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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Police training centres without proper security arrangements

 Four training centres situated on city’s outskirts, have decrepit boundary walls 
* Thokar Niaz Baig centre has two policemen protecting 500 unarmed trainee traffic wardens 
* No CCTV, entry register at Bedian training centre for Elite Force

By Abdul Manan


LAHORE: The police training centres of the city do not have proper security arrangements, sources in the Police Department told Daily Times on Monday.

Apart from the Police Training School (PTS) at Chuhng, the other four police training centres are established on the outskirts of the city, with only one boundary wall each and open fields on the other three sides. 

Outskirts: The training centres on the outskirts of the city include PTS Multan Road, LOS Traffic Warden Line at Thokar Niaz Baig, Bedian Police Training Centre and Police Training School Manawan on GT Road. The Thokar Niaz Baig centre is the training centre for refresher courses of the City Traffic Police. It is situated on an area of 30 acres, and around 500 wardens live on the campus. Sources in the centre told Daily Times the centre’s boundary wall was in dilapidated condition. 

Two policemen: They said only two policemen were deployed at the centre’s main gate, and they were given the task of protecting 500 unarmed wardens – with two old guns. They said barriers in deteriorated condition were placed at the main gate, which were not sufficient protection against any attacks. They said sometimes only one policeman was present at the gate. They said terrorists could easily target them in this ‘cage’. They said no register was kept at the entrance, and there was no record of visitors. 

The Bedian Training Centre is located some 5 kilometres from the Wagha border. It is situated on 350 acres, and has no boundary wall. Its building and training grounds cover around 13 acres. Around 1,000 Elite personnel get training at this centre. Besides the Elite Force personnel, the personnel of Punjab Police and patrolling police also get short-term training courses at this centre. Sources in the Bedian Training Centre told Daily Times they went through 16 hours of physical training at the centre, and some of them also had to perform the additional duty of guarding the centre at night. 

No camera, register: They said there was no surveillance camera or entrance register at the main gate. They said there was not even a map of the building in the training centre. They said an artificial thick forest surrounded the main gate, and there were no walls surrounding the centre. They said criminals could very easily hide themselves in the forest. 

The Police Training School Manawan, which is under construction, has been established in place of an old transport depot owned by the government. Some 1,000 Punjab Police personnel do their 9-month training at this centre. PTS Chuhng is one of the oldest police training institutions in Punjab. The school is supposed to accommodate some 860 trainees at a time. However, sources in the school said the actual number of trainees at the school was often much greater. An official of the school told Daily Times 10 trenches had been dug at the school to defend against any possible attack. He said a complete record of visitors was kept. 

Chief Traffic Officer Shariq Kamal Siddique told Daily Times he would enhance the security at the LOS Centre at Thokar Niaz Baig. Training Additional Inspector General of Police Abdul Ghaffar Mian told Daily Times he could not comment as he was busy at the Manawan training school.

Lahore 'was Pakistan Taleban op

The chief of the Pakistani Taleban, Baitullah Mehsud, has told the BBC his group was behind Monday's deadly attack on a police academy in Lahore.

He said the attack was "in retaliation for the continued drone strikes by the US in collaboration with Pakistan on our people".

He also claimed responsibility for two other recent deadly attacks.

Baitullah Mehsud said the attacks would continue "until the Pakistan government stops supporting the Americans".

Security officials are interrogating at least four suspects captured after the attack, police say.

 We will continue our attacks until the Pakistan government stops supporting the Americans 
Pakistan Taleban chief Baitullah Mehsud

Eighteen people, including two civilians, eight policemen and eight militants, were killed and 95 people were injured during the eight-hour battle to wrest back control of the academy, the interior ministry says.

Pakistan's interior minister earlier identified the Taleban as well as other extremist groups as possible perpetrators, and suggested a foreign state could also be involved.

'Retaliation'

Baitullah Mehsud is the supreme commander of the Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (Movement of Taleban in Pakistan) organisation.

He operates out of a stronghold in the Pakistani tribal region of South Waziristan.

Speaking to the BBC by phone, he also claimed responsibility for two other attacks:

  • A suicide attack on a security convoy, also on Monday, near the town of Bannu in North West Frontier Province, which killed seven security personnel
  • An attack on the offices of an intelligence agency in Islamabad on 25 March

But he denied responsibility for the bombing of a mosque in north-west Pakistan on 27 March, in which at least 50 people died.

Baitullah Mehsud warned the attacks would continue as long as Pakistan continued "supporting the Americans".

Such attacks are indeed expected to increase in line with the newly announced US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, says the BBC's Barbara Plett in Lahore.

Different Taleban factions in the border region, including Baitullah Mehsud's, have joined forces in readiness to confront the planned American troop increase in Afghanistan, she says.


Monday, 30 March 2009

Iran, India may join US war in Afghanistan

By Anwar Iqbal 


Friday, 27 Mar

WASHINGTON: A key US senator said on Thursday that the United States and Iran might begin their cooperation for stabilising Afghanistan after a meeting between officials of the two countries in The Hague next week.

‘We also need to reach out to Afghanistan’s other neighbours, including India, China, and Iran,’ Senator John Kerry told the confirmation hearing for the new US ambassador to Afghanistan.

The former Democratic presidential candidate, who now heads the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted that in 2001 and 2002, Iran helped to stabilise Afghanistan. ‘And the Obama administration is right to explore how our interests might coincide again on this issue, beginning at the Hague Conference next week,’ he added.

Earlier on Thursday, Hasan Qashqavi, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Tehran that Iran would join the United States at two international conferences on Afghanistan, including the one at The Hague which begins on March 31.

‘The level of participation is yet to be determined,’ he added. Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially invited Iran to the Hague conference.

The US move is seen in Tehran as a moral victory for the Iranian government, which was castigated by the Bush administration as part of an ‘Axis of Evil’.

