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Sunday, 28 November 2010

From Today's Papers - 28 Nov 2010

North Korea warns against naval drills  Seoul, November 27 Hours before joint naval exercises by the US and the South Korean navy on the Yellow Sea were scheduled to begin on Sunday, tension mounted in the Korean peninsula with North Korea warning that if the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, George Washington, does go ahead with the drill, “no one can predict the ensuing consequences”.  It would be an “unpardonable provocation”, declared N. Korea on Saturday and promised “a sea of fire” if its territory was violated.  Tension has escalated in the region after North Korea shelled an island, Yeonpyeong, for an hour on Tuesday in which two S. Korean marines and two civilians were killed. N. Korea claimed to have been provoked into shelling the island following firing by S. Korean marines stationed in the island. While S. Korea admits that a firing exercise was on at the time, it claims that the practice shelling was directed into the sea. In any case such exercises had taken place regularly in the past, it added.  While the United States has been urging China to restrain Pyongyang (the North Korean capital), the Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday objected to military exercises in its economic zone ‘without its permission’.   While economic waters extend to 200 nautical miles off the coastline, the territorial waters extend to 12 nautical miles off the coast. In 2001 Chinese fighters had intercepted a US spy plane over the sea and forced it to land. Washington again reiterated that the naval exercises had been planned long back and were meant to deter North Korea and was not aimed at China. The new South Korean Defence Minister, Kim Kwan Jin, however added to the uncertainty on Saturday by vowing, “ We will repay North Korea a thousand-fold for killing and harming our marines” even as the funeral was held of the four men killed on Tuesday. There is rising anger in Seoul as people demanded retaliation and revenge.  In response, North Korea declared that civilian deaths were ‘regrettable’ but accused Seoul of using civilians as human shields. The five disputed islands off the North Korean coast were abandoned by Pyongyang during the Korean war ( 1950-53) because it did not have a strong enough naval force to counter the US Navy. The islands since then are heavily manned by S. Korean marines with a sprinkling of fishermen.  While a ceasefire was declared in 1953 ( after an estimated 2 million Korean civilians and 30 thousand US troops were killed in the war), technically the two Koreas have been at war because no peace treaty was ever signed.  Experts believe that Tuesday’s shelling was designed to drive away civilians from the disputed islands and to boost the image of the designated successor and son of N. Korean strongman, Kim Jong-il, who is believed to be ailing.  Meanwhile, hectic attempts were on to defuse the crisis. — Agencies
NATO for better ties with India Ashok Tuteja/TNS  Why this enhanced interest?      * NATO members are seeing India as an emerging power, a fast growing economy which will increasingly depend on free access to trade routes, sea lanes and communication network.     * India and most NATO member states share basic values, having been founded basically on the same principles.     * NATO nations feel India can contribute in a valuable way to development in Afghanistan and obviously it would also contribute to more stability in the region.  New Delhi, November 27 In a significant development reflecting India’s growing role in the region, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has sent feelers to New Delhi seeking greater partnership with this country for ensuring stability in South Asia.  Senior NATO officials are believed to have held a few meetings with Indian Ambassador to Belgium Jaimini Bhagwati as part of the overtures being made by the 28-member alliance towards New Delhi. Contacts at lower levels with the Indian authorities have also been established by NATO in recent months, diplomatic sources here said.  India has also viewed positively the outcome of the recent NATO Summit at Lisbon at which the grouping gave ample signs of transforming itself into playing a global-political military role.  At the Lisbon summit, NATO leaders also agreed to launch a transition process by which Afghan security forces will increasingly take the lead for security operations across the country, starting early 2011 and to be completed by 2014.  Shortly after the Lisbon meet, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also called for a dialogue with India to strengthen relations between the two sides. “I see several reasons for an increased strengthened relationship between India and NATO,” he was quoted as saying in the European media.  Rasmussen is a former Danish Prime Minister and has met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on several occasions to discuss security issues. The sources gave three major reasons for NATO seeking to build relationship with India.  First, NATO members are seeing India as an emerging power, a fast growing economy which will increasingly depend on free access to trade routes, sea lanes and communication network. They believe that India and NATO members share a global security interest and can cooperate in counter piracy and cyber security.  Secondly, the sources said, India and most NATO member states share basic values, having been founded basically on the same principles.  The third reason being advanced by NATO is India’s crucial role in the region. The NATO members feel India can contribute in a valuable way to development in Afghanistan and obviously it would also contribute to more stability in the region.
