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Thursday, 25 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 25 Dec

WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS

Mumbai Heat
India wants to make us a scapegoat to cover its security failure: Gilani

Islamabad, December 24
Ruling out the possibility of a war with India in the wake of heightened tensions, Pakistan premier Yousuf Raza Gilani today alleged that the Indian government was trying to find a “scapegoat” to cover up for the intelligence failure behind the Mumbai terror attack.

“My assessment is that there will not be a war,” he told reporters in Lahore. However, he said the government and armed forces of Pakistan were prepared for all eventualities in the face of mounting tensions between the two countries.

“We are a responsible nation and we are assessing the situation. The armed forces of Pakistan are assessing the situation but I do not think there will be a war,” he said. “If they (India) try to indulge in any adventure of this kind, the people and institutions of Pakistan are united.”

Gilani said there were indications that there was “great public pressure on the Indian government” in the wake of the Mumbai attack. “There was an intelligence failure and they want to make someone the scapegoat,” he claimed.

“We want good relations with all countries, we don’t want a war with anyone,” he said.

India has blamed Pakistan-based elements, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist group, for the Mumbai attack. It has asked Pakistan to take action against these elements.

Pakistan has been insisting that it can take forward its probe into the attacks only if India formally shares evidence about the involvement of the Pakistani elements.

“If anyone speaks to us at an international level, they should back it up with evidence...The evidence will be shared with the country. So we don’t want to jump to a conclusion,” Gilani said. — PTI

BSF officer talks of build-up on Raj border
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, December 24
Tension between India and Pakistan became more palpable at the international border in Barmer with Additional Director General, Border Security Force, UK Bansal stating heavy army build-up on the other side of the border.

Bansal told reporters at Barmer this evening that Pakistan army had taken over rangers in Sir Creek area. He confirmed there was a heavy movement of forces.

Centre has alerted the Rajasthan government to be prepared for evacuation of villages near the border. Following the report, an emergency meeting was called by the Home Ministry to deliberate on the further course of action.

India ready to meet any attack: DRDO official

Abu Sheikh 25 December 2008, Thursday

A SENIOR official of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has said that India’s nuclear command and control system is in place to meet any kind of attack including a atomic attack.

W Selvamurthy, chief controller research and development (life sciences) of DRDO, told media persons that the nation was capable of handling all kinds of attacks. He said nuclear, biological and chemical attacks can be handled by India, as adequate systems and process have been developed and put in place.

DRDO, he said, has developed bunkers which can save people from nuclear attacks and also provide them shelter. Integrated shelters, air borne early warning systems and devices to protect from radiation have also been developed by the DRDO.

Selvamurthy also informed that India has developed a missile interceptor system which can neutralise a missile in the air. The testing of this system has already been done, he added.

Speaking about the indigenous light combat aircraft, the DRDO official said that 20 Tejas aircrafts will be supplied to Indian Air Force by 2010 and 10 more by 2012.

IAF Conducts Precision Bombing Practice Runs

New Delhi
With the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) flying sorties over two important cities in the wake of heightened sub-continental tensions after the Mumbai carnage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been carrying out precision bombing practice runs to prepare itself for any eventuality, sources said Wednesday.

With the option of carrying out precision bombings of terrorist camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir doing the rounds, IAF sources told IANS that its fighter jets have been carrying out practice sorties at firing ranges in the Rajasthan sector and elsewhere.

“Precision bombings are being carried out at various air-to-ground ranges like Pokhran, Jamnagar, Jodhpur, Gwalior and Halwara,” an IAF source said.

However, an IAF spokesman said: “It is a routine exercise. We carry out such practices on a regular basis.”

The sources also added that there would be no deployment of IAF fighter jets at forward air bases.

“With the coming of air-to-air refuellers, India does not need to deploy fighters at the forward bases. The aircraft can cover any distance, perform their mission and return to their respective bases,” the sources said.

Pakistan does not have air-to-air refuellers.

Tension between the two neighbors heightened after the Mumbai terror attacks, with India asking Pakistan to crack down on the terrorist camps functioning from its soil.

On Tuesday, India cautioned against “creating war hysteria” and asked Islamabad to address the real issue of “dismantling the terror machine” in that country.

