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Thursday, 8 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 08 Oct 09

Indian Express

Indian Express

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Telegraph India

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer


Hindustan Times

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Air Force chief: "More bases along China border"

NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday October 7, 2009, New Delhi

"We will use only small arms, not guns fitted on helicopters, to fire back at the Naxals." That's what the Chief of Air Staff has clarified in an interview to NDTV.

Speaking exclusively to NDTV's Defence Editor Nitin Gokhale, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik says there'll be strict rules followed if the government agrees to his request to return fire when dealing with Naxals. "If I am being used against Naxals or whoever, conditions under which my boys will fire are very stern - no use of excessive force, positive identification of the adversary and tactical maneuvering of the area, because collateral damage is unacceptable."

Naik also says that, "Armed forces should not be used for internal security."

Sources say one of the government's main concerns about letting the Air Force fire back at Naxals is how to protect tribals in Naxal-infected areas.

The Air Chief also says he is increasing security along the border with China: "Our capability build up is not adversary-specific, but we are now stepping up creation of bases and infrastructure all along the Chinese border. We will also base more Su-30, our best fighter jets in the East."

India blames Pak for Afghan violence
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
Even as Islamabad showed no signs of conducting a fair probe into the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, India today blamed Pakistan for the high-level of violence in Afghanistan.

“The international community should put effective pressure on Pakistan to implement its stated commitment to deal with terrorist groups within its territory, including the members of Al-Qaeda, Taliban’s Quetta Shura, Hizb-e-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other like-minded terrorist groups, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said here.

She warned the international community that if no action was taken against these groups, the gains made over the past eight years in Afghanistan would be compromised and it would become difficult to forestall the restoration of status-quo-ante to a situation similar to what prevailed prior to September 11, 2001, when terrorists attacked the US on an unprecedented scale.

Nirupama was delivering the valedictory address at an international seminar on ‘Peace and Stability in Afghanistan: The Way Ahead’, which was attended by leading strategic experts from India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, US and other countries. Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik was among those who attended the valedictory function.

In an oblique reference to Pakistan, she also warned about the dangers of striking deals with terrorists. “The world has come to realise, at considerable cost, that terrorism can't be compartmentalised, and any facile attempts to strike Faustian bargains with terrorists often result in such forces turning on the powers that sustained them in the past.”

In a well-crafted speech, the top Indian diplomat regretted that a sense of defeatism pervaded certain sections of international opinion. “This needs to be guarded against, because it runs the risk of encouraging insurgent groups, besides weakening the authority of the central government (in Afghanistan) and its institutions,’’ she added.

Nirupama said India supported the Afghan government’s determination to integrate those willing to abjure violence and live and work within the parameters of the Afghan Constitution, which provided the framework for a pluralistic and democratic society. This should go hand in hand with the shutting down of support and sanctuaries provided to terrorist groups in Pakistan.

“Failure in Afghanistan's stabilisation will entail a heavy cost for both the Afghan people and the world at large,” she warned.

Rao said India would resolutely continue its policy of supporting Afghanistan through its multifarious reconstruction activities in that country.

“India has already made up its mind -- invest and endure because we believe in the cause of peace, democracy and development in Afghanistan. We know that the friends of Afghanistan will do likewise,” she said.

‘China threat’ lurks on Arunachalis’ mind
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, October 7
All other political parties, barring the BJP, have apparently shown lukewarm response to the reported ‘China threat’ over Arunachal Pradesh in the run up to October 13 election, but enlightened section of people in the state do worry about the persistent ‘Chinese claim’ over Arunachal Pradesh.

While the BJP has demanded the UPA government to clarify what was actually happening regarding reported ‘Chinese threat’, making it an election issue in the hill state, the ruling Congress is apparently not interested in getting drawn to it though senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee did, during his recent visit to Itanagar to release the party’s poll manifesto, say the UPA government was committed to protect the territorial integrity.

“Political leaders of all hues are hardly raising the issue during the run up to the election for reasons best known to them, but people of the state, especially the enlightened section, are very much worried about the persistent Chinese claim over our state. They want an assurance from the government about the security. People have even stopped investing in immovable property. Some people have stopped construction of their houses midway because of the prevailing uncertainty,” said Wange Tsering, a leader of Bomdila Town Committee and owner of Himalayan Holidays in the hill state.

He claimed inboxes of many tour operators in Arunachal Pradesh were fed with China-origin e-mails that reiterated China’s claim over Arunachal Pradesh and the state government had been informed about it.

