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Saturday, 27 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 27 Dec

From Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

Pakistan's strategy is becoming amply clear. They have to fight against Taliban under pressure from USA much against their wishes. They want Taliban to succeed against NATO forces who are dependant upon Pakistan particularly for their logistic support. They dare not deny lines of communications. to NATO Forces passing through Pakistan. for fear of their repressive action for non cooperation So the only way for them to come out of this situation is to raise a bogie of threat from India to pull out their forces from the Western border and let the Taliban fight against NATO Forces without support from Pakistan. Mumbai attack therefore is a well thought out plan conceived by the ISI with total support from Pakistan Army. Pakistan knows that elections are due in India very shortly and the Government of India cannot be seen to be dithering in their response to the terrorist attack actively supported by Pakistan. While the world will not allow India and Pakistan to start a war India will be forced to mobilize their forces under pressure from their public. India will therefore need to devise her strategy to deny Pakistan an excuse to withdraw their forces from Afghanistan border. While India should continue to exert diplomatic pressure on USA and other world powers to act against Pakistan she should desist from mobilizing their forces against Pakistan unless absolutely unavoidable. Public too needs to see Pakistan designs and show restraint in pressurizing the Government to act in haste. Any response from the Government should be measured with an aim to deny an excuse to Pakistan to withdraw their forces from the Western border. While giving a chance to diplomacy to succeed it should be made clear to world community that India will not shy away from hard options in case their national interest so demands.

Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

Pakistan Troops Move to Border,
India Denounces War Hysteria


New Delhi/Islamabad
India Friday denounced Pakistan for whipping up "war hysteria" by moving troops towards the border citing threats of an Indian surgical strike following the Mumbai terror attacks, even as it reiterated demand that Pakistan hand over three people named for the carnage.

A day after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that Pakistan did not desire a war with India, a senior Pakistani official said: "Threats of attack by India still persist".

Speaking to IANS in Islamabad, the official said Pakistan would be forced to move its troops from the Afghan border, where they have been fighting Taliban and Al Qaeda militants, to the Indian border on the east if the Indian war threats continue.

Shortly thereafter, Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that Pakistan needed to focus on taking action against terrorists who slaughtered over 170 people Nov 26-29 in Mumbai.

"My request to friends in Pakistan would be (that) instead of diverting attention from the real issue, they should concentrate on how to fight against terrorists and how to bring to book the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack," Mukherjee said after talking to visiting Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal.

He said India had indicated that there was ample evidence "that elements from Pakistan" were responsible for the globally condemned Mumbai savagery that also killed 26 foreigners.

Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Satyabrata Pal, during his meeting with Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir in Islamabad Friday, reiterated the demand for handing over the three Mumbai attack suspects - and also called for taking measures to stop terrorism originating from Pakistan.

Officials said that Bashir replied that any action against the three people - including Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar and mob boss Dawood Ibrahim - would be only taken after receiving evidence against them.

"The Indian High Commissioner was told that both these persons were not present in Pakistan," said an official, adding that Dawood Ibrahim has never lived in Pakistan and is an Indian national, while Masood Azhar has left the country and the government was also looking for him.

Elaborating on the travel advisory, an external affairs ministry spokesman said in New Delhi: "There have been reports in the Pakistani media that several Indian nationals have been arrested over the last two days in Lahore and Multan, and are being accused of being terrorists.

"Indian citizens are, therefore, advised that it would be unsafe for them to travel to or be in Pakistan," the spokesman added.

And, although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had declared earlier this week that India did not desire war, the Pakistani official told IANS that signals from New Delhi "are not for peace but are threatening".

Pakistan has moved troops to the Indian border, including the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between the two countries, in a clear sign of rising tensions.

In New Delhi, Manmohan Singh met the three Service chiefs to study the security scenario. "The Service chiefs briefed the prime minister about the preparedness of the armed forces," a defence ministry official said.

India Friday also furnished evidence of Pakistani involvement in the Mumbai terror to the Saudi foreign minister, who called for a global body to deal with the "cancer" of terrorism, Indian officials said.

According to the official in Islamabad, Pakistan has received messages from the US and its allies that they would "persuade" India against taking "extreme steps".

According to media reports, the Pakistan Air Force is on high alert and was conducting aerial surveillance of the Chashma nuclear power plant, 280 km southwest of here, and other sensitive sites.

The Pakistan Army has cancelled all leave for its troops.

The official, however, said that Pakistan was ready to resume peace talks at any level and anywhere with India as war "will never resolve the problems".

Amidst War Threats, Pakistan may Redeploy Troops from Afghan Border
By Muhammad Najeeb

Islamabad
Pakistan has told the US and its allies in the war on terror that it will have to move its forces from the western to the eastern borders as the "threats of attack by India still persist", a senior government official said Friday.

"So far, Pakistan has not moved any troops from the eastern borders along Afghanistan but we'll have to take such steps as the signals coming from New Delhi are not for peace but are threatening," the official told IANS.

He said the latest situation had been conveyed to the US and other allied forces who are engaged in the war on terror. Pakistan had received messages from these countries that they will "persuade" India not to take extreme steps, the official added.

"Security has been put on high alert in the border areas in the wake of continuous attack threats by India," said the official, adding that the media in US and some European countries, including Britain, had conveyed reports quoting unnamed sources in their countries as saying that India may conduct surgical attacks against Lashkar-e-Taiba and other militant organizations in Pakistan.

The official said that Pakistan was willing to resume peace talks at any level and anywhere as war in the "region will never resolve the problems," adding that the Indian stance was only promoting terrorism.

"We believe this is tantamount to encouraging the terrorists as their aim is to bring destabilization in the area," said the official.

Sources also revealed that the activities of Pakistan Air Force have also been minimized against militants in the tribal areas of the country.

Media reports also said that former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has warned about the consequences of a war between India and Pakistan and asked the incoming Barack Obama administration to assist the nuclear neighbours in improving their fragile relationship.

"The root of the problem is Kashmir. But it's also part of a generalized hostility between Pakistan and India. We can offer our good offices to them, but by and large, I think the fundamental point we have to make to both (India and Pakistan) is: War will destroy both the countries," Brzezinski told a TV channel in an interview.

Brzezinski, an Obama supporter, was asked as to what the president-elect's administration could do to help the two countries come closer in the wake of heightened tensions following the Mumbai attacks.

The former top official in the Jimmy Carter administration, who has been consulted by Obama on security matters, also pointed to the pathetic state of Muslims in India as a factor contributing to tension-ridden South Asian scenario.