Taking a long-range view, New Delhi also indicated its preference for diplomatic options by asking the international community to intensify pressure on Islamabad to comply with the UN resolutions against terrorism.

In a carefully calibrated message, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday underscored India's growing impatience with diversionary tactics adopted by Islamabad as he appealed to the international community to pressurize Pakistan to honor its anti-terror commitments.

“The issue is not war, the issue is terror and territory in Pakistan being used to promote, aid and abet this terror,” Manmohan Singh told reporters outside parliament. "Nobody wants war," he stressed.

PAF jets flew a series of sorties over Lahore and Rawalpindi on Monday as part of its increased "vigilance", officials said.

Pakistan Seeks Closure of 'Terror Cells' in India

Islamabad/New Delhi/Washington
Apparently opening up a new front, Pakistan's parliament has urged the world community to press India for closing what it terms terror cells and to stop its anti-Pakistan "propaganda" in the wake of the Mumbai carnage.

A resolution, moved by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Ahmad in the National Assembly (NA) Wednesday "has urged the global community to press India to close terror hubs and stop anti-Pakistan propaganda", The News reported on its website.

The resolution also said that Pakistan wants peace and stability in the region and the end of tension with India.

"The resolution stated that Mumbai attacks reflected the failure of Indian intelligence; therefore, India should stop blaming Pakistan," The News said.

The assembly session was adjourned after passing the resolution.

India, on its part, will seek Saudi Arabia's support in putting pressure on Pakistan to act against terror outfits during Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal's daylong visit to the Indian capital Friday.

In his meeting with his Saudi counterpart, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will share information that establishes a clear link between Pakistan-based elements and the Mumbai terror attacks, official sources said.

Mukherjee is also likely to invoke transformed ties between India and Saudi Arabia following King Abdullah's visit to New Delhi in 2006 and seek Riyadh's support in putting pressure on Islamabad to take concrete action against anti-India terror outfits in that country.

New Delhi will seek Riyadh's support in clamping down on the financing of terrorists some of whom use Saudi charities and other fronts for generating funds for subversive activities. The issue will figure in the discussions between the two ministers, the sources said.

With Pakistan stepping up its propaganda offensive against India in the Muslim world, India is likely to draw attention to reports in sections of Saudi media that have been critical of New Delhi but sympathetic to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has said he would personally request President Asif Ali Zardari to take "stern action" if India furnished evidence of the involvement of Pakistani territory in the Mumbai attacks that claimed at least 170 lives, 26 of them foreigners.

Speaking at a Christmas cake-cutting ceremony at the Punjab Chief Minister's Secretariat at Lahore Tuesday, "he believed the Pakistan government had no link to the blasts", The News reported Wednesday.

Sharif, whose brother Shahbaz Sharif is the chief minister of the Punjab province, also "warned" the Indian and Pakistani leaderships against making "irresponsible statements" as this would "further aggravate the situation".

"He said if the Indian government did not have any evidence, then it should avoid creating tensions in the region through fake allegations," The News reported.

Sharif maintained that "it would be better for the future of both countries" to resolve their differences through dialogue, adding that Pakistan wanted friendly and peaceful relations with India and was committed to helping India in hunting down the perpetrators of the Mumbai outrage.

Pakistani senators have also urged a review of the country's role in the war on terror and even suggested the redeployment of troops from the Afghanistan border in the light of heightened tensions with India.

"Taking part in the discussion (Tuesday) on the security situation, they underlined the need for launching a diplomatic initiative to tell the world that Pakistan was a responsible country and expose 'baseless allegations' being hurled by India in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage," Dawn reported Wednesday.

"They rejected as a cock and bull story the claim by India that a group of 10 people had travelled on a boat from Karachi to reach Mumbai for carrying out the attack," the newspaper added.

On his part, the US defence chief has admitted that the Mumbai terror attacks have jeopardised operations against the Taliban in the remote parts of Pakistan.

The attacks were a tactical operation that had strategic effects, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen told reporters on the flight home after a visit to Pakistan.

It placed progress against Taliban extremists using safe havens in Pakistan's remote areas in jeopardy, he said.

Before the attack in Mumbai, the Pakistani government began operations in Bajaur on the border with Afghanistan, Mullen pointed out.

During his trip, Mullen met top military and intelligence officials in Pakistan including army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and director-general of Inter-Services Intelligence Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha and apparently discussed the Mumbai atatcks.