Although the US still plays a leading role in the campaign against Iran’s nuclear programme, the US decision to involve it in its efforts to stabilise Afghanistan enhances the stature of the Iranian government.

Both the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon are expected to attend. Other attendees will include foreign ministers from countries in the region, countries that are part of the International Security Assistance Force and other countries and organisations that are contributing to reconstruction in Afghanistan.

At the confirmation hearing, Senator Kerry outlined some of the salient features of a new US strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is expected to be announced on Friday.

The new strategy also seeks to triple US economic assistance to Pakistan and a greater engagement with the Afghans.

‘I will soon be re-introducing with Senator Lugar the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, which seeks to triple non-military aid to the people of Pakistan,’ Senator Kerry said.

The proposed legislation will also hold Pakistan’s ‘security forces more accountable for assistance provided in their fight against the Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda,’ he added.

Senator Richard Lugar, a ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which authorises US foreign aid, also has pledged to support the bill.

‘We can all agree that today Afghanistan, along with its neighbour Pakistan, represents the central front in our global campaign against terrorism,’ Senator Kerry told the confirmation hearing.

Referring to the new strategy, Senator Kerry stressed the need for a regional approach for bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan. ‘Our strategy must also reflect the interconnectedness of the region’s challenges,’ he said.

‘This requires redoubling our efforts to strengthen Pakistan’s civilian government and support its activities against militants in the tribal belt.’ That’s why, he said, he was seeking to triple US assistance to Pakistan.

Senator Kerry noted that President Barak Obama has pledged to recommit to Afghanistan, beginning with the deployment of 17,000 additional US troops and a significant effort to increase the size and capacity of Afghan security forces. He said while he supported this move, he also believed that ‘troops alone will not bring victory.’

[Dawn]

RAW implanting New CIA’ Strategy

By Zaheerul Hassan  


Lahore, March 30: On March 30, 2009, the RAW’s trained terrorists again hit Lahore and killed several under training police personnel of Police Training Centre, Manawan Lahore. One terrorist apparently afghan nationality has been apprehended. It is doubted that terrorist has been given training at Jaisilmir (India) adjacent to Pakistan border. The terrorist was probably trying to flee away with the intentions of crossing border which is hardly 3 kilometers away from place of incidents. It is quite possible that assailants are same Indian black cats those attacked Sri Lankan team a month ago and yet to be arrested. RAW   believes in Extremism and elimination of Muslims from India and now supporting indirectly BJP in her election Campaign. BJP is strongly has faith on Hindu Vatism which refers to Hindu extremism and domination. For a long time, the concept of Hindu Extremism and domination has ruled the Indian politics. Thus the achievement of this goal led New Delhi to adopt coercive diplomacy and concept of limited war. As the judicial movement succeeded in Pakistan and being a frontline state against terrorism, Islamabad became a throne in the eyes of India. It is impossible for her to confront Pakistan directly but at the same time, she wants to destabilize and deescalate Pakistan. Thus India started playing its cards in the form of covert operations inside Pakistan.

The attack on mosque in Khyber , the attack on Sri Lankan team in liberty and recently the attack on Pakistan police training center is evident upon fact that the impetus was provided by a foreign hand i.e.; RAW. All these efforts of India are directed towards proving Pakistan an irresponsible nation and a failed state. RAW backed by CIA is continuously spreading terrorism and sending well-planned terrorists in Pakistan. Any common man cannot plan such an extensive act and implement it alone without any foreign hand. It is without any doubt the outcome of the malicious planning of New Delhi to pave the way to malign the name of Pakistan and making excuses valid for drone attacks inside Pakistan. However, India should not forget that Pakistan is a responsible nation and will go to any extent to meet external threats. 

CIA is using RAW and RAAM as her tools to implement her agenda of pushing Pakistan into anarchy and in political turmoil.  American and Indian agencies never liked to see Pakistan a successful South Asian country. They are backing terrorism to victimize lonely Islamic Nuclear Power. The blaming ISI and Pakistan Security agencies   and damaging Pakistan sovereignty is on the top their agenda. Pakistan political top brass must realize the facts and read the underlines of new strategy of CIA, which probably totally different to the Obama” announced policy. 


Taliban terror haunts India

                                   Rope in China, US to tackle the menace: Security agencies

Swati Chaturvedi

New Delhi, March 5: “Taliban is a mere five hours away from India,” states a matter-of-fact report by security agencies to the Union cabinet. In a joint report to the cabinet committee on security, the agencies have called for urgent, joint action by India, US and China to take on the Taliban.

China, despite being an ally of Pakistan , is said to be worried about the growing influence of its home-grown extremists and radical groups of Islam. The unrest in the provinces in China is also being fanned by the economic slowdown. China, therefore, might not be averse to fighting what is perceived as a Frankenstein. India on its own does not have the strategic resources to counter the growing strength of the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, point out the agencies.

Warning that India is surrounded by a virtual ‘ring of fire’, the report says that the mutiny in Bangladesh and the attack on cricketers at Lahore indicate a convergence of forces which are opposed to the very idea of India. Describing recent events in Bangladesh as a time-bomb ‘ticking’, the report warns of a large-scale influx of people into India, if disturbances persist in the neighbouring country.

The possible connections between radical groups like the LTTE in Sri Lanka, Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, Jehadi elements in Bangladesh make it imperative to take effective action against terrorists.

Sources in the Home ministry expressed their concern about Nepal being used as a hub by the ISI. The strength of the Pakistan High Commission at Kathmandu, they say, is disproportionately high and more than half of them are suspected to be ISI agents. Government of India, these sources claimed, has taken up the issue with Nepal and has communicated its concern over overt and covert ISI activities carried out from Nepal.

The report rubbishes the claim that there are ‘good’ Taliban, namely those who are demanding the rule of the Sharia, and that there are ‘bad’ Taliban, namely the global jehadis. Even Mohammad Sufi, the Talib with whom the Pakistan government struck a deal to implement Sharia in Swat, has made no secret of his mission to implement the rule of Sharia over the whole of Pakistan and fight in Kashmir for oppressed Muslims.