The tour operator opined that more and more VVIPs should visit Arunachal Pradesh to keep it in the news so as to make China’s claim over the state flimsy before the rest of the world. Moreover, some mountain peaks located along Arunachal Pradesh frontier should be opened up for mountaineers from all over the world so that our areas become popular as an integral part of India throughout the globe.

The tour operators and Arunachal Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Association have requested the government to open up Mount Kangto (7,090 mt), Nyigi Kangsang (7,050 mt), Gorichen (6,488 mt) and Chomo (6,000 mt) in the frontier areas for expedition.

Antony rules out role of Army in fighting Naxals
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
Defence Minister AK Antony today sent out a strong message on countering the Maoists saying “The Naxal problem is an internal security problem and the government wants to minimise the involvement of armed forces (the Army or the IAF) in tackling such problems”.

“We don’t support offensive actions by armed forces against Naxalites,” said the Defence Minister while speaking on the sidelines of function to open a new office of the Defence Accounts Department. Antony, by virtue of being the defence minister, is a part of the Cabinet Committee on Security where the matter to allow the IAF to fire in self-defence is expected to be discussed. Permission to fire in self-defence to protect the choppers - each costing a few crores - is being debated in the Indian establishment.

The two issues are delinked, said sources while explaining that firing in self-defence by the IAF using hand-held weapons and the second one of allowing the armed forces to counter Maoists, were totally different issues.

Antony also said the Pakistan Army and the government was trying to push the maximum number of terrorists or insurgents across the border in a bid to maintain instability in the region. “Even after 26/11 terror attacks, Pakistan is not taking strong actions against terror camps in their soil. The Pakistan army is not controlling this”, he said.

Notably the new office of the DAD is a three-storeyed building which has come up on a 24, 280 sq m plot, close to the Delhi airport. It has a built up area of 11,730 sq m. Keeping in view the concerns over depleting ground water level in northern India, the building features provision for rainwater harvesting and reuse of water through sewage treatment plant for water conservation.

IAF grappling with fighter squadron, manpower shortage


A FEW GOOD MEN: The strength of IAF fighter squadrons at 33 is way below the sanctioned strength of 39.5.

New Delhi: As the Indian Air Force (IAF), the world's fourth largest, turns 77 on Thursday, it is grappling with a shortage of fighter squadrons, officers and men in other ranks.

The strength of IAF fighter squadrons at 33 is way below the sanctioned strength of 39.5. Even so it hopes to raise this to 42 by 2022. The low number of fighter squadrons has compelled the IAF to defer the phase-out of 1960 vintage Soviet-built MiG-21 combat jets to ensure its force levels do not diminish drastically.

The IAF is also engaged in evaluating six fighters that are in contention for its order of 126 medium multi-role combat jets valued at $10 billion. The process will conclude by the middle of next year after which the price negations will take a year and a half before the final order is placed.

Eighteen of the jets will be purchased in fly-away condition and the remaining will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited under a transfer of technology agreement. The first aircraft is expected in 2012.

Overall, the IAF, with a sanctioned strength 12,120 officers, is short of close to 1,400 of them. While the shortage in the officer cadre has often been talked about, the shortage of personnel below officer rank (PBOR) doesn't get the same attention.

Though Defence Minister A K Antony had said in parliament a year ago that "there is no significant shortage" of PBOR in the armed forces, a senior IAF officer contested this, noting, "Yes, we are short of men (PBOR). The shortage is pretty acute."

"We are currently short of some 8,000 men. However, looking at our futuristic requirements, the shortage will be of some 12,000 men," the officer told IANS on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

The present strength of PBOR in the IAF is 125,000 but the shortage of men for operating platforms will be an impediment for the IAF's ambitious modernisation plan.

"The shortage is acute considering that we are set to acquire newer platforms and weapons and we will require trained manpower to operate them," the officer added.

The shortage has caused so much concern that the IAF now undertakes a short-term training programme called "Just-in-time" to recruit more men.

"We had to shorten the training programme from three years to 11 months so that the men can be made available to our operational units for on-job experience. The latter part of training will be interspersed with the on job-experience.

"We have been conducting more rallies and more fast track recruitment," the official added.

The IAF is also devising a plan internally to bridge the gap. The current methods will be studied for a year before the plan is given a final shape. Thereafter, the proposal will go to the defence ministry for sanction.

