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Tuesday, 4 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 04 May 2010

Telegraph India
Indian Express
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Indian Express
Indian Express
DNA India





  Kasab’s conviction Pakistan must extradite 20 others for trial 
MONDAY’S conviction of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab by Mumbai Special Court Judge M.H. Tahiliani for his role in the audacious terrorist attack on Mumbai on November 26, 2008, does not come as a surprise. He has been found guilty of killing policemen Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar and Tukaram Obale and waging a war against India. Significantly, Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist captured in the attack that claimed 266 lives and injured 300, has been found guilty of all the 86 charges framed against him. Kasab’s quantum of punishment will be pronounced in a day or two. While the penalty for most charges is either life imprisonment or death, a dreaded and trained terrorist like him deserves no mercy. The Mumbai Police did well to speed up the historic trial despite several hurdles. During the trial, the prosecution examined as many as 653 witnesses and filed a record 675-page written submission.  While Kasab has been finally brought to book, the acquittal of two Indian nationals — Fahim Ansari and Sabahuddin Ahmed — points to the prosecution’s failure to nail them down. The two were accused of being members of the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba and conducting reconnaissance in Mumbai before the attack. Both were claimed to have prepared the maps of the terror targets and handed those over to the Lashkar-e-Taiba for execution of their plans. This is a setback for the investigators, who had claimed to have a watertight case against the two. Having given them the benefit of doubt, Judge Tahiliani has said that the evidence produced by the prosecution could not be relied upon. The prosecution has decided to challenge their acquittal.  Significantly, Judge Tahiliani has accepted the prosecution’s thesis that the plot was hatched in Pakistan. According to Ujjwal Nikam, the Public Prosecutor, not only from Kasab’s evidence but also from other circumstantial evidence one can draw “irrefutable inference” that some Pakistani Army persons too were involved in the conspiracy. David Headley has also admitted this, he says. The judge has ruled that 20 of the 25 accused, including Pakistan’s Hafiz Saeed, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Abu Hamza were involved in the conspiracy. The ends of justice will be met only if all of them are brought to justice. But the question remains: will Pakistan extradite the 20 accused to India? Going by Pakistan’s uncooperative attitude so far, there is little chance of this coming about.







  Thwarting terror India needs to learn from the US 
Terrorists are known for their ability to spring a surprise, but in the US all attempts made by the forces of destruction so far after 9/11 have ended in a fiasco. Their latest bid in New York City’s famous Times Square on Sunday was foiled after a foot patrol officer noticed a parked car with a box inside with smoke coming out of it. Soon the New York police went into action and defused the “amateurish” bomb, which could have led to a “very deadly event”. A major combing operation is on to arrest the culprits. Going by the US record, those behind the heinous act may be taken into custody soon. The incident may lead to greater pressure on the Obama administration to be even tougher while dealing with terrorism.  Interestingly, the car bomb was spotted in the Times Square area soon after the US administration issued an advisory to the American citizens visiting Delhi to be extremely careful about their safety owing to intelligence inputs that terrorists might attack some busy area in the Indian capital. Security has been tightened in Delhi, but that is not enough. The police in Delhi and elsewhere in India need to be as vigilant and efficient as the police in the US has been. The US security agencies, including the police, have proved that terrorists may try any trick but they are unlikely to succeed in the country which remains on top of their hit list.  The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the unsuccessful car bomb attack by which it had planned to avenge the killing of what it calls “Muslim martyrs”. This may, however, be a gimmick to show that the extremist movement is capable of harming American interests on the US landmass. Who is behind the condemnable act will be known soon with the conclusion of the investigation launched by the New York authorities. The Americans have proved that they leave nothing to chance when it comes to handling security matters. They may appear to be harsh at times, but that is how they have been successful in proving smarter than terrorists. India needs to learn a lot from the US to foil the designs of terrorists.







