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Sunday, 10 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 10 Jan 10

All terror groups still active in Pak: Antony 
Kochi, January 9
Voicing concern over reports that a large number of militants from PoK are waiting to cross the LoC into Kashmir, Defence Minister A K Antony today said almost all terrorist groups are "still active" in Pakistan which has not cracked down on them, despite repeated requests from India.

"This is a matter of concern because in spite of repeated requests from the Indian Government, almost all terrorist outfits operating from across the border are still active and the Government of Pakistan is not taking much steps", he told reporters at the Indian Coast Guard headquarters here.
He said the Kashmir situation was a "matter of concern", though the scenario has "not worsened" compared to last year.
On reports that over 700 terrorists were waiting across the border in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) to sneak into J&K, he said India has taken all precautions to deal with the situation.
Hitting out at Pakistan for its sharp reaction on India's military doctrine, he said, "I don't know why there is this over-reaction. India is not a war-mongering country.
"In spite of our differences with some of the neighbouring countries, we are trying to improve our relations with them. We have no extra-territorial ambition but our concern is to protect the country's territorial integrity."
Islamabad has described as "absurd" and "irresponsible" the Indian Army's new doctrine which includes scenarios such as a two-front simultaneous war with both China and Pakistan.
Antony said the Navy, Army and Air Force were being strengthened to enhance security.
The process of acquiring 20 fast patrol vessels, 41 interceptor boats, 12 coastal surveillance aircraft and 7 offshore patrol vehicles is underway, he said.
The government had recently cleared starting of four air enclaves for the Coast Guard at Kochi, New Mangalore, Goa and Visakhapatnam, he said.
Joint operation centres are functional at Mumbai, Kochi, Port Blair and Visakhapatnam, with sharing of intelligence, he said, adding that a regional headquarter has been set up in Gujarat to monitor the coast.
Antony said the procedure to install a chain of 46 Static Radars across nine coastal stations was nearing completion.
Pointing out that coastal security has become all the more important after the 26/11 attack at Mumbai, he said “within a few years, you will see a new Indian Coast Guard”.
To a query, he said 20 per cent additional recruitment would be made in the Coast Guard.
Asked whether the Centre was considering appointing a Maritime Security Advisor, Antony said a decision would be taken “after considering a given situation.”
The Cabinet Committee on Security has sanctioned all new acquisitions for the Coast Guard. “At the moment, Cabinet Committee on Security thought it better to continue with the present arrangement,” he said.
To a query on steps taken to strengthen maritime force, Antony said after 26/11, “everybody realised coastal security is more important and state governments are taking steps.” Coast Guard and Navy were getting full support from coastal states and were working very closely, he said.
As per law, each organisation is given a certain mandate, according to which they work.
“There is a clear cut division of responsibility and now there is perfect coordination among all the wings,” he said.
He said coastal security was more strengthened now compared to the past. Local fishermen were becoming aware and acting as an unofficial extended wing of the Coast Guard and Navy, Antony said. — PTI 

Pakistan fires rockets into India
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 9
India has warned Pakistan against the repeated firing of rockets into the Indian soil from across the border at a flag meeting between the Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistan Rangers. The meeting was triggered by the firing of two to four rockets in the periphery of the Kahangarh border outpost in the wee hours of Saturday.

Initially, it was rumoured that six to seven rockets were fired into the Indian territory from the Pakistani side, but the BSF authorities were able to detect only two craters and some remnants in the fields of Atalgarh and Modhe villages, situated at about 3.5 km from the international border.
Residents of Modhe and Atalgarh villages shuddered with fear as they heard blast sounds followed by thuds between 12.10 am and 12.20 am and presumed that the sounds were of rocket firing. Their fears proved true as the BSF personnel, who launched a search operation immediately, found two craters and shrapnel of two rockets in the fields. There was, however, no damage to life and property as the rockets failed to explode. To retaliate, the BSF personnel opened machine-gun fire.
A Commandant-level meeting was convened immediately after the attack. “We have lodged our protest with the Rangers and they have been told that such incidents will not be tolerated in future. They have assured us of conducting an investigation into the incident even as they have denied their involvement,” said BSF Inspector-General Himmat Singh, while talking to The Tribune.
Akin to the September firing, remnants of shells at one of two villages have indicated that these were that of a 170 mm rocket. “Such rockets have landed in the hands of terrorists and were in use in a number of countries. We are going to subject the recovered material to laboratory examination. These may not have necessarily been fired from a mortar, but from an improvised device,” revealed Himmat Singh. The 170 mm rocket shells, it was learnt, were manufactured in a number of countries, including China.

