Here are the rest of today’s articles.
Here are the rest of today’s articles.
Note : - I have not been able to include all the items today due to paucity of time. Will try and post a supplement in the evening.
From Lt Col (Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema
The terrorist attack has mercifully ended after more than 59 hrs joint efforts by police, Army and NSG commodes. The casualties have been very heavy. The end of operation may give a sense of relief but has left the nation in pains which will take long time to subside. Like many other times we will carry out the analysis of the happening, political parties will start a blame game with eyes on elections Government will announce their resolve to bring culprits to book and give assurance not to allow such happening in future. The dead will be promised a few lacs of money and so on. We will learn nothing and there will be yet another tragedy and we will go over the whole thing once again. The terrorist have been carrying out detailed planning and preparations. Our intelligence had no inkling of their activities. The hotels were happy with their business with continuous occupancy of their suits by the terrorists under fake identity for months together. The exact planning and execution of their plan may take some time to be revealed but it is reasonably certain that they had carried out detailed planning and preparation over a long period of time. And they took coastal route from Karachi to Porbandar and then to Mumbai. They carried with them huge quantity of arms and ammunition. Where was our Intelligence during all this time? And how about our coastal guards! And how about likes of Raj Thackeray who never tire themselves of Marathi pride! How come they did not agitate against non Marathas fighting and sacrificing their lives for, in his words Maratha cause! I hope they Know that the uniformed people who completed one of the most difficult and delicate operations at the risk of their lives did not belong to any particular region least of it Maratha
The operation by the terrorists at that level could not have been possible without involvement of foreign support. But blaming Pakistan will not help, The PM is not wrong in saying that both India and Pakistan are victim of terrorism. In any case dealing with terrorism is our national problem and we have to deal with it with or without out side help. Pakistan is there to stay and we have to make our country safe inspite of Pakistan being there.
The fact is that our intelligence agencies are a total let down and they need to be held accountable for their utter failure resulting in loss of many lives, property, and of course our face. Local security system of hotels can be said to be non existent. If some one has covered itself with glory it is uniformed person alone. A shoke sabha for dead has been scheduled in the evening. The sabha will be held attended by important political leaders and many people. And that is the last we will think of these brave persons. Once again there will be discussions about what these uniformed people should get by way of 6th CPC. Then again one of the babus will quote his expertise in pay formulation. He will consider coming by helicopter and fighting the terrorist a minor affair vis-à-vis management of town affairs and naturally a higher pay band for these babus.
So let the nation not pay a lip service to the sacrifices of the brave soldiers. We should not forget them by merely laying wreath on their dead bodies. We need to make the future of their families secure. We need to attend to the problems serving and retired soldiers. We should not continue to denigrade by lowering their status like successive Pay Commissions have done.They are not asking for doles, they need to be given what they rightly deserve Non performing intelligence agencies and babus should be made to accountable for their failures. The public should reject leaders who try to divide the nation on regional, religious language and other grounds. Let us convert this tragedy in to an opportunity to unite the country to make it safe and strong, hostility of our neighbors not withstanding..
Thousands Pay Tribute as Slain NSG Major
Cremated in Bangalore
As thousands chanted "Major Sandeep amar rahe", the body of National Security Guard (NSG) commando Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, who was killed in a firefight with terrorists inside the Taj hotel in Mumbai, was consigned to the flames here Saturday.
Only Sandeep's grieving parents and other family members and military personnel were allowed inside the electric crematorium at Hebbal, about 15 km from the city centre, where several thousand people, young and elderly, had gathered for the final farewell to the 31-year-old army officer.
Sandeep's parents, father K. Unnikrishnan and mother Dhanalakshmi, were given the military uniform of the slain officer, their only son who had spoken to them for the last time on Nov 26, a day before he led his team to clear Mumbai's iconic hotel of the terrorists.
K. Unnikrishnan, a retired Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) official, Dhanalakshmi and their relatives broke down as the army men sounded the last post and the body was moved into the furnace after religious rituals.
Hundreds of people had lined the nearly four-km route to the crematorium from Unnikrishnans' residence at Yelahanka, around 12 km from the city. The body was taken in an open army truck followed by hundreds of mourners.
Earlier, at the residence, students in school uniform, young and elderly men and women in hundreds waited for hours to file past the body draped in white. Most of the mourners bowed in respect while many gave a military salute to the slain officer.
"Major Sandeep amar rahe", "Bharat Mata ki Jai" slogans rent the air at the residence as well as along the route to the crematorium.
Chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, several of his ministers, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) general secretary and Lok Sabha member H.N. Ananth Kumar were among those who laid wreaths on the body.
The slain officer's mother Dhanalakshmi was inconsolable. She was reluctant to let go of the body. On her insistence, she was allowed to sit next to the body for a few minutes just before it was taken on the last journey.
She swooned as the Karnataka police band sounded the bugle after a police gun salute, marking the beginning of the march from their residence to the crematorium.
She was given medical aid as relatives consoled her.
The body of Major Unnikrishnan was brought to Bangalore late Friday night from Mumbai and kept at his Yelahanka residence for people to pay their last respects.
Sandeep led his men into Taj Thursday. During the gunbattle he was separated from his men but continued taking on the terrorists, according to NSG Director General J.K. Dutt.
To prevent his colleagues from getting caught in the crossfire, Sandeep told them to keep away. He was grievously injured and died Friday.
His parents hail from Kerala but Sandeep was born and brought up in Bangalore.
"I lost my son in Mumbai Friday but we are proud that he has served the country well," the father told reporters Friday night.
Unnikrishnan said Sandeep had called them on Nov 26 to inform that he would be coming home early next month as his friend was getting married on Dec 17.
The March 17, 1977, born Sandeep had his schooling from Frank Anthony Public School in Bangalore. After passing out of the National Defence Academy, he was commissioned in the 7th Battalion of Bihar Regiment in 1999. He was deputed to NSG in January 2007.
A friend of Sandeep, Major Deepu, said: "He was a very enthusiastic person. He has been in Jammu and Kashmir, so he was trained in combat and anti-terrorism operations."
Ridiculous reaction from Islamabad
After the mammoth attacks on Mumbai, Pakistan has commented that India is making the issue political. It feels that India is trying to avail mileage out of this issue by suspecting the role of Pakistan behind the attacks..
CJ: B.Pavan Kumar , 11 hours ago Views:180 Comments:3
JUST WHEN we are trying to recover from the shock of the attacks on Mumbai, it was even more shocking to hear the statement issued by the foreign minister of Pakistan. He claims that India is playing politics with the issue!
Yes, you heard it right; he feels that India is trying to avail mileage out of this issue by suspecting the role of Pakistan behind the attacks.
Yes, it would have been great if we were able to do so. We would have attacked Islamabad right after our Parliament was attacked. Despite clear evidences in respect to the role of Pakistan in numerous terrorist activities, we have remained patient. But it is high time we acted after Pakistan made such an allegation on the nation which has never tried to disturb it inspite of facing threats from the forces orginating from the land. Is this what it means by free trade?
India is a strong player in the world economy today and I don’t think there is any urgent requirement for us to set up trade contacts with Pakistan. It was on compassionate grounds.
I think the honourable Minster is in the process of defending himself.
These set of statements must serve as wake up call for New Delhi. It must realise that the soft and peaceful way of resolving the problem has finally reached a dead end. One who would not appreciate the war and violence but we are left with no other way. If we still continue the same attitude, we may have to witness many more such attacks.
And finally Islamabad must realise this to be the final call for peace and friendship. It must also consider its own position today. Hit by economic crisis, it has witnessed attacks on its own lands by the similar groups’ .So; there is no way for Islamabad to remain safe. It must realise that tolerance is far different from inefficiency. I f it finds our tolerance to be our helpless state then god can help them. But for now, Islamabad must understand that the calmer it remains the more safe it is for Pakistan. The statements of this sort would distort our attitude towards Islamabad.