Mumbai Police files case in Adarsh Society papers reportedly missing Mumbai Police on Saturday said that they had registered a case of theft after a senior Maharashtra Government official informed them about the disappearance of key papers relating to the scam-tainted Adarsh housing society. Source : ANI   Sat, Nov 27, 2010 16:07:17 IST Views: 9    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 0.0 / 0 votes              MUMBAI POLICE on Saturday said that they had registered a case of theft after a senior Maharashtra Government official informed them about the disappearance of key papers relating to the scam-tainted Adarsh housing society.  Deputy Commissioner of Police Cherring Dorje told reporters here that the state’s Urban Development Secretary Gurudas Bajpe had given a written complaint to the Marine Drive Police Station about the missing documents.  "We have registered a case against unknown persons. According to the UD department officials, several papers from the 10 files on Adarsh society were missing," Dorje said.  The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also been informed about the missing papers, added Dorje and a senior CBI official.  The papers reportedly included the comments of senior state government bureaucrats and then chief minister Ashok Chavan.  The concerned authorities in the state urban development department are being questioned.  The Adarsh Society was originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and war widows. It was converted into a 31-storey building and flats were allotted to bureaucrats, politicians' relatives and senior defence officers.  Former Maharastra chief minister Ashok Chavan had to scarifies from his post in connection of Adarsh Housing Society scam in November.
India, China to hold crucial border talks ahead of Wen's visit Press Trust of India / Beijing November 27, 2010, 18:03 IST  Special Representatives of India and China will hold the crucial 14th round of border talks here on Monday to resolve the long-running boundary dispute between the two countries, ahead of a key visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to New Delhi.  National Security Advisor (NSA) Shivshankar Menon, the designated Special Representative of India who is arriving here tomorrow on a three-day visit, would hold talks with his Chinese counterpart State Councillor Dai Bingguo on November 29 and 30 to find a way forward to resolve the boundary dispute.  The last round was held in New Delhi in 2009 between the then NSA, M K Narayanan and Dai which ended without much progress.  India and China share about 4,000-km long borders. China has staked claims to Akasai Chin in the Ladakh region and Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing refers to as southern Tibet.  Though India-China began discussions to resolve the border difference since 1980, the process got an impetus after the two countries agreed to hold talks by designated Special Representatives.  The two countries also signed agreements in 1993 and 1996 to maintain peace and stability in the border areas.  In 2005, China and India signed a political guiding principle on demarcation of the boundary.  The border issue came up for discussion during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with Wen last month on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Hanoi.  On the boundary problem, both Singh and Wen said they looked forward to early resolution of the issue and asked their Special Representatives to deal with the subject with a sense of urgency.  The latest round of Special Representative talks from Monday assume significance as it will the final high-level discussions between the two countries before next month’s crucial visit of Premier Wen to New Delhi.  The talks come amid a row between the two countries on the issues of the stapled visas being issued by China to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, presence of Chinese personnel building various projects in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Beijing's plan to construct new nuclear power projects in Pakistan.  The issue of stapled visas has become a major irritant in bilateral ties as the recent refusal of visa to top Indian General B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed troops of Northern Command, which included Jammu and Kashmir, had provoked India to put on hold defence exchanges with China.  The row over stapled visas had been raised by External Affairs Minister S M  Krishna during his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jeichi on the sidelines of Russia, India, China (RIC) Ministers meeting at Wuhan in China on November 14.
Pak's annual defence exp may balloon to Rs 58,000 cr Press Trust of India / Islamabad November 27, 2010, 17:26 IST  Pakistan's annual expenditure could cross the budgeted allocation of Rs 442 billion and balloon to Rs 580 billion, according to a media report.  Pakistan's defence spending exceeded the budgetary limits for the first quarter of July-September.  The defence spending exceeded the budgetary limits for the first quarter by about Rs 28 billion because of the war on terror and the military's prolonged stay in the restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, a senior unnamed official told the Dawn newspaper.  The defence spending for July-September was estimated at Rs 89 billion but the finance ministry's provisional figures for the period put it at about Rs 117 billion, the official said.  The defence expenditure during the same period last year was about Rs 86 billion.  With this pace of spending, the annual defence expenditure could cross Rs 58,000 crore, against the Rs 55,200 crore estimated by the International Monetary Fund and the government's budgeted allocation of Rs 442 billion, the official said.  Higher than planned expenditure on defence and flood rescue and relief work and lower than estimated revenue collection in the first quarter has increased the quarterly fiscal deficit to 1.6 per cent from the budgeted target of 1.4 per cent of GDP, the official said.  The finance ministry asked ministries, divisions and all federal departments in August to limit their expenditures to 20 per cent of the approved budget during the first quarter of the fiscal year.  The finance ministry's guidelines for the current expenditure require all government agencies and ministries, including the offices of the President and Prime Minister, to keep expenditures at 20 per cent of the approved allocation for the first and second quarters of the fiscal year and 30 per cent in the third and fourth quarters, the official said.  The official said provisional data on fiscal operations had been shared with the IMF and would be made public by end of this month.