No territorial ambitions, Defence Minister clarifies
Express news service Posted online: Sunday , Jan 10, 2010 at 0357 hrs
New Delhi : Forced on the backfoot due to recent comments by Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor who talked about getting ready for a two-front war with China and Pakistan, Defence Minister A K Antony on Saturday clarified that India was not a war-mongering nation, nor did it have any territorial ambitions in the neighbourhood.

Responding to queries on the uproar over the comments by Kapoor, Antony made it clear that the remarks were not aimed at antagonising neighbouring countries. “We might have a difference of opinion with our neighbours but we have no extra-territorial ambitions. We are not a war-mongering country,” Antony told reporters in Kochi in response to a question on the issue.

As reported by this newspaper, the External Affairs Ministry is livid over the Army Chief’s comments on China and Pakistan that have led to a major diplomatic row. The Army Chief had said that India was revising its military doctrine to get ready for a two-pronged war. Earlier, he also caused a furore in Nepal over reported comments on the integration of Maoist cadres in the Nepal Army.

The minister, who was in Kochi to attend a Coast Guard function, said that the situation in Kashmir had improved this year but there was no room for complacency. “Even now there are a large number of terrorists waiting along the border to infiltrate into Kashmir. This is a matter of serious concern because Pakistan is not doing anything in this regard,” Antony said.

India as I knew it (1885-1925)
Sunday, January 10, 2010
A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books.

Every week, we shall take a leaf from one such book and treat you to a little taste of history.

BOOK NAME: India as I knew it (1885-1925)

AUTHOR: Sir Michael O’Dwyer

PUBLISHER: Constable & Company — London


The following excerpt has been taken from Page: 213 - 217

The War Effort of the Punjab

“The Legislative Council of the Punjab, at its first meeting after war was declared, unanimously passed a resolution assuring the King-Emperor of the devotion of the people of the Province and of their determination to serve His Majesty, in every form in which their help might be required, against the enemies of his Empire. The Council was composed mainly of elected or nominated representatives of the Mohammedan, Hindu, and Sikh communities; and the resolution gave expression to the feeling of active loyalty that inspired the Province as a whole.

“As Head of the Province it was my duty and my privilege to help and direct in translating the resolution into effective action. The Punjab, with its hardy and martial rural population of peasant proprietors, had, since its inclusion in the Empire, been rightly regarded as the ‘Shield’, the ‘Spearhead’, and the ‘Sword-hand’ of India; it had won those proud titles by its association with the flower of the British Army in every Eastern campaign from the Mutiny down to the present day. This gallant record had perhaps led the military authorities from Lord Roberts’s time to concentrate too much on the Punjab fighting men-the Rajput Dogra of tie lower Himalayas, the Punjabi Mohammedan of the northwest, the Sikh of the central districts, the Jat of the south-eastern-to the neglect of the fighting material of other Provinces. The argument of those great military authorities, Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener, who as Commanders-in-Chief had carried out the reorganisation of the Indian Army, was, however, irrefutable, viz. that as India could only afford a small army of seventy-five thousand British (now reduced to under 60,000) and one hundred and sixty thousand Indian troops for the protection of a sub-continent of over 300 millions of people, it would be unwise to take any but the best Indian material, and this was to be found mainly in the Punjab.

“Accordingly, on the outbreak of the war, one-half of the Indian Army was drawn from the Punjab, over one-sixth from the Frontier and trans-border Pathans and the gallant Ghurkas of our Nepal ally, and less than one-third from all the remaining Indian races.

It was therefore natural that when the demand for manpower became urgent, the military authorities should look primarily to the Punjab and to ask for the fulfilment of the pledge to His Majesty which the Legislative Council hail given in the name of the Province. The Punjab was found ready and willing.

“The necessity of removing every obstacle to the successful prosecution of the war, and to the rally of our man-power to the colours, was the key to the policy which I considered myself bound to pursue during the war. It was essential to this policy to crush as promptly as possible the various subversive and revolutionary movements. It was also essential to discourage the spread of political agitation which, though ostensibly constitutional, might be and was used by some of its promoters either for seditious purposes, or at least as a means of creating difficulties for a government engaged in a death-struggle against powerful enemies.

