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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 11 May 2011

Obama was ready for face-off with Pak
Prez ensured that the Special Forces team was large enough to fight its way out, if engaged  Washington, May 10 President Barack Obama was willing to risk military confrontation with Pakistan in the covert operation to capture or kill Osama bin Laden and had insisted that the special US assault force be large enough to fight its way out if engaged.  Revealing additional details about planning for the dramatic Abbottabad mission on May 1, senior Obama Administration officials were quoted by New York Times as saying the President did not want to take anything to chance.  The President had authorised Navy Seal commandos to engage any hostile Pakistani police or forces if confronted while carrying out the operation, the US daily said. It also reported that two teams of specialists were on standby: One to bury bin Laden if he was killed, and a second composed of lawyers, interrogators and translators in case he was captured alive. That team was set to meet aboard a Navy ship, most likely the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea.  Obama’s decision to increase the size of the force sent into Pakistan shows that he was willing to risk a military confrontation with a close ally in order to capture or kill the Al-Qaida leader, the US daily said.  “Such a fight would have set off an even larger breach with the Pakistanis than has taken place, since officials in Islamabad learned that helicopters filled with members of a Navy Seals team had flown undetected into one of their cities, and burst into a compound where bin Laden was hiding,” it said.  “Their instructions were to avoid any confrontation, if at all possible. But if they had to return fire to get out, they were authorised to do it,” a senior Obama Administration official was quoted as saying.  As against the wishes of some of his advisors, President Obama insisted on increasing the size of his combat team so as that they would be able to successfully handle the Pakistani forces if confronted during the mission.  Pakistan has already said that it had scrambled its jets and forces to tackle the foreign forces at Abbottabad, but the US Special Forces left the compound after successfully carrying out the operation in about 40 minutes.  “Some people may have assumed we could talk our way out of a jam, but given our difficult relationship with Pakistan right now, the President did not want to leave anything to chance,” a senior administration official was quoted as saying. — PTI

In post-Osama Pakistan
Indulging in blame game won’t help  The killing of Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden by US forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan’s garrison town, has thrown Islamabad into a quagmire from which it is unlikely to come out unscathed. Pakistan is under considerable pressure from the US to reveal the names of the ISI operatives who must have helped Osama to live comfortably in a palatial building at Abbottabad, not far away from Islamabad. No one in the international community is prepared to take Pakistan’s explanation seriously that it had no knowledge of the Al-Qaida mastermind’s whereabouts. It was practically not possible for him to survive in a town having a major military academy without Pakistan officially shielding him. In fact, those who decided to take the grievous risk of allowing Osama to continue his operations from Abbottabad worked against the interests of their own country. They deserve to be punished first by the people of Pakistan for jeopardising the interests of their country. The role of the international community comes later for making the Pakistani rulers pay for their follies.  Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani says that Osama remained alive and active on Pakistani soil because of the failure of international intelligence agencies (read the CIA of the US) to gather concrete information about him since 9/11. In his opinion, it is the US which is responsible for Osama’s emergence as the most dreaded terrorist of the world. Osama, as Mr Gilani wants the world to believe, was the product of short-sighted US policies, which worked well till the Soviet Union as a super power remained entangled in Afghanistan. But the same policies proved disastrous in the post-Soviet Union era that began in the early nineties.  Yes, no one can deny that Osama was a product of flawed US policies. But Pakistan, too, worked against the global cause of peace by providing a safe haven to the world’s top terrorist. The rulers in Islamabad are even now not wiser, as they are allowing another dreaded terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim, to live as a free man in Pakistan. The world must take a serious view of the adventurous policies of Pakistan.