Pakistan Offers India Full Support,
is Not on Defensive
Pakistan Saturday said it would remain “fully engaged with the Indian leadership” to jointly fight terrorism even as it denied any link with the terror attack in Mumbai and cautioned New Delhi against mud-slinging.
“It's easy to get into mud-slinging and blame. We have to rise to the occasion, understand and join in efforts to fight this menace,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters here after a cabinet meeting to discuss the mayhem in Mumbai.
Qureshi, who cut short his four-day visit to India and abruptly left for Islamabad Saturday morning, cautioned India against “finger-pointing or coming to any hasty conclusions” which, he stressed, “will play into the hands of the common enemy - the terrorist”.
“No evidence has been provided... The government of Pakistan and all institutions of Pakistan are unanimous that Pakistan is not involved in this ghastly affair,” he asserted.
“We are not the defensive,” he underlined.
India has not blamed the government of Pakistan for the 60-hour Mumbai terror attack that claimed over 180 lives, but suspects the hand of groups based in that country.
Qureshi pledged full moral and material support to India while underlining the commitment of the "people of Pakistan and its institutions" to combating terrorism.
Amid widespread concerns about a likely chill in bilateral relations after India blamed elements in Pakistan for the terror in Mumbai, Qureshi underscored that his country will remain “fully engaged with the political leadership and establishment of India” and keep the peace process going.
“We attach the highest importance to friendly and good neighboring relations with India. Good and friendly relations are essential to peace and security,” he said.
Recalling his talks with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi Wednesday, Qureshi said the two discussed a gamut of issues ranging from trade and culture to visas and combating terrorism.
He also recalled that the mayhem started in Mumbai minutes after his talks with Mukherjee and the moment he knew about it he was in contact with the Indian leadership and media over the terror attacks.
Qureshi had Friday condemned the "barbaric, inhuman attack" and offered cooperation "at every level" with New Delhi. He also warned against "playing politics" with the terror attacks and said the two countries need "to turn the tide of confrontation to cooperation".
He had, however, acknowledged that there could be "rogue elements" in Pakistan who would be working to create a wedge between the two neighbours. "We cannot rule out anything."
Mukherjee rang up Qureshi Friday evening in the middle of a press interaction in New Delhi and impressed upon him the need for Pakistan to take immediate action over the terrorist strike in Mumbai. He also reminded Islamabad to honour its pledge to not to allow its territory to be used for terror attacks against India.
Maharashtra to Support Slain Policemen's Kin,
Build Force Like NSG
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, while announcing a compensation amount of Rs.2.5 million for the families of the security officials who died fighting the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, Saturday said the state will build a force like the National Security Guard (NSG).
"The past few days have been very difficult but we want to reiterate that we are not scared of the terrorists. The families of the security officials who lost their lives while fighting the terrorists will be given a compensation amount of Rs.2.5 million," Deshmukh said at a press conference here.
"At least one member of the family of each police personnel killed will be given a government job. The families will also be allowed to permanently stay in government houses.
"The families of the martyred policemen will also receive salaries as per their current pay scales. This will continue till the time the official would have retired if alive," he added.
The chief minister said 350 NSG commandos were involved in the 59-hour operation against the terrorists who attacked 10 prominent places in Mumbai Wednesday night.
"A force on the lines of the NSG will be set up in Maharashtra," Deshmukh said. "We will get permission to set up such a force from the centre."
“We have also postponed the winter assembly session, which was to begin in Nagpur Monday. It will now begin Dec 11," he added.
Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil, who was also present at the press conference, told reporters that preliminary investigations had revealed that "the terrorists wanted to kill more than 5,000 people in the attack".
"There were 10 terrorists in all. Nine were killed, while one has been captured alive. They had been continuously getting instructions from abroad via satellite phones," Patil said.
When asked which country they were getting support from, the minister said: "You all know which country."
"The terrorists came from the sea route Wednesday morning. They landed near Sassoon Docks in Colaba. From there, they took a taxi in which all their arms and ammunitions were loaded," Patil said.
"Police have recovered two live bombs, each weighing eight kilograms from the dead terrorists. GPS equipment and sophisticated satellite phones were also recovered from them," he added.
The chief minister said in all 162 people, including 18 foreigners, were killed and 239 were injured in the terror drama. He added that 150 bodies had been sent for post mortem and 121 had already been handed over to their families.
'Smoking Gun' to Harm Pakistan-India Ties,
Fear US Experts
US anti-terrorism experts have warned that "a smoking gun" in the Mumbai terror attacks could not only derail Pakistan-India talks but also jeopardize Islamabad’s ties with Washington.
Christine Fair, a South Asia affairs analyst for US think-tank RAND Corporation, said the attacks had raised several questions: Was Pakistan involved? What type of Pakistani involvement was there? Did anyone in the government know?
Dawn newspaper Saturday quoted Fair as warning that “if there is a smoking gun,” it would have serious repercussions for US-Pakistan and Pakistan-India relations.
“The attacks will increase pressure on the incoming Obama administration to be tough on Pakistan,” she warned.
Bruce Riedel, a former South Asia analyst for the CIA and the US National Security Council who now advises President-elect Barack Obama, agreed.
“This is a new, horrific milestone in the global jihad,” he told The Washington Post.
“No indigenous Indian group has this level of capability. The goal is to damage the symbol of India’s economic renaissance, undermine investor confidence and provoke an India-Pakistan crisis.”
Terrorists who Indian officials say came from Pakistan by the sea entered Mumbai Wednesday night and struck at 10 centers, eventually taking control of the Taj hotel, Oberoi-Trident hotel and a Jewish centre. The mayhem has claimed 152 lives and left over 300 injured before Indian commandos killed all the terrorists.
Fair, however, believed that the attacks were apparently carried out by indigenous Indian militants with some outside support.
“This isn’t India’s 9/11. This is India’s Oklahoma City,” said Fair, referring to an April 1995 domestic attack in the US that left 168 people dead.
“It is almost unimaginable that this could have been done entirely by outside militants without Indian involvement; implications are very dangerous,” she told Dawn.
“There are a lot of “very, very angry Muslims in India. The economic disparities are startling,” she said. “This is a major domestic political challenge for India”.
“You have Islamist militants in India and you have a militarized Hindu right; these are small numbers but they feed on each other, without one the other will be difficult to exist,” she said.
Gary Ackerman, a pro-India Democratic Congressman from New York, worried about the Mumbai attacks’ implications for the US.
“The implication for us is that there are bad guys still out there, and we’re going to have to learn how to deal with them, because our friends are getting sucked into this big-time,” said Congressman Ackerman, who chairs the House subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
One highly placed US intelligence official, who has been briefed on the attacks, told CNN that the head of the operation was a Bangladeshi and that the militants were Indians, Kashmiris and Bangladeshis.
US Intelligence Points to Lashkar-e-Taiba
for Mumbai Attacks: NYT
By Arun Kumar
There is mounting evidence that a Pakistani militant group based in Kashmir, most likely the Lashkar-e-Taiba, was responsible for the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the New York Times reported Saturday citing American intelligence and counterterrorism officials.
However, the unnamed "American officials cautioned that they had reached no hard conclusions about who was responsible for the operation, nor on how it had been planned and carried out," the influential daily said.
"Nevertheless, they said that evidence gathered over the past two days has pointed to a role for Lashkar-e-Taiba, or possibly another Pakistani group focused on Kashmir, Jaish-e-Muhammad," it said.
The Times said cited American officials insisted on anonymity in describing their current thinking and declined to discuss the intelligence information that they said pointed to Kashmiri militants.
Lashkar-e-Taiba is thought by American intelligence agencies to have received some training and logistical support in the past from Pakistan's powerful spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the daily said.
But American officials said Friday that there was no evidence that the Pakistani government had any role in the Mumbai attacks, the Times said.