Adarsh scam: Key papers go missing Press Trust of India / Mumbai November 27, 2010, 13:57 IST  Key papers pertaining to the scam-ridden Adarsh housing society are missing from the Urban Development Department here, police said today.  Police have registered a case of theft after a secretary of the department, Gurudas Bajpe, gave a written complaint to the Marine Drive police last night about the missing documents.  "We have registered a case against unknown persons. According to the UD department officials, several papers from the 10 files on Adarsh society were missing," DCP Cherring Dorje said. The disappearance of the papers was brought to the notice of CBI, which is investigating the multi-crore scam.  "The department had submitted to us 10 files pertaining to Adarsh society. During perusal we realised that four noting papers were missing from the files. We brought this to the attention of the department," a senior CBI official said.  The papers include the remarks of the state government officials and chief minister, the official said.  "Investigations are on. We are questioning authorities of the Urban Development department," Dorje said.  The Adarsh society, originally meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and war widows, was converted into a 31-storey building, violating a number of laws. The flats were allotted to bureaucrats, politicians' relatives and defence officers.
<A href="*90&engine=Rediff" target="_new"><IMG SRC="" WIDTH=728 HEIGHT=90 BORDER=0></A> Kashmir: Two militants killed in Kupwara November 27, 2010 19:14 IST Tags: Kupwara, Brar, PTI, north Kashmir, Handwara Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  Two militants were on Saturday killed in an encounter with army troops in Handwara area of north Kashmir's [ Images ] Kupwara district.  "Two militants have been killed in an operation at Mooldari in Handwara area of Kupwara district," Defence spokesman Lieutenant Colonel J S Brar told PTI, adding that two AK rifles were recovered from the scene of the gun-battle.  Brar said two major hideouts were also busted in the area. The identity and group affiliation of the slain militants could not be ascertained immediately as the search operations were still in progress, he said.  Meanwhile, security sources said an infiltration bid was foiled near the Line of Control [ Images ] in Trehgam sector of Kupwara district on Friday night. As the heavily-armed militants were challenged by army troops, the ultras opened indiscriminate firing, they said.  Security forces returned the fire, triggering off a fierce gun-battle, they said, adding the militants fled from the spot and crossed back to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.  The militants left behind a huge quantity of weapons, ammunition and communication equipment, they added. © Copyright 2010 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
‘Only 1% defence personnel involved in scams’  The three chief of India’s defence forces said corruptions cases involving defence personnel are few “black spots” and involve only a miniscule part of the forces.  In a combined visit on Saturday to their alma mater —the National Defence Academy — air chief marshal PV Naik, navy chief admiral Nirmal Verma and chief of the army staff general VK Singh asked cadets not to get “influence by such things”.  The service chiefs were responding to a query on what message they would like to give to cadets on some of the ongoing developments in the Adarsh Society scam, which involved defence officers.  “My message is not to get too influenced by these things. Only 1% of the people are involved,” Naik said without mentioning the scam. Earlier this year, the defence forces were embroiled in the Sukna land scam case.  Most of the senior army officials along with senior politicians and bureaucrats were found in possession of flats in Adarsh society. The flats were meant for families of Kargil war heroes.  Naik said: “In every strata of human endeavour, little bugs are there. No one is perfect and neither is the military.”  Reacting to the issue Singh said: “Some people do deviate, but those are miniscule lot of our part.”  The Naval chief, however, asked the media not to generalise the issue saying, “There may be some aberrations, but it’s a request to the media not to portray it as a norm.”
