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Tuesday, 23 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 23 Dec

PM set to clear forces' demand over pay

NDTV Correspondent

Monday, December 22, 2008, (New Delhi)

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is set to clear the demands of the armed forces on the sixth pay commission.

Officers of the Lieutenant Colonel rank will now get Rs 10,000 more than the present salary per month.

As per the new provisions, the three star officers will be at par with Director Generals of Police.

It also makes provisions for retiring jawans to continue to get pension equivalent to 70 per cent of their the last pay the draw.

However, the demand for pay parity between military and civilian officers has been rejected.

In October, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that he had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A K Antony.

A ministerial committee, headed by Mukherjee, was set up to look into the armed forces' grievance about pay "anomalies".

The committee, which also included Antony and Chidambaram, was set up by the Prime Minister on September 25 in the wake of deep resentment in the armed forces, who complained that there were "anomalies" in the sixth pay commission recommendations and that it had lowered the status of their officers.

After the government notification was issued on August 29, the issues of "anomalies" in the pay for officers was first raised by Air chief Fali Homi Major in his letter in his capacity as acting Chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC).

Chiefs of Navy and Army too have been voicing their resentment.

AWWA Status
CIC summons Army Chief’s wife
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Taking cognisance of Army representatives’ inability to satisfactorily explain the legal status and sources of funds for the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA), the Central Information Commission (CIC) has summoned the Army Chief’s wife in her capacity as the AWWA chief to clarify the issue.

“The commission has directed you to appear in person and present your case,” the notice of hearing issued by the CIC today stated. The next date of hearing has been fixed for January 15, which incidentally happens to be the Army Day.

The wife of the Chief of the Army Staff, as per the Army convention, is the president of the association. Besides the AWWA president, Kirti Kapoor, the CIC has summoned two other officers.

Taking up an appeal filed by Guneet Chaudhary, a single Bench of the CIC comprising Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra, had on Friday ordered that the information sought by the appellant be provided by January 10.

During earlier hearings, the Army had claimed that it had no link with the AWWA as it was an NGO. However, the association was represented by Col GS Bhandari, a serving Army officer working as staff officer to the AWWA president, of which the Commission took a serious note.

In order to determine whether the AWWA was a non-governmental organisation substantially financed directly or indirectly by the central government, the Commission had directed that its audited balance sheets for the years 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 and the source and quantum of funds received by the AWWA from various sources, including government agencies, Army Canteen Stores Department or any semi-governmental agency, be placed before it.

The CIC also sought whether any serving Army officers or troops were working, even voluntarily, for the association, the number of such personnel and the terms and conditions of rendering such service along with a copy of the Defence Ministry’s/Army Headquarters circular authorising such activity.

The commission also called for the list of government premises occupied by the AWWA and its various units and the rent, if any, being paid cumulatively for using such premises.


by Adm. Arun Prakash (Retd)

The "blame-game" which has inevitably reared its ugly head in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks instantly reminded me of the fervent appeals of three successive Chiefs of R&AW to Naval HQ, in recent years, to loan them naval officers for analysis of maritime intelligence. They were seriously concerned that they did not have the necessary in-house expertise available to draw the right conclusions and inferences from the mass of information the agency collected from open, human and technical sources. And very correctly they approached the Navy.

Lack of maritime intelligence has also been the Navy's bane for years, so we understood the handicap R&AW worked under, fully shared their concern, and felt that it was the navy's duty to help. I recall (as the Chief of Personnel) having personally selected some officers for deputation to R&AW, but to my consternation, I learnt within a few months that most wanted to return to the navy. Before I go any further, let me just say that this piece is not about intelligence failure. It is about a failure on a larger scale which represents an equal degree of danger to the nation.

The naval officers deputed to R&AW did not wish to continue with their deputation (and I learnt that this was not a new phenomenon) because when they were assigned their desks in the Cabinet Secretariat they found to their dismay that they had been placed under officers who were many years their junior in terms of service. Having taken this stoically, they then found that they were deprived of things like telephones, stenographers and transport because the "status" assigned to them did not entitle them to these utilities.

The R&AW authorities were most sympathetic but pleaded that the they were not in a position to alter the equivalences, apparently "laid down" by a Kafkaesque Department of Personnel. Neither pay-scales nor years of service nor any logic seem to guide this fixation of relativities of Armed Forces officers with civilian counterparts. It was not that we had not experienced such discrimination earlier - the Service HQ have always been chary of sending their officers on deputation - but one felt that intelligence was an issue of national importance and certainly worth undergoing some inconvenience. But we found that naval officers would accept such assignments only with the utmost reluctance.

I have used this example, only because it is symptomatic of a larger malaise: the lack of coordination between organs of the Government of India (GoI) which has contributed to the recent Mumbai fiasco. This should not come as a surprise because the GoI seems so laissez faire in its approach that it will not intervene to eliminate inter-agency inequity even when it clearly results in crippling disfunctionality, as mentioned above. On the contrary, by its acts of omission as well as commission the GoI has been contributing to steady erosion of the locus standi of the Armed Forces in the national security matrix.

In a seemingly illogical and self-destructive continuum, the GoI has progressively and with great deliberation proceeded to marginalize, downgrade and degrade its own Armed Forces, thus undermining the security of the Indian State as surely as the nation's worst enemy. This is a process that has been underway since independence, and at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I would venture to state that the proverbial last straw may have been added by the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC).

Today, there is a distinct impression that the CPC has erred grievously on many issues relating to the Armed Forces because they were not represented in the commission, and its recommendations have spread confusion and consternation. One of the most serious consequences (whether intended or not) is the sudden and arbitrary alteration of relativities between the Armed Forces and their civilian counterparts, to the detriment of the former. The resulting change in relationships between the Armed Forces and para-militaries has grave operational implications which do not seem to have been understood at all at the political level.

The ex-Servicemen (ESM) are completely stunned to see the number of anomalies thrown up by the CPC. This confusion has been further compounded by different interpretations being put out in successive letters by the Controller of Defence Accounts. To take just one example: no one understands by what logic a Lieutenant-General, Major-General and Brigadier are going to be paid exactly the same pension, and a Colonel (with half the service) will receive just one hundred rupees less.

The GoI has yet again rejected the "one rank on pension" demand, but not even a feeble attempt has been made to bridge the yawning gap between today's and yesterday's pensioners of the same rank. There is also a distinct impression that the CPC recommendations have been fiddled with, and even changed by the bureaucracy, without due authorization at the political level. Such is the level of discontent and strength of feelings that one hears of planned hunger strikes by ESM; something that would have earlier been unthinkable in the Armed Forces ethos.

