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Saturday, 10 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 10 Aug 2013




US pulls out diplomats from Lahore over terror threat

Gunmen attack mosque 26/11 plotter Saeed leads Eid prayers in Lahore


Lahore/Washington, Aug 9

On the holy day of Eid-ul-Fitr, Pakistan grappled with a series of terror attacks, with the US evacuating most of its diplomats from its consulate in Lahore even as Hafiz Saeed, the Mumbai attack mastermind, led prayers in Lahore and tweeted that "time is near when those oppressed in Kashmir... will celebrate Eid in the air of Freedom."


The United States on Friday also issued a fresh travel advisory to Americans warning against visiting Pakistan. The State Department has issued an "ordered departure" for all diplomats in Lahore, except for a few emergency personnel. The diplomats were moved to Islamabad, officials said.


"Today, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency US Government personnel from our Consulate General in Lahore, Pakistan. We are undertaking this drawdown due to concerns about credible threat information specific to the US Consulate in Lahore," a senior State Department official in Washington told PTI.


Time is near when those oppressed in Kashmir, Palestine and Burma will celebrate 'Eid' in the air of Freedom - Insha'Allah. #EidMubarak

— Hafiz Saeed, via Twitter


However, Omar Hameed Khan, spokesman for Pakistan's interior ministry, told CNN the Pakistan government was not aware of any security threat against the Lahore US consulate prior to America's decision to transfer the diplomats to Islamabad.


In New Delhi, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) warned of a possible terrorist strike in the national capital ahead of Independence Day, police sources said. The IB alerted the Delhi Police of the possible terror strike in the national capital after a speech delivered by Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of the banned group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a few months ago in Karachi calling for jihad.


"Saeed called for jihad across India and told LeT to strike in Delhi. Intelligence agencies quoted Saeed's speech in its alert to Delhi Police," said a source.


In Lahore, thousands offered Eid prayers with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, who carries a $10 million bounty on his head. Posters with Saeed's photo were pasted in several locations in the city ahead of the gathering.


In his tweet Saeed said, "Time is near when those oppressed in Kashmir, Palestine and Burma will celebrate 'Eid' in the air of Freedom - Insha'Allah. #EidMubarak." "So, we say Eid Mubarak to you in these testing times; soon world will say Eid Mubarak to you after your triumph. May ALLAH accept." "ALLAH will not waste your Sacrifices, Ummah will be glorified, Islam will be strengthened, that time is very near #kashmir," he tweeted from his account '@HafizSaeedJUD'.


India has repeatedly asked Pakistan to bring Saeed to justice for masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks. He has often been seen addressing anti-India rallies in Pakistan. Islamabad says it has no proof against him.


In Quetta, gunmen fired on the vehicle of a politician driving past worshippers leaving a mosque, killing nine people and wounding 27, police said. Quetta is capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan, where several militant groups are active, including the Pakistani Taliban, who claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack that killed 30 people at a policeman's funeral on Thursday.


"There has been a threat from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and its allied groups especially on forces and foreigners," a senior police official told PTI. "We are coordinating with other agencies to thwart terrorists' plans during Eid days." — Agencies

Chased Dawood out of Pak: Sharif aide

London, August 9

For the first time, Pakistan has admitted to the presence of one of India's most wanted terrorists Dawood Ibrahim but said he has been “chased out” and could be in “the UAE”.


“Dawood (Ibrahim) was in Pakistan, but I believe he was chased out of Pakistan. If he is in Pakistan, he should be hounded and arrested. We cannot allow such gangsters to operate from the country,” said Shahryar Khan, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's special envoy for improving relations with India.


The former diplomat said he stressed that if the gangster were in the country he would have been arrested by now. He was speaking to reporters at a pre-launch event organised by the Indian Journalists' Association for his latest book 'Cricket Cauldron: The Turbulent Politics of Sport in Pakistan' here.


“I think he is in the UAE. The Nawaz Sharif government is very much in favour of taking action against criminals who not only affect Pakistan but also any other countries, whether it is India or Afghanistan or wherever. We cannot allow criminals to flourish in the country. If they come to us, we will take action. That is why I think he (Dawood) has left Pakistan,” Khan added.