Sources here indicate that the report is being shared with ‘friendly’ countries, including the United States. Government of India, they said, is convinced that the situation in Pakistan is out of control. The situation, said a source grimly, is ‘almost’ a ‘code red’, a term used to describe a state of nuclear alert.

[The Tribune, India]


Terrorism in Lahore: Focus on Indian Involvement-X

Kashmir Watch, March 29

By Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
 



The Lahore carnage- Why India did that?
 

I

Indian agents are spread around the world in various disguises and are engaged not only in anti-Kashmir, anti-Pakistan and anti-Islamic but also in subversive and sabotage activities. Lahore Mar03 reveals the possibility of a strong Indian contingent in Pakistan as well. Besides, India has terror camps, both official and private and Hindutva ones, to train Hindu terrorists for "actions" in India, Jammu Kashmir and other neighborhoods. Indian subversive terror activities are in full swing in Afghanistan. India claims US partnership on this basis as well.  

Indian ambitions for military supremacy in Asia and hatred for Islam and Muslims cannot be explained in a simple way. One cannot expect India, which keeps killing innocent Kashmiris in their own nation, to reveal the whole truth about its hidden agendas and secret terror activities to threaten the South Asia region. The readers should now be aware of possible causes for the Lahore mayhem - from defaming of Islam and undo Swat program to military superiority, punish a “small” Sri Lanka to sport hegemony of India - there could be a whole lot of reasons and only India can tell frankly, if chooses to do, about its main intention in the terror machinations in Pakistan immediately after its Mumbai blasts a couple of months ago.

And with terrorism in Lahore killing some Muslims and terrorizing others along with Lankan cricketers has not come to an end. Those who read or watch Indian media and check the online portals (perhaps, India comes only after the Israel, USA in online portals some of them, like Yahoo, Hotmail, rediff, Google, etc have also been bought under Indian control) being sprouted by Indian fanatics with state support to defame Islam and work against Muslims, (and not just to propagate Hinduism or India) will comprehend Indian hidden agenda for its neighbors.  It is not just Hindu state that is being built now in India with the ghastly destruction of Grand Babri Mosque, the killing of Muslims in India and Kashmir, but its ultimate aim is to silence the world around with its military power, manipulative capacity and deceptive maneuverings. In spite of global criticism, India has snot decided to rebuild the Babri Mosque but is busy hold polls, ha snot decided to free Kashmir, but has conducted military aided polls there.

II

A country that seeks end of its neighbors cannot but be terror minded. Pakistan cricket captain was supposed to play that morning when the ghastly terrorism devastated Lahore. Had Younis Khan batted on that fateful day as scheduled, he probably would have made another 300 plus to put his team back on the rails as did in the previous innings, he would have overtaken the “record” set by an Indian cricketer Shewag form Delhi whom some Delhi mafia is trying to make the captain. So, by stopping Younis Khan from entering the playground by terrorism action, India has indeed saved the prestige of Hindus, because they cannot tolerate or digest a situation where Pakistan, accordingly to Indian fanatics, outsmarts “great” India; nor can New Delhi take kindly any news about Muslims getting some glory despite the anti-Islamic media rhetoric and fanatic activities. That is India.

But, is "cricket shine" the only reason for terrorism in Lahore? Obviously, it has got more than just cricket cause. As a result, something terrible has happened in Pakistan with USA in control of Muslim lives and human face, pride. A US strategic partner, cold-blooded India has also used the available tensed political opportunity in Lahore, when an elected government was removed in Punjab on suggestion from the occupying US forces, so that attention would be focused on Federal government. Global media did not fail to mention that  the anti-Zardari gangs in Lahore has done the terrorism act to discredit Zardari and India media even projected news about Zardari being removed by military. Ouster of Zardari and military takeover and end of “democracy” was forecast in Indo-Global media. In fact there has been a lot of funfair around the world.

II

India is too upset about US-Pakistan relations even after the recent nuclear move India made to come closer to USA as a “strategic partner” to essentially corner Pakistan and China, but failed. However, Indo-US mafia and media conveniently place their state terrorist damages on the “terrorists” from Islam. When ten gunmen killed 179 people in Mumbai between Nov26-28 last year, India immediately blamed Pakistan and the “terrorists” who  “hiding” in Pakistan and skillfully maintained it had no role in it and the plot was hatched in Pakistan plus Europe and backed by people with links to Pakistani intelligence agencies. New Delhi has pressed for forceful action by Pakistani authorities against Muslims belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba; a jihadi group it still says was responsible. The group comes from Pakistan’s Punjab province, whose capital is Lahore, with which BJP leader LK Advani is connected by relations. The choice of Lahore for making Pakistan a “failed and risky” state, therefore, was the Indian brain child, but India, as a fundamental principle, hesitates to claim responsibility for terrorisms. India would claim to be state terrorist, only if USA also does the same.

A key Indian policy for Pakistan has been to destabilize that nation, make it a failed state and force world bodies and USA to “recognize” Pakistan as terrorist state. India always used its agents in the region to create devastating turmoil in Pakistan. After Mumbai Nov26 terrorist attacks, official and unofficial India had unleashed propaganda against Pakistan’s ISI and tried to prove that Pakistan as a state was behind the carnage and Indian which is already terrorizing Kashmiris, began using threatening language and wanted to invade Pakistan on terror pretext and asked USA to interfere  to diffuse the “crisis”. Indian almost asked Pakistan to kill some Muslims as “revenge”. Both Premier Manmohan Singh and his foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee had vowed to avenge at an appropriate time. Already India claims it has outsmarted Islamabad by “clinging” nuclearism with USA.