Indian Navy , Army and Air Force conduct joint training exercise in Visakhapatnam By Frontier India | November 27th, 2010 | Category: Indian Air Force News, Indian Army News, Indian Coast Guard and Para Military | No Comments »  Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force jointly conducted a training exercise in Visakhapatnam on Friday. The exercise aimed to strengthen the unified command. During the exercise, amphibian naval crafts moved heavy tanks and army trucks. The equipment has been modified to suit the amphibious warfare. A fleet of ships, with the INS Jalashwa in lead, conducted exercises to displaye the offensive and defensive capabilities of the Eastern Naval Fleet.  During the exercise, the defence forces exchanged visits to each others bases to learn about their strong and weak points.  There is an increasing trend in joint exercises. The Eastern Naval command contributes to the Joint Command at the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Delhi frustrated at incapacity to dictate to Rawalpindi Posted on November 26, 2010 by Akhbar Navees   i   3 Votes  Quantcast   Bharati analysts are full of frustration at the inability of Delhi to strike at Pakistan and neutralize its military capacity. The admission by another Bharati writer that “Rawalpindi is fully aware that India is nowhere near acquiring the conventional military capability to punish Pakistan” clearly describes the impotence of the Bharati defense establishment beset with corruption and and incompetence. The colossal failure of the Kevari and the LCA and the Armiral Gorshkov are classic cases on what Bharat should not be doing–throwing money and getting little for it. Various DRDO reports from the Bharati department of defense describe the failures and the impotence of the Tri-Coloreds to design or build defense equipment–in other words its a replay of the CWG.  After the impotence of Operation Parakarm destroyed by Pakistan’s Uzm e Nao, Bharat tried to play with Cold Start etc. Pakistani retaliated by perfecting small, medium-range and long range missiles which would put the brakes on Bharat’s rapid deployment units. Now Bharat denies having a Cold Start Strategy–even Stephen Cohen one of its authors eventually disowning it.  Unable to produce the Migs, Bharat then went on a buying spree–the only problem is that most of the jets ordered won’t be part of the IAF for a decade. In the meantime almost half of the IAF is grounded–the obsolete Migs add up to many planes, but very few combat-ready fighters. Thus the level of anger displayed by the DRDO, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of External Affiars. The “risen” Superpower does not have a capacity to intimidate its nemesis–and that a colossal loss of face in a tough neighborhood. So what does Bharat do to make up for its imminent eviction from Kabul–send terror squad to Pakistan  Raja Mohan has written an article dripping with irritation, letdown, resentment, setback, and vexation.  Rawalpindi is fully aware that India is nowhere near acquiring the conventional military capability to punish Pakistan. To deter the Pakistan army from facilitating future cross-border terror attacks, India needs to act on a range of fronts.  These include more purposeful modernisation of the armed forces to generate some military pressure against Rawalpindi and strengthening India’s nuclear arsenal which continues to lag behind that of Pakistan. India must also focus on building up a serious missile defence programme that can introduce some uncertainty into Rawalpindi’s strategic calculus.Finally, on the diplomatic front, India has had some success and a lot more frustration.  Delhi knows the limits to international pressure on Pakistan. Despite giving nearly $20 billion in civilian and military aid to Pakistan during the last decade, the US is still having trouble getting Pakistan to act against groups that directly target American troops in Afghanistan. It was logical then for India to find ways to directly engage Pakistan to bring the Mumbai plotters to book.  But all indications are that India is unlikely to get any satisfaction on terrorism from its current talks with Pakistan. Our interlocutors across the border have no control over the terror machine, which is run by the Pakistan army. The real challenge for India, then, is in finding ways to compel Rawalpindi to change its calculus of support for cross-border terrorism. This in turn means exploring Rawalpindi’s own weak points.  The ISI’s influence over the Pashtuns across its western frontiers is at the heart of Pakistan’s success in holding the international community hostage in Afghanistan. It is also potentially the weakest element of Rawalpindi’s strategy, for the Pashtuns, including the Taliban, have never recognised the legitimacy of the Durand Line that is supposed to be the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. India must step up its engagement of the Pashtuns and put the question of the Durand Line’s future on the international agenda.  India must also begin to focus on Pakistan’s civil-military relations and step up its support for genuine democratic change. While Rawalpindi’s dominance over Pakistan’s polity is real, it is no reason why India should not make it a political issue. Further, Delhi must take a more disaggregated view of our neighbour.  Instead of negotiating with the civilian government that is sat upon by the army, India must consider a direct engagement with the political parties in Pakistan both at the federal and provincial level. Capacity-building holds the key to India’s progress in the areas of defence and deterrence against terrorism. That will take time, persistent effort and strong political leadership in Delhi. On the diplomatic front, India will have to continuously look for bold approaches to contain the Pakistan army. Indian Express.  Raja Mohan is typical of Bharaits who have gotten caught iIn flagrante delicto over-reach. They have purchased Viagra pills in the shapes of Nuclear Subs which don’t have Nuclear power plants, hundreds of Migs that turned out be Flying Coffins, and Aircraft Carriers that don’t have planes.  Unable to defeat the Pakistan or wish it into oblivion, the huffed and puffed in 2001–marching their entire army to the Pakistani border, and then withdrawingin ignominous defeat. They huffed and puffed in 2009, but faced with “loss of Territoty”, the took the advice of the Bharati Army and did not try out any of the silliness that was tried in 2001.  Now they wish to place a wedge between the PPPP and the Army and resurrect old skeletons from the closet. Reaching far back into 1893 they want Afghanistan to talk about dead issues which even the US isn’t ready to touch.  Despite the bluster in Lisbon, the planet knows that the withdrawal of US and NATO forces will begin in 2011 and way before 2013.