“The splendid response which the Punjab made to the Empire’s call was the more remarkable, because the experience of previous campaigns, and especially of the second Afghan War, had shown that it was very difficult to raise recruits in any number during a war even on India’s land frontiers. Further, the Nicholson Army Committee on the eve of the War (1912-13) had put it on record that, ‘We have evidence, too, that in the event of a serious war recruitment would fall off unless the conditions of field-service in the theatre of operation were such as to attract the Indian ranks.’ No improvement of conditions was made until the third year of the war. Finally, more than half the Punjab population is Mohammedan, and it was considered by those who had only an outside knowledge of the rural Mohammedans that they would hesitate to come forward in a war against Turkey and waged in lands, Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, which had been under Turkish rule and contained the Holy Places of Islam.

“All these pessimistic anticipations were speedily falsified. At the beginning of the war the Punjab had about one hundred thousand men of all ranks in the Army. At the close of the war no less than half a million had served with the colours. The number of fighting men raised during the four years of war was roughly three hundred and sixty thousand, more than half the total number raised in India-and of these one-half were Punjab Mohammedans, who enlisted with the knowledge that they were going to fight the Turks, and who, with a few insignificant exceptions, remained true to their salt in spite of the most persistent and insidious attempts to sap their loyalty. Speaking at Rawal Pindi, where he had once commanded the Punjab Army, on 16th February, 1921, H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught said, ‘The achievement of the Punjab was indeed remarkable. Even before the War the Punjab had a name familiar in the military annals of the Empire. But during the War she became a household word, not only on account of the number of men from the Punjab who joined the colours, but also on account of the splendid fighting qualities they displayed in many a campaign.’

“The causes of this splendid war effort were manifold; but the main influences at work, up to the end of 1916, may be briefly summarised.

(1) The rural population were on the whole prosperous and loyal, as a result of the great schemes for their improvement and protection carried out in the previous twenty years; they had trust in and were trusted by their Government.

(2) The association of the martial races with the Army had become steadily closer, the material benefits of military service had been realised, interest in and enthusiasm for the War were stimulated by the civil authorities ; the announcement that Indian troops were to fight against a European foe on the Western Front caused widespread enthusiasm; and no finer or better-equipped force ever left India than the Lahore and Meerut Divisions, which were sent to France in the autumn of 1914 and played such an heroic part in the first great crisis.

(3) Active help in recruiting was from the outbreak of hostilities placed by the Government foremost among the duties of the civil officials and rural men of influence; new depots were opened and the recruiting organisation steadily expanded; no effort was spared to bring home to the people that the war was their war, one for the defence of their hearths and homes, which, as the Ghadr and ‘Silk Letter’ Conspiracies showed, were menaced by the Turco-German combination and the intrigues at Kabul for an Afghan and tribal attack on Northern India.

(4) Finally, and this was the most effective of all inducements to the Punjab peasant, directly war broke out, I put at the disposal of the Commander-in-Chief one hundred and eighty thousand acres of valuable canal-irrigated land for allotment later to Indian officers and men who had served with special distinction in the field. I also set aside some fifteen thousand acres for reward-grants to those who gave most effective help in raising recruits.

“These measures were an indication that the Punjab was more prompt in realising the emergency created by the world-war than other Provinces with less martial populations and less exposed to attack from outside. The difference is clearly apparent in the recruiting figures for the first two and a hit years of the war, i.e. up to the time when the gravity of the situation was recognised throughout India.

“1914. The Home Government had asked for 21,000 combatant recruits in the last four months of the year; 28,000 were raised, of whom 14,000 came from the Punjab, 3000 from Nepal, 3000 from the Frontier and trans-Frontier, and 8,000 from the rest of India.

“1915. 93,000 combatants were enrolled, of whom 46,000 were from the Punjab, 14,000 from Nepal, 6,000 from the Pathan areas, and 28,000 from the rest of India.

“1916. 104,000 combatants were enrolled, viz. 50,000 from the Punjab, 15,000 from Nepal, 5000 from the Pathan tribes, and 32,000 from the rest of India.”

India, China hold defence dialogue to build military confidence
Ananth Krishnan
India and China on Thursday concluded a two-day defence dialogue, exploring new ways the two countries’ militaries could better build confidence against a backdrop of rising border tensions.

Officials said Thursday’s talks saw “positive progress”, with both sides discussing new confidence building measures and a joint military exercise which will be held later this year.