The most logical way to avoid this confusion and the resultant sense of grievance in the armed forces and the ESM would have been to place a Service representative, if not in the CPC, then in the Review Committee. Either the committee would have convinced this representative of the appropriateness of the issues or the other way round; thus avoiding controversy, speculation and unhappiness. A few retired Service Chiefs (including this writer) had written to the PM to accord this concession but the appeal remained unanswered.

What people have either not understood, or are imprudently ignoring, is the fact that the CPC recommendations (and subsequent developments) are causing deep resentment, because they strike, not at the monetary status of the Services and the ESM, but at their standing relative to the other services. The Armed Forces just cannot understand (nor has anyone explained to them) why it was necessary to cut them down, yet again, a few notches relative to the police or the civil services at this particular junction. This severe blow to their "izzat" appears illogical and incomprehensible.

If there is indeed a sound rationale for the down-gradation of the Armed Forces, the Government must share it with them, and with the nation. Most importantly, the impression that this is the result of machinations of the bureaucracy, must be dispelled, if untrue; and it must be made amply clear that this decision emanates from the GoI.

Spreading unhappiness and confusion amongst the nation's Armed Forces or demoralizing them, and the 2-3 million strong ESM community does not serve anyone's interest. Should someone in authority not sit up and take notice?

Editorial: A Scandalous State

Business Standard / New Delhi December 23, 2008, 0:03 IST

India has no shortage of reporters covering politics, business, sport and city administration. It has only a few reporters who look at defence; and the innate secrecy attached to the business doesn't help unearth information. There are questions like: Are you helping the enemy by talking about some piece of equipment not functioning, or being in short supply? And are you affecting the morale of the troops by reporting skullduggery in sub-standard defence purchases? The result of a combination of these and other factors is that the country is told precious little with regard to the state of its defence preparedness.

The annual spit-and-polish parades down Rajpath give the impression of a disciplined force; but is that the reality? The navy does itself proud when its warships protect Indian shipping in the world's sea lanes and blow up pirate craft. But an Arjun tank was put on display on Republic Day many years before the first such tank was handed over to the army. The air force routinely loses aircraft and pilots while undertaking training sorties. And it takes a Pay Commission fracas for people to realise how officers in uniform get a raw deal when compared to civilian counterparts. That all is not well with the forces is also evident to anyone who casts even a cursory glance over the government's annual financial statements. The share of defence expenditure in GDP has been very low (given the threats the country faces) for many years; even worse, large sums allocated as capital expenditure (for procuring defence hardware) go unspent year after year. It is obvious from this that the forces are not getting what they need, but that is at best a dim awareness for even the better-informed.

So it is just as well that recent newspaper reports have laid bare the pathetic state of hardware acquisition, the shortage of spares, the cannibalisation of equipment to make up for this, the resulting impairment of fighting capability, and much else. The problem is not confined to one force, but affects all three services: India has not ordered fighter planes, or submarines, or howitzers, for many years on end. The country should not have to wait for a defence equivalent of the Mumbai terrorist attacks before this situation stands exposed before the public and pressure is put on the government to take corrective action. In fact, even Kargil demonstrated the shortage of key equipment, and desperate purchases being made when the battle was already on.

It is often said that, ever since the Bofors scandal two decades ago, defence officers are reluctant to take decisions on purchase orders for fear of a subsequent witch-hunt. This is as lame an excuse as you can get after 20 years have passed. More than one defence minister in this period has talked of setting the system right, but the story has not changed, of budget provisions lapsing because money is not spent. There is more to the problem—changing specifications midway through a procurement process (often enough, designed to suit one supplier or other); lengthy testing procedures; lack of financial clearance; supplier misconduct, as seems to be the case with the Gorshkov re-fit; and so on. Whatever the reasons, it should not be beyond the capacity of the government system to address the issues and set procurement right, so that the country does not have an under-equipped defence force that cannot do its job if and when the time comes.

Pak terrorist infrastructure threat to world: Pranab
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
India is not closing the option of striking at militant camps across the border if Pakistan fails to deliver on its promise to crush terrorist groups operating on its soil. As India put the composite dialogue process with Islamabad on hold, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today asserted that the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan was the greatest danger to peace and security of the entire civilised world. He unequivocally told Islamabad that New Delhi would take all necessary measures to deal with the situation arising from Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attack.

The external affairs ministry summoned its nearly 150 ambassadors and high commissioners from all over the world here for a three-day meeting to brief them on the situation arising from the November 26 terror attack on Mumbai and how Pakistan was trying to hoodwink the international community by taking half-hearted measures against terrorist groups operating on its soil.

Addressing the meeting, Mukherjee warned Pakistan that India was keeping all its options open. “India expects Pakistan to fulfil its commitments on dismantling the terror infrastructure. It has to be dismantled permanently. Terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is dangerous to peace and security of entire world.”

Demanding that major world powers do more to tackle terrorism, he said the current effort by the global community was not enough. Blaming Pakistan for supporting terror groups, the External Affairs Minister said, “Pakistan has unfortunately resorted to the policy of denial and is shifting the blame and responsibility. Elements within Pakistan still continue to use terrorists as an instrument of state policy.”

“We have so far acted with utmost restraint. We hope that international community will use its influence to urge Pakistan to take effective action,” he said.

Mukherjee, however, warned that ultimately India would decide how to tackle Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. “Pakistan’s response so far has demonstrated their earlier tendency to resort to a policy of denial and to seek to deflect and shift the blame and responsibility.”

Meanwhile, sources here said India was keeping all its options on the table but would not disclose what New Delhi proposed to do in the face of Pakistan’s defiant attitude to act against terrorist groups. “Nobody is going to say anything on the options being considered…no time-frame could either be given in this regard.”

The sources said India had made certain demands of Pakistan and would want the neighbouring country to act on them. “We want to prevent the recurrence of a Mumbai-like terrorist attack as also that the perpetrators of the Mumbai strike face Indian justice.”

Noting that Islamabad had merely done a flip-flop before going into the denial mode in the wake of the Mumbai attack, they said it was time for Islamabad to prove its sincerity on dealing with terror and “if they (Pakistan) don’t act, there will have to be consequences.”

Observing that the situation in 2008 was entirely different from the one that existed in after the December 2001 terrorist attack on Parliament, the sources said at that time it was only Gen Pervez Musharraf with whom India had to deal. “Today we are dealing with a fragmented Pakistan where there are multiple centres of power.”

Confirming that the Lashkar-e-Taiba had masterminded the Mumbai attack, the sources pointed out that the terrorist group had never carried out any attack in Pakistan and its links with certain elements in the Pakistani establishment were well known. The sources wondered why Pakistan could not hand over Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar to India, which was its obligation under international laws even if there was no extradition treaty between India and Pakistan.