"It was a good, positive meeting, and it continues our relationship," Mullen said, according to a report on the US defence department website. "I'm not going to get into specifics of what we discussed, but I am encouraged."

US officials believe extremists from the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba used the safe havens along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, to finance, plan and train for the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attack.

Pakistan deploys more troops near Rajasthan border: BSF

Press Trust of India

Thursday, December 25, 2008 12:45 AM (Jaipur)

Pakistan has deployed more troops across the international border with Rajasthan in the wake escalation of tension between the two countries, BSF officials said.

"A lot of military movement is being noticed in districts just across the international border for the last few days, which is not normal," R C Dhyani, DIG of Rajasthan frontier BSF, said.

"Patrolling across the border has intesified while defence personnel are constantly on vigil from watch towers," he said.

"It was not a normal practice some days ago and after escalation of tension between two countries Pakistan has deployed more troops across border," he added.

Dhyani said though the situation is under control BSF is prepared to meet any eventuality.

ADG of BSF U K Bansal visited the border areas in Barmer, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur districts today and he is understood to have noticed that the movement of troops across the border has intensifed.

War nowhere in sight: Brajesh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 24
War is not on cards but the government appears to be mounting pressure on Pakistan to drive home a point, former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra has said, indicating that India could not completely bank on US for dealing with the situation.

“I don't think that war is on the cards. It seems to be a plan of the government. It appears to me that they are ratcheting up the issue day by day,” Mishra told Karan Thapar, the host of the ‘India Tonight’ programme on CNBC-TV18.

Asked if the government was handling the matter sensibly, Mishra appeared supportive of the government’s stand, saying “it’s the way it should had been done”.

“But Pakistan should be given more time even as we are convinced they are not going to do anything... International community should agree that India has shown enough patience before acting,” he said.

Mishra contested US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's contention that the issue was not that serious as was the 2002 attack on the Parliament. “It is the US point of view. But any Indian will say when 180 or more people are attacked by 10 terrorists trained and armed from Pakistan, it is as serious an issue as was 2002," Mishra said.

Mishra said there was “a limit” to what the US could do in this situation. "They have their own interests in Afghanistan and they need the cooperation of the Pakistan Army.”

On Barack Obama’s assuming US President’s post, Mishra said: “Obama's idea is how to tackle Afghanistan, and cooperation with Pakistan Army. This will inevitably bring in a conflict with Indian interests."

Asked what dangers awaited the government if it opted for a war, Mishra said it depended on the control the government had over what it was doing. "It is a matter of leadership. Risk is always there. The issue is how you handle it," he said.

Mishra said air strike was not the lone option for India if it decided to strike the military camps in Pakistan. "It depends on the information the government has," he said.

Now, Pak claims to arrest 'Indian' for Lahore blast

NDTV Correspondent

Thursday, December 25, 2008 (Islamabad)

In a new twist to the Indo-Pak standoff over the Mumbai terror attack, an Indian national has been arrested in Pakistan for his alleged role in a blast that took place in Lahore yesterday. This comes as India mounts pressure on Islamabad to take tougher action against the perpetrators of Mumbai 26/11.

The Indian national who has been arrested by Pakistan's intelligence agencies has reportedly been identified as Satish Anand Shukla.

Shukla has been held in connection with Lahore car bomb blast on Wednesday in which one person was killed and four others were injured.

According to some reports, Shukla had worked with the Indian High Commission in London and that he is from Kolkata. Police have been quoted as saying that Shukla had confessed to his role and has also named three accomplices.

A woman was killed and four persons were injured when a car bomb went off in a high-security residential complex for government officials in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

The explosion occurred at 9.20 am within the Government Officers Residences complex, an area in the capital of Punjab province where senior government officials and judges reside. (With PTI inputs)

Forward deployment of Pak Air Force planes detected

NDTV Correspondent

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 (New Delhi)

Amid growing tension between India and Pakistan and President Asif Ali Zardari's statement that his country was capable of thwarting an attack from the East, there has been a forward movement by the Pakistani Air Force.

For the second consecutive day, the Pakistan Air Force has been flying its fighter aircraft over its main cities - apparently, a sign of increased military preparedness across the border.