Foreign agencies including CIA created Osama: Rehman Malik
Islamabad:  Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has spoken exclusively to NDTV about the US operation to kill Osama bin Laden and about relations with India. He said he had sent a "private message" to India's Home Minister P Chidambaram that the Osama incident should not cast a shadow on the Indo-Pak equation.  And he appealed to the world to view Pakistan as a victim of terrorism.  Mr Malik told NDTV's Barkha Dutt that he knew about the Osama operation "15-20 minutes after it started." He also said that Pakistan's ISI had provided the initial intelligence about Al Qaeda operatives to America's CIA.  Asked why the ISI had not acted earlier, Mr Malik said that, "We'll fix responsibility...the agency as a whole hasn't failed." He also said, "We admit part failure of intelligence... a probe has been ordered...Pakistan's soil shall not be used for terror
Reiterating the point that his Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani made in his statement to the Pakistan Parliament yesterday, Mr Malik said Pakistan could not be faulted in the Osama incident. Osama, he said, had used guerilla techniques to hide in the garrison town of Abbottabad. The Al Qaeda chief, he said, was "a criminal, a terrorist" who had killed many people in Pakistan and also tried to assassinate former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto twice.  No one in Pakistan, Mr Malik said, questioned the killing of Osama. But they did question the way it was done, he said - "The sovereignty of Pakistan has been hit...the US should have shared information with us."     Mr Malik denied media reports that Pakistan had sanctioned a unilateral operation to get Osama.    The Interior Minister echoed Gilani again when he said foreign agencies, including the CIA, had created Osama bin Laden.  On whether Pakistan would accede to the US demand for access to Osama bin Laden's three widows and children, Malik said Pakistan had not received a formal request for this yet. They would decide, he said, once that request was made by the Americans and in accordance with domestic law.  A private message to Chidambaram  The Pakistan minister said he had sent a private message to India's Home Minister P Chidambaram after the Osama operations, appealing to him "to not allow the Osama bin Laden operation to cast a shadow on relations with India." He described Mr Chidambaram as a "man of wisdom; I have a lot of respect for him."    Asked to comment on Mr Chidambaram's statement that if 9/11 victims had got their justice, what about victims of 26/11, Mr Malik said the delay in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks case trial was not because of the Pakistan government but because of the courts.  His government, he said, had filed an appeal in the High Court to allow us to take voice samples of 26/11 suspects.  He also said that Pakistan was open to allowing the Indian judicial commission access to 26/11 suspects, though he emphasised that this would be "only on a strictly reciprocal basis."  "We are awaiting formal clearance for Pakistan's judicial commission to travel to India," Malik added

India studies Osama operation, recognises Pak like flaws
NEW DELHI: If someone were to sneak in and carry out a special forces raid, like the Americans did in Abbottabad to take out Osama bin Laden, the Indian response may not be very different from that of Pakistan, sources in the security establishment said. In the wake of such a disappointing realization, the government has begun discussing ways to improve India's response mechanisms, including designating 'first responders' for such eventualities.  The Abbottabad raid is now under intense scrutiny by the security establishment at the highest levels, and by individual organizations such as intelligence agencies and the military. Each of them is studying it from their own perspective, but collectively their inputs "would help improve Indian security architecture", a senior official said.  Government at the highest levels is "seized of the reality" that Indian security response would not be very different from that of Pakistan, and is setting in motion reviews at various levels to improve its response mechanisms, a senior official involved in the exercise told TOI. While the overall architecture of defence against intrusions is known, such as the role of IAF and Army, there are still huge gaps. What is not clear is "who would respond how and when if an Abbottabad-like intrusion" were to happen, he said.  Another official pointed out that the details of response of various agencies as soon as first shots were fired in Abbottabad are of great value to the security establishment. While the Kakul Military Academy and other security installations tightened their own security as soon as the gunshots rang out from the Abbottabad compound, there was no designated agency that was meant to reach the particular spot to take on the "intruder", the official said.  "We have a similar problem," another officer said, adding that the government will work on designating an agency, or agencies, as first responders to reach a spot in case of an intrusion, especially in civilian areas.  Meanwhile, sources in various security agencies said each of them was studying the Abbottabad raid for their internal education and possible improvements.  IAF is preparing a detailed report on the entire operation. Sources said the first fighters scrambled by the Pakistan Air Force took to the sky only an hour after the Americans had completed their operation. Once airborne, PAF fighters kept flying until the morning for no apparent reason.  Army headquarters has already had a few rounds of consultations about the operation, which is now being considered an almost perfect special forces operation with strategic aims. Army is especially looking at it from the perspective of special forces, an area where India will have to look at improving quality though it boasts numbers.