When Indian premier and others warned Pakistan of action at the “appropriate time”, India indeed was not joking. The presence of Srilankan cricketers in Lahore on March 03 was found to be the right time to act and Indian well-trained terrorists acted: 12 gunmen attacked the convoy near Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium with rockets, hand grenades and automatic weapons and were involved in a shoot-out with the escort personnel of the team. Two civilians and six police officers who were guarding the players were killed in the attack which happened as the team was heading for the third day’s play in the second Test against Pakistan. World knows, India had also dissuaded other countries including Sri Lanka not to send cricket team to Pakistan because of Mumbai carnage. Sri Lankan team had displayed courage and demonstrated solidarity with Pakistan when other teams had refused to come to Pakistan and sent their team to Pakistan annoying Indian bosses. Now the Indian Internal minister said Pakistan is on the way to becoming a failed state and that could mean India is still working on its hidden agenda  

III

Indian devastating super-complex, when ignored by its neighbors, takes the form of terrorism. On arms deals, India has problems with Sri Lanka. India wants to decide every thing for its neighbors. India had rebuked Sri Lanka for expressing a desire to procure radars and other smaller equipment from Pakistan and China, as Indian-origin radars in service with Sri Lanka proved ineffective, and failed to detect air attacks of Tamil Tigers. In 2007 India’s National Security Advisor Narayanan had claimed to be the big power in this region. “Let us make it very clear. We strongly believe that whatever requirements the Sri Lankan government has, it should come to us. And we will give what we think is necessary”.  India ignores the fact that Sri Lanka is an independent and sovereign country and has the right to pursue its policies; we do not favour their going to China or Pakistan or any other country”.

Indian arrogance needs to be understood in the background of Indo-US nuclearism now. There is turmoil in many parts of the world but South Asia is the real flashpoint where two nuclear states have unresolved dispute over Kashmir for six decades and India has shown utter disregard to the UNSC resolutions giving the Kashmiris the right to self-determination. Indian leadership already considers India as the world power and wishes that those countries should formulate their internal, external and defence policies according to its will. India arrogates to herself the role of determining the extent of independence and sovereignty its neighbors will enjoy.  India’s attitude towards its neighboring countries is also not in keeping with the norms of peaceful co-existence. Instead of recognizing their equal status and sovereignty, India wishes submissive behavior on the part of its neighbors, demanding of the countries of the region to act according to its whim and fancy.

Indian leaders, military tops and media personnel have made Indians and global people believe that Mumbai Nov26 was done by Pakistan without any cause and routine matter, while very ably hiding the fact Lahore terror was in fact an Indian showcase against Islam, Muslims, Kashmir and Pakistan. USA cannot be fooled by Indian leaders and media. Now by enacting similar terror in Lahore India wants to reassure Hindus that they have taken revenge on Pakistan (“Pakis”, as Indian media brand Pakistan) for Mumbai tragedy. That is India engineered a quick terrorism in Pakistan to disprove that Mumbai was not done by it. But whom does India want to deceive?

Like USA and Israel, India refuses to accept normal foreign policy goals of regional powers and does not realize that Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal or Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and has the right to pursue independent policies. Sri Lanka has every right to acquire necessary and suitable equipment from whatever source it wants, particularly in view of the fact that India has been unable to meet Sri Lanka’s defense needs. The fact of the matter was that India was a major arms supplier to the LTTE, which had long been procuring arms and ammunition with the help of smugglers by sea from Tamil Nadu. India does not believe in any ethics or norms. It used to supply arms to Sri Lankan Security Forces to be used against LTTE, and India was reported to have supplied more sophisticated weapons to LTTE than to Sri Lankan government. The radars supplied by India to the Sri Lankan Air Force failed to detect Tamil Tigers micro-light aircraft, which was developed by the Indian agent of Tamil Nadu origin. Tamil LTTE is so weak now that it would have done the terror in Lahore, but India might have done it on its behalf.

Apart form nuclearism, export of terrorism plays important role in bringing India closer to USA and Israel. As part of fulfilling the eligibility criterion for strategic partnership with both USA and Israel, the Hindu India exports terrorism to its neighborhood causing severe and  grave(yard) concern for the region and world. India has used it newly acquired US connections to enter Pakistan freely and do the terrorism business.  Even immediately after the Mumbai Nov26, there were terror attacks in Pakistan and Indian Hindus were arrested in that connection. But exploding Lahore, India has allayed all doubts in the American mind about its natural terror instincts. USA, UK, India and other proven “democracies” that kill Muslims in Islamic world, quickly named Pakistan a “failed state, because they could not prevent terrorism in Lahore. Conversely, the USA, UK and India are “passed” states. US-led terror forces have also “passed” in killing Muslims, while secular India does it in Kashmir. Curiously, above that, Indian claim for a “pass” merits attention.  But, then, how?

(To continue…>)

The author is Delhi based Research Scholar in International Studies and can be reached atabdulruff_jnu@yahoo.com 

Related Links

 

*A Free Kashmir: Random Thoughts
  Part 1-71 [Mar 2008 to Mar 2009]

 

*Interview: "I Defend Muslims" Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal , 27 Dec 2008 3

Gunmen Attack Police Academy in Pakistan


































Washington Post Foreign Service 
Monday, March 30, 2009; 9:53 AM

LAHORE, Pakistan, March 30--Gunmen armed with grenades and assault weapons invaded a police training compound near this Pakistani city Monday, battling security forces and holding dozens of police trainees hostage for more than seven hours before being overpowered.

There were conflicting reports about how many people were killed in the attack, although military and police commanders said at least eight police cadets and four assailants had died, and dozens injured. After army and police commandos stormed the rural compound about 4 p.m., the surviving attackers surrendered on a rooftop. No group has claimed responsibility for the assault.

It was the second major terror attack this month in Lahore, a bustling provincial capital known for its cultural and political prominence. On March 3, a squad of gunmen assaulted a bus full of cricket players visiting from Sri Lanka, leaving six people dead and effectively ending Pakistan's ability to host international sporting events.

The brazen, well-coordinated attack Monday by a squad of 15 to 20 assailants underscored the country's vulnerability to terrorism and growing international concerns about whether its weak, year-old civilian government is equipped to fight back.