Lashkar-e-Taiba has, for the most part, not targeted Westerners in past attacks, as some reports said the attackers in Mumbai did. But one counter-terrorism official cited by Times said that the group "has not pursued an exclusively Kashmiri agenda" and that the group might certainly go after Westerners to advance a broader goals.
The daily cited the official as saying that there was also strong evidence that Lashkar-e-Taiba had a "maritime capability" and would definitely have been capable of mounting the sophisticated operation in Mumbai, which intelligence officials say they believe began when the attackers arrived in the city in small boats.
American and Indian officials are pursuing the possibility that the attackers arrived off the coast of Mumbai in a larger merchant ship, and then boarded the smaller boats before they launched the attack.
Even as a Kashmiri connection to the attacks began to emerge Friday, American officials cited by the Times said there were puzzled by some developments of the past two days.
For instance, they said they still know next to nothing about a group called the Deccan Mujahedeen that has reportedly taken responsibility for the attacks.
Terrorism experts have said there is no evidence that the group was involved in past strikes, and speculated that the name was made up by another militant group to mask responsibility for the attacks, the US daily said.
A State Department report issued this year called Lashkar-e-Taiba "one of the largest and most proficient of the Kashmiri-focused militant groups."
The report said that the group drew funding in part from Pakistani expatriate communities in the Middle East, despite the freezing of its assets by the United States and Pakistan in 2002, after the attack on the Indian p arliament.
The report said that the actual size of the group was unknown, but estimated its strength at "several thousand" members.
ISI Chief's Aide to Visit India: Report
By Muhammad Najeeb
Pakistan will send a senior official and not the chief of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency to India, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's spokesman has said here.
On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had urged his Pakistani counterpart Gilani to send ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha to New Delhi to exchange information on the Mumbai terror attacks that have claimed 148 lives and injured 327.
Gilani Friday surprised many in the country by announcing that the ISI chief would be sent to India. The decision to send Pasha was announced by the prime minister's office after Gilani held a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari and discussed the matter with the heads of the security establishment.
However, in a statement late Friday, the spokesman for the prime minister said that instead of the ISI chief, a senior official of the spy agency would visit India.
The statement came hours after Pakistan military spokesman said that no final decision had been taken on the ISI chief visiting India.
"Let me clear that no final decision has been taken about the (ISI chief's) visit to India," Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told GEO television in a late night programme.
There was no mention, however, about when the ISI official is likely to arrive in New Delhi.
A statement from Pakistan's foreign office said the country stands united with India in the war on terror and would extend its full cooperation to curb this menace. However, it added that India should respect Pakistan's efforts at combating terrorism and should avoid playing a blame game.
While India has said the terrorists have links in Pakistan, Islamabad has refuted the charge. In support of its contention, India has said that the only terrorist to be captured in Mumbai was a Pakistani.
In his address to the nation Thursday, Manmohan Singh blamed "elements outside the country" for the bloodshed in Mumbai, warning that India will not tolerate the use of territories of its neighbors for such attacks.
NSG a bit too stretched for resources?
Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sunday, November 30, 2008 1:13 AM (New Delhi)
The National Security Guard (NSG) is the most elite commando force in the country. It has definitely been a lifesaver in the tragedy, but is the force a bit stretched for resources?
A major and a hawaldar of the NSG died fighting terrorists. The operations lasted nearly 72 hours. But could the commandos have reached the venue faster?
Perhaps they could have, if an immediate airlift was available after their help was sought.
Orders to deploy the NSG came around 1 am on Thursday morning but the commandos landed in Mumbai only after 5 am.
A plan to have a dedicated aircraft for NSG's use has not been implemented. The plane that took the commandoes to Mumbai came from Chandigarh. From the Mumbai airport, it took another hour to reach the spot where they came on buses. However, the Home Ministry says the delay is normal.
"There was no time delay, but it takes time to travel to the airport, load and unload equipment, and from the airport to move to south Mumbai," said Mahendra Kumawat, Special Secretary (Internal Security), Home Ministry.
This is not the first time the NSG started late. About a decade ago, when the Delhi bound Indian Airlines plane was hijacked, the commandos took off only when the hijacked plane had left Indian skies.
As a matter of fact, transport is not the only problem. The NSG was raised as an anti-hijack and anti-terrorist force, but over the years, guarding our politicians has become one of its primary responsibilities.
Windows of opportunity
The armed forces’ role needs a close look
by Brijesh D. Jayal
Why has there been a systematic and progressive decline in the standing of the armed forces over the last six decades? Why are we the only democracy where civilian control of the armed forces has come to mean bureaucratic control? And why was it thought fit not to give a state funeral to a Field Marshal, who won us a war? One could go on. None of these and associated issues will mean much to the ordinary citizen, but to those in uniform it’s a matter of honour.
That there was a religious backlash within the Army after Operation Bluestar is a historical fact. What is not so well appreciated is how the services in general and the army in particular took discrete yet extraordinary steps to heal the wounded psyche within their ranks. Wounded psyche that was not of their own making in the first place. Not many may know that having learnt a deep lesson, the army set up an Institute of National Integration to preach commonality of religions, spirit of tolerance as well as rich cultural heritage thus propagating national integration.
That the army had healed its internal wounds is borne out by its performance during the Kargil conflict and the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir. To a grateful nation this should have been tribute enough to its self- correcting capabilities. But the ongoing over-reaction to the episode of an Army Lieutenant Colonel’s alleged involvement in terror activities appears to have tainted the entire institution of the armed forces with one black brush.
The investigating agencies are indulging in selective leaks and media trials have pronounced the Lieutenant Colonel guilty long before any charge sheets have been filed. These are happenings in banana republics and not worthy of a nation aspiring great power status. This shows our governance and justice system in poor light and undermines the morale of our fighting forces.
Militaries are secular not out of any ideological consideration, but out of an innate sense of professionalism. While individuals may be deeply religious, if one is facing death in the line of duty daily, what counts is flag, country and regiment or unit of the fighting men. Those who have either donned military uniforms or respect the profession of arms will understand this ethos. The rest will find it incomprehensible.
The progressive decline of the parity of the armed forces as a consequence of successive pay commissions is well known. The Service Chiefs’ request to include a member from the services in the Sixth Pay Commission was turned down. The services did not get a fair deal and the Chiefs made a representation. While appointing a Committee of Secretaries, the government again declined a service representative. When the services voiced concern on these findings, there were veiled threats in the media about disciplining the services.
Even as this bizarre episode was unfolding the media, a distinguished former Ambassador, in an article titled “Services contempt of civil authority is not casual” ventured to suggest that the armed forces were envious of the privileges and power of their Pakistani counterparts and that such envy though natural was dangerous. The ambassador went on to say “The storm that has arisen today clearly has its roots in a general, if widespread, contempt of the forces for their civilian masters and counterparts.”
These observations smack of lack of understanding of the ethos and loyalty of our armed forces. The psychosis while aimed at the political class is not lost on the armed forces as this has ensured that for the last six decades civilian control of the armed forces, so vital for a healthy democracy, has been transformed to control by the bureaucracy. A model that no other democracy follows! The political leadership is kept so insulated from the armed forces that it does not see a valuable and priceless institution for what it is — a national asset that keeps our secular, democratic republic intact!
What escapes those critical of the armed forces in this unsavory episode of administrative highhandedness is that to military commanders at any level, safety and welfare of those they command come next only to flag and country. Had they been found wanting at this juncture, they would have been perceived as having sacrificed the interests of their men and women at the altar of their own futures.
A few months ago, UK Army Chief General Dannatt, to the embarrassment of his government, went public lamenting that his soldiers were paid less than traffic wardens. Peeved, the government overlooked him for the higher post of Chief of Defence Staff but could not deny the forces their due. In military eyes, this was a true Commander willing to pay a personal price for upholding the interests of those he led.
The recent revelations have got the media into frenzy and it is difficult to fathom whether this concern runs any deeper than for their commercial interests! What else can explain the expediency with which a suspected individual, an NDA throw-out, was proclaimed as being from IAF? Is there a subtle attempt to undermine the morale of our fighting forces?