Not to worry, India ties will survive MiG setback
The Indian Defence Ministry’s announcement that the Russian Mig-35 failed to make the short list for the Indian tender to purchase 126 warplanes under the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) programme was bad news for the Russian Aircraft Building Corporation MIG. But it was not exactly a “bolt from the blue”. The result was expected. Why?     There were six fighter planes competing for the $11 billion tender, which would load aviation industries for years to come. These were the American F/A18E/F Super Hornet by Boeing and F-16IN Super Viper by Lockheed Martin, the French Rafale from Dassault Aviation, the Eurofighter EF-2000 Typhoon (from EADS), the Swedish Gripen NG (Saab) and the Russian  Mig-35.     At the 7th Aero India-2009 international air show in Bangalore, the sponsors described the Mig-35 as “absolutely the best”, as this writer heard from loudspeakers at the Yelokhanka air base. Huge roadside pictures of the Mig bearing the words “MiG – with India, for India!” were erected every 10-15 km on the way to the airfield.     But two years on, at Aero India 2011, the Russian fighter was not even on display. All the competitors were present and made demonstration flights, but not the Mig-35. The Indian ambassador to Moscow was reportedly trying to persuade the Russian firm to send its plane to Bangalore, but they decided not to. Apparently, they already knew that the plane had no chance of winning the MMRCA tender.     What is the explanation for this?  A few years ago, the Indians made a revolutionary decision to diversify their arms purchases.  They have a point. It is not a good idea to put all one’s eggs in one basket. Who knows what might happen and one cannot depend on a single arms supplier and its potential and ability to provide spares and to modernise equipment supplied earlier.     The equipment used by the Indian army and navy is 80% Russian/Soviet. The problems of the Russian defence industry, which is going through hard times, have an immediate impact on supplies to the Indian armed forces. The Vikramaditya (formerly the Admiral Gorshkov) aircraft carrier is a striking example.  India commissioned its modernisation at the Sevmash shipyard, but the ensuing seven-year delay virtually doubled the price.     There are other, subjective factors. Yes, the Mig-35 looks very much like the Mig-29K, which the Indian Defence Ministry bought from Russia for the Vikramaditya carrier. Yet, in reality, it is a totally new plane that can ensure air superiority and precision strikes on land and surface targets without entering the enemy air defence zone.  The Mig-35 is equipped to change direction quickly, which gives it a major advantage in a dog fight situation.  The cockpit is fitted with LC displays and front window indicators and is suited to night-time operations.     The Mig-35 is equipped to change direction quickly, which gives it a major advantage in a dog fight situation. The plane can carry weapons on nine external suspension points and even act as a refuelling plane. But the designers of the Mig-35 are especially proud of its avionics, which have no peers among European fighters, claims Nikolai Buntin, chief designer of the Mikoyan firm. First, it enables the fighter to operate by day and by night in any weather. Second, its survival chances in air combat are dramatically increased owing to advanced radioelectronic and optical electronic warning and response systems.     Basically, this is what the Eurofighter Typhoon and the Dassault Rafale, which made it to the short list at the tender, can do. Yet the Mig-35 has, in addition, a radar station with an active phased antenna grid developed by the Fazotron-NIIR corporation on the basis of the serially produced Zhuk-ME radar installed on the previous Mig-29K/KUB and Mig-29SMT models. The station tracks 30 air targets and provides for a simultaneous attack on six air and land targets at distances of up to 130 kilometres. The radar can also make maps. Problems arose, however, with that radar.     Fazotron-NIIR is going through hard times. The Indian delegation that studied the situation at the Russian enterprise working on the Mig-35 programme apparently had doubts as to whether the firm could fulfil the future contract on schedule. The approach was applied to the entire Mig-35 plane, which has a robust defence complex that warns the pilot of an attack, allowing him time to dodge an enemy missile or use his own weapons pre-emptively. The French Rafale and the European Typhoon have not yet have produced such a complex commercially, so they will take some time to launch serial production. Given the problems that bedevil the Russian defence industry, the time may be extended and the Indians chose not to expose themselves to yet another problem with the Russian aviation industry.     