"And, also it is related to the fact that great many Muslims in India are very underprivileged and don't have a share of the Indian development growth... So there is a lot of residual resentment among the 140 or so million Muslims in India," Brzezinski maintained.

Washington, he said, has to urge restraint on both sides. He said while India may have an edge in the case of war "but India could blow itself up".

According to media reports, the Pakistan Air Force is in a state of high alert and was conducting aerial surveillance of the Chashma nuclear power plant, 280 km south-west of here, and other sensitive sites amidst fears of a possible surgical strike by India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Forces were also deployed along the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border on Thursday to protect vital points, the sources said.

Analysts said the coming two weeks are expected to be very important as the situation would become clear on the rising tension between the two nuclear neighbours.

On the other hand, the impact of the Pakistan-India standoff on the war against terrorism have started unfolding, as military operation in the tribal areas appear hard-hit, according to the British media.

Mumbai Offensive
Pak not doing enough: India
* Pranab seeks help of China, Saudis
* PM meets defence chiefs
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
With Pakistan refusing to fall in line on the issue of terrorism, the PM today discussed the country's defence preparedness with service chiefs while External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee asked China and Saudi Arabia, two key allies of Pakistan, to impress upon Islamabad the necessity to cooperate in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack. As Pakistan created war hysteria by mobilising its troops along India's border, a flurry of activity was witnessed in the corridors of power in New Delhi with Manmohan Singh getting a first-hand account of the readiness of the Indian armed forces from the chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister is understood to have taken stock of the possible conventional military threat scenarios and the counter-measures that the three services had put in place along the border.

This was the second time within a week that Singh had a detailed meeting with the three service chiefs in the wake of rising tension in relations with Pakistan. India, meanwhile, stepped up the diplomatic initiative to convince the world community that Pakistan was taking only cosmetic measures to deal with terrorists operating on its soil, which would in no way help in combating the menace. The external affairs minister held a "very good" meeting with the visiting Saudi foreign minister Saud Al-Faisal at which he apprised the latter of the chill in India-Pakistan ties in the wake of the audacious November 26 Mumbai attack.

According to official sources, the Saudi minister appreciated the restraint exercised by India and described terrorism as an "evil" and "cancer". He underlined that all countries needed to cooperate to "destroy" the scourge completely. Al-Faisal, who arrived here this morning for a brief visit, endorsed New Delhi's view that there was need for urgent and transparent cooperation of all nations in ending terrorism. Mukherjee is believed to have impressed upon Al-Faisal the need for Saudi Arabia using its influence to ensure that those behind the Mumbai carnage in Pakistan are brought to justice at the earliest. Given the financial aid and subsidised oil it provides to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has always influenced major decisions made in Islamabad.

Yesterday, Mukherjee held telephonic conversations with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi, expressing New Delhi's disappointment with the actions taken by Pakistan so far to deal with terrorists operating on its territory even after the Mumbai carnage. The Foreign minister also spoke to his Iranian counterpart today.

During the telephonic conversations last night, Mukherjee is believed to have told Rice and Yang that Pakistan was not doing enough against those behind the Mumbai carnage and that the US and China should put pressure on it to ensure that those responsible for the carnage are brought to justice. Rice is understood to have conveyed to Mukherjee that the US is keen to see that the perpetrators of Mumbai attacks are punished and is persuading Pakistan to act in concrete terms in this regard. Yang also said the perpetrators should be punished. Talking to reporters, Mukherjee said he would again urge Pakistan that instead of trying to divert attention from real issues, it should concentrate on fighting terrorism and bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack.

"There is ample evidence available. The log book of the captured terrorist, inputs from satellite communications clearly show that elements in Pakistan carried out the attack," he reiterated. Islamabad should stop creating war hysteria and concentrate on tracking down those behind the Mumbai attack.

Pak deploys fresh troops on LoC
Cancels army leave: Media

Islamabad, December 26
Pakistan has moved fresh troops to the Line of Control in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and the international border with India to protect "vital points", cancelled all leave for armed forces personnel and almost put a security alert into effect amidst escalating tensions in the region, according to media reports.

The forces have been moved to the LoC and the international border yesterday to protect vital points.

All leave for armed forces personnel has also been cancelled and a virtual security alert put into effect, military sources were quoted as saying by Dawn News channel.

Sources in the defence department declined to give details of fresh troop movements but did not deny reports that Pakistan was moving number of brigades towards the frontier in the Lahore sector, the Daily Times newspaper reported.

Reports said the Pakistan army had moved its 10th Brigade to Lahore and ordered the 3rd Armoured Brigade to head towards Jhelum alleging a concentration of Indian troops on the border.

The Army's 10th and 11th Divisions have also been put on high alert and troops moved to forward posts on the border facing Rajouri and Poonch sectors in Kashmir.

These troops reinforcement are in addition to the formation already deployed in the PoK, Sialkot and Lahore sector. The Pakistan army has an independent corps strength deployment in PoK as well as Jhelum.

There have also been reports in the Pakistani media that the Pakistan Air Force is in a state of high alert and was conducting aerial surveillance of the Chashma power plant and other sensitive sites amidst fears of a possible surgical strike by India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

The PAF enhanced its vigilance on Monday and scrambled warplanes to conduct sorties over cities like Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore as well as Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In recent public comments, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh have both ruled out a war between the two countries.

India has been asking Pakistan to crack down on elements in the country which were linked to the Mumbai attacks that killed over 180 people.

Pakistan has said it is waiting for India to provide evidence to take forward its probe into the Mumbai incident. — PTI

Spies walk in from the cold
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, December 26
They are being taken out of the closets, 'dusted' and put on the job that they had been doing for long before retirement. Also, capable officers and men are being sourced from the police, armed forces and paramilitary organisations for human, electronic and technical surveillance.

India's newest secret agency — the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) — operating under the Prime Minister's Office has been given a massive assignment to tab Pakistan, Bangadesh and China's imagery and communications intelligence, using various platforms, including satellites.

Yes, the terrorist attacks in Mumbai (November 26-29) have shaken the Indian domestic and foreign intelligence gathering agencies so much that they are now trying to set their house in order.

Intelligence agencies have become conscious of their inadequacies and of the gaps in their knowledge. The 'new terrorism' is demanding a revamped intelligence apparatus at the national level and a reinforced co-operation mechanism at the regional and international levels.

Foreign spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and domestic espionage organisation, Intelligence Bureau, have realised that they lack enough 'HUMINT' — human intelligence — assets to prevent Mumbai like incidents.