It also followed a suicide bombing Friday in a northwest Pakistan mosque that killed more than 50 people. But such attacks have been common in the turbulent northwest region near the Afghan border. In contrast, the growing number of attacks in Punjab, once considered relatively safe, is arousing new alarm among Pakistanis who once viewed terrorism as a distant regional problem.

Analysts speculated that Monday's attack was intended to challenge Pakistan's anti-terrorist resolve, just as Islamabad has embraced a major new U.S. strategy that offers generous economic aid in return for tougher, more effective actions against violent Islamist extremists.

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The attack on the police training center also raised the prospect of new tensions between Pakistan and India, longtime nuclear-armed adversaries and neighbors who have accused each other of abetting Islamist terrorism. The site of the assault was less than five miles from Wagah, the major border crossing point with India, and was reminiscent of a three-day siege by gunmen in Mumbai last November that killed more than 160 people.

Pakistan's top civilian security official, who has previously played down the magnitude of terrorist violence in Pakistan, asserted Monday that militant groups are "destabilizing the country." He implied that the attackers came from outside Pakistan, saying that a variety of heavy weapons are entering Pakistan's borders and "should be stopped."

Witnesses to the day-long siege at the Manawan Police Training School, including police trainees who managed to escape the compound as the fighting continued, said they heard the attackers speaking in Punjabi and in a dialect of southeast Pakistan.

The escapees described seeing between 15 and 20 armed men in their 20s, many of whom had beards and some of whom wore suicide vests. They said some of the attackers were dressed in police uniforms, while others were wearing masks.

The attack began around 7:30 a.m., when several hundred trainees were doing exercises on a parade field. Witnesses said they heard a series of loud explosions and then panic erupted, with recruits running in all directions and trying to escape.

"It was beyond terrible. They had so much ammunition with them and the explosions came so fast. Everyone was running for their lives," said Mohammed Irfan, 22, who joined the police six months ago. He escaped from the compound shortly after noon, but more than 30 other hostages remained trapped inside for several more hours.

The Afghan Plan, "Mr. Obama's War"

As I write this, it's been about 72 hours since President Obama official announced his new Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy. 

The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that this is now "Mr. Obama's war." 

He says it's "America's war," but we in the media have anointed it otherwise. He owns it. 

Beyond that, no one I've spoken to has a clear view of what it actually is, or does. This plan tries to be all things to all people, and, as such, is proving to be a Rorschach test, eliciting varied responses from my subjects depending on their prior administration or combat experience. 

Summary of said plan

  • It goes after terrorists with a big conventional troop surge (17,000 soldiers and Marines), and a small special operations forces surge. (Ballpark of a thousand, give or take. They’ll do the same “take out the bad guys” missions they have been doing since 2001. And those reports they stopped operations for a couple weeks in January because they were killing too many civilians? Not true. The SOF guys have been just as round-the-clock busy as those Predator drones bombing the tribal areas of Pakistan.) 

  • The plan helps train more Afghans to do their own hunting, with another 4,000 U.S. trainers to teach them. (These guys are actually coming from an Army combat brigade, so this should be a bit of a head-twisting mission for them. They’re used to fighting, not teaching how to fight.) 

  • It ropes Pakistan into greater cooperation going after said terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas neighboring Afghanistan (where al Qaeda and the Taliban shelter/summer/what-have-you), with a carrot-and-stick approach. Washington gives them a billion-and-a-half dollars in non-military aid for the next five years, and Pakistan stops looking the other way when Taliban leader Mullah Omar takes tea at the finest hotel in Quetta (I am only partly speaking tongue-in-cheek.) 

  • It promises a sort of “nation-building-lite” plan of helping raise Afghanistan (and the Pakistani tribal regions) from third world to maybe “second world” status. A “civilian surge” of hundreds of State Department employees and civilian aid workers and development specialists would provide everything from civic guidance, to humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan — basically teaching President Hamid Karzai's government how to take care of its own. Washington would fund a similar development drive in Pakistan, again, to get locals to trust their own government to provide services, so they don’t turn to the Taliban etc. for help. 

    President Obama explained and defended his Afghanistan agenda in an exclusive interview on the CBS News broadcast Face The Nation on Sunday. Click the video player below to watch Dozier's report


    Here come the critics

    Those who do believe the Iraq surge worked seem to fall into one of two camps: 

    In the first, people say this plan sounds good — because it’s built on the same principles, i.e., it promises major firepower and manpower to go after the bad guys, and become “Papa Bear” to the good guys — keeping them safe, fed, healthy, schooled, employed, etc., and teaching the locals to do that for themselves, so Washington can eventually remove those billion-dollar U.S. training wheels and get out of town. But this camp isn’t convinced Mr. Obama's plan goes far enough in terms of money or manpower. 

    The second camp is the skeptical “the-Iraq-surge-worked, but-you-can’t-do-that-in-Afghanistan” crowd. They point out that Iraq already had a tradition of central government (it was a blood-thirsty dictatorship, but it wasn’t Afghanistan’s “all tribes, all the time.”) It had an existing infrastructure of roads, water systems and power lines (crumbling, sure, but something to build on.) And it had natural resources that the U.S. actually wanted to bring to market (oil, not opium.) Many of these skeptics believe turning Afghanistan around would take more time, money, and American lives than this fight is worth. They go more for the “wall it off and bomb it approach,” more politely known as “containment.” 

    Then, there are the died-in-the-wool Bushies (generally, those who’ve left office; not the holdovers still employed by it.) 

    Their collective take, as much as I’ve been able to glean, is that this is what we were already doing – just a bit more of it. Welcome, and good luck, because there are certain inevitable truths about this part of the world. They say the tribal chiefs will make a deal, and then turn on you. Your special operations forces will take out a legitimate target but al Qaeda will get there first with cameras and make it look like you took out another wedding party, and the locals will hate you. You will clear the Taliban out of a town and you’ll leave Afghan forces behind to protect it, and then you’ll find those forces (too green, or maybe too open to being bought off) will surrender the space to the enemy, and any Afghan who dared to work with you when you were last there will be killed for it. 

