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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 03 May 2011

OSAMA dead india’s concernS
Pakistan in league with terror networks? Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 2 There is a palpable sense of relief in the corridors of power over the fact that Osama bin Laden’s killing deep inside Pakistan has exposed Islamabad’s links with terrorist groups of all hues and colours.  In the coming days, New Delhi is expected to renew its campaign with the US and other major world powers, impressing upon them that the war against terrorism cannot be taken to its logical conclusion until the safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan are not destroyed.  “If reports that Osama had been living in a two-storeyed mansion close to a military academy for almost 5 years are true, then Pakistan will have a lot of explaining to do,’’ one senior official said.  India has for long been impressing upon the US and other major world powers that Pakistan continues to be the epicentre of terrorism, providing sanctuaries to international terrorist networks. The weak civilian government in Islamabad might not be in league with terrorist groups but the ISI and the Pakistan Army do influence the operations of jehadi groups who have taken refuge in the Pakistani territory and are carrying out attacks in India and other countries.  Osama’s killing in a well-planned CIA operation about which even the Pakistani authorities were not informed in advance virtually confirms that the Americans too had stopped trusting the Pakistani establishment.  Washington obviously had valid reasons for not trusting Islamabad. The Americans had repeatedly pointed out to the Pakistanis that Osama had taken shelter in Pakistan. However, every time, they raised the issue, Islamabad would vehemently deny his presence on the Pakistani soil.  Just six months back, an unnamed NATO official had said that Osama was "alive and well and living comfortably" in Pakistan, protected by elements of the country's intelligence services. The official said Osama was not holed up in any cave and added that Taliban leader Mullah Omar was also in Pakistan. Islamabad quickly went into the denial mode, stonewalling yet again the attempt to track down the Al-Qaida chief.  There are lurking fears that the Al-Qaida could unleash terror attacks the world over, particularly in India and the US, in retaliation for the killing of Osama. Strategic experts say that despite Osama’s killing, the operational structure of Al-Qaida is intact. Others like Ilyas Kashmiri, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Baddaruddin Haqqani could take charge of the Al-Qaida operations.  Taking no chances, the authorities in India stepped up security across the country following the announcement of the killing of Osama by US President Barack Obama. Special security measures have been taken at The American Embassy and other major foreign missions in New Delhi.  In the coming days, a special watch would be kept on ‘sympathisers’ and ‘followers’ of Osama in the country. However, a senior minister, who did not wish to be quoted, dismissed the speculation that the Al-Qaida enjoyed a good following in India. According to him, the killing of Saddam Hussein had sparked violence in some parts of the country because the deposed Iraqi President was a great friend of India and a pillar of the non-aligned movement (NAM). This logic could not be applied in the case of Osama.

9/11 mastermind and world’s most wanted shot dead inside a mansion; buried at sea n Al-Qaida loses its head, Islamabad its face but the war on terror is far from over Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC A crashed chopper near the hideout of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad. A crashed chopper near the hideout of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.  Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaida and the most recognisable face of global terrorism, was killed in a US military operation at a heavily fortified compound, around 60 km north of Islamabad, US President Barack Obama announced late on Sunday evening.  The operation was wrapped up in 40 minutes and the US team left with Laden’s body. Three adult males - two Qaida couriers and a son of Laden - and one woman, who was used as a shield by the terrorists, were also killed in the operation. US officials said Laden tried to put up resistance but was killed in a firefight.  Obama and US officials said no Americans were harmed and that the team took care to avoid civilian casualties.  (Clockwise from left) The terror attack by Al-Qaida left over 3,000 dead in New York in September 2001; Obama announces Osama’s killing by US troops; TV grab of Laden’s body (Clockwise from left) The terror attack by Al-Qaida left over 3,000 dead in New York in September 2001; Obama announces Osama’s killing by US troops; TV grab of Laden’s body  Laden's body was buried at sea, according to some reports. A photograph of his body showed an injury on the side of the recognisable face.  “Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al-Qaida, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” Obama said. “On nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al-Qaida’s terror: Justice has been done,” he added.  Laden’s death comes almost 10 years after Al-Qaida’s deadliest act of terrorism - attacks on the World Trade Center’s twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon - killed nearly 3,000 persons.  