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Friday, 6 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 06 Mar 09

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Taliban terror haunts India
Rope in China, US to tackle the menace: Security agencies
Swati Chaturvedi

New Delhi, March 5
“Taliban is a mere five hours away from India,” states a matter-of-fact report by security agencies to the Union cabinet. In a joint report to the cabinet committee on security, the agencies have called for urgent, joint action by India, US and China to take on the Taliban.

China, despite being an ally of Pakistan , is said to be worried about the growing influence of its home-grown extremists and radical groups of Islam. The unrest in the provinces in China is also being fanned by the economic slowdown. China, therefore, might not be averse to fighting what is perceived as a Frankenstein. India on its own does not have the strategic resources to counter the growing strength of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, point out the agencies.

Warning that India is surrounded by a virtual ‘ring of fire’, the report says that the mutiny in Bangladesh and the attack on cricketers at Lahore indicate a convergence of forces which are opposed to the very idea of India. Describing recent events in Bangladesh as a time-bomb ‘ticking’, the report warns of a large-scale influx of people into India, if disturbances persist in the neighbouring country.

The possible connections between radical groups like the LTTE in Sri Lanka, Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, Jehadi elements in Bangladesh make it imperative to take effective action against terrorists.

Sources in the Home ministry expressed their concern about Nepal being used as a hub by the ISI. The strength of the Pakistan High Commission at Kathmandu, they say, is disproportionately high and more than half of them are suspected to be ISI agents. Government of India, these sources claimed, has taken up the issue with Nepal and has communicated its concern over overt and covert ISI activities carried out from Nepal.

The report rubbishes the claim that there are ‘good’ Taliban, namely those who are demanding the rule of the Sharia, and that there are ‘bad’ Taliban, namely the global jehadis. Even Mohammad Sufi, the Talib with whom the Pakistan government struck a deal to implement Sharia in Swat, has made no secret of his mission to implement the rule of Sharia over the whole of Pakistan and fight in Kashmir for oppressed Muslims.

Sources here indicate that the report is being shared with ‘friendly’ countries, including the United States. Government of India, they said, is convinced that the situation in Pakistan is out of control. The situation, said a source grimly, is ‘almost’ a ‘code red’, a term used to describe a state of nuclear alert.

Disregard of intelligence led to Lahore attack Mineguruji 04 March 2009, Wednesday

THE FAILURE of the Pakistani security forces to prevent the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team despite the fact that they had prior warnings of the Jehadi plans has made it very clear that writ of terrorists runs large in the country.

It also shows that the hitherto untouched parts of Pakistan, which were considered relatively safe as compared to tribal areas like Swat, are also under the sway of terror. Opposition leaders in Pakistan allege that the government’s failure to provide security to such a high profile target clearly tells on the poor condition of law and order in the country.

Meanwhile, sources said that the attack is the handiwork of Jihadi groups bent upon squeezing the civilian government in the country into a corner. Terrorists want democracy to fail in the country and anarchy to prevail, so that they can spread their tentacles all across the country.

Pakistan government meanwhile, has alluded to the possibility of a foreign hand in the attacks even as accusations fly thick and fast in that country over the attacks. Local media in Pakistan has shown a letter purportedly written by the police department, which mentions the possibility of an attack on the visiting cricket team.

The January 22 letter by an intelligence official to the police chief warns clearly of an attack being planned either at the hotel or during transit. The administration and the police set up was immediately activated and a meeting was held the very next day to meet the challenge.

However, the dismissal of the Punjab government due to a court ruling thereafter put the matter in limbo and ultimately led to the attack on Tuesday (March 3).;jsessionid=6EEF35DA828EAC06D9A2BC0DF0AEB84A?articleID=15714725

The Long War Journal: Pakistan denies India behind Lahore attack

Written by Bill Roggio on March 5, 2009 5:06 PM to The Long War Journal

Available online at:

Pakistan's minister of the interior backtracked on yesterday's claim that a "foreign hand" was behind the brazen assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters that there was no evidence of Indian involvement in the attack that killed six policemen and wounded eight members of the cricket team, the Press Trust of India reported. Malik also said the Sri Lankan-based Tamil Tigers and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba were not involved in the attack. He would not rule out al Qaeda involvement.

Malik had previously said "the involvement of foreign hands in the incident cannot be ruled out," and reports indicate he had directly accused India in a report to the FBI.

"Pakistani officials claim that their Indian counterparts organised the attack in a plot to isolate Pakistan and exclude it as a joint host for the 2011 Cricket World Cup," the Telegraph reported.

Pakistani intelligence sources told The Nation that the Research and Analysis Wing, India's intelligence service better known as RAW, funded and trained the attackers.

The terrorists were imparted training by Indian Agency RAW at the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan," The Nation reported. "The terrorists were provided highly sophisticated and deadly weapons in large quantity by RAW though its agents in Pakistan." Three Nigerians, three Uzbeks, and an Afghan were reportedly among those captured who had links to Indian intelligence.

India's home minister said the accusations were "complete rubbish" and urged Pakistan to act against the multitude of terror groups operating on Pakistani soil.

Pakistani police have since released sketches of four of the 12 attackers. One of the rickshaw drivers whose vehicle was used by some of the attackers to flee the scene of the attack said the men "were local people, who were communicating in Punjabi."

Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer told reporters that the government knows who conducted the attack and would release the information on March 6.

"We have identified the people who did the operation," Taseer said, according to Geo News. "We have a lot of information. We have arrested many people, rounded up some suspects, but the final investigation will be presented to me tomorrow (Friday); till then I am not in a position to say more."