The move comes at a time when India has categorically stated that war can't be a solution to the ongoing crisis between the two countries.

According to sources:

* Pakistan has deployed its aircraft on frontline bases

* Pakistan has flown fighter jets over Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi

* India sees this as an attempt to raise temperatures in the subcontinent and deflect from the real issue - how Pakistan deals with the issue of terrorists operating from its soil

* This is being seen as a step to showcase Pakistan's air defence preparedness

* India's Western Air Command has in any case been on alert

On the heightened activity, a top official of the Border Security Force (BSF) said they were prepared for any eventuality.

"The BSF is on full alert," said UK Bansal, Additional Director General, BSF, Barmer.

Gilani echoes Manmohan's statement, rules out war

Press Trust of India

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 (Islamabad)

Echoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement, his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Wednesday that he, too, did not think that there would be an Indo-Pak war even as the Pakistani leadership asked India not to underestimate their military might.

Gilani told reporters in Lahore that his analysis was that there would not be a war but Pakistan's armed forces were assessing the situation.

His remarks came a day after Prime Minister Singh made it clear that India did not want a war with Pakistan but asserted that Islamabad should dismantle the "terror machine".

"The issue is not war. Nobody wants war," Singh had said on Tuesday outside Parliament in New Delhi.

At the same time, Gilani accused the Indian government of trying to find a "scapegoat" to cover up for the intelligence failure during the Mumbai terror attack.

A little more strident President Asif Ali Zardari was quoted as having said that India should not underestimate Pakistan's military strength. The armed forces were fully capable of "thwarting any aggression from the east," he said.

Sharif, who had earlier confirmed that the lone captured Mumbai attacker Ajmal Amir Iman was a Pakistani, asked India for evidence or stop creating tensions through "fake allegations."

"Pakistan, as a state and as a government, is not at all involved in the incident. If India provides evidence to Pakistan, the country will look into them and take action," Sharif, the leader of the opposition PML-N, said.

Pakistan parliament slams war hype

Press Trust of India

Wednesday, December 24, 2008 (Islamabad)

Pakistani parliamentarians on Wednesday waded into the war of words with India, criticising the "war hype" purportedly whipped by New Delhi and asked it to join hands in the investigation of Mumbai terror attacks.

Members of the treasury and opposition benches in the National Assembly or lower house passed a resolution unanimously condemning the Mumbai attacks but asked India to refrain "from activities undermining Pakistan's sovereignty".

Supporting the government's efforts to defuse tension in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, the resolution urged India to respond to Pakistan's proposal for a joint probe of the incident. This will address concerns related to the attacks, the resolution said.

The resolution was moved by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Malik Ammad Ahmed and supported by the whole house.

However, attendance in the National Assembly was thin with less than 100 members present in the 342-strong House.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and most ministers too were not present.

The resolution reaffirmed Pakistan's "strong commitment to peace, security and stability of South Asia and to eliminate terrorism in all its forms" and "condemned unsubstantiated allegations levelled in haste against Pakistan".

Pakistan is committed to pursue its "constructive engagement with India in a comprehensive manner" to build confidence and mutual trust, resolve all outstanding issues, particularly Kashmir, and establish good relations on the basis of equality, it said.

Highlighting the importance of "principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states", the resolution said that this is a "pre-requisite for ensuring peace, stability and progress" in the region.

The parliamentarians said Pakistan is united to defend its honour and dignity as well as the country's sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity.

It said the people and the armed forces would together defend Pakistan's security interests at all costs.

The resolution came in the wake of comments by Prime Ministers of both countries that they would not go to war amidst escalating tensions in the region. While ruling out war, Prime Minister Gilani today said that the armed forces were prepared for all eventualities.

The resolution was passed at the end of a lengthy debate on national security. In a similar debate in the Senate or upper house of parliament, Leader of the House Raza Rabbani said Pakistan would not extradite any of its nationals to India for alleged involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

If concrete evidence is given by India, the Pakistan government will conduct an investigation and prosecute the accused according to the laws of the land, he said.

"We have condemned all kinds of terrorism and asked the Indian government for a joint investigation soon after the Mumbai attacks," Rabbani said. India had not provided any evidence and it was unfortunate that it is still indulging in a blame game, he added.