    On the Pakistan front – Bushies to Obama folks: you think we didn’t try carrot and stick? The Pakistani intelligence services (spies) helped create the Taliban, which means they’re good at lying. Good luck proving they meant to let the bad guys get away. And when you threaten to take away the Pakistani government’s aid, to punish them, and they fold, they’ll look like American stooges, so you’ll weaken them. And by the way, the Pakistani leaders who’d suffer the most from the cut off in aid often have little control over their intelligence services, so you’re punishing the wrong guy. 

    And the Bushies’ take on using the State Department to build those roads, hospitals, schools, what-have-you? They tried that too. They found that the State Department has a terrible time filling hardship posts in general, and war zone posts in particular. (That’s why the military ended up doing so much nation-building in Iraq. There was no one else, at least not in the numbers the job required.) 

    The Obama team knows this, so newly minted Obama Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy has called for the formation of a U.S. Civilian Response Corps — a body whose sole responsibility would be to handle crises like this one. 

    The Bush administration tried something like that too. NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD-44 created an organization within the State Department devoted to “improved coordination, planning, and implementation for reconstruction and stabilization assistance for foreign states and regions at risk of, in, or in transition from conflict or civil strife.” But so far, only a couple thousand positions have been funded. 

    So will any of this “new” plan work, based as it is on some tried-and-true ideas that worked in a country very different than Afghanistan, but thus far have failed to work in the target country? Is it simply that they weren’t done on the proper scale? 

    Mr. Obama says he’s got to try. He says they’ll get through the Afghan elections next fall and then look at it all again, to make sure it’s working. 

    In that way, he sounds a lot like the last guys in Iraq — in that failure in Afghanistan is not an option, and if it’s not working, he owns it, and will do whatever’s needed to fix it.
  • Swat deal an unlikely model for reconciliation with Taliban (Feature)

    Peshawar, Pakistan - Pakistan's government stopped 16 months of fighting and brought relative calm to Swat, a scenic valley just an hour north of Islamabad, by cutting a truce with Taliban militants, a development it promotes as a model to deal with the Islamic insurgency in the entire region.

       However, the price paid for peace may be too high and likely to discourage Western governments from making similar deals in Afghanistan.

       Pakistan's North West Frontier Province's regional government ceded authority to the Taliban under the peace deal, giving them almost a free hand to impose their puritan Islamic rule on the around 600,000 people of Swat and its seven neighbouring districts.

       The 17-point peace accord signed with a pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad includes measures to establish Islamic courts, a ban on music, expulsion of prostitutes and pimps from the area, closure of businesses during prayer times, and a campaign against what they call obscenity.

       But it does not stop militants, armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers, from patrolling Mingora, the main town in Swat district, military troops being confined to their barracks.

       Few policemen can be seen maintaining law and order in the city, which is completely under Taliban control.

    Mohammad is a reformed pro-Taliban cleric who led thousands of fighters to Afghanistan following the 2001 invasion of US-led international forces.

       Most of his comrades died, but he escaped and was imprisoned in Pakistan, only to be released early last year.

       Mohammad convinced his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, to abandon his armed campaign that has turned Swat, often compared to Switzerland for its stunning landscape of mountains and meadows, into a war zone since late 2007.

       Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani recently defended the agreement, saying it is part of government's 'three D' strategy of dialogue, development and deterrence.

       Some cabinet members have proposed it should be a model for the new US policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, which stresses the need for 'reconciliation with the reconcilable elements in Taliban.'   

       The militants have stopped executing their opponents in public, bombing girls' schools and targeting security forces - with few exceptions here and there - but Swat remains a no-go area for foreigners and even Pakistani tourists.

       Hundreds of al-Qaeda-linked militants, mainly from Central Asian states, continue to recruit and train fighters for the war in Afghanistan.

       'How could it be a model for reconciliation with moderate Taliban if all it produces is a Taliban rule,' asks analyst and retired general Talat Masood.

       'If that is how you want to resolve problems in Afghanistan, and for that matter, in Pakistan, just hand over the government to Taliban and they will have no reason for the insurgency.'

       Kabul, which believes the similar peace deals allowed militants to set up mini-states and sanctuaries in Pakistan's tribal region from where they launch cross-border attacks on international forces in Afghanistan, also expressed concerns.

       'The Swat peace agreement is Pakistan's internal affair, but if this agreement makes enemies of peace stronger, Afghanistan cannot stay quiet,' Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the German Press Agency dpa in a recent interview.

       'We hope Pakistan will take care of our interests,' he added.

       According to Masood, any arrangement with the Taliban is successful only if it ensures the writ of the government and consolidation of its authority, which doesn't seem happening in Swat.

       He said a realistic model for eliminating militancy in the region could be found in Bajaur tribal district, where Pakistani troops brought the Taliban down to their knees by daring ground and aerial strikes.

       A major tribe that supported the militants and provided shelter to al-Qaeda terrorists agreed to surrender some key Taliban leaders and stop their activities in Bajaur following a seven-month offensive that left more than 1,500 rebels and dozens of soldiers dead.

       Under the 28-point agreement signed on March 9, the Mamoond tribe would also ensure that Taliban fighters lay down their arms and promise to live peacefully.

       There are indications that the United States may be more inclined towards this route in its new Afghan-Pakistan policy.

       US President Barack Obama has not ruled out talks with Taliban ready for peace, but at the same time his government plans to send 17,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, expanding its military presence to around 70,000.

       The New York Times said in an earlier report that the White House was considering to expand pilotless drone attacks beyond Pakistan's tribal areas on the Afghan border to include the south-western Balochistan province, where many Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar, are believed to be hiding.