Pak air force holds low-flight exercise
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Fighter planes of the Pakistani air force (PAF) today conducted a low-flight exercise in Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar, amid escalating tension with India in the wake of Mumbai attacks and tough statements coming from the Indian leadership.

A PAF spokesman simply stated, “In view of the current environment, the PAF has enhanced its vigilance.” He declined further to comment.

Citizens in these and adjoining cities reacted with mixed feelings of concern about possible war signs and patriotic enthusiasm. In Peshawar, people came out of their houses and shouted slogans lauding the armed forces’ preparedness. Some flights at airports of Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar were delayed due to the PAF exercise.

Early this month, Indian fighter jets had allegedly crossed into Pakistani airspace over PoK and Lahore but Pakistan played down these flights as “technical incursions”. However, a week later the Indian High Commissioner was called to the foreign office and handed over a formal protest over violation of Pakistani airspace, saying these violated a bilateral agreement.

Meanwhile US joint chiefs of staff admiral Michael Mullen arrived here today afternoon. According to officials, during his visit, Mullen will meet President Asif Zardari, General Ashfaq Parvaiz Kiyani and other high ranking military and civil officials.

Army chief General Kayani called on Zardari earlier in the day and discussed with him the evolving security situation in the wake of threatening Indian statements.

Why US think tanks were wrong about Pakistan

Pakistan has always been a hard case -- with its volatile combination of military rule, terrorist havens and the ‘Bomb’. Bush deserves praise for not going into an area where he had no clue. Obama & Co are far more qualified to tackle this situation..

THE TERROR attacks in Mumbai represent an escalation in Pakistan’s battle between the forces of extremism and moderation. The suppression of democracy in Pakistan has had profound institutional consequences. The major infrastructure building blocks of democracy have been weakened, political parties have been marginalised, NGOs dismantled, judges sacked and civil society undermined. And by undermining the infrastructure of democracy, the regime that is in place to date was a regime put into place by the intelligence agencies after the flawed elections of 2002.

President Bush’s democracy agenda for Pakistan, the argument goes, is radical, hopeless, failed, dangerous and destabilising. This regime has not allowed the freedom of association, the freedom of movement, the freedom of speech for moderate political forces, and so by default, the mosques and the madrassas have become the only outlet of permitted political expression in the country. President Asif Ali Zardari has not been able to operate due to the ISI and Pakistan Army.

It was a political coalition in Iran that led to the overthrow of the Shah, and the subsequent purging of the liberals, leaving the radical Islamists in power. And President Bush is a hypocrite for not applying it vigorously enough in Pakistan; the administration, it seems, should be more principled and energetic in pursuing a discredited foreign policy. But perhaps the need for freedom is not so discredited after all. But does Obama understand what he’s getting into? We need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region -- Pakistan and India and the Afghan government -- to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community. Among his biggest challenges will be to gain the loyalty not only of the regular military but also of those officers detailed to the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, an organisation of some 25,000 operatives that was founded in 1948 to promote information-sharing among the army, navy and air force. In the 1960s, military dictator Ayub Khan used the ISI to spy on domestic rivals, and over time it developed a unit focusing on manipulating civilian politics.

Kashmir had been a princely state in British India, ruled by a Hindu Raja who took it into Hindu-majority India during partition. The Pakistanis fought an inconclusive war but failed to annex it to Pakistan, and the United Nations called for a referendum to allow the Kashmiris to decide their fate. India, which viewed Jammu and Kashmir as an Indian state, never allowed such a plebiscite to be held. Obama has suggested that he will bid to resolve the Kashmir dispute once and for all. This is going to be that “challenge” Biden spoke of and it is also going to be a huge part of the “change” Obama referred to constantly in his campaign. I believe he knew what he was signing up for; the problem is that the public has yet to grasp this, as most of us know next-to-nothing of the arcane politics of Pakistan, York Rite Freemasonry, nor the highly provincial differences which have rendered Pakistan ungovernable till now.

The problem faced in Pakistan is remarkably complex, and not only are there very delicate ethical as well as political issues to be dealt with, but the situation has evolved over time, from the original Pashtun-York Rite relationship, to the present-day projects that are proliferating in a region which has become essentially ungovernable. It is this situation which makes everything not only difficult to approach, but which also potentially opens a lot of doors which wouldn’t normally be opened (not even by a blundering Bush administration). If Pakistan is ungovernable, and if the Pashtuns have lost traction (and the York Rite Freemasonic influence vanished, which it largely has), then we may be entering a new age and a new world of foreign policy and it will require not only an Obama, but the brain trust he has assembled, to create a novel approach creating an alloy of diplomacy and military intrusion unlike anything we in the West have done before.

If the Bush administration deserves praise for anything, it’s for not going into an area where they had no clue. That this was no doubt an act of providence alone is certain. That Obama & Co are far more qualified to tackle this unique situation is one of the reasons I have stood behind the now President-elect from Day One. I believe he does, absolutely, understand what’s going on and he will be better qualified than anyone has been in the history of Pakistan to possibly bring some sort of stability to the region.

The Pakistani military launched a campaign against the Taliban and its al Qaeda backers in the tribal area of Bajaur; an effort that American commanders have applauded as a way to stop the militants crossing into Afghanistan and launching attacks against American soldiers. They want the army to pull out of everything and start talks with the militants in North and South Waziristan, in Swat. The army is fighting the Taliban in Swat, a settled area of North West Frontier Province, and has fought the Taliban in Waziristan, an area of the tribal belt.

Earlier, the presence of Gen Pasha in Parliament was viewed in much of the Pakistani media as an encouraging, if fledgling, sign of civilian control of the military. Gen Pasha described what the army had done in several campaigns against militants in the past seven years, showed graphic images of militants slaughtering civilians, and said more than 1,500 Pakistani soldiers had died in operations, according to members of Parliament. We do not know how effective that anger will be. If the nature of the political class remains the same, Indians will probably have to get used to living with a degree of terror the exact quantum of which is difficult to predict.

No Option Closed if Pakistan Does Not Deliver: India

New Delhi
Asking the international community to see the terror infrastructure in Pakistan as "the greatest threat to world peace", India Monday said it had not "closed any options", including a military strike, if Islamabad did not fulfill its anti-terror pledge.

"If there will be any military conflict nobody declares it in media. We have kept all our options open," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters when asked if India and Pakistan were heading towards a military conflict.

"To achieve that objective (to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai terror attack to book) we are not closing any options because our people have died," Mukherjee said.

"We will expect from Pakistan to do whatever they have committed to do and fulfill their promises as respectful member of the community of nations," he said.

"No nation can shrug its responsibility to fulfill promises," Mukherjee said on the sidelines of a three-day conclave of nearly 130 heads of India's missions abroad in the Indian capital that began Monday.