Rabbani said the government would also not allow any kind of military strikes inside Pakistan. "We don't want war but if the war is imposed on us, we will answer in a befitting manner," he said.

'Villages along Indo-Pak border not being evacuated'

PTI | December 25, 2008 | 00:20 IST

The Border Security Force on Wednesday night denied having received any communication from the Centre to get villages in Rajasthan -- along the India-Pakistan border -- evacuated but said the paramilitary force was keeping a hawk's vigil.

"No communication has been received either by the BSF or the Rajasthan government for vacating any village along the border," BSF chief M L Kumawat told PTI. He denied media reports claiming that some villages in Rajasthan along the border had been evacuated in the wake of Indo-Pak tensions, following a communication from the Centre.

"Such reports are only designed to create panic where there is none," he said and added that he had spoken to Rajasthan Chief Secretary on the need to maintain calm.

About reports that Pakistan had allegedly amassed troops along the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan, Kumawat said, "The BSF is fully alert and is maintaining tight vigil along the border. There is no need to panic at all."

Cost of security
States must review threat perception

TUESDAY’S ruling by the Punjab and Haryana High Court restricting the use of escort and pilot vehicles to chief ministers, speakers and the high court chief justice is in the fitness of things. It has deplored the “feudal mindset” of the powers that be and directed the Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh UT authorities to regulate the security cover given to some VIPs after reviewing their threat perception. Police security and red beacons for vehicles have become status symbols for most of them who do not even deserve them. Why should ministers, legislators, zilla panchayat members and even bureaucrats need police security and red lights atop their cars? This false demonstration of social status makes a mockery of democracy and eats into public finances. It is also anachronistic and militates against the egalitarian ethos of the Republic.

Undoubtedly, VIP security has become a menace, being over-defensive in approach, excessive in content and obtrusive in nature. There has hardly been any serious effort by the Centre and the states to rationalise the security system. After the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram has taken the initiative to review VIP security. The Punjab government, too, has taken some steps to regulate the deployment of policemen for those called VIPs. Yet, this is not enough. A lot more needs to be done to instil confidence in the people that the Centre and the states do show care and concern for the safety of the common people.

The police is meant to check crime, maintain law and order, regulate traffic, investigate cases and so on. But deployment of a large segment of the force for the security of politicians and bureaucrats is depleting its strength for real policing work. The increase in the crime rate in all the states, including Delhi, is attributed to the paucity of police personnel who are diverted to VIP security at the cost of maintaining law and order and public safety. Clearly, security may be given to those on the basis of their genuine threat perception, but even such cases should be the exception rather than the rule.

Tactics of blackmail
How Pakistan erases evidence on Mumbai carnage
by G. Parthasarathy

During the over five-year period when I lived in Pakistan, a constant feature was the ever-present ISI minders, who followed me wherever I went. Their surveillance was crude. On one occasion they seated themselves next to a table at which I was hosting Ms Maleeha Lodhi, (later Pakistan’s envoy in Washington) at the height of the Kargil conflict. Nervous and rattled by the proximity of the ISI goons, she even declined to accept from me a copy of the infamous Musharraf-Aziz conversation that had been taped by RAW during the Kargil conflict.

It was, therefore, not difficult to spot the ISI goons swarming over Faridkot village to intimidate ordinary citizens and erase all evidence that the captured terrorist, Ajmal Amin Qasab, and his parents lived there. In urban centres, ranging from Sialkot and Multan to Dera Ismail Khan, the ISI has endeavoured to erase evidence of the other terrorists being Pakistani nationals. Thus, despite professions of readiness to cooperate, Pakistan is erasing all evidence of its involvement in the Mumbai carnage.

Sadly, the Manmohan Singh government has bungled badly by stating there was no evidence of ISI involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attack. During a recent meeting in Washington, former Commander-in-Chief of India’s Eastern Fleet Vice-Admiral Premvir Das explained the immense complexity of the operations undertaken by the terrorists who boarded a Pakistani ship in Karachi, hijacked an Indian fishing trawler, navigated using a global positioning system and transferred weapons, ammunition, explosives, a satellite phone and an outboard motor to a small boat in turbulent waters.