These unfortunate questions must result in introspection. In his treatise, The Art of War, Sun Tzu advises: “Therefore, to gain a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence; to subjugate the enemy’s army without doing battle is the highest of excellence.”
In today’s information age, there are potent tools for such subjugation called information and psychological warfare. While the armed forces understand these phenomena and arm themselves to handle such types of warfare, they do so with external threats in mind. Alas, they now find themselves being targeted from within and they are unable to respond. Is it possible that there are vested interests stoking these fires? Let us not forget that some of our adversaries have declared their intentions to accord high priority to cyber warfare and other information warfare tools towards furthering their warfare capabilities and are making huge investments.
This is a defining moment as our last bastion of security stands dented, fortunately not punctured. Many eagerly wish to fish in these troubled waters. The nation cannot afford to sit idle while the institution of our armed forces continues down a slippery slope.
Such moments of crises are also windows of opportunity. Let the nation respond by setting up a Blue Ribbon Commission to look at all aspects of our armed forces and indeed their role and place within the Indian Republic. Like the Army advertisement seeking volunteers, it is the turn of the nation to ask itself ‘Do we have it in us?’n
The writer is a retired Air Marshal of the Indian Air Force
India to bolster NSG strength
Press Trust of India / Bali November 29, 2008, 16:26 IST
In the wake of deadly terror strikes in Mumbai, Government will bolster the strength of the country's National Security Guard and enact legislation to strengthen existing anti-terror laws, a senior aide to President Pratibha Patil said today.
"A Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting would be held on Tuesday, which will take up the issue of deployment of NSG in places like Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai, where there is a need for beefing up security," Christy Fernandez, Secretary to the President, told reporters accompanying Patil here.
He said the move behind wider-deployment of NSG, which is currently based in New Delhi only, was to reduce the time taken for their induction in emergent situations.
"These will be the main focus in the meeting of the CCS," Fernandez said.
He said the President, who is currently on a two-nation tour and had arrived in Indonesia, was keeping in constant touch with authorities back home to monitor the situation.
Fernandez said the CCS meeting might also consider other legislative measures to strengthen the existing terror-related laws to make them more stringent and effective.
India should take up Pak offer to fight terror: Khorakiwala
Press Trust of India / Mumbai November 29, 2008, 13:08 IST
India should take up Pakistan's offer to help in curbing terrorism without any prejudice and work towards a terror-free South Asia, Fakruddin T Khorakiwala, Founder, Wockhardt Group, said today.
"This is the first time in 60 years that Pakistan has come out openly and expressed willing to work with India in curbing terrorism. India should not miss this opportunity," Khorakiwala, President of voluntary group Citizen's council for a Better Tomorrow, said.
India should take proactive steps in association with Pakistan in fighting the menace, he said.
"We should not be playing with past sentiments and keep dividing the people of India and Pakistan. We now have a new generation of people who want better Indo-Pak ties," said Khorakiwala, who is also Chairman of department store chain Akbarallys.
"We should be forming a United Federation of South Asia as culturally we all are one."
The former Mumbai Sheriff said "the leaders should rise above politics and not allow Balkanisation of India."
Paying tribute to security personnel who laid down their lives fighting terror, Khorakiwala said "We should have a unified security agency which should work without political interference."
The death of the Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare was a big blow to the investigations being carried out by the state agency, he said.
Mumbai experience to be part of NSG training
New Delhi, November 29
The NSG, which played a pivotal role in the anti-terror operations in Mumbai, has decided to include the siege experience in its new training schedule for its elite Black Cat commandos.
The NSG is purely a deputation force with personnel and officials drawn from the Army and various paramilitary forces like the CRPF, ITBP, CISF, BSF and SSB.
“The Mumbai siege has been a learning experience for us. We will include this feature in our future commando trainings,” a senior NSG official said.
All men on deputation will have to undergo the new training module. “It was for the first time that we operated in crowded and densely populated areas. Nariman House in south Mumbai was closeted in a mesh of bylanes and achieving operational success without the loss of innocent lives was a challenge,” the official said.
The Taj and Oberoi (Trident) were large hotels with spacious rooms, kitchens, ball rooms, restaurants and ante-rooms which can provide ample hiding space to terrorists and help them create hurdles for the crack commandos, the official said.
The commandos, who have an upper age limit of 38 years, undergo a rigorous pre-induction course while coming on deputation from other forces and is cleared by only 50-55 per cent candidates.
Till now, new recruits are being trained in Police Commando Instructors Course (PCIC), VIP security, VIP driving, bomb disposal, post blast study and Left-wing extremism courses.
To sharpen the anti-terror and anti-hijack skills of the crack commandos, the NSG recruits are trained in simulated conditions. They are also made to develop physical and mental agility in order to imbibe combat skills. Mobile and static security, access control, observation techniques and ground control are some of the other modules included.
The snipers are trained in precision firing which include sharp shooting and reflex training, defensive and evasive driving skills and awareness of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and booby traps.
Techniques of “room intervention” (breaking open rooms), “slither down” (descending from heli-borne commandos on roof top with the help of ropes) and “top to bottom” (entering an establishment from the roof and gradually moving down) and “observe and fire” (watch the enemy and shoot) were used by the Black Cats in their operations in Mumbai. — PTI
Editorial: Cooperation without blame-game
After the Mumbai terrorist attack, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari severely condemned the incident as terrorism and, in the face of some early speculation on Pakistan’s involvement, offered India “cooperation” in the investigation of the whole affair without indulging in the familiar blame-game the two countries have succumbed to in the past. On Friday, a Foreign Office statement in Islamabad explained Pakistan’s stance more clearly:
“Pakistan is ready to deepen its engagement with India, including on combating terrorism but it is important to avoid blame-game and knee-jerk reactions. Terrorism is a global problem that needs to be combated in all its forms and manifestations through serious, sustained and pragmatic steps”. The statement came after the prime minister and the president had telephoned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and offered Pakistan’s assistance in probing the attacks.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mr Shah Mehmood Qureshi, then in India, also issued a statement saying, “We are confident that the government of India will respond positively to Pakistan’s offer to cooperate in the investigation of the Mumbai attacks. It is in the interest of Pakistan and India to enhance multi-track cooperation on anti-terrorism”. There was an indirect reference in this statement to the Pakistan-India mechanisms of cooperation for combating terrorism, including a Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism (JATM). The subject also forms one of the baskets in the Indo-Pak composite dialogue on normalisation of relations.
Thereafter, upon receiving a request from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister Gilani agreed to send Director General ISI to India. Soon, the rank was changed from DG to “representative of the ISI”. The army spokesman, speaking on the first version, had expressed surprise that the ISI chief was being sent for consultation and pointed to lack of precedent in this regard. The media also thought that Pakistan was exposing its intelligence agency to a session of “levelling of charges” by the Indians. This was said in the light of the remarks made by many in India that the attack had come from Pakistan. Prime Minister Singh had also implied that the territory of “neighbourhood” states could have been used.
Prime Minister Gilani first reacted to objections by saying that he did not think Pakistan had anything to hide. In fact Pakistan wished an upgradation of JATM when the foreign minister’s statement in India said, “Pakistan had proposed closer intelligence cooperation and meetings between the intelligence chiefs of the two countries”. The JATM was set up after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf met in September 2006, on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Havana. The second JATM meeting in October 2007 had gone into the terrorism on Samjhauta Express. The third meeting was scheduled for 2008 at the additional secretary level. It is clear that a mechanism of cooperation does exist at a low level and doesn’t yet involve the intelligence agencies.
Has the time come for the two countries to move to a higher level of consultation on terrorism? Given the nature of the threat to both states there is no doubt that it has. Objections on the Pakistani side to Mr Gilani’s offer of sending the DG ISI were justified, though. The JATM is too “preliminary” at the present time to become the framework for it. There are also complications. In the early meetings of JATM, Pakistan’s request to leave Jammu & Kashmir out of the ambit of consultation was not accepted by India. Mutual suspicion weighs heavy on all efforts to advance at the rapid pace towards the goal of cooperation demanded by the Mumbai attacks in particular and the terrorism threat in general.
