentagon played a leading role in building on the Bush-Singh dialogue. The U.S.-India Defense Policy Group (DPG), which I co-chaired with my Indian counterpart, forged extensive military-to-military links and opened channels for defense trade. The DPG became a forum for wide-ranging strategic talks beyond bilateral and regional issues.

I opened my first DPG meeting, in December 2001, with the observation that for too long Americans had viewed India chiefly as a problem country -- a nuclear proliferation problem and one half of the India-Pakistan problem. I said that the Bush administration saw India differently, as an opportunity, a rising power with which we could cooperate to shape the strategic environment of Asia to promote security, peace and prosperity.

The 9/11 attack had made it easier for Americans to appreciate India's struggle against terrorism. People readily discount someone else's security concerns when they don't share them. But after 9/11, many Americans inside and outside the government saw India and the United States as partners in the war against Islamist extremists.

The more we learned about jihadist ideology -- that of al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and others -- the less likely it appeared that India could free itself of terrorist attacks simply through territorial compromise with Pakistan over Kashmir. Jihadist leaders declare that the aim of their holy war is not to alter specific policies of their enemies, but rather to establish a universal Muslim state. Fighting and killing to implement this apocalyptic vision, they have a long list of grievances and hatreds, including against the rulers of most Muslim countries, who they deem apostates.

But the jihadists particularly despise democracy. They believe law-making and self-government by human beings is blasphemous, an affront to the sovereignty of God, who is the only proper source of legislation.

In today's Opinion Journal




The Bush administration has bolstered U.S. homeland security and disrupted terrorist networks around the world through direct action against individual terrorists, the overthrow of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein regimes, pressure on terrorist finances, law enforcement, and intelligence cooperation with numerous foreign partners. But there is no denying that the administration has fallen down on the job of countering ideological support for terrorism. The president's frequent talk of promoting democracy in the Muslim world is far short of a systematic, comprehensive effort to wage a battle of ideas against al Qaeda and the jihadist movement generally.

This is an area where President-elect Obama can make an important new contribution to national security. He can ask the State Department and intelligence community for formal strategies to counter radical Islamist ideology overtly and covertly and hold them to account for results.

The strategies could (1) identify, region by region, the key Muslim voices -- individuals and institutions -- for and against jihadist violence, (2) analyze their respective support networks and vulnerabilities, (3) develop U.S. and multilateral courses of action to amplify anti-terrorist voices and to undermine the extremists, and (4) establish measures of success and track progress. A key to success would be the quality of U.S. linkages with friendly foreign countries, like India, that share our interests and have relevant knowledge and capabilities.

The carnage in Mumbai will prove a setback for jihadist extremists if it motivates the Obama team to intensify strategic cooperation with India, and helps initiate a proper strategy to defeat our terrorist enemies ideologically.

Mr. Feith was undersecretary of defense for policy from July 2001 to August 2005. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and author of "War and Decision" (HarperCollins, 2008).

Pakistan has created its own Frankenstien monster: Defense analyst Maroof Raza

5 Dec 2008, 2007 hrs IST, Vasundhara Sanger, TIMESOFINDIA.COM

MUMBAI: Post November 26 terror attacks in Mumbai, defense analyst Maroof Raza puts his thoughts together on certain issues being discussed across all forums.

He has served as a Major in the Indian Army. Currently, a defence analyst, writer, educationist he has authored two books, "Low-Intensity Conflicts" & "Wars and No Pace over Kashmir." Excerpts :

The terrorists entered Mumbai through the sea route and caused mayhem. Is this the level of defense preparedness in our country?

The Indian navy is expected to have a certain amount of maritime surveillance and it is done continuously. There are radars scanning coastlines, and there is our coastguard effectively guarding the coasts. Reportedly, navy was carrying out exercises in Gujarat when they saw the trawler that supposedly ferried the terrorists into Mumbai.

Unfortunately, there is no coordination among our intelligence agencies. Each one guards its turf. When any of them get the information, the first thing they do is to pass it on to their bosses who in turn rush to the Home Minster. Precious time is lost, in doing so. Even intercepts are not shared.

During the Kargil war, the agencies had with them instances of intercepts; one being the famous recorded evidence played out on TV channels- the conversation between Musharraf and his deputy in Pakistan regarding the attack on Kargil. Yet, former army chief (during the Kargil war in 1999) General VB Malik was unaware of these intercepts for a considerable period (as mentioned in one book written on the Kargil war). The principal secretary of government of India at the time, Brajesh Misra, told him about this on a flight, around 6-12 hours after the information had reached the agencies.

These intelligence agents are trying to win brownie points; all trying to show their bosses they have managed to gather 'booty.' Another problem is that the last five years we had a pathetic home minister (Union home minister Shivraj Patil who had to resign after the terrorist attack on Mumbai).