Admiral Das averred: “It is just not possible for ordinary jihadis, trained in camps in Muridhke, to do this. Only people with rigorous military training could have done what these people did.” In short, the entire commando-style operation had the backing of elements from the Pakistan Army and Navy. Despite this, it is inexplicable why the Manmohan Singh government does not publicly speak of circumstantial evidence of ISI/Pakistan military involvement.

New Delhi’s pusillanimity on this score has inevitably led to foreign leaders like Senator John Kerry giving the Pakistan military establishment a clean chit on the Mumbai carnage. While there is sympathy in Western capitals for India after the Mumbai attack, Western chanceries now appear to believe that India is acting like a supplicant in pleading for them to act against Pakistan. Given the Western and particularly American reliance on Pakistan for logistical support in the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, the Americans now believe that expressions of sympathy and understanding alone will deter New Delhi from taking any action that adversely affects their operations in Afghanistan.

Sensing this, Pakistan regularly threatens them that it will move its troops to the Indian border unless they “restrain” India. Is it not, therefore, time for India to tell its friends that they should reduce their dependence on Pakistan and that they should hold out the threat of economic and military sanctions against Pakistan, if the latter continues to stonewall on dismantling the infrastructure of ISI-sponsored terrorism?

Ever since the NATO summit was held in Bucharest in April 2008, NATO officials have been working on alternate routes bypassing Pakistan for supplying their forces in Afghanistan, as “the situation is unstable in Pakistan”. During the summit Russia agreed to facilitate a land transport corridor to Afghanistan. Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have been approached for the same purpose, and Azerbaijan and Georgia have been sounded out for a Caucasian corridor to Afghanistan through Turkmenistan via the Caspian Sea. Such moves will reduce Western dependence on Pakistan and effectively undermine Pakistan’s efforts to blackmail its American allies.

Recent attacks on NATO supply convoys near Peshawar appear to be part of a calculated Pakistani effort to force the US to plead for more Pakistani military support. India should now let it be known that it feels the US should not be deterred from imposing sanctions on Pakistan if Islamabad persists in its refusal to act against terrorism emanating from its soil, and that the US should actively reduce its dependence on Pakistan for its operations in Afghanistan. Indian security will, after all, not be as seriously affected as American security interests if Pakistan chooses to move elements of its four divisions, now on its western borders, to its borders with India.

If Pakistan continues to blackmail the US with threats of pulling out troops from its western borders to deploy them at its eastern borders, India can justifiably say that Pakistan’s threats will not deter it from acting to protect its interests if the US and other countries beyond paying mere lip service to Indian forbearance. There are no doubts that some will claim that this will lead to growing Talibanistion of Pakistan. But would a spread of Taliban control towards the capital, Islamabad, also not lead to the weakening of the Pakistan Army, which is, after all, the lead player in sponsoring terrorism against both Afghanistan and India? Further, can the Pakistan Army afford to create a situation that would inevitably lead to NATO airstrikes deeper into Pakistan territory? In the present power structure of Pakistan, President Zardari and his government play second fiddle to the army establishment. This will not change unless the army is isolated and forced to make hard choices and give up its favourite pastime of “bleeding” India.

These are policy options that New Delhi must adopt and articulate before the Obama Administration assumes office. President-elect Obama has on more than one occasion endorsed India’s right to “self-defence” The incoming US Administration is also more open to ideas, like widening the dialogue on Afghanistan by bringing in not only the country’s Central Asian neighbours but also Russia, Iran and India. It is true that China, which in a way was responsible for the Mumbai carnage by blocking moves in the UN Security Council to get the Jamaat-ud-Dawa declared a terrorist organisation, will continue to stand by its “all-weather friend”, Pakistan.

But once the US and its NATO allies decide to call Pakistan’s bluff, work on alternative supply routes to Afghanistan and threaten Pakistan with sanctions if it does not dismantle the infrastructure of ISI-sponsored terrorism, Pakistan and China will be more amenable to complying with the demands of the international community than they are at present. The leverage that India has to make the US and its NATO allies act on these lines lies is its ability to compel the Pakistan Army to move four divisions from its western to eastern borders, should it be compelled to force the issue.

Peace talks must be stalled

In his front-page editorial, “Call off the peace dialogue— to begin with” (Dec 23), H K Dua offers a sane advice. It has now been established beyond doubt that all these years we allowed ourselves to be the victim of barbaric terrorist attacks, launched with impunity, from the Pakistani soil and waters. More often than not, these assaults came with the express knowledge of those in power – whether military dictatorship or elected puppet rulers.