Both RAW and IB are finding it difficult to develop 'moles' in the Pakistani system, especially the terrorist groups operating from across the border. "This is because we still do not play much the game of penetration in the enemy ranks," a highly placed IB officer said, observing that "it is easier to penetrate the sensitive establishments of an adversary state than a terrorist organisation."

The Mumbai episode has added urgency to the intelligence gathering agencies to develop human intelligence at a larger scale. Not only RAW and IB, economic and other espionage agencies have also been asked to enlarge their base.

Even those men who retired about a decade ago have been contacted with offer to rejoin 'the company' again at the rank and salary that they would have been having at this stage. Some of them have refused as they are well-placed in private jobs and it would be difficult for them to disappear again in the world of shadows.

But there are many who have happily given their consent to be back in the field. A senior officer, who retired recently, has been re-hired in one of the spy agencies. Then there are men who have been asked to operate under the cover of their private jobs. New stations are being opened in sensitive cities and border states.

In the NTRO, a preference is being given to those who have a flair for gathering technical intelligence. Many officers from the air force and army's signal corps have been taken on deputation.

Operating as an 'allied' organisation of RAW, the NTRO is trying to develop itself on the lines of America's National Security Agency (NSA), which is one of the most secretive members of the US intelligence community.

The NTRO's mandate is not to affect the working of technical wings of various intelligence agencies, including those of armed forces. The NTRO has been instructed to emerge as a super-feeder agency for providing technical intelligence to other agencies on internal and external security.

America has the most sophisticated 'SIGINT' (signals intelligence) assets in the world. These assets include spy satellites and planes. These assets are also being used to detect terrorists by intercepting their phone, computer, e-mail and radio communications.

In the Mumbai attacks, the gunmen used technology to gain a tactical advantage. They reportedly carried Blackberries, CDs holding high-resolution satellite images like those used for Google Earth maps, and multiple cell phones with switchable SIM cards that would be hard to track.

Using satellite phones, the gunmen communicated with their leaders abroad, calling voice-over-Internet-protocol phone numbers, making them harder to trace. This was terrorism in digital age.

Like American, Indian intelligence experts are, however, realising that the technological assets still cannot replace the importance of human intelligence assets. Human operatives are still needed to infiltrate and uncover the plans of terrorist groups.

Spending on intelligence gathering through human resources has substantially declined in the militarily powerful western nations in past one decade. But more resources are now being directed toward to improve 'human intelligence' devoted to combat terrorists.

Indian agencies, especially RAW, are good in technical intelligence. But after realising that they now have to have 'specific intelligence' about terrorism activities -not vague as the country came to know after the Mumbai attacks - RAW and IB have gone for the 'recruitment drive' to enroll retired experienced men for field and desk jobs. Specialists are much in demand.

"The idea is to substantially increase the number of new sources reporting on terrorism as the job of tracking terrorists is not becoming easier," a RAW source said.

Despite this, experts point out that failures there have been and failures there will be. No intelligence agency in the world, whatever are its human and material resources and its technical and technological capability, can claim or hope to be all-knowing. "What is required," as an old guard put it, "There is need to reduce the gap between failures and success."

It's business as usual on border
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Barmer, December 26
Life is going on as usual in villages along the border with no tangible move of evacuation or panic among villagers to flee from their homes, even as there are reports of army building up on the other side of the fence.

Though the general belief is that war will not take place, as the use of force will be disastrous for both the countries, the villagers want India to finish matters once and for all, if at all, the two neighbours go to war. The increasing visits of civic, paramilitary and military officials in the area have not really perturbed the villagers, who are well aware of the prevailing tension between the two countries.

However, war is the topic of discussion among them. Eighty-year-old Devi Singh Sodha of Akli village, who has been a testimony to full-blown confrontations in '65 and 71 and also Operation Prakram, recalls how he helped Indian Army with camels and other logistics, guiding them through the sand dunes.

"If need arises, my old bones won't prevent me from walking shoulder to shoulder with the Army again. I am against war. We all are in this village. Some of our relatives live on other side of the border. But if such a situation arrives, we should go full throttle against them," says the octogenarian, who is frustrated over the terrorist attacks perpetrated by Pakistan.

Tara Ram of Bhinde Ke paar village, situated close to the border, echoes the same sentiments. "We all are fed up. Every few years, forces on both countries line up against each other. Even if nothing really happens, we are the ultimate losers. A civic administration official visited their village yesterday. We were told not to send animals for grazing towards the border fence. There has been increased vigil and checking of villagers and persons entering the area. But we have not got any orders to prepare for evacuation," says the man, who doesn't see any major change in his routine.

The residents here have got used to limitations put by the security forces. "There are no new orders for us. We hear people on other side of the order have left villages. But as there is no major build up on our side, we don't see any urgency to pack our bags," says Dharra Singh of Paderna village.

"We are farmers who are totally dependent on rain. The bajra crop would be sown only after the next monsoon. Till then the fields would be empty," he said, when asked has war threat anything to do with their barren fields.

'Pak forces' build-up defence tactic'
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jodhpur, December 26
The additional director general of Border Security Force, UK Bansal, has said the motive behind the Pakistani forces' heavy build-up along the border with India in Rajasthan apparently seemed to be that for defending themselves, and not for launching an attack (on India).

Speaking to The Tribune today at the end of his three-day visit to the border areas here, Bansal categorised the heightened activity as "defence operational alert" procedure adopted by Pakistan. "These are defence moves and part of strategy adopted by any nation that thinks it can be attacked. However, we are keeping a 24-hour vigil to tackle any eventuality."

Already, the Indian forces were maintaining round-the-clock air surveillance in the area.

The BSF officer said their survey coupled with intelligence reports revealed that Pakistan was strengthening its borders to deal with any attack by India. "The build-up only suggests defensive strategy."

Meanwhile, an army spokesman said it was usual for Pakistan to conduct war exercises along the border in this season "but the unusual development was that the regiments that came for practice had not returned".

Also, reports appearing in several Hindi dailies in Jodhpur and Barmer had quoted various sources claiming Pakistan's strong build-up along the border, with some of them even pointing out the regiment names and location. But, neither army nor BSF officials confirmed those reports

China appeals India, Pak to 'properly handle' ties

Press Trust of India

Friday, December 26, 2008, (Beijing)

China on Friday asked both India and Pakistan to "properly handle" their relations in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, saying that "stable, peaceful and sound" ties between them was key to regional peace and stability.

"China hopes that India and Pakistan, both important neighbours of China, would bear in mind regional peace and stability, properly handle related issues through dialogue and consultations, and continue to improve their relations and to push forward the peace process between the two countries," Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said during separate telephonic talks with his Indian and Pakistani counterparts.