Indeed, several months ago, the Indian customers set some demands on their partners. Specialists have counted 14 of them, including replacement of some on-board equipment with foreign analogues, increase in the power and lifespan of the plane’s engines, and simplification of servicing and repairs. These requirements were not met on time. One can guess why. Perhaps some Russian aviation industry officials have decided that winning the tender was a foregone conclusion. Given other equal conditions and combat qualities, they thought the Mig-35 would beat its rivals on the “price/efficiency” ratio. Alas, this was not to be.     It is, of course, somewhat consoling that the American F/A18E/F Super Hornet and F-16IN Super Viper did not make it either, even though the Americans devoted a lot of time and money to enable their fighter planes to break into the Indian market. But sensible people look for the reasons for their defeats in themselves.     It is no tragedy that Russia lost the biggest aviation tender of recent years. Our military and technical ties with Delhi will survive it. We will continue working on the BraMos missile, on the fifth-generation fighter, the MTA transport plane, the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), frigates and submarines, including the nuclear-powered Nerpa. We have a good many joint projects. It is important for both sides to draw lessons not only from successes but also from setbacks. As for the Mig-35: it will fly, if not in Indian skies, then in Russian and perhaps in some others.

India’s Wishful Thinking
Since May 2, this year when top Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed in a nighttime helicopters operation by the US covert forces in Pakistan’s city, Abbottabad, Indian high officials and media have started a deliberate propaganda campaign against Pakistan.  In this regard, on the same day, while maligning Islamabad, Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram said thatthe killing of Bin Laden,“deep inside Pakistan” show that world’s terrorists “belonging to different organisations find sanctuary in that country.”  Without naming Pakistan, Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna stated that the world “must not let down” its united effort to eliminate the safe havens that have been provided to terrorists in its neighbourhood.  New Delhi, while urging the Pakistan government to arrest the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks of 2008, also accused Pakistan’s spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of supporting the militants.  By following the blame game of the US-led some western countries, India has left no stone unturned in distorting the image of Pakistan in connection with terrorism. In this respect, on May 3, India Today wrote,  “can India too think of a US-type operation?… in order to kill the 26/11 masterminds of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed who lives in Lahore and gangster-turned-terrorist Dawood Ibrahim who has been a resident of Karachi.”  While Islamabad has repeatedly made it clear that its government and intelligence agencies did not know anything about Bin Laden’s whereabouts including any official involvement regarding the 26/11 Mumbai catastrophe, but besides the previous false allegations, even New Delhi has adopted a threatening posture against Islamabad. This aggressive style could be judged from the statement of Indian Army Chief General VK Singh who claimed on May 4, 2011   that if situation arose, the Indian defence forces were competent to undertake an US-like operation inside Pakistan, which killed Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. Indian army’s Northern Command chief also expressed similar thoughts.  On the other side, on May 5, while addressing the 138th Corps Commanders’ Conference, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has made a categorical announcement. While reiterating the resolve to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan, Gen. Kayani warned both India and the US, saying that any “action similar to American raid in Abbottabad, violating the sovereignty of Pakistan…will warrant a review on the level of military and intelligence cooperation with the United States.” On the same day, briefing newsmen, Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir also expressed similar thoughts, and also added that the performance of no intelligence agency, including CIA, can be compared with that of the ISI in the war against terror. He further pointed out that it was due to the efforts of ISI which arrested top terrorists and Al Qaeda’s militants, namely, Khalid Sheikh, Abu Faraj Libbi, Rumzi, Abu Zubaida, Khalfan, Abu Hamza Rabia and so-called Bali bomber from different cities and places of the country.  However, Pakistan’s military and civil leadership has given a strict response both to America and India in relation to defence of the country and in case of any violation of the sovereignty of the country.  