Maoist kill 4 BMP jawans 
Aurangabad, May 3 Four Bihar Military Police (BMP) jawans were killed and another was seriously injured when Maoists spayed bullets on a police patrol in Bihar's Aurangabad district today, the police said.  The incident happened at the Tandawa Bazaar area in the district when the BMP personnel along with the District Armed Police Force were patrolling the area.  Six Maoists indiscriminately fired at them, SP Sanjay Kumar Singh said. Four BMP jawans were killed on the spot, while another was seriously injured, he said.  The ultras also looted five rifles and several rounds of ammunition from them before escaping, the SP added. The entry and exit points of the district were sealed and a combing operation launched, he said. — PTI








Soon, common law for all three services
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 3 In a move that will remove variations in the law governing the three forces — the Army, The IAF and Navy — Defence Minister AK Antony today said the government was considering a common law to govern the three services.  In a statement laid in both houses of Parliament, Antony said the ministry had prepared a draft common law applicable to all three defence forces to ensure coordination in operations and functions. Its enactment was under the active consideration of the defence ministry. Work to have a common law called the Tri-Service Act, had begun in 2002 and the draft submitted to the ministry after approval from the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) in August 2009.  The need to have common law arose as the provisions contained in the three Service Acts are not similar and resulted in variations in delivery of justice.  Under the Air Force Act, three types of courts martial — general court-martial, district court- martial and summary general court-martial — have been provided. The Army Act, in addition to the three types of court-martial allowed in the IAF, also has summary court-martial which can try personnel below the rank of Junior Commissioned Officer and can award punishments of dismissal and imprisonment up to one year.  In contrast, the Navy has only one type of court-martial during peace time and a disciplinary tribunal during war. Unlike the Army and the Air Force, where the senior-most officer of the court-martial becomes the presiding officer, in the Navy the convening authority always nominates the president of the court-martial. In the Navy, the findings and sentence of courts-martial do not require confirmation of the convening authority or any superior authority and become operative the moment they are pronounced. The verdict of acquittal is final in the case of the Navy and not subject to confirmation or revision as in the Army and the Air Force.  Antony made it clear that Tri-Service Act was "under consideration in consultation with the three services," Antony said on the status of implementation of recommendations contained in the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on Unified Command for Armed Forces submitted to the Lok Sabha in February 2009.  With regard to the creation of a chief of defence staff, as recommended by the Kargil Review Committee, the minister said the proposal was "under examination", though the institutional support and infrastructure had already been created in the form of the Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters to support the CDS, whenever created.








Indian Army Seeks Loitering Missiles
By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI Published: 3 May 2010 17:03
NEW DELHI - The Indian Army wants to equip its troops with missiles that can loiter over a target for 30 minutes, and it sent a global request for information (RfI) in March, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the parliament here in a written response.  The loitering missile would be able to send critical data on enemy installations and later self-destruct on the target. In the RfI, the Defence Ministry has sought details from the vendors on the missile's cruising speed, the maximum range at which it can engage a target, its loitering time, the range of its data link, its accuracy, ability to attack from the top, and if it can abort after locking onto a target and be redesignated to a new target.  After receipt of the RfI, a formal request for proposals will be issued and the missiles are likely to be procured by the end of 2011, a Defence Ministry official said.