The suggestion that we should call off the peace dialogue is apt and timely. It is a complete waste of efforts to offer a hand of friendship to an untrustworthy and a Machiavellian regime that indulges in double-speak and back –stabbing, as and when it suits them.

It is another matter that our leaders and policy makers have taken so long to wake up from their slumber to realise this simple ground reality. It is however, never too late to mend.

We must build a strong world opinion against the uncivilised behaviour of our neighbour which has by now, unequivocally, also been endorsed by many world powers, notably the US, the UK and some other countries.

No wonder, former US Secretary of State Ms Albright Madeleine chose to call Pakistan “an international migraine”. It is in the interest of world peace and stability in the region that Pakistan is forced to behave as a responsible sovereign state.

BRIG GOVIND SINGH KHIMTA (retd), Shimla

II

Indeed, the intentions of Pakistan are malovent, unfriendly and directed at harming India. It is using all its tools, be it the ISI or other state sponsored organisations and is allowing use of its territory to train terrorists. In short, it is involved in subversive activities against India.

Everyone knows this fact, especially the US Administration. Despite all this, if we continue to talk of maintaining peace or indulge in a confidence building exercise, we would be fooling ourselves. We must stop all diplomatic relations till Pakistan hands over all the wanted terrorists and closes down all the terrorist camps.

Pakistan is actually mocking at the repeated warnings of the US and the UK. We have to look at our own options and potential. If we miss now, we shall be paying a heavy price for our inaction. The safety, security, integrity and dignity of our nation are above any relation and diplomacy. It is time to act, now.

CAPT AMAR JEET KUMAR (retd), S.A.S Nagar

III

Certainly, a nation of India’s size is feeling restless due to Pakistan President Asif Zardari’s denial that Kasab is not a Pakistani and jihadis are “non-state actors”. We are of the considered opinion that Pakistan will never hand over Dawood, Azar Mahmood and others. Nor will it ever wind up terror training camps and dismantle financial and communication networks facilitated by the ISI. The onus lies with nations like India and the US who have suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists.

Therefore, the only option open with India is to strike at the training camps of the so-called jihadis throughout Pakistan and destroy them even if it leads to a full-fledged war. All peace-loving nations including the US, should support us in our fight against terrorism. The peace talks can begin later.

PREM SINGH SANDHU, DR RK NARAD, Gurdaspur

IV

Mr Dua has articulated on all aspects of the issue impressively with impassioned sensibility, as is needed in times when tempers run high and the mood is revengeful. There is clear and irrefutable evidence regarding the Mumbai carnage. The perpetrators (often very poor like Kasab) are simply pawns in the hands of jihadis— monsters created primarily by the ISI. The terrorists are using Pakistan territory as a training and launching pad, for years now.

B M SINGH, Amritsar

Indian ‘chilli’ grenade to smoke out terrorists

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a new hand grenade for military and police commandoes that will help force out terrorists holed up in buildings and nab them alive.
The grenade will help security personnel to smoke out the terrorists from their hiding without any bloodshed and to save the hostages.
The ‘chilli smoke grenade’ will irritate eyes, skin and respiratory tracts, inflicting an immediate breathing difficulty and swelling of eyes to force the persons to come out in the open.
The device that uses oleoresin capsicum was developed for use by the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast for countering terrorists who lodge themselves in buildings to be safe from the forces’ firing, according to DRDO Chief Controller W Selvamurthy.
Though developed for the specific requirement of the army, the device will be made available to central paramilitary and police forces for combatting terrorists, he said.
Selvamurthy disclosed DRDO had also developed a ‘concealed weapon detection device’ that enables detection of not only hidden weapons on a person or in his bag, but also any objects hidden on the other side of a wall.
Newly-developed 'energy bars' can ensure commandoes, who have no time to eat or drink, stay alert and energised to carry out stand-offs and operations of long durations.

China to build aircraft carrier

Clearest indication so far is coupled with reassurance to world

By Peh Shing Huei, China Correspondent

USS Nimitz, a US aircraft carrier -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

BEIJING - CHINA yesterday gave its clearest indication yet that it would build its first aircraft carrier, a move certain to spark concern in the United States, Japan and especially Taiwan.