Would India and Pakistan engage in a war?

I don't see a conventional military conflict; it would just worsen the situation. Besides, a conventional warfare is not safe for businesses as well for the economies of both the countries. India need not act in haste. Diplomatic solution of Pakistan is one way out. If US has to choose, my guess is it will select India.

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf talked US president George Bush into siding with him after the 9/11 attack on America. ISI emerged from funding by US in the 80s. Osama Bin Laden was a US creation (to fight the Russians when they had occupied Afghanistan in the late 70s.) Hence, when US wanted to they used Pakistan. Today, the situation is very different.

What if 26/11 Mumbai attacks were a red herring and a diversionary tactic for something bigger, like a biological attack on some other city?

They might not resort to biological weapons. If that happens, then it will further put evidence on Pakistan. But... it could happen, even though the possibility looks remote at the moment.

On whether the Indian police force is equipped to take on such planned and heavy armed attacks

Our police (force) is completely defunct. It's a residue of the British Raj. Today, they have become more of a nuisance. Politicians use them for their own objectives. The officers' corps (Indian Police Service) constitutes those who have not been able to make it to the Indian Administrative Service. They have no interest, enthusiasm or idea to take on tough jobs; they are bookworms.

As for the equipment (weapons etc) provided to them, it has never been adequate. We have a Raj mind set- symbolising a power of state.

Police is a state subject. We need a system that's applicable across the country.

As for the rest of the security forces, they are engaged in preparing for war. Since 1992 a low intensity conflict has been launched where the entire force is fighting internal conflict; they have been able to keep a semblance of readiness on the borders. We need creation of more NSG (National Security Guard instrumental in shooting down terrorists in Mumbai) type forces in the country to be able to deal terrorism.

On possible intent and strategy of the terror group that struck Mumbai on 26/11

The strategy and intent was to create chaos, fear, lack of confidence, communal divide. There is nothing like specific homegrown (terrorist) group. The terrorists have tapped on sense of anger and alienation and taken advantage of lack of government's effort to take to task all the right wing parties. In the 2002 Gujarat massacre, there was no case made out against the perpetrators and even in the compensation given to the victims of the violence there was a disparity. The government has failed to address the root grievances. You see it in the north-east of India, as well. In Kashmir, the insurgency happened because of the repeated negativism of Delhi politics in the (Kashmir) Valley.

On Pakistan's role in terror attacks on India

In Pakistan, for the last two decades, ISI operatives have been entrusted with the task of identifying families of poor. Usually, the family has one boy who is a wastrel and has no purpose in life. This good-for-nothing fellow is selected by the ISI and told things like he is a failure but this task (militancy which they call 'Jihad') will give him respect in his society. They tell him even if he dies in the course of operation, he will attain martyrdom, and will be hailed as a hero.

This youth is then recruited by luring his families with salary, pensions and other financial benefits. Normally, $10 – 20,000 is set aside for this purpose. Traditionally, people joined the armed forces after a calling. But these people are not like that.

Pakistan does this entire recruitment in a much organised way. The current government may not support this but it is a situation where the country is being haunted by its own mistakes. It's a 'Frankenstein's Monster' that they have created. It started with former Pakistani President late Muhammad Zia ul Haq. Zia's strategy was to "bleed India through a thousand cuts." Kashmir was his motive. It's no secret that Pakistan has always harboured a desire to integrate the Indian side of Jammu & Kashmir into it, and that's what the successive governments have wanted. These groups (militants) are a larger part of the same mind set. Apparently, the present Pakistan government is unable to control the militants.

On the manner in which terrorism can be curbed

It cannot end if US President-elect Barrack Obama gives a statement. It's very complicated and needs an elaborate process to curtail it, eventually. One way is to get like minded people in Pakistan to disagree with the spread of terrorism and militancy in their country.

The masses in Pakistan are bombarded with anti – India propaganda. Traditionally, in Pakistan, anti Indianism is not found wanting. They probably realise that whatever Pakistan is doing (soft on militants over the years and the grip of the army over Pak government operatives) may not be right but their envy and anger gets better of them.

But even with that (engaging locals) it cannot end. A long haul of whole reform of society is the need of the hour if the relations between the two neighbuors are to improve, permanently.

Pakistan is not a tin pot society. It doesn't want global interference in its affairs. US (attempts to 'mentor' Pak after incidents like terror strikes) is not going into the hearts and minds of people. You can see the result in Iraq. One cannot have soldiers zipping around in their armoured humvees and shooting around all over the place. It is not the way to contain a volatile situation. They (US) have no idea about how to deal with Iraq's internals security and they are just damaging any process by their actions. Pakistan needs a reform process; the country is not willing to accept any lip service.

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