India closes ranks with Hamid Karzai
M. K. Bhadrakumar
  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai ahead of a meeting to discuss the security situation in the region, in New Delhi. File Photo: Kamal Narang The Hindu Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai ahead of a meeting to discuss the security situation in the region, in New Delhi. File Photo: Kamal Narang  The talks in Delhi have made it quite clear that India will remain an effective partner for the Afghan government in the difficult period ahead, no matter the vicissitudes of the United States' AfPak diplomacy.  The Afghan President Hamid Karzai's two-day visit to New Delhi last week took place at a defining moment in the Afghan civil war. Mr. Karzai is about to embark on a crucial peace and reconciliation project. He just completed talks in three important regional capitals — Islamabad, Tehran and Beijing — explaining his strategy, for the success of which he needs the understanding from the regional powers. Tehran and Beijing were forthcoming in their support of the Afghan government whereas Islamabad views him as a rival claimant to piloting the peace process.  Secondly, “Afghanisation” is set to surge to the centre stage. The foreign minister-level meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) held in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, on April 23 officially set in motion a process to roll back the alliance's operations in Afghanistan. While this would be a natural process and not a “run for the exit,” as NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen put it, the political reality is that the western allies have reached agreement on basic guidelines for commencing the hand-over of responsibility for security to the Afghan forces on a case-by-case basis within this year. The international conference, slated to be held in Kabul in June, will further “tweak” the NATO's approach. Mr. Karzai formally invited India to take part in the conference.  The talks in Delhi have made it quite clear that India will remain an effective partner for the Afghan government in the difficult period ahead no matter the vicissitudes of the United States' AfPak diplomacy; the worsening security situation inside Afghanistan; the Pakistani military's undisguised power projection for “strategic depth”; and, least of all, the physical threat from Pakistani agents to the Indian presence in Afghanistan.  Dr. Singh summed up that his discussions with Mr. Karzai were “extremely productive.” Delhi underlined their strategic character by including Defence Minister A.K. Antony in the Indian delegation at the talks. Dr. Singh pointedly articulated India's “deep admiration” for Mr. Karzai's “courageous leadership in difficult times,” probably administering a word of advice to the Barack Obama administration to have a sense of proportions in judging the highly complex Afghan political situation. Broadly speaking, the Indian viewpoint has been consistently that there is an organic linkage between creating an enabling security environment and setting high yardsticks about an expansion of the footprint of the Afghan government or its accelerated progress on governance issues.  Interestingly, a lowering of the anti-Karzai rhetoric and grandstanding is of late visible in certain quarters within the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conspicuously voiced a rethink recently. The big question, however, is how far down the ladder Ms Clinton's fair-minded estimation trickles down. Delhi would very much hope that her helpful words translate as U.S. policies on the ground in the aftermath of Mr. Karzai's visit to Washington on May 10-14 — although a systematic Pakistani attempt to queer the pitch of the visit is already afoot.  Two topics dominated Mr. Karzai's talks in Delhi — placing India's development and strategic partnership with Afghanistan within the “Afghanisation” process and, secondly, India's perspectives on the “reintegration” and reconciliation of the Taliban. Dr. Singh said, “India is ready to augment its assistance for capacity building and for its skills and human resource development to help strengthen public institutions in Afghanistan.”  India's assistance for Afghanistan already touches a massive figure of $1.3 billion. India can train Afghan specialists in various fields, provide training and equipment to the Afghan army and cooperate in a range of counter-terrorism and counter-narcotic activities. However, Delhi would be aware that any military deployment in Afghanistan is bound to be a potentially exhausting military mission and needs to be avoided. The Indian stance is strikingly similar to that of Russia or China, which also refuse to get militarily involved in Afghanistan. The challenge facing Indian diplomacy will be to figure out how economic expansion can be the key element of India's security strategy in Afghanistan. Arguably, emulating China's model, which places emphasis on making investments in resource-based projects will be a step forward for India. This could be done in collaboration with Afghan partners.  