Nevertheless, it is wishful thinking especially of India that it can conduct a US-type military operation or surgical strikes inside Pakistan because of the fact that the latter has capabilities to give a matching response.  While both the neighbouring adversaries are nuclear powers, Indians should not ignore the principles of deterrence, popularly known as balance of terror.  In 1945, America dropped atomic bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as Tokyo had no such devices to retaliate. After the World War 11, nuclear weapons were never used. These were only employed as a strategic threat. During the heightened days of the Cold War, many crises arose in Suez Canal, Korea, Cuba and Vietnam when the US and the former Soviet Union were willing to use atomic weapons, but they stopped because of the fear of nuclear war which could culminate in the elimination of both the super powers. It was due to the concept of ‘mutually assured destruction’ that the two rivals preferred to resolve their differences through diplomacy.  Similarly many occasions came between Pakistan and India, during Kargil crisis of 1998, and Indian parliament’s attack by the militants in 2001 when New Delhi acted upon a hot pursuit policy against Islamabad. There seems to be every possibility of war between the two countries, but the same was averted owing to the fact that Pakistan is a nuclear country.  Particularly in 2008, in the post-Mumbai carnage, Indian highly provocative actions such as mobilization of troops and tightening security at airports and violation of Pakistan’s air space had created an alarming situation in the region as Islamabad had also taken defensive steps in response to meet any prospective aggression orsurgical strikes by New Delhi. Situation was so critical that Pakistan started moving thousands of military troops from the Afghan border and the tribal areas to its border with India. But India failed in implementing its plans of any military action or aerial strikes on Pakistan owing to the fact that the latter also possesses nuclear weapons and missiles which could destroy whole of India.  Political strategists agree that deterrence is a psychological concept that aims to affect an opponent’s perceptions. In nuclear deterrence weapons are less usable as their threat is enough in deterring an enemy that intends to use its armed might.  In this context, a renowned scholar, Hotzendorf remarks that nuclear force best serves the interests of a state when it deters an attack.  In the present circumstances, India is badly mistaken if it overestimates its own power and underestimates Pakistan’s power. As our country lacks conventional forces and weapons vis-√†-vis India, so it will have to use atomic devices during a prolonged conflict.  Indian rulers should also keep it in mind that no war is limited, entailing surgical strikes. When started, course of war is expanded by the circumstances just like the water of flood. For example, in the beginning, World War 1 was a local conflict between the two tiny states of Balkan, but within a few days, it involved the major countries.  It is also clarified that although during the Mumbai mayhem, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari had stated that Pakistan would not be the first to use atomic weapons against India, but it is not possible as every thing is fair in war and Islamabad will have to depend upon nuclear arms when survival of the state is likely to be at stake.  It is notable that ‘nuclearized’ India may apply its coercive diplomacy on the non-nuclear states of South Asia in exerting psychological pressure, but it is useless in case of Pakistan whose deterrence is credible.  While taking lesson from the recent history, the best way for New Delhi is that instead of raising war hysteria, the issue of Mumbai terror attack could be resolved through joint investigation which Pakistan has repeatedly offered. And India must better pay attention to its home-grown Hindu terrorists by abandoning irrational allegations against Pakistan and its intelligence agency ISI. Otherwise, any misadventure against Pakistan could definitely lead to the national suicide of the two nuclear rivals.  It is mentionable that while showing realistic approach on May 8, in another statement, Indian External Affairs Minister Krishna disfavoured the idea of disengaging Pakistan in talks because of “bin Laden’s episode in Pakistan”, saying that “it certainly would not be a very wise move.”  Nonetheless, Pakistan’s deterrence is credible, making its defence invincible as Pakistan possesses a variety of nuclear weapons and missiles which could be used against India as the last option in case of war or surgical strikes. So it is wishful thinking of India and especially, its army chief that a US-like operation can be conducted inside Pakistan.