At the officer level, the IAF is currently short of 400 pilots. The problem is accentuated by the grounding of the entire fleet of its HPT-32 basic trainer aircraft following a spate of crashes and engine failures. The force has even drawn flak from the Comptroller and Auditor General for the flaws in its training.

US Dept of Defense - Strykers to Deploy to India for Exercise

The Army plans to deploy 17 of its Stryker combat vehicles this month to India for the first exercise of its kind in the country.

This is also the largest deployment of the Strykers outside of those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, Army officials said.

“It’s one of the most important training exercises that we’ve done with the Indian military to date,” Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon said today at a news conference here. Mixon commands all Army forces in the U.S. Pacific Command area.

About 200 troops from the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, based out of Hawaii, will train alongside the Indian army in combat maneuvers using the Strykers, Mixon said. An Indian army unit of about the same size will join the Stryker crews in Babina, about 275 miles southeast of New Delhi, for the two-week exercise starting Oct. 12. The two armies will share tactics for using the Strykers in combat, as well as its integrated computer network system, Mixon said.

The exercise will end with a live-fire demonstration of the Stryker.

“We’re very excited about it,” the general said. “We think it’s going to be a good experience for our soldiers, as well as a very important part of our relationship with India.”

This exercise, more than two years in the planning, comes as the Defense Department continues to reach out to India to increase its military collaboration. Pacific Command’s top officer, Navy Adm. Timothy J. Keating, last month traveled to India and said officials there have committed to increasing their military relationship with the United States. Mixon said this exercise will help to build on that relationship and open doors for expanding such training there.

“We view it as a broad effort in our engagement strategy with the Indians that we want to continue to expand. It provides a … method to get at more engagements,” he said.

Mixon said the Indian army is anxious to train with the Strykers. Most military exercises in the country, he explained, have been limited to scenario-driven, commander-level exercises in which few troops are involved. Some of them included unit or troop exchanges between militaries. When U.S. forces join with other militaries in the region, the scenario typically includes both tactical and humanitarian training. This exercise is unique in that it strictly focuses on combat training and does not include a humanitarian piece.

“It’s the full gamut,” Mixon said. “It’s on the high end of fighting.”

The two armies also will share training on how to fight improvised explosive devices. More than half of the U.S. soldiers involved are fresh from a deployment in Iraq, where they dealt regularly with the homemade bomb attacks.

The unit is part of the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and is slated to return to Iraq within months after this training mission.

In the Pacific region, the U.S. Army also trains with the militaries from Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. The region’s largest combined exercise, called Cobra Gold, includes militaries from Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and observers from 20 other countries. The next exercise in that series is slated for February.

“We’ve got a very active engagement strategy with all of the militaries throughout the Pacific region,” Mixon said. “It’s a very important part of what we do.”

Corruption shatters Indian Army confidence

Written by (Author ) Editorials Oct 8, 2009

Soldiers always remember and feel pride over the time spent with their comrades in the training establishments, units, and field. Therefore, the feelings of unexpected meeting of war buddies always take them back in the past and pour fresh blood in old body. The sentiments of old associates are unforgettable and cannot be revealed in few words. In real sense good memories are assets of the units on which soldiers feel proud.

However materialistic approach drastically changed the culture of some of the Armed forces. In this context, the Indian Armed forces are on the top of the list. The corruption in officer’s lot has converted it into rogue armed forces, which really shattered the soldiers’ confidence over their commanders. According to the old timers the Indian Army is now the most corrupted organization in India. Unfortunately, in most of the cases officers (including senior officers) are involved in the cases of sexual harassments, bribe, selling military secrets, terrorizing, kidnapping, sabotaged activities against minorities, abduction of scientists, smuggling of enriched uranium and other nuke equipments.

The young Indian married officers hesitate in attending family functions with their wives since in most of the functions seniors officers found losing their senses due to excessive drink. Few years back a senior Indian Air force officer assaulted the wife of a junior subordinate officer (the name of the officer has not been mentioned to conceal the identity). The culprit officer had not been taken on task and the intelligence agencies hushed up the incident to save the senior officer. In July 2008 Captain Poonam Kaur of the Army Supply Corps (ASC) alleged her three colleague officers for mentally and sexually harassment. She also narrated that she had been confined illegally when she resisted their advances. On her complaint, the army authorities constituted a court of inquiry whereby all three officers denied the allegations. However later on the alleged officers have been declared clean and complainant lady officer was convicted on at least 20 counts, including leveling false charges against her senior officers. Indian Army authority has dismissed the lady officer instead taking actions against the male officers. The irony of the case was that the court was headed by a male officer who became party to the alleged officers.