Without doubt, Mr. Karzai's visit helped to further refine the Indian thinking apropos the contours of an Afghan settlement. The Indian thinking rests on the following assessments. One, India regards the forthcoming jirga (tribal assembly) in May in Kabul and the Afghan parliamentary elections in September to be “important milestones.” Delhi agrees with Mr. Karzai's stance that in order for these processes to be legitimate and enduring, they should be Afghan-led. Two, these political processes can be optimal only if they go hand in hand with the international community's long term commitment to stability, peace and development in Afghanistan.  Three, the deterioration in the security situation is a hard reality and it needs to be firmly tackled on a priority basis within Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan, where the syndicate of terrorist organisations and other extremist groups operating in the region enjoy support and sustenance. Towards this end, apart from the NATO's surge, the Afghan security forces should be enlarged and developed in a professional manner and provided with adequate resources, combat equipment and enablers and training.  It would appear that Mr. Karzai allayed the Indian apprehensions regarding the strategy of “reintegration” of the Taliban. Delhi takes a cautious view of the process since in its view the Taliban may exploit the political space to capture power with Pakistani support, creating a fait accompli for the region, which was how the ISI implemented a phase-by-phase agenda of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan during 1994-97. Therefore, Delhi would expect the reintegration process to be “tackled with prudence, the benefit of hindsight, foresight and caution.” Also, Delhi stresses that any integration process should be “inclusive and transparent,” which is predicated on the assessment that Afghanistan is a plural society and the majority opinion is not only vehemently against the Taliban's extremist ideology but also staunchly opposes any role for the outsiders to covertly dictate peace.  Mr. Karzai shared his thinking apropos the upcoming jirga with Dr. Singh and it appears that there are no serious contradictions between the two sides. Significantly, Mr. Karzai made it a point to underline “our common struggle against terrorism and extremism.” The joint statement also underlined the two countries' “determination…to combat the forces of terrorism which pose a particular threat to the region.”  There has been a latent sense of uneasiness among sections of the Indian strategic community that Mr. Karzai appeared to be in a mood to “compromise” or “appease” the Taliban in a self-seeking manner in anticipation of a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Much of this misperception stemmed from the western propaganda — often pre-cooked in the ISI's kitchen — intended to dissimulate or to create an impression that Mr. Karzai is raring to go to accommodate the Taliban leadership and if anything at all is holding him back, it is only Mr. Obama's scepticism about the reconciliation strategy.  Delhi seems to understand well enough that what is unfolding is rather a grim struggle for the control of the Afghan peace process itself. Unsurprisingly, Mr. Karzai insists on his prerogative as the elected head of state to lead his country's peace process. On the contrary, Pakistani military would like to cast Mr. Karzai as merely one of the Afghan protagonists. Ostensibly, the Pakistani military wishes to work exclusively with the U.S. to reconcile the Taliban but in reality it wishes to seize control of the peace process or to dominate it, while extracting concessions from Washington in the form of military and economic aid. The Pakistani military banks on exploiting Mr.Obama's haste to effect a drawdown of the U.S. combat troops by mid-2011.  The ISI has not only shed its “strategic ambiguity” regarding its nexus with the Taliban but of late openly flaunts its influence with the hardline “Quetta Shura” and the Haqqani network, making it clear that Rawalpindi is capable of torpedoing any peace process which is left to the Afghans. Ironically, this nexus with elements expressly banned by the United Nations (at the instance of the George W. Bush administration) ought to make Pakistan a rogue state but the U.S. has been pragmatic about it and instead chooses to solicit the Pakistani military's help. An added factor is that influential figures within Mr. Obama's AfPak team who are vestiges of the Afghan jihad, enjoy old links with the Pakistani security establishment and willingly subserve the ISI's agenda pitting Mr. Karzai as the “problem” in any national reconciliation process.  Curiously, this political theatre is unfolding against a backdrop where “almost all Afghans, including Karzai's Pashtun supporters, the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance and even the Taliban oppose any major role for the ISI,” to quote Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani commentator, in a recent article in the Washington Post. Quite obviously, the Pakistani military's control of the foreign and security policies is at a high level in Islamabad. Delhi will do well to figure out that Mr. Karzai deserves all the support he needs at this juncture.