Set the priorities right
Government of Pakistan, our armed forces and people of Pakistan were flabbergasted, stunned and shocked on the violation of Pakistan territory by the US because they had least expected from an ally. Of course, there was tremendous trust deficit between the US and Pakistan, and we have been stressing this point in these pages that Pakistan should not lower its guard, and political leadership and military leadership should remain alert. Our leaders, media and the people should understand that intelligence agencies like the Mossad, RAW, KGB and CIA have in the past seen intelligence failures. Secondly, brave nations take their intelligence failures or defeats with quiet dignity. However, both the president and the prime minister should not leave the country and sit at home to prepare for the new security threats in-the-making with intensive deliberations with the officials and extensive consultations with cross-sections of the political strands. A consensus action plan they must evolve to face up to these emerging threats. It is true that Pakistan depends on the US for economic and military aid, and that without America’s nod the IMF and the World Bank would stop funding. Pakistan can indeed live without American aid, but efforts have to be made to make Pakistan a self-reliant economy.  Anyhow, unilateral action by the US Special Forces in Abbottabad killing Osama bin Laden without sharing information has added to the trust deficit between Pakistan and the US. Already, violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by drone attacks that killed hundreds of innocent citizens just to take out a few dozen Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, had exacerbated anti-American sentiments. People of Pakistan have been enraged by American adventurism and utter disregard shown to Pakistan’s sovereignty. They vociferously demand to disengage from US on the basis of its unilateral action in Abbottabad, instead of issuing warnings our military and air force should go into action, if another attack is made. America’s arrogant behaviour provides ammo in the hands of those who are already against the cooperation with the US. Pakistan military and Foreign Office have already warned the US that another act of violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty could lead to a catastrophe. Pakistan has been protesting on drone attacks for quite some time. A few days before attack in Abbottabad, America had reportedly insisted that it would continue its covert operations, and if the need be overt operations in Pakistan.  In the history of mankind, there have been many instances when a nation faced the dilemma of choosing the right course of action for the solution of their problems. Unfortunately, both the state and the society remained clueless and do not understand as to how to capitalize on these rich resources, release the immense latent energy and reach the ultimate goal of spiritual emancipation, prosperity, social cohesion and solidarity of the people. The question arises as to what should be done to rid the society of inertia and corruption? Can Plato’s managerial meritocracy help? It may hold good in services but political exigencies demand far greater than what is provided in that discipline. Leading the people in their pursuit of political freedom, self-governance, economic independence, evolution of a vibrant society and progress in the fields of science and art requires different category of leaders. Pakistan today finds itself at the crossroads. To meet the internal and external challenges to its security, it is imperative that the nation is united, and all and sundry work to convert moribund society plagued by corruption, immorality, inertia, factionalism into a progressive, vibrant and dynamic organism brimming with vitality and creativity.  Pakistan, indeed, is rich in resources, and is the only nuclear state in 55 Muslim countries. Arab countries might be having oil wealth, but Pakistan has distinguished scientists, professors, strong and disciplined army; and above all, Pakistan has very hard working people who have the will and determination to make it a self-reliant country. But where did we go wrong? Pakistan’s ruling elite, civil and military governments of the past have made many mistakes, rather blunders. The first one was joining the defence pacts with the US and the West that provided opportunity to America to use Pakistan’s soil to violate the USSR’s sovereignty when the U-2 took off from Pakistan’s base and was downed by the Soviet Union. It was in this backdrop that former Soviet Union had backed India to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty by invading the then East Pakistan. The second one was joining the Afghan jihad, when Osama bin Laden and thousands of jihadists were allowed to ‘violate our sovereignty’ and use our soil to violate Afghanistan’s sovereignty. Anyhow, this is the third time that our sovereignty has been violated by our so-called ally many a time.  