Mukherjee ruled that India's relations with each of its neighbors were better than before except for Pakistan because of continuing cross-border terror.

"Unfortunately, Pakistan's response so far has demonstrated their earlier tendency to resort to a policy of denial and to seek to deflect and shift the blame and responsibility," he told Indian envoys while providing an overview of India's strategy in dealing with terrorism from Pakistan.

"We expect the civilian government of Pakistan to take effective steps to deal with elements within Pakistan who still continue the use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy," he said.

"We have so far acted with utmost restraint and are hopeful that the international community will use its influence to urge the Pakistani government to take effective action," he said, alluding to Islamabad's Jan 6, 2004 and Sep 24, 2008 pledges to not allow its territory to be used as a launching pad for terror attacks against India.

"While we continue to persuade the international community and Pakistan, we are also clear that ultimately it is we who have to deal with this problem. We will take all measures necessary as we deem fit to deal with the situation."

This is the first meeting of the heads of Indian missions across the world. It is aimed at briefing envoys on leading diplomatic challenges in which India is expected to play a major role in days to come.

"This (Mumbai attacks) and the series of terrorist incidents preceding it, including the attack on our embassy in Kabul where we lost our colleagues, indicate that terrorism emanating out of Pakistan is acquiring an increasingly dangerous dimension and continues to threaten peace and stability in this region and beyond," he said.

Referring to India's efforts to generate international pressure on Pakistan to force it to act against terror outfits, Mukherjee said: "We have so far worked at several levels. At the international level we have sought the support of the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to deal effectively with the terrorism.

"We have highlighted that the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan has to be dismantled permanently. We are not saying this just because we are affected but because we believe that it will be good for the entire world and also for Pakistani people and society," he said.

"This terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is the greatest terrorist danger to peace and security of the entire civilized world," he added.

In a message aimed at the US and other influential players like Britain, Mukherjee stressed that the international community needed to do much more so that "actions should be pursued to their logical conclusion".

"We need effective steps not only to bring those responsible for the Mumbai attacks to justice, but also to ensure that such acts of terrorism do not recur," he said.

Rumors of War Create Panic in Pakistan
By Muhammad Najeeb

The Pakistan Air Force has increased its vigilance flights creating panic and sparking war rumors, as Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar Chaudhry Monday warned that the country had the potential and right to defend itself if forced to war.

"If India tried to thrust war, then the armed forces of Pakistan have all the potential and right to defend (the country)," Chaudhry told reporters, as he said the defence of Pakistan was in strong hands.

Chaudhry said India would never want war because "if it breaks out, then god forbid the situation might develop into a nuclear war."

He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi's statement relating to war with Pakistan was nothing but an election stunt.

Meanwhile, PAF jet flights over Lahore and Rawalpindi created panic sparking rumors that India had launched attack to target Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and offices of other jihadi organizations.

Mobile phone messages that have now become major source of information started circulating that PAF jets were flying to counter Indian attacks. However, television channels quoting officials were quick to dispel the rumors.

GEO TV quoting an official spokesman said PAF has increased vigilance and the flights over Rawalpindi and Lahore were inside Pakistan. The PAF is on high alert since reports of any possible attack by India.

"In the current environment, the PAF has enhanced its vigilance," PAF spokesman Air Commodore Humaun Viqar was quoted as saying. Other channels also quoted different officials that Pakistan forces were on alert but dispelled rumors of any attack.

However, residents in Islamabad and other cities came out of their homes and offices and started calling media organizations.

Reports said all airports of the country were also put on high alert. Flights bound for Dubai from Lahore and another from Quetta were halted while all entry passes at Lahore airport have been cancelled.

Sources said that such measures were taken for landing of the PAF aircraft in case of any emergency while they flew over Lahore and Rawalpindi.

Top US military officer in Pakistan

Press Trust of India

Monday, December 22, 2008 9:30 PM (Islamabad)

In a bid to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, US on Monday rushed its top Army official to Islamabad, under pressure from New Delhi to act against terrorists responsible for the Mumbai attacks, to hold discussions with the country's political leadership.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen arrived here on Monday on an unscheduled visit, second after the November 26 terror strikes in Mumbai that killed more than 180 people.

Mullen is scheduled to meet Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The US had recently criticised Pakistan for not doing enough to combat terror within its border.

Mullen met Pakistani national security advisor Mehmood Ali Durrani shortly after his arrival from Afghanistan and is expected to meet Kayani later on Monday.

Admiral Mullen had visited Pakistan shortly after the attacks in India's financial capital. He had then asked Pakistan to take action against elements involved in the Mumbai incident.

Besides discussing the regional security situation, Mullen is also expected to hold talks on the situation along the border with Afghanistan and the war on terror.

New revelations in Malegaon blast case

NDTV Correspondent

Tuesday, December 23, 2008 (Pune)

In new revelations linked to the Malegaon case, Rakesh Dhawade, a key accused in the blast case has alleged that two professors - one from a leading college in Pune - were involved in providing training for two earlier blasts which also involved Hindu extremist groups.

In his statement to the Jalna police, Dhawade said, "Dr Sharad Kunte, a botany professor in Pune's famous Wadia college, coordinated a 10-day training camp in which people were taught how to assemble bombs."

He said that the training camp was held in 2003 at Akanksha resort near Sinhagad Fort, adding that at the same camp, a man called Professor Deo trained a batch of seven to 10 people in making pipe bombs.

Dhawade was also present at the camp and admitted to providing materials to assemble bombs.

He even admitted to providing logistical support including transport, food and clothing for the camp. He was paid for his services by Professor Kunte.

The Pune ATS has questioned Professor Kunte for his alleged role but not made any arrests so far.

Meanwhile, the Malegaon investigations have also thrown up links to the Army. The focus is now on serving Army personnel, who worked with Lt Colonel Srikant Purohit, one of the main accused in the blast case.

Sources have told NDTV that the ATS is questioning one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and two NCOs (Non Commissioned Officers).

Three of them had worked with Lt Col Purohit during his stint in Deolali, near Nashik.

The ATS would have preferred questioning them in their own premises but the Army wants it to be done at the Army Cantonment in Mumbai since no official request has been received from the ATS.

The Army claims it is fully cooperating in the investigation and questioning.

Why the CIA does not want Dawood in Indian hands

Jeremy R Hammond | December 22, 2008 | 14:50 IST

The role Dawood Ibrahim, the underworld kingpin who heads the D-Company and has known ties to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and even the Central Intelligence Agency, is apparently being whitewashed. His capture and handover to India might prove inconvenient for either the ISI or the CIA, or both.