The small team of commandos found Laden living in a plush mansion on a secured compound in the suburb of Islamabad and not in a cave along the rugged and lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region, where Pakistani officials said he was hiding. The raid was carried out in the early hours of Sunday. Senior US officials, who briefed reporters early on Monday morning, said the Obama Administration did not inform Pakistani authorities of the mission. Only a handful US officials were aware of the plan. “We shared our intelligence on this Laden compound with no other country, including Pakistan,” said an official. “That was for one reason and one reason alone: we believed it was essential to the security of the operation and our personnel. In fact, only a very small group of people inside our own government knew of this operation in advance,” he added.  He said that since 9/11 the US has made it clear to Pakistan that it would pursue Laden wherever he might be. “Pakistan has long understood that we are war with Al-Qaida. The US had a legal and moral obligation to act on the information it had,” he added.  Laden was found living comfortably on a property US officials said was worth $1 million. “We are very concerned that he was inside Pakistan,” another senior US official said. Al-Qaida No. 3, Abu Faraj Al-Libbi and Sept 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed were both previously captured in residential areas in Pakistan. On Sunday night, Obama spoke to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. “Going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continues to join us in the fight against Al-Qaida and its affiliates,” Obama said. Obama gave the green light for the US military operation on Friday. He was first briefed on a possible lead to Laden last August. “It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground,” Obama recalled.  Shortly after taking office, Obama directed CIA Director Leon Panetta to make the killing or capture of Laden a top priority. Obama met his national security team five times in March as U.S. agencies developed more information about the possibility that they had located Laden hiding in a compound inside Pakistan. “Finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorised an operation to get Laden,” Obama said.  Senior US officials said they traced Laden by monitoring an Al-Qaida courier they believed was a trusted confidant of the terrorist leader. Over the years, the CIA gathered leads on Bin Laden’s inner circle, including his personal couriers. “One courier had our constant attention... He was identified as a protege of Khalid Shaikh Mohamed and a trusted assistant of Abu Faraj al Libbi, al Qaeda’s No. 3 who was captured in 2005,” said an official.  Two years ago, areas in Pakistan were identified where the courier and his brother operated. However, US intelligence wasn’t able to pinpoint where the two lived.  In August last year, the US intelligence traced the brothers’ home - a compound in Abbottabad, a military town close to Islamabad.

War against terror not over: Hillary
Washington, May 2 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said that the killing of Osama bin Laden did not end the war on terror and used the occasion to warn the Taliban to detach itself from Al-Qaida and join a peaceful political process in Afghanistan.  Terming the success in taking out bin Laden as a “milestone”, Clinton at the same time reminded that the battle against the “syndicate of terror” was still very much on, and so is the US’ cooperation with the international community, including Pakistan.  She said the Taliban would do better to abandon its ties with Al-Qaida and join the political process in Afghanistan. “Our message to the Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance: You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us.  “But you can make the choice to abandon Al-Qaida and participate in a peaceful political process,” she said in her first reaction to the American operation that succeeded in eliminating the Al-Qaida chief.  Osama was shot dead this morning in the Pakistani city of Abottabad in a secret American operation and the news set off celebrations across America.  “Continued cooperation will be just as important in the days ahead, because even as we mark this milestone, we should not forget that the battle to stop Al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror will not end with the death of bin Laden,” Clinton said.  She said the US is determined to continue to take the fight to the bastions of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan while working to support the Afghan people as they build a stronger government and begin to take responsibility for their own security. — PTI

Osama bin Laden dead, killed by US in Pak; buried at sea
Washington:  Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the most devastating attack on American soil in modern times and the most hunted man in the world, was killed in a firefight with United States forces in Pakistan on Sunday, President Obama announced. (Watch: Obama announces Osama's death | Full Text)  In a dramatic late-night appearance in the East Room of the White House, Mr. Obama declared that "justice has been done" as he disclosed that American military and C.I.A. operatives had finally cornered bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader who had eluded them for nearly a decade. American officials said bin Laden resisted and was shot in the head. He was later buried at sea.  The news touched off an extraordinary outpouring of emotion as crowds gathered outside the White House, in Times Square and at the Ground Zero site, waving American flags, cheering, shouting, laughing and chanting, "USA, USA!" In New York City, crowds sang the Star-Spangled Banner. Throughout downtown Washington, drivers honked horns deep into the night.  "For over two decades, bin Laden has been Al Qaeda's leader and symbol," the president said in a statement televised around the world. "The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat Al Qaeda. But his death does not mark the end of our effort. There's no doubt that Al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant at home and abroad." (Watch: The raid that located, killed Osama