Defence secretary Pradeep Kumar held talks with the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) deputy chief of general staff, Ma Xiaotian, on Wednesday, and met Defence Minister Liang Guanglie on Thursday.

Mr. Kumar told his Chinese interlocutors India was willing to work with China to strengthen mutual trust and “increase consensus”, as well as expand co-operation on security issues. He said the two countries would push forward military exchanges “on the basis of mutual respect and mutual trust.”

‘Chance to clarify’

Mr. Ma said the talks gave the two sides a chance to “clarify concerns, deepen mutual trust and coordinate stances.”

Officials familiar with the discussions said regional security issues, including the recent tensions along the disputed border and the two countries’ naval strategies, were on the agenda. This week’s meeting was the third round of the annual bilateral Sino-Indian Defence Dialogue, which began in December 2007, but was viewed by both officials and strategic analysts in both countries with particular significance.

The talks take place after a period of strained relations between the two neighbours, with a number of media reports in India suggesting increased incursions by Chinese troops along the disputed border. Mr. Kumar’s is also the first ever visit by an Indian defence secretary to China.

In Thursday’s talks, Mr. Liang called on both governments to do more to “exert a positive impact on media and public opinion,” to improve the recently strained atmosphere between the two countries, State-run Xinhua news agency reported.

It is understood that the two sides discussed the recent tensions, and stressed the need to maintain existing confidence building measures (CBMs), such as local-level brigadier meetings and regular exchanges along the Line of Actual Control, the effective demarcation along the border.

Both sides also agreed to increase the frequency of exchanges to improve transparency and reduce mistrust. Last year has seen both countries intensify efforts to improve military communication, with PLA General Wu Quanxu visiting India’s Eastern Command and an Indian Army delegation visiting Tibet and the PLA base in Chengdu.

The first round of the annual defence dialogue was held in December 2007, when the two militaries also conducted a joint exercise in Yunnan, in China’s southwest. The second round of talks was held in Belgaum, Karnataka.

The timing of this round, amid renewed strains in bilateral ties, has placed added significance on this week’s talks, analysts said. “There is a substantial difference because both civil and military leaderships realise the continuing uncertainty on the border is not in the interests of both countries,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, chairman of the Centre for East Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “They have now renewed efforts to push CBMs forward.”

Strategic analysts in China viewed the dialogue as an opportunity for the two countries to turn the corner. “The current situation is not very bright, and we have seen negative trends, especially in the media of both countries,” said Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies. “In this context, this kind of defence dialogue, and a push to increase exchanges, is a positive development that will increase mutual understanding.”

Pakistani rockets fired into India, no casualties

Border Security Force (BSF) troopers fired from machine-guns and automatic weapons after suspected terrorists fired seven rockets into Punjab's Amritsar district but there were no casualties, officials said on Saturday.
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The rockets were found in an agricultural field near Kangarh chowki (post) in Attari sector early on Saturday.

BSF troopers retaliated with machine-gun and automatic weapons into Pakistan from the area where the rocket blasts were heard between 2 am and 3 am on Saturday.

Punjab frontier Inspector General of Police (IGP) Himmat Singh said there were no casualties reported in the border area even though five rockets landed near a village and two rockets landed near the BSF post.

BSF officials held talks with the Pakistani Rangers and lodged a strong protest over the incident.

"Our troopers fired back. Senior officers have already reached the spot and investigations are on. We had a meeting with our Pakistani counterparts and have lodged a strong official protest," Singh said.

A thick fog was hampering efforts by the Border Security Force to find out if more rockets had been fired, BSF officials said.

This is the third incident of rockets, suspected to be fired by Pakistan-based terrorists into India. The last two incidents happened in Pul Kanjari area of the international border between both countries in July and September last year.

The BSF had protested then also but the Pakistani side denied that any rockets were fired from their territory.

Terrorists linked to Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan had attacked a police training centre, located between Lahore city and Wagah border, just 12 km from Attari, March last year, killing 20 personnel and injuring 150 others.

The incident had raised concern in India that Pakistan-based terrorists had been able to reach so close to the Indian border. The following incidents of rocket firing into India from Pakistan have made those fears come true, despite the Pakistani denial.

The para-military BSF mans the international border on the Indian side with the Pakistan Army's Pakistan Sutlej Rangers man the Pakistani side.

India has erected an electrified barbed-wire fencing on its side of the international border all the 553-km Indo-Pak border in Punjab.