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, the strike is similar to a wave of military-styled assaults by al Qaeda-linked terror groups against civilian targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and Yemen. The most recent attack took place in Kabul, where what is believed to be a Haqqani Network cell assaulted the Justice and Education ministries as well as the Prisons Directorate headquarters. The deadly November 2008 terror assault on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai was also carried out by a well-armed, well trained assault squad from the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and a host of Pakistani jihadi terror groups have joined forces to battle both the Pakistani military in the Northwest Frontier Province and the NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has revived its paramilitary army, formerly known as the 055 Brigade and now known as the Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army. The Shadow Army contains fighters from each of these terror groups, and trains in camps in the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal areas.

Pakistan shifted units from Afghan to Indian border: US

4 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Pakistani efforts to combat Islamist extremists in northwestern Pakistan have had mixed results, partly because some military units were shifted to the eastern border with India, the US Defense Department said on Thursday.

"There is progress in some areas and there's deterioration in others, in terms of the effectiveness of operations," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters.

"And part of that is the result of the fact that some assets, Pakistani military assets, were redeployed east to deal with concerns they had on the Indian border."

The United States, which says Al-Qaeda has regrouped in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area, stood ready to provide assistance to Pakistan in its fight against militants but in a way that was acceptable to Islamabad, Morrell said.

"They need help, and we are ready and willing to help them in a variety of ways," he said.

"It's a question of their comfort level, but we continue to work with them on trying to figure out ways that will enhance their capabilities and at the same time leave them comfortable with the arrangement."

He spoke after a high-level Pakistani delegation, including army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani, visited Washington last week as President Barack Obama's administration reviews US strategy in Afghanistan and the region.

Morrell said Pakistani officials shared US concerns about the presence of militants on its territory, including the Al-Qaeda network.

"What the (US defense) secretary heard from General Kayani is that they recognize that the militants, the terrorists in their midst are as much a threat to them as they are to us," he said.

"And I think he was very pleased with the level of commitment of General Kayani, as the leader of the army, to deal with that threat."

The Pakistani military and intelligence services have been accused of turning a blind eye to the Taliban -- which was allied with Islamabad when it ruled Afghanistan until its ouster in 2001.

Pakistan, in turn, is angered by US unmanned drone attacks on its territory that have killed high-level militants but also civilians -- inflaming local outrage.

Pakistan has urged, so far unsuccessfully, the new Obama administration to halt the attacks and hand the drones over to them.

US officials have also sought to defuse tensions between Pakistan and India. The nuclear-armed South Asian rivals have fought two wars triggered by the territorial dispute over Kashmir.

CITU: retain BEL as nodal agency for Army project

V. Sridhar

“Intervention” of Defence Minister A.K. Antony sought

CITU president writes to Antony

“Backdoor entry” of private entities alleged

Bangalore: The Centre of Indian Trade unions (CITU) has sought the “intervention” of Defence Minister A.K. Antony in retaining Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) as the nodal agency for the development of the Tactical Communication System (TCS) for the armed forces.

In a letter to Mr. Antony on Thursday, CITU president M.K. Pandhe, referred to “recent disquieting reports” about the possibility of orders worth more than Rs.5,000 crore relating to the TCS project being placed with a company associated with a leading private Indian conglomerate.

Sources in BEL told The Hindu that the TCS was planned as a communications network for the armed forces for use in tactical warfare. The network seeks to integrate video, voice and data communications using suitable encryption.

Dr. Pandhe alleged that the “backdoor entry” of the private entities, citing the need for increased competition, “appears to be aimed at induction of an imported system through an Indian company at the cost of jeopardising the sensitive strategic communication system of the Army, as well as the security of the country.”

Dr. Pandhe alleged that as a result of “backdoor manoeuvring,” BEL did not find representation on a “feasibility committee” constituted by the Integrated Defence Staff.

Instead, industry representatives were represented on the committee that amounted to “a clear case of conflict of interest.” Dr. Pandhe said that BEL had been developing the TCS since 1997, in consultation with the Army, and in coordination with the Defence Research and Development Organisation. He sought Mr. Antony’s intervention so “indigenous self-reliance and national security are not compromised.”

Son of slain militant wants to join Indian Army

Posted: 2/27/2009 4:16:00 PM IST

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) At the age of nine, Ghulam Nabi lost his militant father in an operation by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and planned to be a militant himself. But an NGO helped him change his mind, and now he wants to join the Indian Army.

'I want to join the Indian Army and serve the nation as a brave soldier. I love my country and I am ready to give my life for it,' said Nabi, a class 10 student at the school in Pune run by the NGO Sarhad.

Nabi's father was a militant and was shot dead by the security forces in Kupwara in 2002.

'I was shattered at that time and decided to join some militant outfit. But my life changed after I was picked up by the NGO and now I am looking forward to score good marks in my board exams and join the army,' said Nabi with a smile on his face.

Nabi, now 16, was among 50 orphan children from militant affected areas in the Valley who visited the national capital Friday as a part of a 'Know India' tour organised by Sarhad.

It was like a dream come true for most children who for the first time travelled out of the Valley. With their eyes glittering, they danced and posed for the cameras at the official residence of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Founder of the NGO Sanjay Nahar said: 'Every year we bring 100 children from various orphanages in Kashmir to Pune and provide them education, food and shelter. I think these children have received deep scars on their hearts at a very tender age and love can only heal them.'

The children were taken to Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Delhi as part of their 18-day tour.

'I really enjoyed the trip, made new friends and met several people. The best thing was that wherever we went people gave us so much of love and attention. India is really beautiful and I would like to do something meaningful in my life,' said six-year-old Shahid Ahmad Bhatt.

Most of the children were hopeful and wanted peace to return to the Valley soon.

'We want to stay in Kashmir and work for our people. I wish we are never forced to leave our motherland,' explained Manzoor Ahmad, as he sang a Kashmiri song.

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