In the final analysis, both countries will have to move to a regular framework of intelligence cooperation. The incidence of terrorism on both sides is now quite apparent and it is no longer enough to say that “we too are victims of terrorism”. The gesture by Mr Gilani should be appreciated by the Indian side and no effort to politicise the down-gradation of consultation from the ISI chief to “representative” should be made to make it look like a proof of guilt. Two, the rhetoric of objection to Mr Gilani’s gesture should not be allowed to grow to a crescendo in Pakistan. The sooner the two countries clear the decks for meetings between the intelligence chiefs through a proper framework the better. *
Second Editorial: Exit National Security Council
The National Security Council (NSC), constituted during former president Pervez Musharraf’s regime has been dissolved by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. Like Article 58-2(b), the NSC was supposed to stave off martial law. General Musharraf wanted it in the Constitution but could not get the clerical alliance MMA to agree to it in the 17th Amendment. So NSC, in which the generals would meet and consult with the civilian government regularly, was set up with an act of parliament with a simple PMLQ majority. The Prime Minister already had his defence committee of the cabinet (DCC) where he could consult with the army chief if he wanted.
The PPP government has got rid of the NSC in deference to the views of the PMLN and in consonance with the general feeling among the political parties. The general who first scared everybody off was army chief General Aslam Beg who began throwing his weight around in the PM’s defence committee. An NSC would have become an arena of a full-dress top brass display. Just before General Zia forced the National Assembly in 1985 to accept the infamous 8th Amendment, he dropped the idea of setting up a Council of Defence and National Security Council (CDNS) within the ambit of the Amendment. He probably thought Article 58-2(b) was enough to give him the kind of stranglehold on the civilian government he wanted. The Musharraf experiment has demonstrated that military takeovers are simply unpractical these days. Military thinking is so divorced from reality that NSC can only be an impediment in evolving better policies of national survival. This has become more than apparent from the statements being issued by the retired generals on all kinds of subjects relating to Pakistan’s security.
It was Armed Forces all the way
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 28
The counter-terrorism operations in Mumbai are almost entirely the work of the Indian Armed Forces or its highly skilled men on deputation with the elite national security guards (NSG).
Roles of the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and the Indian Air Force emerged crucial in countering the attacks of the militants holed up in two hotels in Mumbai.
The NSG used its special operations group (SOG) formed by drawing men from the Indian Army. Even though the Army men are attached with the NSG on deputation, their core department is the Indian Army. The only difference is that the NSG chief reports to the home ministry. In fact, the NSG commando who died in the attack, was Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan.in the Army. The other NSG commando to lose his life was havildar Chander.
The Army was the first to reach the site of the attack as it despatched 800 of its highly skilled men from its fighting Infantry units. Officials refused to tell which Regiment was used citing secrecy, but added they were hand picked for counter terrorism operations. The operations in Mumbai were being co-ordinated by joint headquarters that was being co-ordinated by the GOC Maharashtra area Maj Gen R.K. Hooda and Vice-Admiral J.S. Bedi.
The Army formed the outer cordon, the inner cordon and also its men were alongside the NSG in the close cordon to tackle the terrorists. The close co-ordination operations were led by NSG chief J.K. Dutt. Army commandos were added to augment the NSG and not replace it, sources in the Army headquarters here clarified.
The Navy and the Coast Guard chipped in when the Navy sent its skilled marine commandos (Marcos) last night. The sources say the number could be close to 2,000 personnel. The leader of the Marcos even addressed the media with his face covered and black glasses on. The Navy also sent two warships, choppers and dorniers to locate a suspected ship. The Navy operation was launched to locate a ship — M V Alpha — that was found 112 km away from Mumbai. The IAF flew in transport aircraft from Chandigarh and Agra among other places in the dead of the night and this morning dropped NSG commandos using helicopters.
Mumbai, November 28
“We didn’t see the terrorists. But we felt their rage.” This is how American couple Bruce and Petty described their 26-hour-long harrowing experience in the confines of their room on the 17th floor of the Taj Mahal Hotel here, which was under siege by terrorists.
The couple, along with a Chinese, a South African and an Australian national, was rescued from the hotel by the elite National Security Guards (NSG) late last night.
“There was blood sprayed all over the floor. It was really messy. I didn’t want to see it,” said Bruce recounting their ordeal.
The couple, who were all praise for the NSG commandos, said that there was no water and the place was covered with debris.
“It’s wonderful to be safe in life but it is sad to see what happened,” Bruce said.
Despite their brush with terror, the couple is eager to “keep coming back” to India which is a “magical country.” — PTI
After blunt talk by PM, ISI chief to visit India
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad
In an unprecedented move, Pakistan today agreed to send the chief of its main spy agency to New Delhi for sharing intelligence with Indian counterparts amid persistent accusations that Mumbai attackers had come from Karachi.
The decision to send Lt Gen Shujaa Pasha, director general of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), was taken by country’s top leadership in a meeting after both President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani separately spoke to Indian premier Manmohan Singh to assure him full cooperation in the investigations for unveiling all facts behind the Mumbai bloodbath.
The Prime Minister’s Office said the “request for dispatching the ISI chief came from Manmohan Singh for the exchange of information”. A press release from the PMO recalled that the Indian Prime Minister was the first foreign leader to call Gilani soon after the deadly Marriott blast in Islamabad on September 20 last and offered all possible cooperation.
Gilani talked to Manmohan Singh early this morning after which President Zardari also rang up the Indian leader. Later, both Zardari and Gilani held an emergency meeting and decided to promptly respond to the request for sending the ISI chief. The modalities for Gen Pasha’s visit were set in motion immediately and officials said he may leave for New Delhi any time within next 48 hours.
With tensions mounting between the two neighbours in the wake of Indian accusations, Pakistan’s friends also moved in to press the Pakistani leadership to take concrete action to allay Indian suspicions. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice called Zardari late Thursday night to urge him for taking early steps to avert the evolving dangerous escalation.
Many analysts likened the current mood in India to that prevailing in the wake of December 13, 2001, attack on Indian Parliament after which India massed nearly half a million troops on Pakistan’s borders, raising a grave threat of even a nuclear war.
In their conversation with Manmohan Singh, Zaradri and Gilani reiterated strong condemnation of the “detestable” acts of terrorism in Mumbai. When Manmohan Singh pointed out that preliminary investigations had revealed that the terrorists, who appear to have been well trained and equipped for a highly sophisticated operation they launched in Mumbai, had come from Pakistan, Zardari asserted that Pakistan itself was a victim of terror.
The President appreciated the fact that the Indian Prime Minister had sought the ISI chief’s visit for the exchange of information and emphasised that both countries had common interest to confront the terrorists.
Though both governments have been talking about evolving a common strategy for combating terrorism, this is the first significant move by India to suggest a personal visit by the chief of the ISI, which the Indian government and the defence establishment have often blamed of masterminding acts of terrorism in India.
Manmohan Singh in his address to the nation on Thursday stopped short of naming Pakistan as the source of Mumbai attacks and referred only to India’s “neighbours”. But external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today categorically stated that the attackers had come from Karachi.
The Indian civil and military security officials and the media also pointed the finger towards Pakistan.
A former chief of ISI, Lt Gen Asad Durrani (retd) termed as “unprecedented and odd” the move to send Gen Pasha to India saying it carried certain unpalatable implications strengthening the insinuations.
He said if the Indians had any evidence this could be examined by experts from both sides after which a top level visit could be arranged. “However, it is the prerogative of the government to take even unusual steps to deal with a situation”, he said.
Black Friday for Unnikrishnan family
National Security Guards commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan who died while battling terrorists in Taj Hotel on Friday.