26/11: How India debated a war with Pakistan that November PranabDhalSamanta Posted online: Fri Nov 26 2010, 10:07 hrs New Delhi : The last of the 26/11 terrorists had been killed only a few hours back when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presided over an urgently called meeting of the country’s security top brass. Present at that meeting on November 29, 2008, were Defence Minister A K Antony, the then National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, heads of both intelligence agencies and the three service chiefs — the Army was represented by its Vice-Chief Lt Gen M L Naidu as Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor was overseas — among other high-ranking officials. The key issue on the agenda — India’s response.  By then, there was no doubt among any of those present at this meeting, which lasted for over two hours at the PM’s residence, that the entire attack had been controlled, coordinated and plotted by the Lashkar-e-Toiba and its handlers in Pakistan. An undeniable body of evidence had already piled up from the calls monitored between the terrorists and their handlers in the course of the attack. More evidence was pouring in by the hour. There was no way any government in New Delhi could drag its feet — the Prime Minister knew he had to ask the dreaded question to all those responsible for the defence of India.  He started with the words that the people of India “will not forgive us” for what had happened and that the government had indeed failed them. This was not an empty comment. About 10 days before, US intelligence had intercepted a phone call from “somewhere in the Arabian Sea” to Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir. The input with coordinates of the boat’s position had been passed on to Indian agencies and then disseminated but not with the immediacy and urgency it deserved. Coast Guard authorities carried out reconnaissance sorties but by then it was too late. They found nothing on those coordinates except for scores of fishing boats that looked alike. The boat had obviously moved on. The Coast Guard filed a report that it needed the latest coordinates. And that’s where matters lay until the night of November 26 when the 10 terrorists surfaced in the heart of Mumbai.  Yet, the Prime Minister kept his calm and turned to the three service chiefs. He asked them whether they had any options in mind. In the same breath, he preemptively made it clear that he did not favour another Operation Parakram. That option was off the table from day one, recall sources. The then Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta chose to remain quiet. After all, the Navy was carrying out exercises in the area when the 10 terrorists slipped in without raising an alarm. The Army Vice-Chief wanted to wait for Gen Kapoor to return before they could crystallise their thoughts.  It was Air Chief Marshal Fali Major who eventually spoke up and suggested striking terror camps in PoK. The Air Chief was sure that his planes and pilots could do the job but the intelligence agencies would have to provide the coordinates. There was no further discussion on the subject that day, but it was also not the last conversation.  So, how close did India and Pakistan come to war? The views range from “very close” to “fleetingly close” but the fact which all key players confirm is that the military option was indeed on the table. It was subsumed by only a larger question of how would Pakistan react?  LIMITED STRIKES  IN the days that followed, the military top brass went aboutnworking on the options. The Air Force, in particular, did go into the finer aspects of conducting a limited air strike in PoK but the political decision-making never moved any further.  However, the Defence Minister did hold a meeting with the three service chiefs after the PM’s first meet. At that point, the Army Chief was asked whether limited ground strikes could be carried out. Gen Kapoor is said to have responded that an operation was possible but he would need a week’s notice and that it would be a “highly risky” affair. He is said to have added that any political approval on this must include flexibility for the Army to respond anywhere along the LoC or for that matter, even the international border. In the Army’s assessment, any strike would definitely lead to an escalated military conflict and the government ought to prepared for it. The Air Force agreed that a strong Pakistani reaction was certain but was not willing to predict the levels of escalation.  F-16 scramble  WhileHILE this continued, the Army proposed that it would like to prolong the stay of two of its brigades involved in a scheduled peacetime military exercise on the Rajasthan border. The go-ahead was given and the two brigades overstayed for about two weeks.  Much later, in early January, when then Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, who is now the National Security Advisor, visited the US, his eloquent assertion in all his meetings about how India had not provoked Pakistan was only once challenged. Gen David Petraeus is learnt to have told him that this was not true because Indian troops had overstayed after finishing their military exercise. To Pakistan, he felt, this was a provocation to which it gave a disproportionate response by placing troops on alert and moving its fighters closer to the border.  