Bin Laden's demise is a defining moment in the American-led war on terrorism, a symbolic stroke affirming the relentlessness of the pursuit of those who attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001. What remains to be seen, however, is whether it galvanizes his followers by turning him into a martyr or serves as a turning of the page in the war in Afghanistan and gives further impetus to Mr. Obama to bring American troops home. How much his death will affect Al Qaeda itself remains unclear. For years, as they failed to find him, American leaders have said he was more symbolically important than operationally significant because he was on the run and hindered in any meaningful leadership role. And yet, he remained the most potent face of terrorism around the world and some of those who downplayed his role in recent years nonetheless celebrated his death. (Read: US embassies on high alert)  Given Bin Laden's status among radicals, the American government braced for possible retaliation. A senior Pentagon official said late Sunday that military bases in the United States and around the world were ordered to a higher state of readiness. The State Department issued a worldwide travel warning, urging Americans in volatile areas "to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations."  The strike could exacerbate deep tensions with Pakistan, which has periodically bristled at American efforts even as Bin Laden evidently found safe refuge on its territory for nearly a decade. Since taking office, Mr. Obama has ordered significantly more unmanned drone strikes on suspected terrorist targets in Pakistan, stirring public anger and prompting the Pakistani government to protest. (Read: Pak distances itself from Osama raid, killing)  When the end came for bin Laden, he was found not in the remote tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border where he has long been presumed to be sheltered, but in a massive compound about an hour's drive north from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. He was hiding in the medium-sized city of Abbottabad, home to a large Pakistani military base and a military academy of the Pakistani army. (Read: Osama was 800 yards from Pakistan Military Academy)  The house at the end of a narrow dirt road was roughly eight times larger than other homes in the area, but had no telephone or television connections. When American operatives converged on the house on Sunday, bin Laden "resisted the assault force" and was killed in the middle of an intense gun battle, a senior administration official said, but details were still sketchy early Monday morning. (Read: Osama bin Laden - World's most-wanted man)  The fate of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Al Qaeda second-in-command, was unclear Sunday night.  The official said that military and intelligence officials first learned last summer that a "high-value target" was being protected in the compound and began working on a plan for going in to get him. Beginning in March, Mr. Obama presided over five national security meetings at the White House to go over plans for the operation and on Friday morning, just before leaving Washington to tour tornado damage in Alabama, gave the final order for special forces and C.I.A. operatives to strike.  Mr. Obama called it a "targeted operation," and added: "No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."  Bin Laden's death came nearly 10 years after Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four American passenger jets, crashing three of them into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon outside Washington. The fourth hijacked jet, United Flight 93, crashed into the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers fought the militants.  "This is important news for us, and for the world," said Gordon Felt, president of the group Families of Flight 93. "It cannot ease our pain, or bring back our loved ones. It does bring a measure of comfort that the mastermind of the September 11th tragedy and the face of global terror can no longer spread his evil."  The mostly young people who celebrated in the streets of New York and Washington saw it as a historic moment, one that for many of them culminated a worldwide manhunt that started when they were children.  Some climbed trees and lampposts directly in front of the White House to cheer and wave flags. Cigars and noisemakers were common. One group started singing, "Osama, Osama, hey, hey, hey, good bye."  Maureen Hasson, 22, a recent college graduate working for the Justice Department, came down to Lafayette Square in a fushia party dress and flip-flops. "This is full circle for our generation," she said. "Just look around at the average age here. We were all in middle school when the terrorists struck. We all vividly remember 9/11 and this is the close of that chapter."  Sam Sherman, 18, a freshman at George Washington University originally from New York, also rushed down to the White House. "The feeling you can't even imagine, the feeling in the air. "It's crazy," he said. "I have friends with parents dead because of Osama bin Laden's plan, okay? So when I heard this news, I was coming down to celebrate."  Mr. Obama said Pakistan had helped develop the intelligence that led to Bin Laden, but an American official said Islamabad was not informed about the strike in advance. "We shared our intelligence on this compound with no other country, including Pakistan," the official said.  Mr. Obama recalled his statements in the 2008 presidential campaign when he vowed to order American forces to strike inside Pakistan if necessary even without Islamabad's permission. "That is what we've done," he said. "But it's important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding."  Relations with Pakistan had fallen in recent weeks to their lowest point in years. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly criticized the Pakistani military two weeks ago for failing to act against extremists allied to Al Qaeda who shelter in the tribal areas of North Waziristan. Last week, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, head of the Pakistani army, said Pakistan had broken the back of terrorism on its territory, prompting skepticism in Washington.  Mr. Obama called President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan to tell him about the strike after it was underway and his advisers called their Pakistani counterparts. "They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations," Mr. Obama said.  The city of Abbottabad where Bin Laden was found has had other known Al Qaeda presence in the past. A senior Indonesian militant, Umar Patek, was arrested there earlier this year. Mr. Patek was protected by a Qaeda operative, a postal clerk who worked under cover at the main post office, a signal that Al Qaeda may have had other operations in the area.  As the operation's start approached, many American officials posted at the United States consulate in Peshawar, the capital of the north west area of Pakistan, were told suddenly to depart last Friday, leaving behind only a core group of essential staff. The American officials said they had been told to leave because of fears of kidnapping but were not tipped off to the operation.  Analysts said Bin Laden's death amounted to a double blow for Al Qaeda, after its sermons of anti-Western violence seemed to be rendered irrelevant by the wave of political upheaval rolling through the Arab world.  "It comes at a time when Al Qaeda's narrative is already very much in doubt in the Arab world," said Martin S. Indyk, vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. "Its narrative was that violence was the way to redeem Arab honor and dignity. But Osama bin Laden and his violence didn't succeed in unseating anybody."  Al Qaeda sympathizers reacted with disbelief, anger and in some cases talk of retribution. On a web site considered an outlet for Al Qaeda messages, forum administrators deleted posts by users announcing Bin Laden's death and demanded that members wait until the news was confirmed by Al Qaeda sources, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors radicals.  Even so, SITE said, sympathizers on the forum posted messages calling Bin Laden a martyr and suggesting retaliation. "America will reap the same if the news is true and false," said one message. "The lions will remain lions and will continue moving in the footsteps of Usama," said another, using an alternate spelling of Bin Laden's name.  In the United States, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an advocacy organization, said it welcomed Bin Laden's death. "As we have stated repeatedly since the 9/11 terror attacks, Bin Laden never represented Muslims or Islam," the group said in a statement. "In fact, in addition to the killing of thousands of Americans, he and Al Qaeda caused the deaths of countless Muslims worldwide."  "This momentous achievement marks a victory for America, for people who seek peace around the world, and for all those who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001," former President George W. Bush, who launched the war against Al Qaeda after Sept. 11 and called for Bin Laden to be caught "dead or alive," said in a statement. "The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done."  Mr. Obama used similar language and warned that the war against terrorists has not ended. "We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al Qaeda's terror, justice has been done."  The president was careful to add that, as Mr. Bush did during his presidency, the United States is not at war with Islam. "Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims," Mr. Obama said. "Indeed, Al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity."  

Pak distances itself from Osama raid, killing
Islamabad:  In a statement issued by the Pakistan government, it said it was not directly involved with the raids that led to Osama bin Laden's death this morning. The 40-minute military operation was carried out by four US helicopters.   This is Pakistan's official statement on Osama's killing:   In an intelligence driven operation, Osama Bin Ladin was killed in the surroundings of Abbotabad in the early hours of this morning. This operation was conducted by the US forces in accordance with declared US policy that Osama bin Ladin will be eliminated in a direct action by the US forces, wherever found in the world.   Earlier today, President Obama telephoned President Zardari on the successful US operation which resulted in killing of Osama bin Ladin.  Osama bin Ladin's death illustrates the resolve of the international community including Pakistan to fight and eliminate terrorism. It constitutes a major setback to terrorist organizations around the world.  Al-Qaeda had declared war on Pakistan. Scores of Al-Qaeda sponsored terrorist attacks resulted in deaths of thousands of innocent Pakistani men, women and children. Almost, 30,000 Pakistani civilians lost their lives in terrorist attacks in the last few years. More than 5,000 Pakistani security and armed forces officials have been martyred in Pakistan's campaign against Al-Qaeda, other terrorist organizations and affiliates.  Pakistan has played a significant role in efforts to eliminate terrorism. We have had extremely effective intelligence sharing arrangements with several intelligence agencies including that of the US. We will continue to support international efforts against terrorism.  It is Pakistan's stated policy that it will not allow its soil to be used in terrorist attacks against any country. Pakistan's political leadership, parliament, state institutions and the whole nation are fully united in their resolve to eliminate terrorism.  