National Security Guards commando Sandeep Unnikrishnan who died while battling terrorists in Taj Hotel on Friday.
Bangalore, November 28
It was a black Friday for the Unnikrishnan family as news of their 31-year-old son, Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, on deputation with the NSG, being killed in terror operation strike in Mumbai filtered in here this morning.
Sandeep, who passed out from Frank Anthony School in Bangalore and was later commissioned in the Bihar Regiment in 1999, was among the brave armed forced personnel who laid down their lives in the strike against terrorists in Mumbai.
“The family has been inconsolable. Both his mother and sister continue to be shell-shocked”, said S.K. Krishnan, a close family friend and a former colleague of Sandeep’s father at ISRO. Sandeep’s father Unnikrishnan had retired from the Department of Space at ISRO.
“The family had no idea that Sandeep was part of the operation in Mumbai. He had not informed his family about the operation owing to security reasons”, he said.
“However, we did feel he could have been part of the operation as large number of NSG contingents had been called in to flush out the terrorists and free hostages,” he said.
“The news was received when a personnel contacted us and television news confirmed our worst fears”, he said. — PTI
India can't summon our head spy: Pak Oppn
Press Trust of India
Friday, November 28, 2008 11:13 PM (Islamabad)
Pakistani opposition parties on Friday slammed the PPP-led government for its decision to send ISI chief to India to share the information on intelligence, saying that it amounted to "summoning" of the spy agency's head by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"The blame game is not the answer to such incidents and it appeared awkward that the ISI chief was going to India almost at the Indian Prime Minister's summoning," opposition PML-N spokesman Ahsan Iqbal said.
Iqbal said the Pakistan government had acted in haste and should instead have offered to form a "joint task force with equal responsibility".
He said that India had in the past blamed Pakistan for terrorist attacks but subsequent probes had shown they were carried out by "internal groups".
Opposition PML-Q and Jamaat-e-Islami also criticised the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani government's decision. PML-Q spokesman Tariq Azeem claimed India was resorting to "a knee jerk reaction by blaming Pakistan instead of carrying out a thorough investigation".
The decision to send ISI chief Lt Gen Shuja Pasha to India came after the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani that investigators had found involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the attacks in Mumbai.
He told Gilani that Pakistan should send its ISI chief to New Delhi "to cooperate in the investigations of the Mumbai attack and for sharing certain information".
Pakistan agreed to Singh's proposal and said Pasha would travel to New Delhi soon, for which modalities would be worked out by the two sides.
Centre must restore pay parity
We are shocked to read Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar’s statement that it would be difficult for the government to give pay parity to the defence forces (Nov 24). Instead of appreciating the genuine demands put up by the three Service Chiefs and ex-servicemen, he has chosen to throw a red herring in the case.
What is preventing the government from rectifying the anomalies created by the sixth pay panel report? The defence forces must get their status and emoluments that existed in 1947 restored.
The pension orders issued on Nov 14 are nowhere near their demands. Instead of granting One Rank One Pension, the Centre has ordered One Rank Many Pensions. It has created many classes in one class which is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution as observed by the Supreme Court on Sept 9, 2008 in the case of Major Generals. The Centre has created a very difficult situation: a Havildar will get less pension than a Sepoy and a Lieutenant General will get less pension than a Colonel! The Centre should act fast and correct all the serious anomalies immediately.
Maj-Gen SATBIR SINGH (retd), Gurgaon
Though the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister have assured the Service Chiefs that the anomalies projected in the sixth pay panel report will be addressed to the satisfaction of the armed forces, little has been done. The Cabinet Secretary’s statement comes as a rude shock.
With the general elections a few months away and the ruling coalition busy in preparing for the same, the pay parity issue may be left to the next government to decide. If so, the morale of the armed forces will take a severe beating.
Wg-Cdr J.S. BHALLA (retd), Chandigarh
An IAF helicopter carrying electronic voting machines, election officials and BSF personnel was, during take off, fired at with automatic weapons from close range by the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh. This resulted in the killing of an IAF flight engineer Sergeant Mustafa Ali (Nov 15). Our hearts go out in profound sympathy to the martyred airman and his family.
Besides trying to disrupt elections in the state, the Naxalites also wanted to tarnish the image of a fighting force. The attack betrays negligence on the part of those deputed to look after the security of the helipad.
Obviously, the responsibility for providing the inner protective cover to the area should have been invested with the IAF authorities. We cannot let armed goons in the country make our military look like a sitting duck to be targeted at will with impunity. That is totally unacceptable.
Wg-Cdr S.C. KAPOOR (retd), Noida
Sideshow: Navy, Army publicity hunt
Express news service Posted online: Nov 29, 2008 at 0155 hrs
New Delhi : The Army and the Navy invited an ugly spot upon themselves, even as the National Security Guards (NSG) were carrying out operations on three different locations in Mumbai, in a hungry race for publicity that landed them a rap on the knuckles by the Defence Ministry. The credit-taking spree started on Thursday with senior officers of the Army and Navy giving impromptu statements. Consider this:
• The Navy was the first off the block with Western Command Chief Vice Admiral J S Bedi talking to a television channel about the role of the marine commandoes in the operations. The officer revealed that the Navy was searching for suspicious vessels, the input for which was provided by the Mumbai police, in nearby waters and had even boarded and searched a merchant vessel. In the most shocking goof up, the Vice Admiral even passed on a photograph of evidence seized by marine commandoes to the media. The photograph contained details of a credit card with a photograph and the weapons used by the terrorists.
• The Navy was followed by the Army on Wednesday with General Officer Commanding (Mumbai Area) Maj Gen R K Hooda saying that there was evidence that the terrorists were not from the country and were speaking Punjabi, indicating that they belonged to Pakistan. This, even before intelligence agencies firmly established the Pak link and acted on the information.
• The spree continued on Thursday after Lt Gen Nobel Thamburaj drove down from his office at the Southern Command HQ in Pune to Mumbai to address the media. The officer, who is set to take over as the next Vice Chief of Army staff, assured reporters that 'his boys' would clear the area of terrorists in a matter of hours. As it later turned out, operations were continuing even till midnight. He revealed that the NSG had suffered casualties in the operation.
• Even as the NSG commandoes were engaged in a fierce gun battle at all three locations, in an unprecedented move that left senior officers at Delhi in deep shock, the Navy held a press conference in Mumbai with its elite Marine Commandoes. The elite force, which is always kept under wraps by the Navy, narrated their entire operation, even revealing, analysts say, some of the tactics used by them. Sources said the Western Naval Commander, Vice Admiral J S Bedi authorised the conference without clearances from the Defence Ministry. This even as the main rescue operations were being carried out by NSG commandoes and a handful of Marine Commandoes (MARCOS) of the Navy -- 35 in all -- were part of the initial reaction team to the terror attack on Wednesday night. The MARCOS were moved out as soon as the NSG contingent arrived on the spot. The Navy came under flak after it was revealed that the terrorists used the sea route to infiltrate into the country, spurred the Defence Ministry into action and the armed forces were rapped on the knuckles for speaking out of turn.
As it turned out later in statements by the NSG DG, only the NSG commandoes were carrying out the main rescue and search operations and the Army's role was to maintain an outer squadron to ensure that no terrorists escape from the spot.
The ministry, which received calls from top Government officials after the statements by armed forces officers, asked the forces to keep a low profile on Thursday. Sources said top officers from both the Navy and Army HQ were told by the MoD to instruct their personnel in Mumbai to leave the talking to the Home Ministry and the National Security Guards (NSG) that actually carried out the operations.
This comes after the ministry has been put into a tight spot by the Navy that went on a publicity spree after sinking a pirate 'mother vessel' in the Gulf of Aden on November 18. The incident later turned into a major embarrassment after it was revealed that the vessel was a Thai fishing vessel and 14 fishermen were missing after the Indian warship sank it. However, given the high degree of publicity given to the incident by the Navy, the MoD had little choice but to back it even after it came to light that the vessel was let off hours earlier by a UK warship due to the presence of hostages on board.