"China holds that stable, peaceful and sound ties between India and Pakistan are in the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples and at the same time are the common aspiration of the international community," Yang was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Yang said that China opposes any form of terrorism and is willing to work with India, Pakistan and the rest of the international community to jointly safeguard peace and security in the South Asian region.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Yang spoke to Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi yesterday and to his Indian counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee today. Yang reiterated China's strong condemnation of the attacks, noting that both India and Pakistan have voiced their determination to combat terrorism.

During the conversations, Yang and the two ministers spoke highly of the sound development of China-India and China-Pakistan relations in the outgoing year and vowed to make concerted efforts in 2009 to score new achievements in bilateral relations.

PM, army chiefs review security situation

Press Trust of India / New Delhi December 26, 2008, 18:41 IST

Chiefs of the three armed forces today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and reviewed the security situation in the country.

Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, his Naval counterpart Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Force chief Air Marshal Fali S Major briefed the Prime Minister about the recent developments.

Earlier in the day, Major General D L Chowdhury, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Tiger Division said in Jammu that there was a "regular increase" in the activity on the other side of the border but felt it was "nothing unusual".

War not in the interest of any country: Pakistan PM

PTI | December 27, 2008 | 01:57 IST

'Common friends' of India and Pakistan are playing their role to defuse tensions between the two countries as war is not in the interest of either nation, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Friday.

"War is not in the interest of any country and all issues should be resolved through dialogue," Gilani said.

"The peace-loving countries and the common friends of Pakistan and India are playing their role to defuse tensions between the two countries," he told reporters.

Pakistan wants peace and will not initiate any military aggression, he added.

"The nation, government, politicians and the Pakistan Army are united to defend the country," he said, adding that if war is imposed on Pakistan, it will give a befitting response to India.

The army is effectively playing its role to defend the geographical frontiers of the country and is capable of meeting any eventuality, he added.

India is leveling allegations against Pakistan without any proof, Gilani said, adding that the government will take action against any persons linked to the Mumbai terror attacks if it is given evidence of their involvement.

"Pakistan has offered to conduct a joint investigation into the Mumbai attacks but we have received no response from the Indian side," he said.

Gilani said he hoped the Indian government will act responsibly and not resort to any aggression.

High Commissioner meets Pak foreign secretary

PTI | December 26, 2008 | 21:09 IST

With India-Pakistan relations hitting a new low, Islamabad on Friday said that there was a need to 'de-escalate' the tension and it was awaiting a response to its proposals regarding the joint investigation of the Mumbai terror attacks.

The message was conveyed to Indian High Commissioner Satyabrata Pal by Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir during a meeting in the Foreign Office today evening.

"The Foreign Secretary called the Indian High Commissioner to the Foreign Office and discussed the current situation," Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told PTI.

Bashir emphasised the need for de-escalating tensions and for steps by India to 'defuse the tensions', Sadiq said.

The Foreign Secretary also said Pakistan is awaiting a response from India for several proposals made in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, he added.

Pakistan has proposed that the two sides should conduct a joint investigation into the Mumbai attacks. It has suggested that a joint investigation commission headed by the national security advisors of the two countries should be set up.

Islamabad has also said it wants to send a high-level delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to New Delhi to discuss the modalities for a joint probe and the sharing of evidence and information about the Mumbai incident.

The meeting between Pal and Bashir took place against the backdrop of the movement of additional Pakistani troops to the Indian frontier in the wake of an escalation in tensions.

Reports said Pakistan had scaled down anti-militancy operations in its northwest to rush troops to the Line of
Control in Kashmir and the international border. All leave for armed forces personnel have been reportedly cancelled.

India has blamed Pakistan-based elements, including the outlawed Lashker-e-Tayiba, for the Mumbai attacks that killed over 180 people. It has asked Pakistan to crack down on these elements instead of resorting to 'war hysteria' to divert attention from the issue of countering terrorism.

Pakistan has said it is waiting for evidence from India to push forward its probe into the Mumbai incident.

'Arrest of Indians in Pakistan a complete hogwash'

PTI | December 26, 2008 | 23:08 IST

India on Friday dubbed as 'hogwash' the arrest of purported Indian nationals in connection with the Lahore bomb blast and advised its citizens to avoid travel to the neighbouring country.

"It is hogwash and meant to confuse people," Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma told reporters, when asked to comment on reports in the Pakistani media, on the arrest of Indian nationals on allegations of being terrorists.

Sharma also termed as 'unwarranted and a figment of imagination' the talk of India declaring war against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

"Such talk is aimed to mislead and distract world opinion. Pakistan must act against the perpetrators, conspirators, abettors who have been named and identified as Pakistani citizens," he said.

Stressing that the real issue is terror outfits operating from the territory of Pakistan, Sharma said, "Sincerity of action would have been to dismantle that infrastructure of training and supporting these terrorist outfits."

On non-state actors being responsible for attacks, Sharma said such persons belong to a state and authorities are expected to take action against them.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs has advised Indians against visiting Pakistan, where some agencies seem to operate outside government control.

"Since it has also been reported in the Pakistani media that the senior police officer in Lahore was unaware of the arrest in his city, it seems that this is the work of other agencies in Pakistan that operate outside the law and civilian control," MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

Noting that Pakistan has given assurances on combating terror emanating from its soil on 'several occasions', Sharma said "this is not the time for words which are meaningless."

Instead of acting against those organisations which have been named clearly by the United Nations Security Council,
Pakistan is spreading canards about India planning to launch military action against it, Sharma said.

"India is a responsible democracy and we have acted throughout with remarkable restraint and maturity," he said.

The civilian and military leadership in Pakistan has been asserting that they would meet unitedly any challenge mounted by India. The Pakistani Air Force had even sent fighter planes scrambling over some of the major Pakistani cities, prompting the media there to speculate about war being waged by India.

On Thursday, media reports in Pakistan claimed that Indian nationals Satish Anand Shukla, Ram Kumar, Ram Chandar and Prakash were arrested in connection with a bomb blast in Lahore two days ago.

'It's not ten people as they are saying, some people have got away'

December 26, 2008


Archana Masih in Mumbai

Last month's terrorist strikes in Mumbai compelled the government and citizens to introspect much more than any other incident of terror in recent times.

"Some issues ought to get addressed, more money budgeted, but overall, the biggest problem with us is that we are extremely poor learners. We keep re-learning lessons," a former Marine Commando, a Special Forces veteran, told rediff.com in an exclusive interview.