It was Ibrahim who was initially characterised by press reports as being the mastermind behind the attacks. Now, that title is being given to Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi by numerous media accounts reporting that Pakistan security forces have raided a training camp of the group Lashkar-e-Tayiba, which evidence has indicated was behind the attacks. Lakhvi was reportedly captured in the raid and is now in custody.

At the same time Ibrahim's role is being downplayed, Lakhvi's known role is being exaggerated. Initial reports described him as the training specialist for LeT, but the major media outlets like the New York Times and the London Times, citing government sources, have since promoted his status to that of commander of operations for the group.

The only terrorist from the Mumbai attacks to be captured alive, Ajmal Amir Kasab, characterised Ibrahim, not Lakhvi, as the mastermind of those attacks, according to earlier press accounts.

Kasab reportedly told his interrogators that he and his fellow terrorists were trained under Lakhvi, also known as Chacha (uncle), at a camp in Pakistan. Indian officials also traced calls from a satellite phone used by the terrorists to Lakhvi.

But the phone had also been used to call Yusuf Muzammil, also known as Abu Yusuf, Abu Hurrera, and "Yahah". And it has been Muzammil, not Lakhvi, who has previously been described as the military commander of the LeT. It was an intercepted call to Muzammil on November 18 that put the Indian Navy and Coast Guard on high alert to be on the lookout for any foreign vessels from Pakistan entering Indian waters.

Kasab told his interrogators that his team had set out from Karachi, Pakistan, on a ship belonging to Dawood Ibrahim, the MV Alpha. They then hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, the Kuber, to pass through Indian territorial waters to elude the Navy and Coast Guard that were boarding and searching suspect ships.

Although the MV Alpha was subsequently found and seized by the Indian Navy, there have been few, if any, developments about this aspect of the investigation in press accounts, such as whether it has been confirmed or not that the ship was owned by Ibrahim.

Upon arriving off the coast near the city, they were received by inflatable rubber dinghies that had been arranged by an associate of Ibrahim's in Mumbai.

The planning and execution of the attacks are indicative of the mastermind role not of either Lakhvi or Muzammil, but of Ibrahim, an Indian who is intimately familiar with the city. It was in Mumbai that Ibrahim rose through the ranks of the underworld to become a major organised crime boss.

At least two other Indians were also connected to the attacks, Mukhtar Ahmed and Tausef Rahman. They were arrested for their role in obtaining SIM cards used in the cell phones of the terrorists. Ahmed, according to Indian officials, had in fact been recruited by a special counter-insurgency police task force as an undercover operative. His exact role is still being investigated.

One of the SIM cards used was possibly purchased from New Jersey. Investigators are looking into this potential link to the US, as well.

Dawood Ibrahim went from underworld kingpin to terrorist in 1993, when he was connected to a series of bombings in Mumbai that resulted in 250 deaths. He is wanted by Interpol and was designated by the US as a global terrorist in 2003.

It Is believed Ibrahim has been residing in Karachi, and Indian officials have accused Pakistan's ISI of protecting him.

Ibrahim is known to be a major drug trafficker responsible for shipping narcotics into the United Kingdom and Western Europe.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, most Afghan opium (or its derivative, heroin, which is increasingly being produced in the country before export) is smuggled through Iran and Turkey en route by land to Europe; but the percentage that goes to Pakistan seems to mostly find its way directly to the UK, either by plane or by ship.

Afghanistan is the world's leading producer of opium, a trend that developed during the CIA-backed mujahedeen effort to oust the Soviet Union from the country, with the drug trade serving to help finance the war.

A known drug trafficker, Dawood Ibrahim is naturally also involved in money laundering, which is perhaps where the role of gambling operations in Nepal comes into the picture.

Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, wrote last month after the Mumbai attacks that Ibrahim had worked with the US to help finance the mujahedeen during the 1980s and that because he knows too much about the US's 'darker secrets' in the region, he could never be allowed to be turned over to India.

The recent promotion of Lakhvi to 'mastermind' of the attacks while Ibrahim's name disappears from media reports would seem to lend credence to Shimatsu's assertion.

Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen similarly reported that according to intelligence sources, Ibrahim is a CIA asset, both as a veteran of the mujahedeen war and in a continuing connection with his casino and drug trade operations in Kathmandu, Nepal. A deal had been made earlier this year to have Pakistan hand Ibrahim over to India, but the CIA was fearful that this would lead to too many of its dirty secrets coming to light, including the criminal activities of high level personnel within the agency.

One theory on the Mumbai attacks is that it was backlash for this double-cross that was among other things intended to serve as a warning that any such arrangement could have further serious consequences.

Although designated as a major international terrorist by the US, media reports in India have characterised the US's past interest in seeing Ibrahim handed over as less than enthusiastic. Former Indian deputy prime minister L K Advani wrote in his memoir, My Country, My Life, that he made a great effort to get Pakistan to hand over Ibrahim, and met with then US secretary of state Colin Powell and then national security advisor Condoleezza Rice (now secretary of state) to pressure Pakistan to do so. But he was informed by Powell that Pakistan would hand over Ibrahim only "with some strings attached" and that then Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would need more time before doing so.

The handover, needless to say, never occurred. The Pakistan government has also publicly denied that Ibrahim is even in the country; a denial that was repeated following the recent Mumbai attacks.

Others suspected of involvement in the attacks and named among the 20 individuals India wants Pakistan to turn over also have possible connections to the CIA, including Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the founder of LeT, and Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Maulana Masood Azhar, both veterans of the CIA-backed mujahedeen effort.

Azhar had been captured in 1994 and imprisoned in India for his role as leader of the Pakistani-based terrorist group Harkut-ul-Mujahideen. He was released, however, in 1999 in exchange for hostages from the takeover of Indian Airlines Flight 814, which was hijacked during its flight from Kathmandu, Nepal to Delhi, India and redirected to Afghanistan. After Azhar's release, he formed JeM, which was responsible for an attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001 that led Pakistan and India to the brink of war. LeT was also blamed for the attack alongside JeM.

Both LeT and JeM have links to the ISI, which has used the groups as proxies in the conflict with India over the territory of Kashmir.

Saeed travelled to Peshawar to join the mujahedeen cause during the Soviet-Afghan war. Peshawar served as the base of operations for the CIA, which worked closely with the ISI to finance, arm, and train the mujahedeen. It was in Peshawar that Saeed became the protege of Abdullah Azzam, who founded an organization called Maktab al-Khidamat along with a Saudi individual named Osama bin Laden.

MaK worked alongside the CIA-ISI operations to recruit Arabs to the ranks of the mujahedeen. The ISI, acting as proxy for the CIA, chose mainly to channel its support to Afghans, such as warlord Gulbaddin Hekmatyar. The US claims the CIA had no relationship with MaK, but bin Laden's operation, which later evolved into Al Qaeda, must certainly have been known to, and approved by, the CIA.