It came just three days before Chinese warships set sail on the country's longest voyage in 600 years, departing for Somali waters to help fight piracy.

'Aircraft carriers are a symbol of a country's overall national strength as well as the competitiveness of the country's naval force,' the spokesman for the Ministry of National Defence, Senior Colonel Huang Xueping, told a press conference on the Somali deployment.

'China has a large sea territory. It is the sacred responsibility of our armed forces to protect our sea territory and to maintain our maritime sovereignty and rights and interests,' he said.

'China, taking into account all relevant factors, will earnestly research and consider (building aircraft carriers).'

He was responding to a Hong Kong reporter who asked if China has plans for a carrier because, of the five permanent members in the United Nations Security Council, it is the only one without a 'flat-top'.

Col Huang's remarks are likely to cause concern at the Pentagon as Chinese aircraft carriers could potentially play a key role should China and the US come to blows over Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province and vows to take back by force, if necessary.

While Chinese military officials have expressed the possibility of building an aircraft carrier, it was cast in aspirational terms. Col Huang's comments leaned towards seeing carriers as a necessity and right of the Chinese navy.

But the People's Liberation Army (PLA) took pains to assure the world that it is a 'responsible member'.

In almost every answer to reporters' questions yesterday, PLA officers managed to slip in a mention that the mission to the Gulf of Aden is taking place under the aegis of the United Nations.

The Security Council voted unanimously last week to allow all nations and regional organisations to take 'all necessary measures' to combat piracy. Aside from China, the countries are the US, the European Union nations, India, Malaysia, Switzerland, India and Iran.

Military analyst Wang Xiangsui told The Straits Times that China has signed on because this is an operation sanctioned by the UN and widely supported by many countries.

'It is seen as a duty and China does not want to be seen as a free-rider in the international community, unwilling to share responsibilities,' he said.

'It is also a necessity because Chinese ships have been attacked. Such conditions are not likely to be around every time. So I believe it is a one-off exercise.'

On the day that Beijing announced the mission, pirates in the Gulf of Aden attacked a Chinese ship.

Two destroyers and one supply ship supported by two helicopters will leave southern Hainan island on Friday. It will be the country's biggest military naval deployment since Admiral Zheng He's naval expeditions in the 15th century.

Col Huang said that the fleet is happy to work with other countries - including the US, which has seen several military and diplomatic exchanges with China cancelled after Washington announced US$6.5 billion (S$9.4 billion) in arms sales to Taiwan in October.

shpeh@sph.com.sg

Yesterday once more

25 Dec 2008, 0000 hrs IST, TNN

Everyone remembers Fauji as the show that marked Shah Rukh Khan’s debut on the small screen.




Fauji was about the daily life of an Indian Army regiment that aired on Doordarshan in 1988. Twenty years later, the maker, Colonel RK Kapoor is planning to make Fauji 2.

Colonel Kapoor confirmed the news, “Yes, I am making another Fauji. I have met officials from the Defence Ministry and got the green signal but I’m yet to acquire a written approval from them. They have also offered to help me with the additional details that I may need to make it look real. I will begin writing the scripts in the New Year, finalise the cast and then start shooting from April.”

Though there were only 13 episodes, Fauji was a popular show. It was perhaps the first ever TV show which showed the Indian Army very closely. Kapoor said, “I have spoken to a private channel and they have liked the concept but nothing is finalised yet.”

Will he launch another Shah Rukh Khan in Fauji 2, “When I made Fauji, I only introduced a good actor. For Fauji 2, I haven’t thought of anybody yet but, I am on the lookout for a good actor again.”

Was Kapoor in touch with Shah Rukh? He replied, “He is a superstar now and must be very busy with his work. I would not want to disturb him unnecessarily. At the same time whenever I see him onscreen I feel very proud.”

He added, “But I am still in contact with Vikram Chopra, who was Shah Rukh’s ‘buddy’ in the show. His name in the show was Lt. Vikram Chopra. He too was very popular then, with his dialogue ‘I say Chap.’”
And what has prompted him to make Fauji 2? “After 26/11, I have seen the love people have for the country. But very few know what the army is all about. I am hoping that through Fauji 2 people will get a better
understanding about the army.”
Runna Ashish Bhutda

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