Osama was just 800 yards from the Pakistan Military Academy
Islamabad:  Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was hiding in a massive compound, worth a million US dollars, located just 800 yards from the Pakistan Military Academy near Abbottabad city, in the country's northwest when he was killed in a pre-dawn raid by US special forces today.  Local residents said the compound was bought by a man they knew as Arshad Khan, believed to a resident of Charsadda in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa tribal region.  A two-storey building was constructed in the compound in 2005 and those living inside did not mingle with local residents of the area near Abbottabad, 120 km from Pakistan's capital Islamabad.  Pakistani troops sealed off the compound and blocked all roads leading to it hours after the operation that resulted in the death of bin Laden, one of his sons, two suspected couriers and a woman who was being used as a human shield.  
Two women and four children, described as bin Laden's wives and offspring, were taken away from the compound.  Footage on television showed a compound with white walls about 12 feet high located amidst agricultural fields surrounded by Pakistani troops.  Earlier footage aired on TV channels showed flames leaping out of the compound from a helicopter that was destroyed in the raid carried out at about 1.15 am.  Local residents said three helicopters had participated in what Pakistan's Foreign Office described as an "intelligence driven operation" by US forces.  They said they had heard several explosions and heavy gunfire.  The people inside the compound fired at the helicopters with automatic weapons and rocket launchers, reports said.  Powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had contended during an address at a passing out parade at the Pakistan Military Academy on April 23 that the "terrorist backbone had been broken".  Bin Laden's killing at a compound near a city that is home to the military academy, a brigade and thousands of army personnel could prove to be an embarrassment to the Pakistani military, observers said.  It could not immediately be ascertained how long bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, had been in Abbottabad, which is a two-hour drive from Islamabad.  In January, Indonesian Al Qaeda operative Umar Patek was captured by Pakistani intelligence operatives in Abbottabad.  US intelligence became suspicious about the compound in Abbottabad in August last year.  It was eight times larger than other homes in the area and access to the compound was severely restricted, with elaborate security and 12 to 18-foot walls topped with barbed wire, ABC News reported.  The compound had no phone service or televisions and the main building had few windows and a seven foot wall for privacy.  Abbottabad, a historic city named after Major James Abbott, a British military officer who founded it in 1853, is a key city on the Karakoram Highway that connects Pakistan and China. It has been a major garrison since the British era.  

Army admits Adarsh plot not registered
The Army on Monday was forced to admit to the two-member commission looking into the Adarsh society scam that it does not have records of the contentious plot in its official military land register. The first witness to be grilled by the panel, Brigadier Deepak Saxena, general officer commanding (ar my), admitted that “as per records” the Adarsh plot does not figure in the military land register and that it was due to negligence on part of the defence establishment that the plot was not registered.  The military land register is a record of all land acquired, leased out or relinquished by the defence ministry.  The ministry had accepted that it had no records earlier too, in its affidavit before the court. Saxena also acknowledged that between the years 2000 and 2010, the defence ministry did not take action or raise objection over the construction of Adarsh building on the plot that it now stakes claim over.  However, Saxena insisted that the land belonged to the Army and that it had been in its physical possession since 1937.  “The plot was in physical possession of the Army for centuries till it was made over to the society by dubious means. No action or objection was taken by the Army except in 2003 when one defence estate officer objected to handing over of the land in question,” he said.  In his affidavit, Saxena annexed four documents, including photographs of two maps - one dating 1897 from the Bombay Archives and the other dating from 1924-25 from the Survey of India - to prove that the Army was in physical possession of the land.  The counsel for the state, RM Vasudev, and the society’s counsel, Manish Desai, challenged the veracity of the maps and documents.  “The documents have been got from Google maps, or refer to photos of maps from archives procured during investigation. They have to prove these are authentic, they cannot be admitted as evidence,” Desai argued.  When the commission’s counsel quizzed Saxena about this, he admitted he had not crosschecked the facts, but reiterated that they were authentic.  The state has been claiming that it has records of land ownership dating from 1964, and the city collector on Monday filed an affidavit to the effect.