The question is whether any other Muslim country in the world would allow the jihadis from all over the world to assemble there, and arm them to wage jihad. Would Saudi Arabia or Iran have ever done it? Will Saudi King ever tolerate jihadis in his kingdom? Unfortunately, our political and religious parties in the past have been inspiring people to constantly protest for the cause of Palestine, the Arab and the Muslim world. And inspired and motivated by the US and Arab countries they waged jihad against infidels. By the way, who was Osama, and who had permitted him to come and violate our sovereignty and use our soil to violate sovereignty of another neighbouring country. Since the inception of Pakistan, those who had opposed Pakistan later wanted to enforce the law based on Quran and Sunnah. Despite the fact, that Objectives Resolution was passed, and no law can be passed against the dictates of Islam, yet there is constant bickering and debating over the issue, which is hijacked by people like Maulvi Fazlullah and Sufi Muhammad and others of their ilk. Acts of terrorism and sectarian conflicts often create law and order situation with the result that nobody is willing to invest in Pakistan.  Therefore, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders should sit together and set their priorities right. First of all they have to eliminate extremism in every form and manifestation, and there should be zero-tolerance towards any of the groups. Secondly, they should review Pakistan’s foreign policy, as the political landscape of the world has changed after the end of Cold War. Thirdly, they have to work out a fool-proof system to meet challenges to Pakistan’s internal and external security. Fourthly, people of Pakistan should be given a fair deal, and plans should be made to provide them education and health facilities to the poor sections of the society on urgent basis.  However, to implement the plans and programmes to strengthen defence, Pakistan needs to increase its revenue. Improving law and order situation should be at the highest rung of the priorities, which will attract investment and help increase tax revenue. Nevertheless, taxes should be levied on every business, vocation and profession including tax on agriculture. Finally, Pakistan should stop being thakedar of Islam and Muslim Ummah, because America as well as Muslim countries have benefited more from Pakistan in different ways than what they have given in the form of aid and grants.

India’s own Operation Geronimo
Every time there is a Pakistan-sourced terrorist attack in India, the reaction in the world’s largest democracy is predictable. Demands range from “hot pursuit” of the terrorists across the border to cries for all-out war. In the last decade, analysts have proposed other alternatives: surgical air strikes, a limited armoured offensive and covert operations. The latter option seems especially inviting after US Special Forces took out Osama bin Laden last Sunday.  These demands for strong action are in stark contrast with the way the Indian government has responded to these attacks: pursuing bland diplomacy. The starker this contrast gets, the more complicated it will be for New Delhi to implement a foreign policy that is assertive, yet careful and deterrent, in the future. Instead, if the government displays the requisite will and capabilities for a targeted strike today, it can avoid the need for an actual strike later. History offers some perspective. After the Pakistani-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked New Delhi’s Parliament in December 2001, the US had to step in quickly to prevent armed clashes between the arch rivals. In May 2002, following yet another terrorist attack and after months of coercive diplomacy by both New Delhi and Washington, Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf offered a very strong assurance that his country’s territory would not be used to host attacks against India. This assurance was conveyed to New Delhi by then-US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who said that terrorism emanating from Pakistan would end “permanently, irreversibly, visibly and to the satisfaction of India.”  