The former Pakistani foreign secretary also reiterated the newly-elected Pakistan Government's commitment to hold talks with moderate elements of the Taliban.


"Pakistan has been in favour of discussions with the Taliban of the more moderate ilk. But a large number are not moderate. There are those operating in Pakistan who are not moderate. However, Pakistan remains inclined to talk to the reasonable ones," he said.


Pakistan has till now denied the presence of Dawood on its soil though Indian security agencies have repeatedly mentioned his name and details in dossiers handed over to Pakistani authorities. According to reports, Dawood was based in Karachi, where he had fled after the 1993 Mumbai bombings.


Besides the 1993 bombings, he is wanted in numerous terror and criminal cases in India. In 2003, the US government had designated him as a "foreign terrorist". — PTI

2 die in Kishtwar clashes; curfew clamped, Army out

Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Jammu, August 9

Curfew was imposed and the Army called out following communal clashes that left two persons dead and at least 34 injured in Kishtwar town on Friday.


Over 500 CRPF personnel and Indian Reserve Police and J&K Armed Police personnel have been rushed to the town. The administration has ordered closure of all educational institutions tomorrow in all 10 districts of Jammu region. Sources said the situation was “not very good”.


One of the victims has been identified as Arvind Kumar. In the evening, a charred body was recovered from the main bazaar, taking the toll to two Four of the injured reportedly received gunshot injuries as frenzied mobs looted and torched dozens of shops in the daylong clashes.


The state government appointed Jammu Divisional Commissioner, Shantmanu as an inquiry officer to probe the riots. He would submit his report to the government within three weeks. The government announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Arvind Kumar.


In what could embarrass the government, the large-scale arson and violence took place in spite of the presence of Minister of State for Home Sajjad Ahmed Kichloo in the town, his home constituency.


People from both the communities blamed the delayed response of the administration. “Over a dozen shops were completely damaged and 60 others were torched by mobs,” said Rafiq Khan, a local from Kishtwar. “The Minister was in Kishtwar. If he can’t protect the people in his home constituency, how can he run the affairs of the state?” he fumed.


Another local, Dinkar Sharma, told The Tribune on the phone that the curfew was not effectively imposed. “Only an announcement was made. There was no flag march even though rioters opened fire and looted shops,” he said. An Army source said the state government’s request for Army’s help came around 2.30 pm. Kishtwar deputy commissioner Mohammed Saleem said the curfew was imposed around 11 am soon after the clashes broke out at 10.30 am.


The administration has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr PC in the adjoining Bhaderwah town of Doda district.


Chief Secretary Khanday, DGP Ashok Prasad, Jammu Divisional Commissioner Shantmanu, IGP Jammu zone Rajesh Kumar and DIG Doda-Ramban-Kishtwar range, Ashkoor Wani, have rushed to the town. Sources close to them told The Tribune that the situation was not “very good”.


The trigger


    Some persons raised anti-India slogans after Eid prayers in the Kuleed area and were attacked by another section of the people

    The clashes later spread to nearby areas

    The Army finally took over the situation around 7.30 pm

Kabul cautions India on Pak-based jihadi groups

Says they will continue targeting Indian interests in Afghanistan

Ashok Tuteja/TNS


New Delhi, August 9

In the backdrop of last Saturday’s suicide attack on the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad, Kabul has cautioned India that the Taliban and transnational ‘jihadi’ groups based in Pakistan will remain the principal instrumentality of Islamabad’s response to India’s increasing engagement in Afghanistan in the run-up to the drawdown by NATO troops.


Information shared by Afghan officials with India following the Jalalabad attack indicates that the Indian Embassy in Kabul and Consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat are still on the target list of the Pakistani groups.


New Delhi has also been informed that the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Afghanistan had over the past four months arrested more than 50 insurgents of Pakistani nationality who planned to attack not only Indian assets but also various other high-value targets in Afghanistan. On their radar were the National Assembly, several government departments and Kabul’s Serena Hotel, frequented mostly by foreigners.


It has also been communicated to India that Afghan security agencies have been put on a high alert especially along the long and porous border with Pakistan in the wake of some jail breaks in Pakistan which have led to the escape of a number of notorious terrorist commanders.