Why can't India do a US to the likes of Dawood, Saeed?
NEW DELHI: If the US can take out Osama bin Laden, why can't India do the same with Dawood Ibrahim, Hafeez Saeed and others of their ilk? For starters, lack of political will, essentially due to the fear of an escalation with a nuclear-armed Pakistan.  But even if the traditionally risk-averse political leadership did decide that enough is enough, India simply does not have the wherewithal to execute back ops. This is truer in terms of intelligence and planning, rather than the capability of special forces themselves.  Moreover, Pakistan is not a country with rag-tag armed forces. Any move to insert and later extract special forces deep inside Pakistan through helicopters, like the US did to eliminate Osama, will have to contend with robust air defence networks and combat air patrols geared to shoot down "enemy" aircraft.  With military bases, logistics, over-flight facilities and ongoing operations in Pakistan, the US faced no such hurdles. In the India-Pakistan context, it would be tantamount to declaration of war. A "surgical strike" would, in all probability, lead to a war-like situation, with Pakistan always being over-eager to brandish its nuclear weapons.  But let's take intelligence first. Indian intelligence agencies like RAW and IB suffer from several serious lacunae that prevent them from generating and sustaining credible intelligence on high-value targets within Pakistan.  A former senior intelligence official, for instance, admitted that they were never able to gather specific details of all the anti-India terrorist-training camps that they have claimed exist in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. This absence of "real-time" intelligence, with exact coordinates, was one of the reasons that came in the way of an aerial strike by IAF fighters after the horrific 26/11 Mumbai attacks.  India, as yet, also does not have high-tech surveillance tools used by the US, which can pick up even match-boxes on the ground through satellites, or for that matter combat drones like Predators controlled from thousands of miles away.  Another officer pointed out that Indian intelligence lacked the kind of discipline the US agencies had, especially on cultivating and sustaining sources. "Every source cultivated by an US intelligence operative is accounted for, and is verifiable," he explained. Conversely, in the Indian system, "there are far too many loopholes" and most of the intelligence flow is "hampered by vested interests and inabilities of individual operatives". In fact, he said, that is one reason why many of them are in favour of parliamentary accountability, which would help improve the intelligence set-up.  While Indian intelligence operatives have carried out successful operations in places like Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar to target Indian terrorists, the record of surgical strikes deep inside Pakistan is virtually non-existent. Indian special forces, on their part, are well trained, capable of giving others a run for their money. The problem, however, lies in the fact that they have for long largely been treated as adjuncts to regular troops, restricted more to the tactical arena rather than being considered strategic assets to be used sparingly but with decisive effect.  Moreover, it's only now that India is slowly strengthening its "irregular" or "unconventional" warfare arm by modernizing the special forces of Army (Para-SF), Navy (Marcos) and IAF (Garuds) with specialized equipment to undertake covert missions deep behind enemy lines and hit high-value targets with precision.  Much more needs to be done. The crying need is for a tri-Service Special Forces Command, tasked with planning and executing clandestine warfare, on the lines of the Strategic Forces Command, which deals with nuclear weapons.  The around 10,000 personnel of Para-SF, marine commandos and Garud need to function under one umbrella, not in isolation as they currently do. "They should come under one command and control authority, with direct access to the PMO and a separate budget," a senior officer said.  "The stress should be on quality, not quantity. Special forces should be used to apply calibrated pressure at the strategic level, with plausible deniability if required, and not be reduced to some kind of super-infantry," he added.