Army lodges protest with Pakistan over ceasefire violation  
PTI Monday, May 3, 2010 12:47    Army today lodged a strong protest with Pakistan Army over ceasefire violation and heavy cross-border firing on several forward posts along the Indo-Pak border in Poonch sector.         Army officials held a commander-level meeting at a forward defence location (FDL) and lodged a protest with Pakistani Army about ceasefire violations by resorting to heavy firing on several Indian FDLs in Krishnagati sub-sector on Saturday, a senior army officer told PTI.     Pakistani troops denied their involvement in the incidents and blamed it on militants.           Indian officials made it clear to the Pakistani counterparts that they will deal with such situations forcefully and would retaliate.     A BSF jawan was injured in the Pakistani firing on Saturday.     BSF had yesterday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan Rangers over facilitation of infiltration and cross-border firing by its troops in Ramgarh sub-sector in Samba district.







Ajai Shukla: Pakistan Army - aal is not well
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi May 04, 2010, 0:29 IST India’s evident climbdown at Thimphu, and Islamabad’s barely-concealed glee at resuming a dialogue process that was never going anywhere, should not obscure the big picture. From the strategic perspective, Pakistan today remains exactly where the most hawkish Indian analysts would want it: diminished on the Indian border and locked in bloody combat on its western reaches.  It is difficult to miss the irony: on the subcontinent’s northwestern frontier — the gateway to India for Alexander, Timur, Ghor, Ghazni and Babar — an alphabet soup of radical militants who ultimately threaten India are being held back by the Pakistan Army.   This stems not from any new love for India but from a long-delayed realisation amongst the generals, primarily Army Chief Ashfaq Kiyani, that the most immediate target in the militants’ cross hairs is the Pakistan Army, not India. The game has changed dramatically in the tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) was renamed last month. Rawalpindi’s traditional modus operandi since 2006 — rattling a few sabres while negotiating a truce with the militants — is no longer an option. The Pakistan Army is now in a serious fight. During earlier years, while Islamabad played faint-hearted footsie in the tribal areas with jehadi groups like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the world was carefully excluded from the tribal areas. With less to hide now, the Pakistan government has even dared to conduct a posse of Indian journalists through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where 150,000 Pakistani regulars beef up as many paramilitary scouts in manning 821 posts on the border with Afghanistan.  Given these circumstances, it is astonishing that anyone is buying into the ludicrous argument that things are going Pakistan’s way in Afghanistan and the tribal areas. The argument, which a beleaguered Pakistan Army is doing all it can to buttress, goes broadly as follows: with Obama looking to thin out forces substantially from Afghanistan before facing American voters in late 2012, the job of policing the AfPak badlands will fall into Islamabad’s lap. With a free hand to run the place, Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) will carry the Taliban to power in Kabul and then douse the flames in its tribal areas by reorganising it into a terror factory from where it can direct jehad towards India and the West.  This monochromatic argument fails on many counts. Even if handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban were as simple as loading the Quetta Shoora into trucks and driving it to Kabul, Islamabad no longer desires an unfettered Taliban in total control of Afghanistan; when the Taliban ruled from 1996-2001, Islamabad’s relations with that prickly animal were far from smooth. Pakistan now sees greater benefit in a splintered Afghanistan where power is delicately distributed: a beholden Taliban in charge in the south; and a weakened Hamid Karzai in Kabul, dependent on Islamabad for key elements of power. Islamabad’s wooing of Karzai has been under way for months and is yielding dividends. In March, on a visit to Pakistan, the Afghan president termed Pakistan a “twin brother” without whom peace could not be restored to Afghanistan. It was not a mere diplomatic flourish.  But even with the Taliban and Karzai willing to play ball, Islamabad realises that calibrating and maintaining a balance of power in Afghanistan will not be easy. Calling all the shots in Kabul is clearly unachievable; Pakistan’s more limited aims are to keep India out of Afghanistan, and to keep the lid on the Pashtunistan issue.  If Islamabad faces a tightrope walk in shaping Afghanistan’s political power structure, manipulating militancy presents an even thornier problem. Pakistan’s skill at organising purpose-built jehadi structures has resulted in chaos as the boundaries between militant groups effectively dissolve. Increasingly, a plethora of groups, including the Pakistani Taliban; Afghan Taliban factions like the Haqqani group; foreign groups from Uzbekistan, Arabia and Chechnya; sectarian militias like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi; and the erstwhile India-centric groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Lashkar-e-Toiba; all train, plan and even operate in coordination.  The Pakistan Army’s and the ISI’s growing isolation from these groups is evident from a series of fidayeen and suicide attacks on army targets, including the General Headquarters in October 2009. Two months later, militants stormed a Pakistan Army mosque killing dozens, including the young son of Lt Gen Mohammad Masood Aslam, the corps commander who oversaw operations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Militant groups are increasingly attacking the ISI; coordinated attacks have been launched on ISI offices in three cities.  Long-standing linkages still remain between the Pakistan Army and the jehadis it midwifed. And, where both sides find a convergence of interests, they can still work together. But only in India does the belief still run strong that the Pakistani establishment controls and directs the jehadis in a meaningful way. In fact, so much blood has already flowed that the “ISI’s terror factory” thesis is simplistic and outdated.  Despite the Pakistan Army’s unenviable plight, it inexplicably believes its upbeat rhetoric about victory (is) just ahead. But just as the J&K insurgency roiled on through years of upbeat Indian Army assessments, the Pakistan Army too will find itself embroiled in prolonged operations on its west. The Indian Army is large enough to contain multiple insurgencies while still retaining a formidable warfighting capability. That is not the case with Pakistan.



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