Sources acknowledged that the impact of the Jalalabad attack could have been much serious if Indian and Afghan agencies had not been in constant touch, sharing leads on threats from terror groups.


The security apparatus at the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad, which is close to the Pakistan border, had been beefed up only recently. It was due to this factor that Afghan security personnel could stop the explosive-laden vehicle when it attempted to enter the lane leading to the Consulate. The Consulate could have been blown up had the terrorists manage to enter the premises.


The needle of suspicion remains on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, which is hand in glove with the ISI. Meanwhile, India has announced a compensation package for the families of those killed or injured in the Jalalabad attack. Nine Afghans were killed and 24 wounded in the attack.


In what was described as ‘token assistance’, Indian Ambassador Amar Sinha announced a compensation of $10,000 (about Rs 6 lakh) to the families of each of the victims. He also announced a reward of $20,000 for the Afghan security personnel who were on duty outside the Consulate when the attack took place. In addition, $2,000 compensation was announced for the Afghan soldier, who gunned down one of the suicide bombers, and stopped the attackers in their tracks.


The Ambassador announced that New Delhi would hand over $20,000 to the local government for the treatment of those who were injured in the attack. Another $10,000 would be given to the local government for the repair of the mosques which were damaged during bombings.


Crucial info


    Information shared by Afghan officials with India following the Jalalabad attack indicates that the Indian Embassy in Kabul and Consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandahar and Herat are still on the target list of the Pakistani groups

    New Delhi has also been informed that the National Directorate of Security (NDS) in Afghanistan had over the past four months arrested more than 50 insurgents of Pakistani nationality planned to attack Indian assets in Afghanistan

    It has also been communicated to India that Afghan security agencies have been put on a high alert, especially along the long and porous border with Pakistan, in the wake of some jail breaks in Pakistan which have led to the escape of a number of notorious terrorist commanders

After face-off, Indian & Chinese troops exchange beer, rasgullas

New Delhi, August 9

Indian and Chinese troops had a face-off in Sikkim earlier this week which, however, ended in a friendly exchange of beer and rasgullas.


The face-off happened near the Tangkar La pass at the height of over 16,000 feet in eastern Sikkim after a Chinese patrol entered into territory claimed by India, sources told PTI here. The Chinese patrol, which was travelling in two light vehicles, was monitored by the Indian team comprising a young Lieutenant and nine jawans there, they said.


The Indian patrol intercepted the Chinese patrol at the Tangkar La pass and after that, they showed banners to each other asking to leave the area and go back into their respective territories.


At the time of parting, the Chinese troops presented cans of Budweiser beer to the Indian patrol while our troops gifted them a pack of rasgullas, they said.


In the recent past, there have been a spate of incursions from the Chinese side into the Indian territory all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two sides stretching from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir in north to Arunachal Pradesh in the northeast.


On the transgressions by Chinese troops, Defence Minister A K Antony had recently said that "there is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China. There are areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of the LAC and both sides undertake patrols up to their respective positions there." "On account of differences in perception of LAC, certain transgression incidents do take place on ground. Government regularly takes up any transgression with the Chinese side through established mechanisms," he had said. — PTI


Food ties


    The face-off happened near the Tangkar La pass at the height of over 16,000 feet in eastern Sikkim after a Chinese patrol entered into territory claimed by India

    The Indian patrol intercepted the Chinese patrol at the Tangkar La pass and after that, they showed banners to each other asking to leave the area and go back into their respective territories

    At the time of parting, the Chinese troops presented cans of Budweiser beer to the Indian patrol while our troops gifted them a pack of rasgullas

Army Chief pulls up formation commanders


New Delhi, August 9

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh has pulled up the commanders of formations deployed in Poonch sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in the wake of two major raids by Pakistan Army special troops in Indian territory in the last eight months.


During the visit to the LoC to review the security situation after the killing of five Indian soldiers in Poonch on Tuesday, the Army Chief pulled up the formation commanders there, Army sources said here.


In the earlier incident on January 8, troops of Pakistan's Special Services Group (SSG) had entered Indian territory and killed two Indian soldiers and beheaded one of them.