A veteran of counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission, the former Indian Navy officer looks back at the commando operations in Mumbai and provides a candid assessment of the lessons India and Indians need to learn urgently.

On the armed forces filling in for the lacunae in the police:

What happened on 26/11 was a hardcore police function. The armed forces are not meant for security duties within the country, it's filling in for the lacunae in the police.

Some of the better anti-terrorist units abroad are part of the police, not part of the military. Like British and US police have their SWAT teams. The Americans don't call in the Seals, Ninjas and Green Berets when they have something like this in any of the cities. Who are their heroes? The LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department), NYPD (New York Police Department), their SWAT teams.

In our (Marine Commandos) charter of duties, we are prepared for offshore intervention. Within half an hour a MARCO team can take off for a maritime contingency. We can take on an operation like 26/11 because the core skills are the same.

Somebody decided that a military option has to be exercised. They told our guys, go in get them.

Our training is not oriented towards capture. When we move in, we kill.

The NSG (National Security Guard) training is very similar to us. In terms of intervention techniques, we (MARCOS) are exactly the same.

When the NSG intervened, the training pattern that they have is meant to eliminate the threat. It means killing, doesn't mean capture. Here these guys needed to be captured because of geopolitical ramifications.

New agency should handle VIP security: NSG chief
Sahil Makkar

New Delhi, December 26
All VIP protection duties should be entrusted to a new agency that should develop expertise for the job, says National Security Guard (NSG) chief J.K. Dutt.

"VIP protection duties should be handed over to a unified agency or a new agency can be created on a par with the Central Industrial Security Force (constituted for the protection of public sector units and installations)," Dutt said.

"The unified agency or the new agency can then develop expertise in protecting the VIPs. It would be great in the larger interest of the VIPs as well." The NSG director general said it is up to the Central government to decide whether the time has come to review VIP security. "If economics allow them to set up such agency, then they should go ahead with it."

The demand comes in the wake of a public outcry over the government spending billions on VIP security even as the public was left defenceless from terror attacks. There has also been a lot of criticism of the misuse of NSG commandos on bodyguard duty of politicians and other protected persons.

The NSG, which was set up in 1984 for anti-hijack and anti-terror operations, has two wings -Special Action Group (SAG) and Special Rangers Group (SRG) - comprising select men from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and other paramilitary forces. More than half of SRG personnel are deployed for VIP security.

The force came into international spotlight when it stormed the sites that were attacked by terrorists in Mumbai last month. Nine of the 10 terrorists were gunned down by the NSG commandos.

There are around 400 guarded VIPs in the national capital alone. Around 15,000 Delhi police personnel (out of its strength of 60,000) guard the VIPs, who include ministers, politicians, bureaucrats, judges, religious leaders, lawyers and a few journalists.

This is in addition to the Special Protection Group (SPG) that is exclusively meant for providing security to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and members of the Gandhi family. Over 45,000 policemen guard over 13,000 VIPs across the country.

There is an estimate that approximately Rs 6 billion of taxpayers' money is spent annually on the salary of the security staff involved in such duties.

The SPG has seen its 2008-09 budget go up from Rs 1.17 billion to Rs.1.80 billion, while the NSG had its budget marginally reduced from Rs 1.59 billion to Rs 1.58 billion.

After P. Chidambaram was appointed Home Minister, security cover to at least 50 VIPs has reportedly been scaled down as the intelligence agencies made fresh assessments of security threats to ministers and other politicians. — IANS

Intelligence slip-up?
More a failure to analyse inputs
by Premvir Das

IF there is widespread, and legitimate concern, at the many inadequacies which led to the carnage in Mumbai, failure of intelligence heads the list. There was no warning, cried the many agencies charged with safeguarding our security and where there was some awareness, it was not translated into "actionable intelligence".

Some degree of political responsibility has been signalled by the resignation of some key figures in the domain. This is understandable, even if it does not remove the anger or the pain one whit; what is not is why accountability is nowhere to be seen.

On 16th November, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) reported that electronic intercepts had revealed the presence of a Pakistan vessel, Al Husseini, possibly with some terrorists embarked, and indicated the geographic location of the ship. This report was sent off to a number of agencies according to procedure, including to the Coast Guard and Naval Headquarters, and, most important of all, to the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC).

The Navy chief is perfectly justified in saying that this could hardly be treated as actionable information, especially when it was found that the position indicated in the RAW report lay not far from the Pak coast. Nevertheless, precautionary measures were taken by both maritime forces for a few days and then given up, nothing having been found.

This brings us to the seminal question — what happened to this report when it landed up at the JIC, the premier intelligence coordination agency in the country. A quick assessment would have shown that this vessel, given the speeds at which similar vessels normally move, could have been off the Gujarat coast by the 18th and off the Maharashtra area by the 20th.

It could also have been surmised that if the Al Husseini did not make the passage itself, that being too dangerous, but transferred its load to some smaller craft, possibly a fishing boat of Indian registry, that being far less risky, its passengers could be off the Gujarat area by the 18th/19th and in the waters off Mumbai by
the 21st/22nd.

And if this movement was to be restricted to nights only, with the boat faking fishing activity by day, then these figures would be 21st/22nd and 25th/26th respectively. All this should have happened in the JIC once that report from RAW came in.

In an intelligence agency, especially one coordinating inputs from several sources, analysis is critical along with linkage to previous inputs. Two months earlier, reports had indicated that high-profile targets in Mumbai such as major hotels could be targeted. Linkage to sea proximity was also expected.

In Gujarat, the visible major targets are the ports, including the largest viz. Kandla and the oil terminals at Vadinar and the refinery at Jamnagar. These can be damaged by explosives placed suitably but the quantities required and the sites at which they would need to be put would require a very major operation quite unlike taking a loaded truck into a hotel building.

The Somnath temple at Veraval, which attracts hundreds of devotees and could be suited for a Hindu-Muslim scenario, was a possibility but given the background information held, Gujarat did not seem targeted.

This brings us to Mumbai. Logical analysis would show that the ingress would be best managed at one of the three fishing community points at Mahim, at Cuffe Parade or at the Sassoon Docks. The first requires a long road movement to the high profile downtown areas; the other two are in close proximity.

From Cuffe Parade, taxis can be taken by just crossing a road, at Sassoon Docks one has to traverse through very densely located buildings and narrow roads before emerging onto the very busy Colaba Causeway. It is also adjacent to a naval heliport.

A direct landing at the Gateway of India looks easy but one has to run the risk of boat patrols and possible presence of warships. If a move against high-profile hotels by people coming from the sea was even remotely possible, then clearly, Macchimaar Nagar, off Cuffe Parade, stood out like a Christmas Tree.