New Delhi bought that assurance and started to reach out to Islamabad diplomatically. Yet its pattern of responses since 2002 has led to six more terrorist attacks originating in Pakistan. All Islamabad has done is give similar reassurances. After the attack on Mumbai in November 2008, India found itself in the same trap. It issued the usual protests accompanied by vague threats of retaliation and called off the dialogue that had started a few years ago. But Islamabad denied any state complicity. At that point, India’s strategic-affairs and military community noted that New Delhi had to raise Pakistan’s costs of encouraging cross-border terrorism. However, by 2009, the Manmohan Singh government’s energies were focused on sending dossiers of evidence to Islamabad, pointing to proof of LeT’s hand in the Mumbai attacks. Pakistan’s civilian government stalled on them. Still, Mr. Singh staked his reputation on trying to start a dialogue. Earlier this year it began, most visibly at the sidelines of the cricket world cup.  These diplomatic back-and-forths have not yielded results. Despite playing nice, Islamabad has snubbed its neighbour’s friendliness. Last week, Pakistan’s government called India’s demand for the Mumbai 2008 suspects “familiar and outdated.” What should New Delhi do then? Even with the world’s fourth largest military, India has failed to deter Pakistan’s cross-border terrorism. Now, the success of America’s Operation Geronimo in killing bin Laden has whetted its appetite to do more.  This could well be bravado on the chiefs’ part, because India suffers from fundamental deficiencies. For one, India’s political leadership has been risk-averse. Even before the two sides fought a limited war in Kashmir in 1999, New Delhi had already announced that it would never cross the Line of Control, the de facto border. This tied the Indian army’s hands when Pakistan crossed this amorphous line and claimed Indian soil as its down. More broadly, India has a history of strategic restraint, which means its diplomatic and military strategy hasn’t been focused on assertively achieving select goals. As a result, India has invested in neither the legal architecture nor the physical capabilities to pull off an Operation Geronimo.  For instance, US counter-terrorism policy declares that terrorists in breach of US laws who are harboured by any state will be brought back for prosecution through “induced cooperation” and, when necessary, force. India needs something like this. Such laws would give its counter-terror operators legal cover as well as set the ground for dealing with other gray legalities in the war on terror. Equipment- and training-wise, too, India falls short. Indian commandos freed the Mumbai hostages with much clumsiness over a prolonged 72-hour operation in November 2008, making some wonder how they would operate in alien environments. None of this is to suggest that India should prosecute an operation similar to Geronimo in coming months.

'Set up probe into army chief's age'
MUMBAI: Retired Indian Army officers on Monday asked for an independent and transparent probe into what chief of army staff General V K Singh's year of birth should be.  "While the age issue was never brought before me, I believe it is inconceivable that a UPSC form was accepted without any corroboration of the year of birth being 1950, as is mentioned in the Std X class certificate," said Major General (Retd) Nalinder Kumar, who served as judge advocate-general from 2001 to 2008.  "It is also strange that a claim of the year of birth being 1951 was made almost four decades later, when rules stipulate that any discrepancy in the date of birth (DoB) should be rectified within 2 years of becoming an officer. The unnecessary controversy at a post as high as that of the army chief, which is a institution in itself , does not speak well of the army's and the government's management. If the government is keen to inspire confidence, it should have an agency, not connected to the defence ministry, carry out an independent and transparent probe," Kumar added. Major General (Retd) Afsir Karim said the controversy should be resolved at the earliest as it was only affecting the morale of the fighting forces. "Whether 1950 or 1951, the confusion would not have arisen had the military secretary and AG's branch cross-checked their records when Singh got his first promotion as Lt Colonel . A decision should be taken soon as it reflects on the issue of succession," Karim said.  The issue of General Singh's DoB arose when the law ministry accepted Singh's DoB as May 10, 1951, ignoring documents that showed his DoB as May 10, 1950. These include a reiteration of the 2008 commitment made by Singh in November 2009 accepting 1950 as his DoB, his IMA dossier (filled up by him in January 1969), the Army List (1974-75 ) and recruiting branch particulars verified by the Intelligence Bureau. The law ministry , in its opinion dated February 14, said the 1950 entry appeared only in Singh's NDA form and ignored the other documents that have been verified by the police.  The army refused to reply to a written query from TOI, seeking the army chief's perspective on the issue.

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