       A Pakistani official, who participated in last month's trilateral consultations on policy review between Islamabad, Kabul and Washington, told dpa that 'the US would like to talk to them [the Taliban] from a point of strength.'

       'Under the proposed reviewed policy, an intensive force will be used against Taliban in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan for at least one year. When the Taliban are weakened to some extent, they would be approached for reconciliation' he added.


    Read more: "Swat deal an unlikely model for reconciliation with Taliban (Feature)" -http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/southasia/features/article_1467630.php/Swat_deal_an_unlikely_model_for_reconciliation_with_Taliban__Feature__#ixzz0BDhIDwSK

    Pak terms Indian response to its 30 questions ‘unsatisfactory

    Islamabad, Mar.30 (ANI): Carrying on its rhetoric about insufficient information provided by India to facilitate the Mumbai terror attack investigations, Pakistan has once again termed the Indian response to its 30 questions as ‘unsatisfactory’.

    “The process of scrutiny of Indian replies is near completion and the rest of examination will not take more than a couple of days. However, as the things move towards conclusion we could say that Indian response is not satisfactory,” The Nation quoted a senior official, as saying.

    He said though the 400 page Indian response was detailed, it did not include important documents such as the authenticated confessional statement of Ajmal Amir Kasab,the lone surviving Mumbai attacker, given before the Indian court.

    New Delhi’s response included the DNA samples of Kasab and seven other terrorists’ involved in the Mumbai massacre, details of their fingerprints, transcripts of phone conversations between them and their Pakistan-based handlers.

    “India not provided the DNA profiles of two remaining alleged terrorists and their fingerprints as their bodies were mutilated,” the official said.

    He informed that the scrutiny of the documents was about to be completed , and once it was done Pakistan would inform India about its reading and assessment on the issue.

    “The Interior Ministry will send its assessment to Foreign office that will forward it soon to Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi to be handed over to Indian Foreign Ministry subsequently,” the official added. (ANI)

    Sunday, 29 March 2009

    Altaf Hussain

    Bush's 'war on terror' is now Obama's

    Sunday, March 29, 2009
    Dr Farrukh Saleem

    Bush's 'war on terror' is now Obama's 'overseas contingency operation', or OCO. Bush's 'war on terror' wasn't going well neither is Obama's OCO. Bush had asked Lieutenant-General Douglas Lute, his 'war czar' for the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan, to recommend a new strategy. The Lute strategy has been sitting on shelves collecting dust. General David Petraeus, the 10th commander of the US Central Command, was then asked to come up with his own strategy. According to the New York Times recommendations given to the White House by General David Petraeus and Lieutenant-General Douglas Lute "call for expanding US operations outside Pakistan's tribal districts."

    The Petraeus strategy in Iraq had called for a troop surge and that troop surge did work. The Petraeus strategy for Afghanistan-Pakistan, or Af-Pak, isn't much different; a troop surge followed by negotiating with the Taliban from a position of strength, elimination of Al Qaeda and then an exit strategy.

    On January 20, Barack Hussein Obama II took over the White House as the 44th president of the United States of America. On January 22, the new president brought in a new United States special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, ambassador Richard Holbrooke. The new special envoy was asked to design a new Af-Pak strategy. Apparently, that wasn't much to talk about either.

    In February, the new president brought in Bruce Riedel -- a 29-year CIA veteran, author of 'Al Qaeda strikes back' and a counterterrorism expert -- to chair another committee and overhaul America's Af-Pak strategy. The Riedel review has now recommended: 

    • Successfully shutting down the Pakistani safe haven for extremists 

    • In 2009-2010 the Taliban's momentum must be reversed in Afghanistan 

    • The international community must work with Pakistan to disrupt the threats to security along Pakistan's western border 

    • This new strategy of focusing on our core goal -- to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually destroy extremists and their safe havens within both nations

    OCO seems to have two immediate targets: Af-Pak and Iran. And, the route to these two targets passes through Russia (plus countries under Russian influence). The first prong is to establish alternative supply routes -- beyond Chamman and Khyber Pass -- in order to reduce Pakistan's leverage. And, the second prong is to reconcile with Russia, engage Iran and, at the same time, use Russia to force Iran rollback its nuclear ambitions.

    The US-Russia dialogue now revolves around five major issues: one, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I (set to expire on December 5, 2009). Two, the issue of NATO expansion. Three, Ballistic Missile Defence (10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic). Four, Iran's rollback. Five, the Manas Air Base in Bishkek (the airbase supports US military operations in Afghanistan). 

    Intriguingly, the Obama administration is showing flexibility on all of these five issues --the kind of flexibility that hasn't been seen before. Obama is willing to abandon Ukraine and Georgia (keep them out of NATO) and avoid deploying interceptor missiles in Poland in return for alternative supply routes through Russia and Russian-influenced territory plus a verifiable rollback in Iran. In essence, Obama's new focus is Af-Pak (plus Iran). Within Af-Pak, the real theatre of war now seems to be moving southwards more towards the Spin Buldak-Kandahar-Quetta corridor. 

    OCO itself stands on two legs; a military column and an economic limb (the classic 'carrot-and-stick' policy). Petraeus has been given his additional combat brigades and Pakistan is being charmed with an offer of $1.5 billion a year in non-military aid (subject to Congressional approval). 

    America is in Af-Pak not to win a war but to neutralise all threats to the mainland US that may in the future originate from within Af-Pak. The Taliban are no direct threat to the mainland, Al Qaeda is. America is here to defeat Al Qaeda not the Taliban.



    The writer is the executive director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). Email: farrukh15@hotmail.com

    Is that true?

    Sunday, March 29, 2009
    Aakar Patel

    The BJP says Manmohan Singh is weak and no match for their strongman Advani.

    Is that true? Let us examine their qualifications.

    Born in 1932, Manmohan Singh graduated in economics from Punjab University, read for his tripos (first class honours) from St John's College, Cambridge University, where he won the Wright's Prize in 1955 and the Adam Smith prize in 1956. He got his DPhil from Nuffield College, Oxford University, in 1962.