If all this sounds like being wise after the event, and this may well be justified, something on these lines should have taken place in the JIC, even if with different results. But not to have tried to link the pieces and do an analysis, or appreciation as the military calls it, is inexcusable.

Unfortunately, the failure of intelligence, or rather in its processing, is matched by several failures in responding to the crisis after it had developed. By about 10 pm, it had become known that there was a major incident ongoing at the Taj. Soon thereafter, Delhi was informed and the NSG asked to be rushed to Mumbai.

In Mumbai itself, the only forces capable of responding quickly and adequately, were the Marine Commandos (MARCOS), based across the harbour. They, a full 100 of them, could have been on the scene within the hour, two at the most. The call for them took long in coming and they reached much later than they could have.

Meanwhile, in Delhi, 200 NSG Commandos took two hours to reach the airport from Manesar and they waited another two for an IAF aircraft to come from Chandigarh. Yet, as they waited, there were at least one dozen Boeing aircraft belonging to our own airlines on the tarmac, any one of which could have been requisitioned immediately; surely, the Cabinet Secretary has the power and clout to do so.

Considering that so many commandos were being sent, it was known that the situation was grave and required warlike responses. This inability to take hard decisions by people who have both authority and accountability has been allowed to go on without them being called to question.

A third issue concerns actual operations. It is essential that in such cases requiring involvement and interface of many agencies, all business should be controlled through an Operations Centre which would have access to the developing scenarios, have knowledge of resources and allot them to places where they are needed most with appropriate directions. It would also interface with the media.

This mechanism was totaling lacking. Someone called in the Army, as in "aid to civil power" and the GOC went about claiming that everything would be over in two hours when, in actual fact, none of his people had even entered any of the affected sites. He was followed by the GOC-in-C from Pune, who offered the same words of solace.

The media, which should have been stopped at the Regal Cinema, lay sprawled around off Gateway, with great bravery and devotion to their duty it must be granted, but not commensurate with the needs of the operation. Frequent briefings by a well-informed person, every one hour or so, would have been more appropriate.

All these inadequacies and failures are not those of politicians but of people at the delivering end. It will be distressing if, in the aftermath of the Mumbai carnage, accountability of decision makers is not recognised and dealt with. We may, and should, learn lessons and put missing capabilities in place but these can never help if the people who operate the system cannot stand up to the stresses.

And, if they do not, they must be held accountable. No organisation, military included, has ever suffered or got demoralised if its superior authorities have been called to question for their inability to deliver. Generals and Admirals have been summarily dismissed for much less.

The writer is a former member of the National Security Advisory Board

Tensions mount as Pakistan shifts troops to Indian border

11 hours ago

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Pakistan has redeployed thousands of troops to the border with India, officials said Friday, in a dramatic escalation of tensions with New Delhi in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

Washington urged the two sides to avoid escalating tensions and said it was touch with both countries.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh summoned his military chiefs to review New Delhi's "defence preparedness" while his foreign ministry advised Indians not to travel to Pakistan, saying it was unsafe for them to be in the country.

The developments sent ties plummeting to their lowest point since late 2001, when Kashmiri militants staged a brazen attack on the Indian parliament -- an attack New Delhi blamed on the Pakistan-based extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

India has blamed the same group for the Mumbai attacks and has repeatedly said Islamabad is not doing enough to rein in militant groups, a claim that Pakistan rejects.

The nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours -- which have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir -- have said they do not want war this time, but warn they would act if provoked.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani reiterated Friday that Pakistan was a "peace-loving" nation, telling reporters in the eastern city of Lahore that while Islamabad had no "aggressive designs", it would respond if provoked, the Associated Press of Pakistan news agency reported.

In Islamabad, senior defence and security officials said troops were being moved from the northwest tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, hotbeds of Taliban and Al-Qaeda activity, to the eastern border near India.

"We do not want to create any war hysteria but we have to take minimum security measures to ward off any threat," a defence ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He added that leave for "operational" armed forces personnel had been cancelled "as a defensive measure".

A top security official, who also asked not to be named, explained that a "limited number of troops have been pulled out from snowbound areas on the western border where they were not engaged in any operation".

Pakistan's army and air force have recently scaled back their operations against Taliban-linked militants in both the Swat valley and the Bajaur tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Both operations were launched in mid-2008.

Any major shift of Pakistani troops out of the tribal areas would likely spark concern in Washington and other Western capitals, as it could open the door to more cross-border militant attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan.

"We continue to urge both sides to cooperate on the Mumbai investigation as well as counter-terrorism in general," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told AFP.

"We also do not want either side to take any unnecessary steps that raise tensions in an already tense situation."

Another senior Pakistani security official told AFP the new deployments on the Indian border were not in "significant numbers but only in areas opposite the points where India is believed to have brought forward its troops".

The defence ministry official said authorities had noticed the movement of Indian troops toward the border near Lahore, and that they believed India had also cancelled military leave.

Pakistan's chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas declined to comment.

New Delhi has said its slow-moving peace process with Pakistan is now on hold in the wake of the Mumbai attacks last month, in which 172 people including nine of the gunmen were killed.

Islamabad has said it is willing to cooperate with India in investigating the carnage, but says New Delhi has offered no proof that Pakistani nationals were involved -- a claim dismissed by Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

"We have ample evidence... to prove that elements based in Pakistan carried out the Mumbai attacks," Mukherjee said.

"Pakistan should not divert attention from the real issue of taking action against terrorists by raising war hysteria," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Singh was meanwhile meeting the chiefs of India's army, air force and navy to discuss the current security situation, an official in his office said.

The Indian foreign ministry meanwhile advised its nationals to stay away from Pakistan. Spokesman Vishnu Prakash said such travel would be "unsafe".

'Pak forces' build-up defence tactic'
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jodhpur, December 26
The additional director general of Border Security Force, UK Bansal, has said the motive behind the Pakistani forces' heavy build-up along the border with India in Rajasthan apparently seemed to be that for defending themselves, and not for launching an attack (on India).

Speaking to The Tribune today at the end of his three-day visit to the border areas here, Bansal categorised the heightened activity as "defence operational alert" procedure adopted by Pakistan. "These are defence moves and part of strategy adopted by any nation that thinks it can be attacked. However, we are keeping a 24-hour vigil to tackle any eventuality."

Already, the Indian forces were maintaining round-the-clock air surveillance in the area.

The BSF officer said their survey coupled with intelligence reports revealed that Pakistan was strengthening its borders to deal with any attack by India. "The build-up only suggests defensive strategy."