But there are indications that the CIA's relationship with MaK and Al Qaeda go well beyond having shared a common enemy and mutual interests in the Soviet-Afghan war. A number of Al Qaeda associates appear to have been protected individuals.

Another former head of the ISI is now being privately accused by the US of involvement with the group responsible for the Mumbai attacks, according to reports citing a document listing former ISI chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul and four other former heads of Pakistan's intelligence agency as being involved in supporting terrorist networks. The individuals named have been recommended to the UN Security Council to be named as international terrorists, according to Pakistan's The News.

The document has been provided to the Pakistan government and also accuses Gul, who was head of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, of providing assistance to criminal groups in Kabul, as well as to groups responsible for recruiting and training militants to attack US-led forces in Afghanistan, including the Taliban.

Hamid Gul responded to the reports by calling the allegations hilarious. The US denied that it had made any such recommendations to the UN.

But the US has similarly accused the ISI of involvement in the bombing of India's embassy in Kabul last July. This was unusual not because of the allegation of an ISI connection to terrorism but because it was in such stark contrast with US attempts to publicly portray Pakistan as a staunch ally in its 'war on terrorism' when the country was under the dictatorship of Musharraf.

The US attitude toward Pakistan shifted once an elected government came to power that has been more willing to side with the overwhelming belief among the public that it is the 'war on terrorism' itself that has exacerbated the problem of extremist militant groups and led to further terrorist attacks within the country, such as the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto last year or the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in September. While the world's attention has been focused on the attacks in Mumbai, a bomb blast in Peshawar killed 21 and injured 90.

While the purported US document names Gul and others as terrorist supporters, another report, from Indian intelligence, indicates that the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai were among 500 trained by instructors from the Pakistan military, according to The Times. This training of the 10 known Mumbai terrorists would have taken place prior to their recent preparation for these specific attacks by the LeT training specialist Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi.

But while Lakhvi, Muzammil, and Hafiz Saeed have continued to be named in connection with last month's attacks in Mumbai, the name of Dawood Ibrahim seems to be either disappearing altogether or his originally designated role as the accused mastermind of the attacks being credited now instead to Lakhvi in media accounts.

Whether this is a deliberate effort to downplay Ibrahim's role in the attacks so as not to have to force Pakistan to turn him over because of embarrassing revelations pertaining to the CIA's involvement with known terrorists and drug traffickers that development could possibly produce isn't certain.

But what is certain is that the CIA has had a long history of involvement with such characters and that the US has a track record of attempting to keep information about the nature of such involvement in the dark or to cover it up once it reaches the light of public scrutiny.

Jeremy R Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal. Reproduced with kind courtesy of Foreign Policy Journal.

US rushes top Army official to Pakistan

PTI | December 22, 2008 | 22:41 IST

In a bid to defuse tensions between India and Pakistan, United States on Monday rushed its top Army official to Islamabad, to hold discussions with the country's political leadership.

US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen arrived in Islamabad today on an unscheduled visit, second after the November 26 terror strikes in Mumbai that killed more than 180 people.

Mullen is scheduled to meet Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The US had recently criticised Pakistan for not doing enough to combat terror within its border.

Mullen met Pakistani national security advisor Mehmood Ali Durrani shortly after his arrival from Afghanistan and is expected to meet Kayani later. Admiral Mullen had visited Pakistan shortly after the attacks in India's financial capital.

He had then asked Pakistan to take action against elements involved in the Mumbai attacks. Besides discussing the regional security situation, Mullen is also expected to hold talks on the situation along the border with Afghanistan and the war on terror.

Take the war to the enemy

Bharat Verma | December 22, 2008 | 17:17 IST

New Delhi continues to fumble while India burns.

Pakistan's superior psychological warfare machinery further tied down the already overstretched Indian security forces in knots. Airports and railway stations are the new fortresses that are heavily guarded. Next will be Metro stations or shopping malls. The list is endless. This is what the enemy wants -- tire and dull the edges of the security forces of India by making them run hither and thither.

This remains the single important reason why intelligence and police machinery of the Union and the states have collapsed. Perpetual red alerts, 24x7 for the past three decades have reduced them to dysfunctional entities with no declared objectives to achieve. The ease with which Parliament or Mumbai were attacked stands witness to the fact. Worse, our leadership's response to the threat posed was too shameful to comment upon.

New Delhi is walking into the trap by superficially trying to guard every inch. Neither feasible nor a method recommended. The Indian leadership that inducted them in a marshy land of insurgency and terrorism for more than two decades without any clarity in political or military objectives is adding to the confusion of the security forces.

Forces that are inducted into battles always need clarity of purpose, military objectives spelled out and swiftness in conduct of operations to avoid demoralisation. Otherwise, battles cannot be won and there is the likelihood of the forces landing in disarray. It appears to be now happening to the Indian security apparatus on the ground.

Imagine if ten trained terrorists from Karachi can hold the financial capital of India to ransom for days, what will happen if 500 pour in from different points in to the country? They can literally bring the entire nation to its knees.

To say that the threat from radical Islam was not known despite the collapse of the intelligence machinery is not true. The very fact that the prime minister and his colleagues for many years are forced to move under heavy security blanket within their own capital city with roads lined up with policemen is a shameful declaration of the existing threat to the Union. Couple this fact with the increasing frequency of attacks by the Islamic terrorists in recent times and the entire threat perception becomes crystal clear.

To tie up security forces in knots internally to deal with the externally sponsored, trained, and petro-dollar financed terrorism exported by the Pakistan army and the Inter Services Intelligence will deaden their morale and will to fight. While there is definitely an internal dimension to security, to put the forces within on a self-destructive directionless path is exactly what the enemy wants!

Either the political set up in New Delhi has not understood this raw truth in war fighting or is too scared to take the war back to enemy territory. This war must be fought decisively in Pakistan before it engulfs the Union of India in its entirety.

Pakistan is in cahoots with other dictatorial regimes on our borders. China wants to tie down India to retain its top dog status in Asia. Maoist Nepal favours China. Bangladesh, another laboratory of radical Islam, is in connivance with these dictatorial regimes. The subtle alliance of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal Maoists pose a combined threat to the territorial integrity of India. Of course, overtly these regimes pretend to work in isolation of each other so as not to alarm New Delhi.

To avoid destruction of our forces by deployment in unending internal circuses and before war fatigue sets in, we need to take the war imposed by radical Islam to the enemy territory. Unless the source of supply is disabled, this war cannot be won. The core group orchestrating this drama is the Pakistan army and the ISI. These external links are required to be put in disarray. This can only happen if the war is re-exported to Pakistan.