Indian forces acted prematurely: Israeli experts
Press Trust of India
Friday, November 28, 2008 7:06 PM ()
forces were premature in storming the besieged prime premises taken over by the terrorists in Mumbai, Israeli security experts have opined.
Criticising the handling of the hostage crisis, the experts said "Indians should have sanitized the area and first collected intelligence about the terrorists before launching flushing out operations," a media report said.
"In hostage situations, the first thing the forces are supposed to do is assemble at the scene and begin collecting intelligence," a former official in famed anti-terror agency Shin Bet told The Jerusalem Post.
"In this case, it appears that the forces showed up at the scene and immediately began exchanging fire with the terrorists instead of first taking control of the area," he said.
Defence officials told the daily that Israel was not planning on sending commando units but had offered the Indians any assistance they required.
NSG commandos receive rousing welcome
PTI | November 29, 2008 | 00:13 IST
Commandos of the National Security Guards received a rousing welcome from the locals when they came out of the Nariman House after killing two dreaded terrorists, who had holed themselves in the building along with five hostages.
When the commandos came out after the successful mission, they were greeted with cheers, claps, pats on shoulders and patriotic slogans.
Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vande Mataram reverberated the narrow lanes of the area after the unit came out, after a grueling 12-hour-long final assault on the terrorists.
The crowd, which had gathered outside the building, came running towards the unit as they came out, drawing smiles on the battle-weary commandos' faces.
The roofs and balconies were full as men and women waited with bated breath for the soldiers to come out after finishing the ordeal.
The tiredness along with the sorrow of losing two of their men was palpable on their faces, but more than that it was the joy of achieving their target and accomplishing what was termed the most watched anti-terror action of the country.
Carrying their sophisticated weapons, some of them with their gear in hands tried to keep themselves calm, amidst the cheering crowd. Following the NSG were troupes of Army, Mumbai police and RAF, who were also welcomed by the crowd.
Some enthusiasts were seen approaching the force and getting a picture clicked with them. More than 500 people surrounded the bus which was carrying the team of commandos and raised anti-Pakistan slogans till it moved away.
Pak's U-turn; to send representative, not ISI chief
Press Trust of India
Saturday, November 29, 2008 3:29 AM (Islamabad)
Pakistan has done an about turn on sending the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief to India in connection with the probe into the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, saying a representative of the spy agency would be sent instead of him.
The decision was made at a late night meeting on Friday between President Asif Ali Zardari and General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the chief of the powerful army. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also joined the meeting, which was held at the presidency and continued past 1.30 am local time.
"A representative of the ISI will visit India, instead of its Director General Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, to help in investigating the Mumbai terrorism incident," a spokesman for the Prime Minister's House said in Islamabad.
Mumbai Attacks May Sharpen
Obama's Kashmir Focus
By Mayank Chhaya
The multiple terror attacks on Mumbai could push the incoming Barack Obama administration to sharpen its focus on the Kashmir issue.
The attacks are being viewed by some in the transition team here as President-elect Obama's first major national security challenge that could draw him into the Kashmir dispute sooner than he might like.
Although there is no direct link established between the terrorists operating in Kashmir with those who carried out the Mumbai attacks, a case may be made that eventually all jehadi groups are bound by a common Islamist philosophy.
To that extent the Deccan Mujahedeen, a likely offshoot of the more organized Indian Mujahedeen, may well share the broader vision of those operating in Kashmir.
Part of the reason why the Mumbai attacks could more sharply define the new Kashmir approach is because in the final analysis Kashmir (including the part under Pakistani control) is seen as a fount of the rising Islamist terror in India. Of course, factors such as the 2002 mass killings of Muslims in Gujarat do fuel some of the sense of extreme disenchantment within the Muslim community. However, the larger connection between the disparate groups will always remain a feeling of pan-Islamism.
Perhaps the clearest indication of a more pro-active Kashmir approach under Obama has come from Bruce Reidel, a former CIA officer and adviser to three US presidents on South Asia and the Middle East who has been appointed by the new president as his Pakistan adviser.
In an interview with the influential think tank Council on Foreign Relations Reidel was quoted as saying as recently as September: "There's another place where I feel creative American diplomacy could be helpful. We ought to try to encourage a long-term settlement between India and Pakistan of the Kashmir dispute, based again on the principle that the existing Line of Control ought to become an international border with some special status reserved for Kashmiris."
"We can't expect Pakistan to behave like a normal state, unless it has normal borders. And we can't expect Pakistan to behave the way we would like it to while it's obsessed and fixated on its neighbor and the problem in Kashmir. The problem in Kashmir has been in the doldrums for the past several years. It is now starting to boil really quickly, and when Kashmir boils, the result is Indian-Pakistani tensions that can produce war. We've seen that over and over again," he said.
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointing at external links of the Mumbai attackers, it is not lost on experts in the US that he could be talking of groups based in Pakistan. If that is indeed the case the brazen Mumbai attacks could yet work up new tensions with Pakistan. Since Obama is committed to making Afghanistan and Pakistan his administration's foreign policy as well national security priority, it is only logical that he would have to pay particular attention to Kashmir.
While the chatter over Obama proposing to appoint a special envoy on Kashmir has died down in recent weeks, it is clear that the Mumbai attacks would bring back a whole lot of options on the table. At the very least they would force Obama and his South Asia advisers to reassess the situation on the ground.
Those who know the issue of terror in India understand that the mushrooming jehadi outfits use the justification of the community having been wronged in India as much as it having been wronged globally.
Such outfits no longer make any distinction between what they consider wrongs being done to Indian Muslims and those being done to Muslims worldwide. This fusion of global and domestic grievance among the jehadi groups, perceived or real, could make it hard for the Obama administration to tailor their Kashmir policy.
Nobody knows who Deccan Mujahedeen are or what their objectives are or whether they feel any affinity towards the Kashmiri separatists. But it may be safe to assume that all these groups morph into each other when it comes to what they have framed in their minds as Islam versus the world conflict. It is in this nebulousness that the Obama administration will have to pitch its Kashmir approach in the framework of its national security policy on South Asia, in the light of threat perceptions emanating from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Commandoes in 'Top-Down' Operation
to Storm Terrorist-Held Building
Indian commandoes conducted a "top-down" operation Friday to slither down ropes from helicopters to the roof of a five-storey building in which terrorists have been holding an unspecified number of hostages for more than 36 hours, an official said.
"We term it a 'top-down' operation. It requires a great deal of skill on the part of the helicopter pilot as he has to keep the machine steady at one spot to enable the commandos slither down," Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasni said.
Travelling on two IAF Mi-8 helicopters, between eight to 10 National Security Guard (NSG) slid down to the roof of the Nariman House in south Mumbai, one of the three buildings along with the Taj hotel opposite Gateway of India and the Oberoi Trident the terrorists seized in coordinated attacks Wednesday.
"Due to the high voltage wires in the vicinity of the building, it becomes extremely difficult to maneuver and remain steady at one spot but the pilots managed this very well," Upasni explained.
The commandoes would now switch to the "observe and fire" mode, defence analyst Mahroof Raza explained.
Assisting them in this would be other commandoes station on the rooftops on buildings around Nariman House.
Simultaneously, some 100 commandoes positioned on the roads around the building would attempt to make their way up the building to the third floor where the hostages are believed to be held.
Raza, however, refused to speculate on how long the operation would last.
"It's a cat-and-mouse game and depends on how long it takes to wear down the terrorists," he explained.
"Simultaneously, there would be utmost care to prevent collateral damage (ensuring the hostages are not harmed)," Raza added.
Nariman House is a Jewish religious and residential complex.
At least 125 people, including 14 policemen, have been killed and 327 injured in the terror strike,
- Men in Black Who Rescued Mumbai's Hostages
By Ritu Sharma
They were the least known of the special forces commandos who were pressed into an anti-terrorist operation in Mumbai. But the 25-odd elite fighters of the Marcos - acronym for marine commandos - grabbed the national and international spotlight with their all-black overalls and faces masked by black cloth.