Meanwhile, an army spokesman said it was usual for Pakistan to conduct war exercises along the border in this season "but the unusual development was that the regiments that came for practice had not returned".

Also, reports appearing in several Hindi dailies in Jodhpur and Barmer had quoted various sources claiming Pakistan's strong build-up along the border, with some of them even pointing out the regiment names and location. But, neither army nor BSF officials confirmed those reports.

US urging calm over possible Pakistan troop moves

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials watched with growing concern Friday as reports suggested Pakistan was massing troops to the India border. Such a move raises double-barreled worries: A possible confrontation between two nuclear powers and a shift by the Pakistani military away from battling the Taliban along its western Afghan edge.

"We hope that both sides will avoid taking steps that will unnecessarily raise tensions during these already tense times," said White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

U.S. military leaders have been urging both India and Pakistan to exercise restraint in the wake of the deadly Mumbai attacks that many believe originated with Pakistan-based militants.

On Friday, U.S. intelligence and military officials were still trying to determine if the reported troop movements were true, and, if so, what Pakistan's intent may be. And they cautioned that the reports may be exaggerated, aimed more at delivering a message than dispatching forces.

Officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

U.S. defense leaders have been worried about a new flare-up between Pakistan and India ever since the coordinated terror attacks in India's financial capital of Mumbai last month that killed 164 people.

India has demanded that Pakistan arrest the perpetrators behind the Mumbai attacks. It says they are members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group widely believed created by Pakistani intelligence in the 1980s and used to fight Indian-rule in the disputed Kashmir region.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Pakistan twice this month, and as many as seven times in the past year. In recent meetings with senior Pakistani leaders he has urged restraint and encouraged both sides to find ways to work together.

One senior military official said Friday that the U.S. is monitoring the issue, but still could not confirm assertions from Pakistani intelligence officials that some 20,000 troops were on the move, heading to the Indian border.

A key concern for U.S. officials is that some of those troops may have been stationed along the volatile Afghan border, and were being diverted to the Indian side.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Mullen, who have both been in the region in recent weeks, have expressed the hope that Pakistan would stay focused on fighting militants in its mountainous northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or FATA.

Insurgents there have proved increasingly troublesome, launching attacks into Afghanistan, disrupting supply routes for the Afghan, U.S. and coalition militaries, and providing training and hiding places for the Taliban, al-Qaida and others. It also has long been suspected that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has been hiding there.

Senior defense officials said the U.S. is watching the situation very closely since officials would prefer that the Pakistanis remain focused on battling insurgents within their own country, including along the border.

U.S. Military leaders in Afghanistan earlier this month said they had seen no indications that Pakistan was shifting its focus away from the Afghan border.

There was also no indication Friday that either Gates or Mullen had reached out to their counterparts in Pakistan since these latest reports had surfaced.

Johndroe added that, "We continue to be in close contact with both countries to urge closer cooperation in investigating the Mumbai attacks and in fighting terrorism generally."

Associated Press Writer Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.

Could saber-rattling lead to war between India and Pakistan?

Saeed Shah and Jonathan S. Landay | McClatchy Newspapers

last updated: December 26, 2008 05:40:42 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan is moving some troops away from its border with Afghanistan, Pakistani officials said on Friday, sparking renewed fears that last month's terrorist attack in Mumbai, India, could trigger a fourth war between the two countries, both of which are now armed with nuclear weapons.

Media reports in both countries, most unconfirmed and some false or exaggerated, have fueled rising war hysteria in India and Pakistan, and U.S. officials and independent analysts worry that any signs of preparation for war could trigger a conflict that neither country wants and that neither can afford.

The Bush administration has been trying to calm the situation, but U.S. officials worry that Pakistan's weak civilian government can't meet India's demands for a crackdown on Islamic militant groups without sparking a backlash from the country's powerful army and the directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, which have ties to some militant groups.

"We hope that both sides will avoid taking steps that will unnecessarily raise tensions during these already tense times," said U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.

Stephen Cohen, a South Asia expert with The Brookings Institution, a center-left policy research organization in Washington who returned on Monday from a visit to India, said the coalition government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh doesn't want a confrontation, but is under considerable public pressure to retaliate against Pakistan for the Mumbai attacks.

"There is nothing (the Singh government) can do except make threatening noises toward Pakistan," he said. "Both countries are rattling their sabers. These are two weak governments that are clearly trying to get the Americans nervous so they put pressure on the other country (to back down)."

He called the current atmosphere "a precursor to a crisis" that could erupt because of the high possibility of a misstep on either side.

"We are in a period of touch-and-go," he said.

For U.S. and NATO troops battling the Taliban and al Qaida, however, any Pakistani withdrawal from the frontier with Afghanistan could be disastrous. Pakistan has some 100,000 troops stationed along the Afghan border, and their departure would give the Taliban and other groups refuge and free reign in an area that sits astride America's supply lines into Afghanistan.

It wasn't clear Friday, however, how extensive the Pakistani move away from the Afghan border is.

A Pakistani defense official, who couldn't be named because of the sensitivity of the issue, said: "Troops, in snowbound areas and places where operational commitments were less (in the west), have been pulled back."

The official, however, denied reports that the soldiers had been redeployed to the Indian border, and he declined to say how many troops were involved. Media reports, quoting witnesses, spoke of long convoys of trucks carrying troops, passing through towns in western Pakistan, traveling eastward, but another security official, who lacked the authorization to speak and couldn't be named, said that there'd been "no untoward troop movement."

The objective and magnitude of the Pakistani troop movements are unclear, said a U.S. official, who requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak publicly.

He said, however, that Pakistan usually pulls troops out of mountainous northwestern areas bordering Afghanistan during the winter, when operations against militants allied with al Qaida usually wind down.

Indian Prime Minister Singh met with his military chiefs on Friday, and there also have been unconfirmed reports in recent days that India has moved troops to Rajasthan, a region that borders Pakistan. Pakistan fears that India might launch an invasion from Rajasthan into Sindh province, aiming to sever the northern and southern halves of Pakistan.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a military expert based in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, said that India might be calculating that a move into Sindh wouldn't trigger a nuclear response from Pakistan, unlike an invasion of Punjab province, the country's heartland.

"Pakistan and India are at some distance from war, but when troops start moving, any misperception, or any miscalculation, can be dangerous," Rizvi said.

Pakistan has canceled leave for all its soldiers, and India has told its citizens not to travel to Pakistan. Since the Mumbai attacks, there have been at least four air incursions into Pakistan by Indian fighter jets. Pakistani officials publicly acknowledged two cross-border flights, but dismissed them as inadvertent.