Indian Army did not even respect the country’s courts of law. On August 31, 2009 in a recent report, Hindustan times revealed that former judge advocate general of Indian Army Maj. Gen. Neelendra Kumar said: “The army has a standing policy that every case of serious nature invariably goes to the military court. The Supreme Court guidelines are not applicable as we have the Army Act.”

On the other hand, the Army Act 1950 cannot deal the cases of sexual abuse. Thus the lady officer has been deprived with the justice and thrown out of the army for complaining against her colleague officers. As per the newspaper currently, 5,137 women officers serve in the armed forces. They include 4,101 in the army, 784 in the air force and 252 in the navy. As per media 45 cases of sexual harassment have been reported during the last seven years. In fact Indian armed forces are men dominated forces and never liked to see flourishing of females in the forces. In a case of female recruitment, on September 18, 2009 while addressing of Delhi High Court, Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramanium has submitted before Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul that the granting of permanent commission to women officers on short service commission in the Indian Army is not possible.

It is notable here that Indian government herself is promoting prostitution profession in the female troops deployed in border areas. Earlier on April 10 2007 CNN revealed in a report that Twenty-three-years old Smriti and 26-years-old Suhag are Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constables on duty in strife-torn Kashmir found involved in prostitution profession. Both were educated, sharp and dedicated towards their [prostitution] profession and equally eager to keep healthy and perhaps that explains why they are all ears during an AIDS awareness session that was held. A month back the daily mail also reported that now 200 professional prostitutions have been inducted in the armed forces.

Probably, all such types of inductions are the brain child of notorious Indian intelligence agency (RAW). The aim of suggesting, planning and launching such kind of unethical employment in the forces is to attract the freedom fighters and malign Muslim soldiers in unlawful activities . Thus, increase of unhealthy activities has made the soldiers psychologically sick. The suicidal cases and disciplined problems in the units deployed in Kashmir have been many folds. The excessive dinks and involvement in sexual activities with colleague’s female officers has become the cause of spreading AIDS in the forces.

Assam Military Units Commander Colonel Bhopinder Singh also admitted in a side meeting that the death toll because of AIDS is much higher than that of casualties in the clashes. It is quite evident from the reports that more than 200,000 troops deployed in northern Indian and Kashmir are confronting with separatist groups, freedom fighters and a hard hitter enemy “AIDS”. Vice-Admiral V.K.Singh, Director-General of Armed Forces Medical Services, has said that we consider HIV as our enemy No. 1. As per reports so far 415 soldiers including officers had been expired as result of this killing disease and more than thousand cases of AIDS are under investigation. Families of the sick soldiers are actually main sufferers. The increase in divorce/separation cases have also been noticed by the reputed circle of the masses but unfortunately Indian top and military brass are not interested to lessen the worries of poor soldiers and their families.

Indian Army is considered to be the world’s second largest army with 1.2 million troops. According to Indian National Human Rights Commission, there were 1,039 cases of human rights violations (which include rapes, terrorizing, abduction & killing of innocent women, children youngsters & communal violence) by the security forces from 1990 -2009, an average of 110 per year. I would also like to reveal here that no downward trend in crime ratio have been noticed so far. The indecent activities against the innocent agitators almost raised 100%. If we consider that it reduced by 50 % even then figures will be quite alarming for the international community. Indian Ministry of Defence reported that it filed 17 rape cases against army personnel whereas media reported 20 cases of rapes from 2003-2004 and by adding 50 % per annum will make this figure 80 till December, 2008. There are reports that only two or three rape cases have been concluded so far in a guilty verdict. In the remaining cases, the investigations are still in process or terminated because of tremendous pressure on the presidents of the court of inquiries, investigating officers or on the eye witnesses.

As per Indian press, one serving Lt General Sahni, one Lt General (Retired) S K Dahiya, four Major Generals, two Brigadiers and eight officers are being charred for various irregularities in relation to procurement of “certain items of dry rations” for soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir. The names of Sahni, Dahiya, four Maj-Gens, nine Brigadiers, a Navy Commodore, two Commanders a Lt-Commander, an IAF Group Captain and a Coast Guard DIG have figured in a list of 21 senior officers facing corruption charges tabled by defence minister A K Antony in Parliament. In the past too opened the Pandora Box of corrupt Indian Generals.