If the poisonous flow from the external links is not stopped, Indian Muslims will be radicalised, which is the primary aim of Pakistan. Similarly, a backlash from the majority that is responsible for the liberal philosophy of India can wreck the democratic set-up. Non-governance is not really an option available to the prime minister. Mumbai and other attacks mounted by terrorists on Indian cities, could not have taken place without local support. For the police or intelligence agencies to profess otherwise is untruthful.

Another falsehood perpetuated by the eternally helpless breed of Indians is that a stable Pakistan is in India's interest. It is not, stable or otherwise. Pakistan is a failed State. It is on the brink of disintegration. It simply needs to be helped to remove itself and the map redrawn. Otherwise, the cost to India will keep increasing disproportionately.

To take this war to the enemy, New Delhi needs a deliberate, graded and escalating response with a clear political and military objective to help Islamabad disintegrate:

· Snap diplomatic relations immediately.

· Declare Pakistan a terrorist State.

· Discontinue all trains and bus services as well as trade and business transactions.

· Announce renegotiations of the Indus Water Treaty as the terms unduly favour Pakistan.

· Begin a process to regulate the water supplies and build new mechanisms to activate water flow controls.

· Cancel permissions for over flights.

· Seal the Nepal and Bangladesh borders on a priority basis.

· Build a grand alliance of democracies by increasing their stakes in the burgeoning economic pie of India, to leverage their support against authoritarian regimes on our border including Pakistan.

· Increase immediately FDI in the defence sector from 26 percent to 49 percent. This will help India to emerge as the most modern technology driven defence industry hub in Asia while making it profitable for Western companies to invest.

Instead of fighting at cross-purposes with Asia's largest media, harness its resources to conduct unprecedented psychological warfare. In times of war, the media is a weapon, a platform to be used intelligently to secure the national interests without attempting to hinder its freedom.

Equip the intelligence agencies with clear directives and resources to conduct deniable acts in enemy land similar to Islamabad's terrorist acts. Thus raise the cost to the enemy and make it prohibitive for Pakistan. This will also fuel the disintegration of this tottering State. The game can be played by equal finesse by us.

To defend the taxpayer's millions of dollars invested in Afghanistan's reconstruction programme, move two integrated divisions with substantial air element in the area, in consultation with Kabul. Let Indian pressures build up from the east and west on Pakistan so that our embassy or similar establishments are not targeted in the future.

The Bush administration's strategy that Western forces without India's support will win in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is misguided and counter-productive. They cannot win without New Delhi's direct involvement. The incoming Obama administration urgently needs to change this policy in Washington's interest. Similarly, New Delhi should learn to fight its own war instead of expecting others do its dirty work.

Simultaneously equip and marshal the military forces on a war footing, removing all deficiencies including the human resources as war at an appropriate time of our choosing remains an open option.

We should stop tying up our forces internally in an endless mind-boggling game. This will result in disintegration and ineffective security instruments available to the State. The helplessness of the under-trained and under-equipped police was on display during the attack in Mumbai. Therefore, instead of permitting our forces to disintegrate in the long term, it is sensible to take this war to Pakistan and make them pay the price.

It is time, India woke from its slumber.

Bharat Verma is editor, Indian Defence Review

Hit Pakistan army where it hurts -- its funding

Sankrant Sanu | December 22, 2008 | 11:18 IST

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Islamabad and gave 6 million pounds (about Rs 433 million) to Pakistan's government as a reward for the attacks on Mumbai, carried out by trained Pakistani militants. Not that Gordon Brown meant to encourage terrorism. Quite the contrary. The funds were given to Pakistan for counter-terrorism support. But in the equation of action and consequence, the Pakistan army would be happy to cash in another six million pounds. Every bit helps. But it is time for Western governments to ask whether the strategy of doling out dollars and pounds for terror has delivered the goods.

Being the 'frontline State' in the war on terror has netted the Pakistan army over $10 billion (Rs 500,000 million) in military assistance from the United States. The frontline of terror runs through the state of Pakistan -- for its army it has proven to be rich vein of gold. Most of the military assistance from the US has helped the Pakistan army arm itself to the teeth against its 'enemy State' India and helped tighten its dominant economic and coercive control over Pakistani civil society. Fighting terror is such a profitable business for the Pakistan army that one wonders what they would do if they actually caught the terrorists.

Instead, the Inter Services Intelligence, another arm of the Pakistan army, is busy eliminating evidence to maintain a very implausible deniability. A journalist from the respected Pakistani newspaper Dawn interviewed captured Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab's parents before a pall of secrecy descended on the town of Faridkot in Pakistani Punjab. Subsequent journalists noted the carpeting of the area by the ISI. Enough fear and awe was generated for Faridkot residents that subsequent visitors found their lips were securely sealed.

The evidence of Kasab's testimony, including the very existence of his parents, needed to be swiftly removed before too many other nosey journalists came calling. When the army's perpetual fig leaf, the need of India to provide more 'evidence', has become so tattered, every fibre is worth saving. Kasab's parents may well have been made to disappear yet, according to news reports, Hafiz Saeed, leader of the banned Jamat-ul-Dawah, is plainly visible outside his house despite his official 'house arrest.'

The more things change, the more they remain the same in Pakistan. A nudge and a wink, a few months of decreased visibility, and the terror apparatus will be back in business. The tactic of the carrot has not worked. Billions of dollars of US military aid has not led to a Pakistan that is any less an epicentre of terror than it was ten years ago.

Like a reliable cash machine, Gordon Brown went to Pakistan and coughed up some more money for terror. One wonders, what is the incentive for the Pakistan Army to change -- what it has done so far is clearly working well to keep it well-fed and well-polished.

Just as a thought experiment -- what if Gordon Brown had gone to announce that the International Monetary Fund is putting a stringent cap on defence spending in Pakistan? What if every terror attack having a link with Pakistan, caused the army's budget to be slashed and compensation handed to the attacked country? One suspects that the pro-active willingness of the army to take care of terror emanating from its soil would be greatly increased. After all, this is an institution that has shown it can protect its own interests fairly well.

The cost of terror must be raised. Not for ordinary Pakistani citizens. Not for its largely impotent civilian government that has become a diplomatic attache of the army. Not even for the terror camps and its brainwashed participants that emerge from and merge back into the Pakistani landscape. Wispy ghosts, these appear and disappear at the whims of the powers that be. But the cost must be raised for the Pakistan army, the singular institution that is responsible for the creation of the terror infrastructure and must be held responsible for its dismantling.

And there is no better way to raise this cost than to hit the army exactly where it actually bleeds -- from its pocket books. What the Pakistan army lacks is not resources but will. It needs a clarifying message that the support of terror will directly hit its interests rather than those of the over-burdened citizens of Pakistan or the forbearing citizens of India. Who will call the Pakistan army's bluff and free the citizens of Pakistan, along with the rest of the world, from its yoke? If Gordon Brown is not up for it, will Barack Obama show some spine?