Indian army finds inflatable answer to low morale
THE Indian Army is fitting some of its toughest frontline troops with inflatable penile implants in a bid to boost army morale.

Impotency is becoming a serious concern for the country's élite soldiers stationed in the disputed mountain territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Many of India's special forces are reporting "marriage problems" when they return from their tours of duty.

Doctors at the army's Research and Referral Hospital in Delhi say that the combination of high altitude living and constant stress and exposure to trauma is sapping the sex drive of the soldiers.

Col P. Madhusudhanan, an army urologist at the hospital, says that while many sufferers can be treated successfully with a combination of drugs and psychotherapy, some do require surgical intervention. "For those who don't respond to treatment we now offer an inflatable implant which is inserted into the penis, but we see this very much as a last resort," he said.

It is easy to see why. Not only is the surgery expensive (about £3,500 per implant), the procedure involves sewing a bladder inside the patient's scrotal sac and a small pipe into his penis - the device is operated by squeezing the bladder to pump liquid into the pipe, thus creating an erection.

An earlier procedure involving the insertion of a "semi-rigid rod" had to be abandoned when army doctors found that troops were being left with permanent erections.

The hospital has fitted 12 soldiers with the collapsible penile implant, but Col Madhusudhanan admits that getting proud, battle-hardened troops to admit that they are underperforming in the bedroom has been fraught with difficulty.

"Of course there is some hesitation," said the urologist. "But to a doctor they talk quite openly. With us there is no problem about discussing their medical problem."

However, in the macho world of the Indian Army, wives are not invited to take part in the pre-surgical consultations. "Generally we don't speak to the partners," said Col Madhusudhanan. "We leave that to the soldiers."

While impotency is not uncommon in the Indian Army, doctors say that soldiers serving in the mountains of Jammu and Kashmir are particularly vulnerable because of altitude problems combined with stress.

According to Martin Wilkins, a professor of pharmacology at Hammersmith Hospital, in London, people living at high altitude produce the enzyme phosphodiesterase which restricts blood flow to the penis, causing it to droop. Phosphodiesterase also restricts the ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen, a common complaint among mountaineers. Soldiers patrolling the Line of Control between Indian Kashmir and Pakistan are often described as fighting on the world's highest battlefield "an extreme alpine environment of glaciers, ravines and snow-capped mountains rising to 21,000ft above sea level".

India and Pakistan have been locked in a bitter dispute over the control of Kashmir since the Partition of India in 1947. Although the Indian Army is reluctant to reveal any operational details of its deployment in Kashmir, Pakistan claims that India could have as many as 700,000 troops stationed in the disputed province.

George Fernandes, the Indian defence minister, can only hope that altitude-induced impotency is not spreading along the front line in Kashmir. Otherwise he might be looking at an unforseen - and perhaps embarrassing - blow to India's already massive defence budget.

Indian army finds inflatable answer to low morale – Telegraph

US-Pakistan bickering gets ugly as ISI fingers American diplomats
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, 9 January 2010, 01:14am IST
WASHINGTON: The wheels seem to be coming off US-Pakistan relations with the once close allies squabbling publicly even as Islamabad is whipping up hysteria over the so-called Indian threats and American machinations to weasel out of its obligation to combat home-grown terrorism.

The simmering discord between Washington and Islamabad came to a boil this week when the US ambassador to Pakistan publicly complained about harassment of American diplomatic personnel by Pakistani authorities and obliquely hinted that Islamabad risked losing US aid and projects if they continued to deny visas to US officials and space for the US mission to fulfill its multi-billion assistance program.

Ambassador Anne Patterson’s warning at a business meeting in Karachi was followed up by a rare public admonition of Pakistan from the US mission in Islamabad in which it expressed concern about the ''continued provocative actions and false allegations against US personnel working to implement the new partnership between the leaders of Pakistan and the United States.''

The wording of the statement suggested that the US believes there is a growing militaristic constituency in Pakistan that is now operating independently of the civilian government. The blog Politico put it rather more
bluntly under the headline, "Pakistan’s ISI steps up harassment of US Embassy," reporting that the ISI had even been putting pictures (with addresses) of US diplomatic personnel in Urdu newspapers" putting their lives in danger.

"Several times recently the RSO (Regional Security officer) at the Embassy has had to contact folks in their offices during the day, and tell them that they can’t go home to their house tonight because of the unwanted attention caused by the ISI/Journalist provocations. Station and Embassy have complained to ISI - but no acknowlegement (not surprising) and no abatement of the activity (worrisome)," it quoted an Af-Pak hand as saying.