Coming back to the discussion, I must say that world second army is now become the highly corrupt force. The troops do not have confidence on their immediate commanders .Senior officers do not enjoy good reputation amongst their subordinates. The deployed troops are playing with the lives of innocent children and women. Young local girls and female colleague officers are being victimized by the soldiers and their comrades. World community, organization of human rights and so called civilized western society should visit border areas of Kashmir to know the actual worth of Rouge Indian Armed Forces. Lt Col Zaheerul Hassan (R)

Pakistan: Biting the Hand that Feeds You

October 7, 2009 | 1708 GMT

Global Security and Intelligence Report

By Scott Stewart

The Islamabad office of the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) was struck by a suicide bomber just after noon local time Oct. 5. The bomber, who wore an improvised explosive device (IED) concealed under his clothing, was wearing the uniform of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force, and reportedly made his way past perimeter security and into the facility under the ruse of asking to use the restroom. Once inside the facility, he detonated his explosive device, killing five WFP employees — one Iraqi national and four locals — and injuring six others.

The attack, claimed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), would be the first successful TTP attack in Islamabad since June 6, and the first attack against Western interests in a Pakistani city since the June 9 attack against the Pearl Continental hotel in Peshawar using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED).

In his Oct. 6 call to The Associated Press and other media outlets to claim responsibility for the attack, TTP spokesman Azam Tariq said the group is planning additional attacks against similar targets. “The WFP is promoting the U.S. agenda,” Tariq said, and “such types of suicide attacks will continue in the future. We will target all people and offices working for American interests. We have sent more suicide bombers in various parts of the country and they have been given targets.”

The WFP office in Islamabad is located in an upscale part of town but outside of the diplomatic enclave. While the roads leading into the area are blocked by police checkpoints, the sector is not nearly as heavily locked down as the diplomatic enclave, which made it easier for an attacker to approach the WFP office. The office does have an exterior security wall, but that wall provides very little standoff — in other words, there is not much distance between the building and the road. From an attacker’s perspective, the WFP is a far softer target than a facility such as the U.S. Embassy, which has a significant standoff.

The only thing that provides protection from a large explosive device is distance, and due to the small amount of standoff at the WFP office, if that office had been attacked using a large VBIED like the one used in the September 2008 attack against the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, the attack would have been devastating. However, the attack against the WFP office was not conducted with a massive device but with a small one. It appears that the pressure the Pakistani government has placed upon the TTP (with U.S. assistance) has reduced the group’s ability to conduct high-profile attacks. Indeed, following the attack on the Pearl Continental hotel, there had been a noticeable lull in the TTP’s operations — even before the Aug. 5 death of TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S. missile strike. The WFP bombing serves as a message that while the TTP is down, it is not yet out and more low-level attacks can be expected in the near term.

Going Small

Small-scale attacks like the one the TTP launched against the WFP office are relatively easy to conduct and require very few resources. This makes them far easier to sustain than large-scale VBIED attacks. The approximately 2,000 pounds of explosives used in the massive VBIED deployed against the Islamabad Marriott could be used to create scores of suicide IEDs like the one used against the WFP. There has been a trend in the last few years in which militant groups have shifted away from larger devices in favor of smaller ones.

This trend is especially noticeable when the group is under intense pressure, like Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad in Indonesia (and the TTP at the present time). Small-scale attacks require fewer resources, and smaller devices can be built and transported more clandestinely than huge VBIEDs. They can also be manufactured more quickly, which allows for a higher tempo of operations. However, these smaller devices must be used in a different type of attack and are often taken into the targeted site using a ruse, like a Frontier Constabulary uniform in Islamabad; posing as hotel guests and workers in Jakarta; or even hidden inside the bomber’s body, as we saw in Saudi Arabia on Aug. 28.

In the wake of the WFP attack and the TTP’s warning that more attacks are coming, security measures at the offices of humanitarian aid, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are certain to be inspected and tightened up (at least until complacency sets in) to protect against this type of ruse attack using a small suicide device.

One of the other advantages of using these small devices is that they provide attackers a great deal of flexibility in employing them — a flexibility that is often used to bypass security measures. However, identifying gaps in security requires surveillance — often extended surveillance — and during that surveillance attackers are susceptible to being identified.

Historically, aid organizations simply do not have the security budget to afford the types of physical security equipment and guard coverage afforded to embassies or even commercial establishments like large hotels, and this makes them relatively soft targets. But even if these offices are hardened by increased security and by proactive measures such as employing countersurveillance teams and the offices thus become more difficult to strike using small devices, the employees of these organizations will remain vulnerable as they do their work in the field.