There was also another incident about an Indian plane violating Pakistan airspace which apparently led to a F-16 scramble on the Pakistan side. Islamabad lodged a strong diplomatic protest. India denied with equal conviction. But at the same time the Air Force was asked to carry out an investigation.  The result was that there was indeed some violation by a reconnaissance plane of the Aviation Research Centre, RAW’s air wing, that was conducting a sortie along the LoC. This aircraft, perhaps, went too close to the LoC, violating the rule that both sides will not send their aircraft that near.  The n-threat  A few days later, a meeting was held in the nuclear bunker where the top leadership of the government is to be rushed in case of a nuclear strike. This was not provoked by 26/11. It was scheduled much before the attacks with the objective of familiarising the PM and other ministers of the emergency drill. But in the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks, the meeting could not have ignored the security environment of the day.  The PM is believed to have asked how would one distinguish a nuclear strike from any other non-nuclear, yet devastating attack. This was important because like many in the bunker, he too wanted to be sure that sufficient safeguards were in place to prevent a mistaken response. A long explanation was given. The PM then wanted to know if there was a chance Pakistan could misjudge a conventional strike by India and trigger a nuclear response.  There was near silence. Pakistan, by then, had already created “war hysteria” which many felt was unprovoked. The larger consensus was that you could not be sure about Pakistan’s response. It’s reliably learnt that it was this uncertainty which halted Indian strategists from fully backing any military response.  Under considerable pressure to show some response, the Prime Minister had independently tasked Menon to draw up a list of India’s options. Menon did carry out the exercise like a professional and gave an unsigned note that started with extreme measures like a limited military strike to less effective but dramatic steps like scaling down diplomatic relations, stopping cricketing ties, visa restrictions among others. He and Narayanan met regularly, at the PM’s instructions, to discuss the question of options in the days and weeks after the attacks.  Deniable option  In the wake of all the uncertainty over how Pakistan would respond, there was also talk about the “deniable option”. One which would involve covert operatives carrying out a sensational strike in Pakistan or in PoK. It’s learnt that RAW and the Army were specifically asked this question. RAW’s response to the NSA stunned all except, perhaps, Narayanan himself who is among the doyens of Indian intelligence. India’s premier external intelligence agency admitted that it had no assets in Pakistan to carry out such an action. It was explained that India lost all the meagre local support it had in pockets of Pakistan after the Babri Masjid attack and what little was left, was shut down by a prime ministerial diktat during I K Gujral’s tenure.  The Army said it had the ability to carry out commando operations but the government had to be clear what would be the approach if anyone was apprehended. Also, the Army let it be known that it was not sure how Pakistan would react if it found out.  This discussion headed nowhere after this because the ground realities were clear that India had consciously not cultivated this option. Some others felt it was pointless to discuss the “deniable option” because the whole idea of a response should be that the “other side” should know who did it.  Us role  JUST as Singh deliberated these issues here, on November 29 itself, then US President George W Bush held a meeting with his security advisors and also on the video link with his missions in India and Pakistan. He told them that the last time something like this happened in the United States, “we went to war”. Prime Minister Singh, he added, was also under immense pressure and that the United States must do all it can to help him so that he does not go to war.  That eased matters a bit as Bush made it clear to Pakistan that it needed to “roll up and crush” the terror outfit behind the attack. US assistance was unprecedented, forcing Pakistan to accept that the attack was carried out from its soil.  But when the dust settled, all agreed that the unpredictability on the Pakistan side and the fear that its decision makers could opt for a disproportionate response, including the nuclear option, stymied any possible chance of military action on India’s behalf after 26/11.  After the first two weeks following the attack, the question that overtook everyone’s mind was what if there is another terror strike? Would India be able to hold back then?  Two years later, when asked if that phase is now over, a high-ranking security official remarked: “I can’t say, but I think that the question is still as serious. Can we keep quiet if there is another Mumbai? No, this question is still relevant.”

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