Dubbed the "bearded forces" because of the beards that the men sported and toting AK-47 assault rifles, Indian Navy's marine commandos follow in letter and spirit the adage of the counter-terrorism doctrine: “Fight a militant like a militant”.
Marcos, who are trained in executing covert operations, were called in along with the National Security Guard and army commandos take on armed militants who were holding scores of people hostage inside two luxury hotels since Wednesday night. The militants had struck in at least 10 places in Mumbai, killing 125 people and injuring 327 people.
Two Marcos received injuries during "Operation Tornado" launched to flush out terrorists at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. Their operation continued till Friday.
“Trained sky divers and sea divers, the Marcos could sabotage enemy vessels and harbor installations. They can operate in beaches, coastal, jungles and ravines areas. Being divers, they can reach hostile shores swimming underwater,” a senior navy official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Officially known as the Indian Marine Special Force, the unit was raised in 1987 out of the naval divers to lead amphibious operations. The personnel volunteering for the force have to undergo a rigorous two-year training, by the end of which only 10-25 percent of the enrolled commandos remain.
Marcos have been active in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the army's counter-terrorist efforts. Their main task is to control the infiltration of terrorists from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir through the Jhelum river and Wullar, a 65 square kilometer freshwater lake.
Some Marcos personnel are also attached with the army special forces units conducting counter-terrorism operations in the area.
“They operate similar to the Israeli Mistaravim units sporting beards and wearing the 'pheren' (Kashmiri suit), thus making them indistinguishable from the locals,” the official added.
Marcos have gained a fearsome reputation among terrorists who refer to them as the 'Dadiwali Fauj' (Bearded Army) since they are the only non-Sikh personnel allowed to grow beards, 'Jal Murgi' (Water Hens) for the speed in which they carry out assault from the water and 'Magarmachh' (Crocodiles) for their amphibious capability.
Recently, the elite force earned accolades for the Indian Navy after they repulsed pirates attacks off the Somali coast on an Indian and a Saudi merchant vessel Nov 11.
In April 1986, the Indian Navy mooted a plan for a special force, which would be able to conduct reconnaissance, raids and even counter-terrorist operations in a maritime environment. Three naval officers were sent for training with the US Navy SEALS and further training was conducted with British Special Forces. These three naval officers formed the nucleus of the Indian Marine Special Force (IMSF) that was formally raised in February 1987.
The strength of the unit is a closely guarded secret. However, sources say the number could be close to 2,000 personnel. Currently, there are three main groups attached to the three naval commands - Mumbai (West), Cochin (South) and Vizag (East).
The unit's quick rise has changed its role - it was intended to be dedicated to special maritime operations, but a considerable part of Marcos is doubling up as marine infantry with the usual flexibility of commando forces.
India's Political Leadership to Blame: WSJ
India's ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has done little to launch an effective fight against terrorism and may "pay a price for its incompetence" in the elections next year, the Wall Street Journal said in its lead editorial Friday.
"A lack of political leadership is to blame," The Wall Street Journal said as India's financial capital continued to battle terrorists who had struck in 10 places in the city Wednesday.
The Mumbai terror attacks, in which at least 125 people have been killed, have been covered extensively in both the print and online edition of this New York-based daily financial newspaper.
"It (the ruling party) may pay a price for its incompetence at the national polls next year," the newspaper said.
"Yesterday Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised that 'every perpetrator would pay the price'. Yet his Congress Party has done little more than bicker with its coalition allies over the past five years on how best to fight terrorism," the journal said.
Observing that the attacks are a reminder that India is at the top of the terror target list, the newspaper said this is because India is an easy target.
Not only are its intelligence units understaffed and lack resources, coordination among State police forces is also poor. "The country's anti-terror legal architecture is also inadequate; there is no preventive detention law, and prosecutions can take years," it said.
"Wednesday's attacks should arouse Indians to better confront the terror threat, while reminding all democracies how dangerous that threat still is," it said.
In another opinion piece published by The Journal, author Sadanand Dhume blamed the Congress for scrapping the anti-terror law POTA. "On taking office in 2004, one of the first acts of the ruling Congress Party was to scrap a federal antiterrorism law that strengthened witness protection and enhanced police powers," he wrote.
"The Congress Party has stalled similar state-level legislation in Gujarat, which is ruled by the opposition Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. And it was a Congress government that kowtowed to fundamentalist pressure and made India the first country to ban Mumbai-born Salman Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' in 1988," he said.
Dhume, a Washington-based writer and author of "My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with an Indonesian Islamist", said the Indian approach to terrorism has been consistently haphazard and weak-kneed.
Israeli Daily Critical of India's 'Slow' Response
to Terror Strike
As India turned down Israel's offer to send its crack commandos to Mumbai to rescue Israeli hostages held in a Jewish centre, an influential newspaper in Tel Aviv has criticized "slow, confused and inefficient" response of Indian authorities to the terror attacks in Mumbai.
"In the first several hours after the Mumbai incidents began, the response of the Indian authorities was slow, confused and inefficient," said an article in Haaretz, entitled "Is Al Qaeda behind the Mumbai terror attacks?"
"The first forces sent to the scene were inexperienced local police officers, who suffered many casualties as a result," said the article published in Friday's edition of the daily.
"It took some time before military and security authorities realized the scope of the attack and deployed skilled security forced, including army and navy commando units," the article said.
The editorial pages of Haaretz, published in both Hebrew and English, are considered influential among government leaders, intellectuals, academics, and professionals.
The bodies of five Jews were found inside the Jewish centre - Nariman House - a home to Chabad Lubavich sect, in which an Israeli rabbi and his family were trapped.
"India said a polite no to an offer by Israel for dispatching counter terror forces," Haaretz pointed out.
"It appears the Indian government is not interested in high profile security assistance from Israel. Throughout the day, the Homefront Command prepared to send an aid delegation to India but efforts were halted when it became clear that Delhi was not enthusiastic about the prospect," the daily said.
Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni Thursday offered Israel's assistance to India in dealing with terror attacks and its aftermath. Livni also called her Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee and underlined her country's solidarity in the fight against terrorism.
Tel Aviv is not happy with New Delhi's rejection of its offer to send its elite commando force to rescue hostages trapped in Mumbai's luxury hotels and in Nariman House, reliable sources said.
The Israeli defence minister also expressed concerns over the fate of Israelis caught up in the attacks. He also thanked the Indian government for its efforts to trace the missing Israeli nationals visiting Mumbai.
Japan to withdraw air defense force from Iraq
Special report: Tension escalates in Iraq
TOKYO, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada announced on Friday the withdrawal of the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) in Iraq by the end of the year, marking a full end to the ASDF's mission in Iraq that began almost five years ago.
The decision was made by Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and Cabinet ministers concerned at a meeting of the national security council in the morning.
The government cited improvements in the political and security situation in Iraq, as well as the expiration at the end of the year of a U.N. resolution authorizing the current deployment of multinational forces in the country as reasons for withdrawal.
The ASDF continued its airlift mission in Iraq, even after Ground Self-Defense Force troops were withdrawn from the country in 2006.
The ASDF began airlifting activities in Iraq in March 2004. Deploying around 200 personnel, the ASDF has operated mainly from an airbase in Kuwait, using three C-130 transport planes.
The ASDF is currently airlifting troops and materials for the U.S.-led multinational forces as well as for the United Nations to three airports in Iraq, including the country's capital, Baghdad.
As of Nov. 26, the ASDF had transported around 671 tons of materials in 810 separate airlifts.
Japan announced in mid-September that it would begin mulling complete withdrawal by the end of the year.
The ASDF will dispatch about 70 personnel to form a 130-personwithdrawal work unit in Kuwait. The airlift mission itself is expected to end in mid-December, Kyodo said.
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