Egged on by a hysterical section of the media promoting wild conspiracy theories, hard-line elements in the police and military have been detaining US vehicles and personnel, often accusing them of not carry proper
diplomatic papers and registration and carrying weapons. US vehicles and personnel typically do not display diplomatic registration or identity so they cannot be identified by terrorist hit squads. One Pakistani newspaper called "Nation," which specializes in rabid conspiracy theories, ran a Wall Street Journal
correspondent out of the country recently by alleging he was a CIA agent, recalling the horrible tragedy which befell his predecessor Daniel Pearl. The same paper has carried many stories about the alleged suspicious activity of US diplomats.

In a stern warning to Pakistan, the US Embassy called for ''immediate action'' by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which it said ''has responsibility to facilitate proper arrangements under which a foreign mission
may operate with full security.'' The mission also asked Pakistani officials ''to implement immediately the mutually agreed upon procedures for the issuance of license plates to US. Mission vehicles and to cease these contrived incidents involving US Mission vehicles and personnel.''

In the same toxic spirit, hard-line sections in Pakistan have also willfully contrived to distort remarks by the Indian Army chief Deepak Kapoor to drum up hysteria over the alleged Indian threat. Familiar policy formulations by the Indian general that New Delhi has to prepare for a war under a nuclear overhang because of Pakistani provocation under nuclear cover, has been conflated to ''Indian General threatens Pakistan with nuclear war'' (despite India’s professed policy no-first-use of nuclear weapons).

In the most recent instance, Kapoor’s remarks about the need for India developing capability to fight a two-front war has been translated to ''Indian General threatens Pakistan and China with war.'' While a few Pakistani analysts have responded soberly to the new doctrines being discussed in New Delhi, most commentators, including current and former generals, diplomats, and military frontmen, have reacted hysterically to what would be considered doctrinal deliberations in any mature society.

The idea behind the whipping up of mass hysteria against US and India in what is now being dubbed ''Paranoidistan'' appears to be a ploy by hard-line elements in Islamabad to disengage from fulfilling its bilateral and international obligations to tackle terrorist elements. With each terrorist incident, Pakistan is coming under increasing pressure from US to give up its obsession with the non-existent threat from India and focus on confronting its home-grown threats eating away at the country.

The Pakistani military has signaled clearly that it does not subscribe to the US prescription, and General Kapoor’s outline of new Indian doctrines has come in handy for this escape act. After distorting Gen Kapoor’s remarks and generating a sulfurous discourse in the media, the Pakistani military high command and the civilian cabinet defense committee both met last week to assert that ''Pakistan would never allow its security to be jeopardized.'' Pakistan’s beleaguered president Asif Ali Zardari, under pressure from the army, also joined this military-ISI generated hysteria by promising a 1000-year confrontation with India over Kashmir.

None of this has escaped the attention of Washington, which this week dispatched yet another high-powered Congressional delegation led by former presidential candidate John McCain to talk sense to Pakistan. McCain was unrelenting in response to the familiar Pakistani protests against drone attacks, bluntly insisting that the ''(drone) attacks are imperative to defeat the enemy,'' and ''with an improved decision making process the civilian causalities are totally minimized.''

The US delegation also heard protests from the Pakistani leadership about security measures introduced by Washington for screening Pakistani nationals among citizens of 13 other state sponsors of terrorism and
''countries of interest.'' But with new arrests in the Najibullah Zazi case and developments in the CIA forward base bombing case both revealing links to Pakistan, US threshold for Islamabad’s antics is diminishing all the time even as Pakistan is seen as a state sponsor of terrorism in all but formal designation.

In fact, Pakistan – or Paranoidistan, as some officials refer to it in private – becomes the immediate focus of attention after any terrorist attack, including ones like the Christmas Day bombing attempt of an airplane in Detroit, where there was no immediate Pakistani link. ''The fact that this particular person was not trained in Pakistan does not change the fact that the inspiration for all of this comes from al-Qaida, and al-Qaida's
leadership is based in the remotest areas on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border,'' US special representative to Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke, who will head to Islamabad next week, said at a meeting on Thursday.

Separately, John Brennan, President Obama’s assistant for counterterrorism, said al-Qaida in Yemen, which trained the Christmas Day Nigerian bomber, ''is an extension of the terror outfit's core coming out of Pakistan.''

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