Sankrant Sanu is an independent researcher and writer based in Seattle, USA.

NSG hubs in four cities
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
The ministry of home affairs has identified Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad as the four places where new hubs of the national security guards (NSG) will be established.

The director general of NSG J.K. Dutt met the union home secretary Madhukar Gupta here today in this regard. The strength of the force will also be enhanced but the specific increase in numbers and the time frame was not disclosed. The special operations group of the NSG constitutes of Army men on deputation. The Indian Army has raised doubts if could spare so many men in one go.

Following the Mumbai terror attack, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced that the government would set up four NSG hubs in different parts of the country and several states were keen on having a base of the elite force.

PM gets report on defence pay disparities
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22
The group of ministers which was looking into the pay related disparities of the armed forces today submitted its report to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The group is headed by Pranab Mukherjee. The armed forces have raised four core issues which were being examined. Sources said the compromise formula has been worked out and three out of the four demands have been accepted in totality.

No compromise on defence

By HAQ NAWAZ submitted 3 hours 37 minutes ago

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan top civilian and military leadership on Monday held extensive discussions on mounting tension with India and resolved that any threat to the country’s sovereignty would be countered with full force. In a meeting, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani briefed the President Asif Ali Zardari on the prevailing security situation and growing signs of tension with India, sources privy to the meeting said.
The Army Chief called on the President amid increasing tension between Islamabad and New Delhi over Mumbai attacks.
Sources said that the President and Army Chief reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace and stability. However, they said the country’s top leadership also resolved that befitting response would be given if war were imposed on Pakistan and all possible steps would be taken for the purpose.
The sources quoted the President as saying that no compromise would be made on the country’s defence and security and that the armed forces of Pakistan were fully capable of safeguarding the country’s borders.

Editorial:Media war and Indo-Pak tension

As the world worries about India and Pakistan going to war over the Mumbai attack of November 26, 2008, Pakistan is all set to take on India if it attacks. Defence ministry officials in Islamabad, responding to an intelligence report saying India had prepared for a war with Pakistan, were quoted by the press Saturday as saying “Pakistan is not afraid of India’s preparations for war” and that “the Pakistan Army has been making its own preparations for a possible war”.
Anyone outside South Asia would be shocked at this kind of news. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and any conflict between them is bound to escalate into a holocaust for the region. Then why are the two sides hyping up a conflict neither can afford? What is pushing them to the edge, if it cannot be reason and good sense?
It is clear that the Indian media is setting the stage for the Indian Congress-UPA government to put on the warpaint or take a defeat in the coming elections to a more jingoist BJP. The Nepalese journal Himal (December 2008) wrote: “There is an attempt on to generate mass hysteria in India as television channels compete for ratings. The channels are using the Bombay attacks of last week in a dangerous game of TRP-upmanship [TV’s target-rating point] which can well derail the political process and set back the India-Pakistan peace train. Going far beyond what is required of them even in times of crisis, some media houses are leading campaigns to get citizens to take pledges of patriotism. They are pushing a brittle, monochromatic vision of the resilient country we know as India”.
Sane voices in India are also worried. Shekhar Gupta, editor of Indian Express, noting the way the TV anchors in India were getting savagely emotional, wrote to advise the two sides to bring down the temperature of the media war: “This hostility must end and senior media people on both sides, particularly editors, need to intervene before this great professional bond starts to fray. Journalists are of course loyal to their countries, but are never to be held accountable for their governments’ policies. They can neither be framing state policies, nor be their spokesmen, and certainly not be waging wars...It is time media institutions and senior editors from both sides intervened and ensured it does not get out of control”.
In Pakistan the “reactive” assault by the media has brought out the dark side of the Pakistani state, oblivious of any strategy of restraint and more worried about how bad the government will appear in the eyes of the people overwhelmed by the anti-Indian fury of key TV anchors and newspapers columnists. One senior columnist laid down the terrain on which the war of the anchors and columnists is being fought when he said there were only two kinds of journalism, one for the country and the other for one’s self. But what about the facts?
Daily Jang (December 13, 2008) reported that its team went to Faridkot in Okara to inquire whether the terrorist caught in Mumbai Ajmal Amir Kasab was an inhabitant of the village. According to the report it was greeted at first with cover-up stories. Then a villager disclosed that Ajmal had disappeared but when he came back he showed off his physical prowess and taught karate to village children. More and more people reportedly started complaining that intelligence agencies were actively discouraging people from telling the truth. The president of the local press club said if Ajmal was not from the village, why were the secret agencies putting pressure on the village? People said the terrorists were not only bothering India but had made life hell for Pakistanis too.
This report seemed to substantiate the contents of an earlier report about Faridkot in London’s Observer. But then some TV channels went to Faridkot and reported that Ajmal Kasab had not lived there. Other reports told us how the villagers of Faridkot were out in processions saying no Ajmal Kasab had actually existed. What then are the facts? India initially said it was in the process of putting the evidence together. Now, its external affairs minister says his country has given evidence to Pakistan but Islamabad is not acting against the culprits on the basis of that information. The Interior secretary, Kamal Shah, was quoted by Nawa-e-Waqt (December 14, 2008) as saying that the captured terrorist Kasab was not on the record of NADRA and he did not possess a Pakistani ID card.
The entire issue has got mired in politics and nationalistic sparring. The “pause” in normalisation means the only framework in and through which India and Pakistan were moving forward and could, under the circumstances, is now in abeyance. And just when the two sides needed it the most to not only tackle the Mumbai episode but by agreeing to contextualise the problem of “terrorism” move towards a lasting solution of the problem. Now sane voices in India are asking their media to cool off; in Pakistan too sane voices must start speaking up so the issue can be put in the proper perspective. *

Second Editorial: No oil for power

Even as the defence ministry says in Islamabad that Pakistan is ready for war with India, the Karachi Electric Supply Company (KESC) has announced that it has no funds to purchase furnace oil for the power plant. Because of this it has had to close down three units at Bin Qasim Thermal Power Station. It says, “The situation could be improved, provided the City District Government, Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and other institutions, pay their outstanding dues to KESC”. There is no oil because there is no money.
The country is experiencing 12 to 14 hours of load shedding as its government is forced to exchange threats of war with India. Alas, bombarded by propaganda, the common man takes time out from protesting against outages to challenge India and say how his “jazba” (passion) to fight the “Hindus of India” is alive and well. His cleric is recommending that we throw the nuclear bomb on India and the media is asking him to ignore the power crisis and many other similar crises adversely impacting his everyday life by focusing instead on a war in which the tanks will run, not on oil, but on pure “jazba”. *

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