After the January incident, the Army Chief had asked his formation commanders to adopt an aggressive stance on the LoC and asked them to respond immediately in case of provocations by Pakistan Army.


"I expect my commanders to be aggressive in the face of firing," Gen Singh had said. The Army is also checking if there was any violation of standard operating procedures (SOP) by the troops and the unit deployed in that area. — PTI

Strike Corps for mountains

Adding to deterrence capability against China

by Gurmeet Kanwal


On July 17, 2013, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) finally approved the Army's proposal for raising a Strike Corps for the mountains. Though the approval came after considerable delay, it is a pragmatic move that will send an appropriate message across the Himalayas. It will help India upgrade its military strategy against China from dissuasion to genuine deterrence as the Strike Corps, in conjunction with the Indian Air Force (IAF), will provide the capability to launch offensive operations across the Himalayas so as to take the next war into Chinese territory.


The new Strike Corps will comprise two infantry divisions and will be supported by three independent armoured brigades, three artillery brigades to provide potent firepower, an engineer and air defence brigade each, an aviation brigade and units providing logistics services. The Corps will cost Rs 64,000 crore to raise and equip over a period of five to seven years. Approximately 90,000 new personnel will be added to the Army's manpower strength, including those in ancillary support and logistics units. The Army has already raised 56 and 71 Mountain Divisions and deployed them in Arunachal Pradesh to fill the existing gaps in defence. Some elements of these divisions will act as readily available reserves for the new Strike Corps to add weight along the axis of attack and exploit success. These divisions will also be employed to secure launch pads for offensive operations across the Himalayas. Hence, these must be seen as playing a significant supporting role for the Strike Corps.


Despite the ongoing border talks between India and China to resolve the territorial and boundary dispute, often punctuated by ugly incidents like the PLA incursion in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector in April-May 2013 and repeated incursions into Chumar since then, a limited India-China border conflict cannot be completely ruled out. As the territorial dispute with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir is also in the mountains, there is a very high probability that the next conventional conflict involving India will again break out in the mountains. Since the war will be fought under a nuclear overhang, particularly with Pakistan, there is a fair possibility that it will remain confined to the mountains so that it does not escalate out of control to nuclear exchanges. Hence, it was time for India to pivot to the mountains in its quest for building military capacities and it is creditable that the government has given the go ahead to raise a new Strike Corps.


In any future war that the armed forces are called upon to fight in the mountains, gaining, occupying and holding territory and evicting the enemy from Indian territory will continue to remain important military aims. While these will be infantry predominant operations, no war plan will succeed without achieving massive asymmetries in the application of firepower to destroy the enemy's combat potential and infrastructure. Therefore, Army-IAF operational plans must be fully integrated. These must be jointly evolved, meticulously coordinated and flexible enough to be fine-tuned to exploit fleeting opportunities and to take advantage of the enemy's reactions during execution. This is especially so in the mountains where the military aims and objectives are limited in scope because of the terrain. Both the Services must work together to create the capabilities that are necessary to take the battle into enemy territory during the next war in the mountains.


As artillery batteries and regiments cannot be moved and re-deployed easily, operations in the mountains place a premium on battlefield air support. Operational mastery over air-to-ground strikes can influence the outcome of tactical battles in the mountains extremely favourably. Firepower ratios can be enhanced to levels necessary for achieving overwhelming superiority only through a major upgrade in the availability of artillery guns, rocket launchers and missiles and offensive air support. A contract for the acquisition of 144 Howitzers of 155 mm caliber has been hanging fire for long and needs to be expedited. The new artillery units that will be raised must be equipped with short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) that can engage targets deep inside Tibet from deployment areas in the plains. Precision-guided munitions (PGMs) need to be acquired in large numbers both by the artillery and the IAF to accurately destroy important targets such as communications centres. The government must also hasten the acquisition of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance equipment.