Aid Workers as Targets

By its very nature, the work conducted by an aid group is very different from that conducted by a diplomatic mission. While diplomats like to travel to different parts of the country they are assigned to and meet with a variety of people, their primary mission is to be the representatives of their home government to the foreign government where they are assigned and accredited. This means that, while they may balk at strict security measures, they can still perform many of their functions in dangerous locations like Islamabad or Baghdad, even though their movement outside of the embassy is tightly restricted and requires considerable security. The same is simply not true for organizations like the WFP, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Doctors Without Borders or the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), among others. These organizations exist to bring shelter, food and medicine to refugees and displaced people, and such people are often found in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia. This means that aid employees are very vulnerable to being targeted when they are outside of their offices.

Last October, STRATFOR discussed the growing trend of jihadists attacking aid workers and the tension the trend was creating among jihadist ideologues. Some ideologues, such as Isam Mohammed Taher al-Barqawi, more popularly known by the nom de guerre Abu-Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi, have taken a clear stand against targeting “genuine” humanitarian organizations. In his writings, al-Maqdisi has specifically referred to the International Committee of the Red Cross, noting how it is a legitimate humanitarian organization with no hidden agenda and that its valuable services to the poor and dispossessed should be appreciated.

However, many jihadist leaders do not differentiate between the political aspect of the United Nations and the separate organizations that operate under the aegis of the United Nations for humanitarian purposes, such as the WFP, UNHCR, UNDP and UNICEF. In addition to the Oct. 6 message from the TTP spokesman who noted that the WFP is an infidel organization that promotes the U.S. agenda, other jihadist leaders have also spoken out against the United Nations. In an April 2008 speech, al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri said, “The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims: It is the one which codified and legitimized the setting up of the state of Israel and its taking over of the Muslims’ lands.”

Clearly, over the past year this ideological battle inside jihadist circles has been decided in favor of those who advocate attacks against humanitarian workers, since such attacks are increasing — and the problem is not just confined to Pakistan. A recent report by the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office noted that attacks against aid workers in Afghanistan are twice as frequent as they were last year — and 2008 had seen significantly more fatalities than 2007 — so things are clearly getting worse there, and the Afghan Taliban are launching more frequent ambushes and roadside IED attacks against clearly marked white aid vehicles. In Pakistan, at least three UNHCR employees have been assassinated so far this year, and a UNHCR employee and UNICEF employee were among those killed in the June bombing of the Pearl Continental Hotel in Peshawar. The Pearl was essentially the headquarters for many of the aid organizations in Peshawar. Outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, aid workers also have been attacked in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan, among other places.

For these aid workers, the perception by groups like the Afghan Taliban, the TTP and al Qaeda that they are a part of the U.S. agenda — and this translates into a war against Islam — means that they will be targeted for attacks.

The increase in attacks has often led to the drawdown of Western aid employees in a given country, and this has forced these organizations to rely heavily on local, mainly Muslim, employees to conduct most of the relief work in the most dangerous places. However, the track record over the past few years has demonstrated that local employees are every bit as likely to be targeted as their Western colleagues. This is in part due to the fact that jihadists declare that all Muslims who work with infidels are apostates and therefore no better than infidels themselves. (This is called the doctrine of Takfir, or apostasy, and the fact that the jihadists claim to have the ability to declare another Muslim an apostate is very controversial within Islam, as is the killing of non-combatants such as humanitarian workers.)

In Pakistan, local aid workers are dedicated to reaching the hungry, sick and dispossessed people they serve, and this makes them extremely vulnerable to attack because they operate in some very remote and dangerous places. They are far more likely to be working outside of the larger, more secure organizational offices and in smaller, more vulnerable clinics and food distribution points. Because of this, there is a high likelihood that if the organizational offices present too hard a target, these lower-level aid workers and smaller aid distribution points could be targeted in lower-level TTP attacks. This would be part of the TTP effort to derail what it perceives as the U.S. agenda to stabilize (or, in the TTP’s eyes, influence and control) Pakistan by providing aid to the people displaced by the fighting between the government of Pakistan and the TTP and its foreign allies.

Such attacks will hurt the TTP as far as public opinion goes, as have its attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and elsewhere. But in light of the losses it has taken on the battlefield in places like Swat and in light of the coming offensive in South Waziristan, the TTP’s priority is to prove that it is still a force to be reckoned with — and more important, negotiated with. So the attacks will continue, and we can anticipate that many of them will be against humanitarian workers.

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