However, a U.S. State Department official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said the incursions appeared to be attempts by India to identify gaps in Pakistan's air defenses by provoking the Pakistani military into turning on radars.

The Indian air incursions were also designed to turn up the pressure on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to keep the investigation into the Mumbai bombings moving, he said.

"The Pakistani investigation is not done, and for every day that it goes on, it raises the potential for a negative outcome," the official said.

The first U.S. official said that "at this point," the U.S. continues to believe that the gunmen who staged the Mumbai attacks were affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Army of the Righteous, a Pakistan-based Islamic extremist organization that has links to al Qaida.

New Delhi has angrily blamed "elements from Pakistan" for the assault on Mumbai, hinting that the group had support from a section of Pakistan's military. Zardari's government has offered to co-operate, but it says that India hasn't shared evidence in the case.

Asked whether Pakistani authorities were continuing a crackdown on the group that they launched in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, the second U.S. official said, "It's really too early to say."

"What really is going to matter is (Pakistan's) performance over time," he said. "In the past, they've arrested guys and then released them. The jury is still out."

Analysts think that India's military options are limited to targeted air strikes, but those could be counterproductive and would risk starting a full-scale conflict without destroying the extensive jihadist network that's thought to operate in Pakistan.

"We are at the cusp of war," said Zafar Hilaly, a retired Pakistani ambassador turned analyst. "I really do think there is a chance. We shouldn't, by any means, rule out some kind of hostile action on the part of India."

The Indian government has at times ruled out war, but at others stated that "all options" are open.

"There is not much that Pakistan will or can do to address Indian demands," said Kamran Bokhari, the head of Middle East analysis at Stratfor, a private U.S. geopolitical intelligence firm. "There are signs from both countries of preparation for war. Unilateral military action on the part of New Delhi appears quite likely."

Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee said Friday that, "Instead of raising war hysteria, (Pakistan), should address this (militant) problem."

"We are for peace, not conflict," Pakistan's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani told reporters in Lahore. "But if there is any action, we will retaliate."

(Shah, a McClatchy special correspondent, reported from Islamabad. Landay reported from Washington.)

India carrying out winter trials of anti-tank missile 'Nag'

New Delhi, Dec 26 (PTI) India has been carrying out winter trials of its third generation hit-to-kill anti-tank missile'Nag'at the Pokhran firing ranges in Rajasthan desert for nearly a week now.

The trials mark the last few tests on the missile critical systems before it is finally inducted into army service, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said here today.

The trials against two moving and three fixed targets would be completed by this month-end and the data analysed to measure the level of success of the tests, sources added.

The missile, in its full configuration, has been test-fired a few times in the last week at the Pokhran ranges and these tests have been satisfactory, sources said.

During the the current round of trials, the missile carried a live warhead and caused extensive destruction to the stationary targets -- an old out-of-service tank -- covering a distance of over three km, sources said.

The missile, launched from its vehicular platform, Namica, hit the intended target precisely at the spot where the user specified, which was one of the main objectives of the trial, sources said.

EDITORIAL: Move forward with moderation!

After world opinion turned somewhat in sympathy of Pakistan's plight in the wake of what looked like dangerous sabre-rattling from India, the National Assembly in Islamabad has come up with another "unanimous" resolution. It asks the world "to ensure that India dismantles its terror networks and stops moves that destabilise the region". It also asks India to respond positively to Pakistan's proposals — including joint investigations and high-level engagement — to address New Delhi's concerns on the Mumbai terror attacks and to defuse tensions in South Asia.

The world seemed to turn away from India because of the extremism of its reactions and rallied around Pakistan because the latter was exercising moderation and offering to do what the world thought was sensible. The National Assembly's repeated offer to share intelligence and pool investigation on the Indian side is once again sensible. But the reference to "terror networks" in India and their use to "destabilise the region" is an extreme formulation. It not only denies the Mumbai claims of India, it also implies that probably India did it itself. Whatever the credibility of that conspiracy theory, the fact is that the world is not threatened by India's terrorist groups; it is worried about Pakistan's terrorist groups.

The extreme reaction seems to be equally emanating from non-official but otherwise influential sources. For example, one military analyst normally moderate in his discussion of Indo-Pak relations is now hawkish like most others who write in the national press. In his latest piece, he writes: "Our strategic reserves, presently employed in FATA, Swat and Bajaur, must be redeployed immediately to our eastern borders".

If it is the world we are addressing — and this is obvious from the National Assembly resolution — then we have to be more circumspect in our language. If it is India we are addressing, asking it to back off from threats of invasion, we have to be aware that the world is watching that too. If world opinion is important for us in the given situation then we have to frame our responses accordingly. The world is scared of war between India and Pakistan because it will immediately escalate into a nuclear one.

The PPP-led government has been pushed to the wall by an upsurge of popular hatred of India and the US. It began with the right responses to the Mumbai attack but then began to back off in the face of a wave of hostile comment in the media. Already defensive about its views on domestic terrorism, it began to revert to "unanimous" resolutions in parliament to hide its growing debility. One resolution already mandates withdrawal of the army from the Tribal Areas but the government is saved by the ambivalence of the text which requires contradictory things to be done.

The opposition and opposed opinion-makers have also been going to the next grade in their challenge to the government. The PMLQ wants a "national government" to replace the one in power now. On the face of it, one would expect such a reaction in times of a national emergency or crisis. But in the current circumstances it could also be aimed at undermining and even toppling the PPP government. Far better, therefore, for the PMLN or PMLQ to join the federal government and strengthen its hands at home and abroad than to have a national government that denies the fruits of electoral victory to the PPP. Certainly, we cannot afford to dismantle the majority of a ruling party in parliament and place power in the hands of those who can muster the most support out in the streets.

Sensing that the PPP is already acting as a weak party and that a "national government" may not listen to it, Jama'at-e-Islami (JI) has announced that it opposes the formation of a national government, saying that the "sitting parliament should be given more time to deliver". The basis for JI's objection to the national government is fear of the possibility of a takeover by a "dictator" despite the fact that JI thinks the PPP "is struggling to save its government at the Centre and the PMLN was doing the same in the Punjab". What the JI would prefer is a mid-term election that sweeps aside the current moderate mood in Islamabad and replaces it with a more aggressive but more popular one.

This is the very message we should not be sending out to the world as we face the threat of war from India. The urge to isolate ourselves from the international community before we square off with India, and doing that in the midst of a violent mid-term election, is a formula for failure. *

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