The peculiarities of terrain and the lack of sufficient road communications, particularly lateral roads that connect the road axes leading to the border, will place heavier demands on helicopter lift for the movement of reserves within divisional and brigade sectors. At the operational level, only an “air assault” formation can turn the tide through vertical envelopment and enable deep offensive operations to be carried out when employed in conjunction with special forces. An air assault brigade group inducted across the LoC or LAC by helicopters after the IAF has achieved a favourable air situation can seize an objective in depth. Ideally, each of the infantry divisions of the strike Corps must have one air assault brigade with the requisite air lift. In addition to attack helicopters, which will provide sustained firepower support, a large number of utility helicopters will be required to support offensive operations across the Himalayas, including medium- and heavy-lift helicopters.


The successful launching of Strike Corps operations will depend on the availability of good infrastructure, including double-lane roads with all-weather capability and suitably placed logistics nodes. India's plans to upgrade infrastructure in the states bordering China have not been making adequate progress. In fact, there have been inordinate delays due to the lack of environmental clearances and other reasons. While the new Strike Corps is being raised, equipped and trained, the government must make vigorous efforts to speed up the completion of infrastructure projects. Otherwise, the Army will have a new Strike Corps and not be able to launch it effectively.


The writer is a Delhi-based strategic analyst.

LoC tensions: Indian army opens fire, injures civilian on LoC



Pakistan’s military officials accused Indian forces of opening fire and seriously injuring a Pakistani civilian in the Tatta Pani sector along the Line of Control (LoC) on Thursday.


“At around 8:30am, Indian troops resorted to unprovoked firing at the LoC, injuring a civilian, Kaka Sana Muhammad, who has now been shifted to a military hospital,” a security official told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.


Earlier, Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both the countries came into contact over hotline and discussed the situation along the LoC in Kashmir. Pakistan Army had lodged a strong protest for the LoC violation by Indian troops in different sectors alongside the border.


Pakistan’s DGMO conveyed these sentiments to his counterpart during a special hotline contact this morning.


Indian defence minister’s charge


Indian Defence Minister A K Antony has warned Pakistan not to take India’s patience for granted and asserted that it was Pakistani Army regulars who had killed five Indian soldiers on the Line of Control, according to a statement issued in the Indian parliament.


The statement came at a time when the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) accused the defence minister of having a soft stance on the issue in order to keep the Pakistan-India dialogue alive.


On the other hand, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid has refused to categorically comment on whether talks with Pakistan were still on track. “Not in a position to say anything today. This is not the time nor the appropriate atmosphere in which we should be discussing talks,” Khurshid said.


“Let’s wait for the appropriate time. All the inputs have to be brought in, then we can make a call,” he added.


Khurshid’s intervention came at a time when a campaign has been launched by the Indian media, demanding suspension of talks with Pakistan. BJP, the opposition party has been saying that for every act of violence against India, Pakistan must be made to pay a higher price.


“We want the house to know that we do not play politics. We have maintained that the statement made by the defence minister was wrong and we have demanded a correction,” said leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.


“We want Pakistan to know that India will not tolerate repeated incidents like this. It cannot take our restraint for granted,” she added, after Antony corrected his previous statement that the attack on Indian soldiers took place on the Indian side of the LoC and that it was persons dressed as Pakistan Army who mounted the attack.


Some TV channels had suggested that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had diluted Antony’s statement to prevent the Manmohan Singh-Nawaz Sharif meeting in New York in September from being washed out.


The PMO said this was rubbish. “Such allegations being made are mischievous and have no basis,” a PMO spokesman said today.


Antony’s statement today – which should be read as the authoritative statement based on full information after the Chief of Army Staff had visited the site of the attack and had briefed the Defence Minister said, “It is now clear that the specialist troops of Pakistan Army were involved in this attack when a group from the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) side crossed the LoC and killed our brave jawans.


The debate now is what the ‘consequences’ of events on the LoC will be. Statements have already started coming from all over the world that the dialogue between India and Pakistan should not be halted. Today British Prime Minister David Cameron also made a statement to this effect. While India’s position has always been that no one but India and Pakistan must be involved in resolving outstanding issues between the two countries, the world has been wary of tension between India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers.


The immediate consequence of the tension was the cancellation of some music programmes featuring Pakistani singers and joint independence day celebrations on the Rajasthan border were called off. The Secretaries level dialogue on water and trade is unlikely.


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