Antony Asks Troops Along Pakistan Border to Defeat any 'Misadventure'
Jaisalmer, May 2 (IANS): Defence Minister A.K. Antony Monday reviewed the operational preparedness of Indian Army troops along the Pakistan border in Rajasthan and asked them to remain vigilant to thwart any "misadventure by our adversary".  Antony, who went to the forward areas near here on a day-long trip, asked the troops to "remain alert and be prepared to tackle any misadventure by our adversary" and promised to enhance military infrastructure and habitat for the personnel in the harsh desert terrain, a defence ministry release said.  The desert sector is defended by the army's Pune-based Southern Command. The army will hold a massive summer war game in the deserts along the Pakistan border in the Bikaner sector later this month to validate its battle concepts and doctrines, primarily the use of firepower such as artillery, main battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers in destroying enemy targets.  Antony, who arrived at Jailsalmer along with army chief General V.K. Singh and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, was received by the southern army commander, Lt. Gen. A.K. Singh, and Konark corps commander Lt. Gen. Narendra Singh.  Immediately on arrival, the defence minister, along with the field commanders, embarked on a tour of the forward-most locations to meet with the troops guarding the border in extremely harsh conditions of sweltering heat and frequent dust-storms.  He was briefed in detail on operational and infrastructure issues. During his interaction with the troops, the defence minister also expressed his satisfaction at the operational preparedness along the borders and gave his assurance to look into the aspects of enhancing infrastructure and habitat for troops, the release said.  Later, Antony visited Jaisalmer military station, where he was given a detailed briefing on operational aspects. The need for enhancing infrastructure at key military stations and forward locations was stressed upon for enhancing the operational and fighting efficiency of field units.  He complimented all ranks for their display of "unflinching morale, high fighting spirit and operational preparedness in such a difficult terrain and adverse climatic conditions".

No infiltration from across LoC this year so far
The Indian Army is finding it "surprising" that zero infiltration has taken place from across the Line of Control this year so far and it is debating whether it is a shift in Pakistan's army's policy which had relied on the infiltration for the past over two decades to keep Kashmir on boil. T his is the new trend that has been witnessed by the army this year. It runs contrary to the phenomenon witnessed in the previous two decades, when the terrorists would start infiltrating from across the LoC, sometimes as early as January. Last year, the infiltration had started from Gurez in Bandipore district in north Kashmir in March and in 2008 and 2009, the intrusions started in February itself.  Srinagar-based defence public relations officer   Lt. Col. J S Brar echoed  what Maj. Gen. Om Prakash of  25 division of the Indian Army that guards the crucial border areas  in  Rajouri and Poonch districts in south of Pir Panchal  that "no infiltration  has taken place this year.' Gen. Om Prakash had told newsmen here early this week that the "infiltration was nil" this year, though he revealed that 42 terror camps across the LoC were still active and some 450 militants waiting to cross over.  Army sources revealed,  that  officially, the army was trying to take credit for this  by   telling the ministry of  defence that its measures of increasing the density of troops along the LoC - it has moved the counter-insurgency troops of Rashtriya Rifles to  the borderline - but the fact is that there is something more than what meets the eye.  "Is it a change in the policy of Pakistan and, is Pakistan army on board, these are some of the points that the army is debating," a source in the army told Hindustan Times. "It's not that the militants could not have made the infiltration bids, they could have, as they used to do over the past 20 years or so. But their bids were possible only with the backing of Pakistan army,' the source said.  To a query  that may be it is  because of the snowbound passes along the LoC that the  terrorists did not make attempts, the source  replied : in 2008, it was more than 20 feet of snow when hey scaled mountains of snow and infiltrated , they repeated the same exercise  in 2009 . Even if that was true, the source said: that they did not come from Rajouri and Poonch either. Rajouri and Poonch don't have much snowfall and there are favourite infiltration routes in Mendhar and Poonch sectors.  Infiltration has been the biggest headache for the Indian army and other security agencies. It is the infiltration that maintains militancy and causes violence in Jammu and Kashmir, as it replenishes the militants and sustains the  terrorist violence in the hinterland.

Close shave for major general in Udhampur
A top army officer survived a bid on his life when militants set-off a car bomb explosion near the Northern Command Headquarters in Udhampur on Monday morning. A civilian was killed and four others injured in the incident.  Major General DS Pathania, commandant at command hospital, was passing through when a bomb-fitted parked on the roadside went off causing minor damages to the front portion of his car. The general escaped being hit. “The place where the blast took place is two km away. The blast caused some damage to the front portion of the car. The general is safe and there were no injuries,” said lt col Rajesh Kalia, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters  Army sources maintain that it is very difficult to say whether the officer was the target or the car bomb was timed in such that it went off at that point of time. Senior superintendent of police, Udhampur, Surinder Gupta said they are investigating the cas

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