    His thesis was on "India's Export Trends and Prospects for Self- Sustained Growth". By age 30, he understood that Nehru's inward- looking economic policy was misplaced.

    He has worked at the United Nations, served as governor of the Reserve Bank, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and chairman of the University Grants Commission. He has taught at Punjab University and Delhi School of Economics.

    In government, he reversed what we call Nehruvian socialism during his five years as finance minister between 1991 and 1996. His policy crafting gave India economic success, through a doctrine now called Manmohanomics, which he continued in his five years as prime minister from 2004 to 2009.

    In 1991, the year Manmohan became finance minister, India's per capita GDP was $328, and Pakistan's was $458. In 2008, Pakistan's was $623 and India's $900. From 28 per cent behind Pakistan, India went ahead 30 per cent because of him. No Indian leader has ever been as qualified, or as effective, as Manmohan Singh.

    Born in 1927, L K Advani attended D G National College, Hyderabad, Sindh, but could not get a degree. His website says he got an LLB from Bombay University's Government Law College, but does not say when, and his autobiography does not mention this degree at all.

    He worked for the RSS publication Organiser till 1967, where he wrote film reviews. After a brief term in the Delhi municipal council, because of his RSS connection, Advani was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Jailed along with other opposition leaders during Indira Gandhi's emergency of 1975-77, Advani came to power as the combined opposition defeated the Congress for the first time since independence. 

    Because of his journalism experience, Advani became minister for information and broadcasting in 1977. At the age of 45, this was his first job in an executive position. It was a brief experience; the government collapsed in two years.

    In the 80s, Advani became a star when he campaigned on the Babri Masjid issue across India. It was demolished on December 6, 1992. He says he did not anticipate this, showing his lack of understanding of the Indian mind, and of consequences. Over 2,000 Indians were killed.

    As home minister in Vajpayee's government (1999-2004), Advani got his second executive job at age 72. Did he build his tough-man image then?

    No.

    He surrendered to Jaish-e-Mohammad at Kandahar after the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in December 1999, and released Masood Azhar and Omar Saeed Shaikh, who later beheaded Wall Street Journal's Daniel Pearl.

    In March 2002, as Union home minister he could not prevent the massacres in Gujarat, in which 1,000 were killed.

    If he has no record to speak of, why do his supporters call him strong?

    Sadly, this image comes from his willingness to do violence to India's Muslims. His failures are his successes to his admirers.

    Advani actually has very little experience in executive or policy positions. And he does not show evidence of being able to overcome this lack of experience through his intellect, or his effort.

    His autobiography ("My Country, My Life") is maudlin, and peppered with mistakes. With typical hyperbole, he calls the emergency the "darkest period in Indian history" but then he reports its years wrong (pages 259, 266, 270). He spent years in villages in RSS service, but mistakes (on page 69) Guinea worm for tapeworm.

    Advani's problem is that his intellectual bandwidth is limited by his ordinary education. He is not at the same level as Oxbridge's Manmohan, and Harvard's Obama.

    His reading is basic and he likes it pre-digested through writers like William Shirer and Thomas Friedman.

    In a lifetime in opposition, Advani has stirred the pot with drawing-room solutions to emotional problems. The sort of problems that trouble our aching nationalists. India is weak -- we must build an atom bomb! Pakistan is doing terrorism -- we must hit back! Hindu sentiment is hurt -- we must replace the Babri masjid!

    Such a Manichean and innocent view of the world is touching, because it comes out of trauma (Advani was kicked out of Karachi at partition).

    One of the most moving moments of his life, according to Advani, was when on a tour to the Himalayas, he asked what a passing stream was, and was told it was the Indus, Sindhu nadi, from which he gets his Sindhi identity and we get our nation's name.

    He is unable to separate himself from this sentimentalism.

    Though he keeps attacking India's minority-ism, his own mentality is still that of a besieged minority from Sindh.

    Manmohan was also kicked out (he is from village Gah in Chakwal), but has lifted himself above our sub-continental pettiness.

    Manmohan has the exposure, and the intellect, to detach himself from the insanity below. Advani cannot do this, because he has been wading in it and beating his breast, even after Indians built one of the most successful democracies in the world.

    Crucially, Manmohan has deep access into pan-Indian culture because of his ability to read, in addition to Hindi and Gurmukhi, Urdu.

    He educated Indians on Iqbal through his budget speeches as finance minister. I was familiar with Tarana-e-Hindi (which Indians know as Saare jahan say achcha), but I had not registered its most stirring couplet till I heard Manmohan recite it in his Punjabi lilt: Yunan-o-Misr-o-Roma, sub mitt gaye jahan say, ab tak magar hai baqi naam-o-nishaan hamara.

    Advani does not have this access into his own culture because, as he wrote to his regret, he did not learn to read Sanskrit. His grandmother could read Gurmukhi, but he could not.

    While he speaks Sindhi well (Benazir opened a conversation with him in Sindhi but then could not continue it), he cannot read it in Nastaliq because he went to an English-medium school, St Patrick's in Karachi.

    He mistakes Persian script for Arabic (page 34).

    He writes that till the age of 20 he did not even speak Hindi properly. Not particularly good qualifications for a man whose policy thrusts -- Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code, Article 370 -- are all cultural.

    Politically, both Manmohan and Advani are weak, and dependent.

    Manmohan is a member of Rajya Sabha (not directly elected), and serves at the pleasure of Sonia Gandhi.

    Advani contests for the Lok Sabha, but from Gujarat, where he is at Modi's mercy (Advani cannot speak Gujarati). And he has spent a lifetime bending his knee to the RSS, which echoes his seething resentment of Muslims.

    But while he's politically weak, Manmohan is undisputed master of policy. And because of his integrity, Sonia Gandhi has given him a freehand where it matters.

    Sonia did not push for the Indo-American strategic alliance; that is all Manmohan.

    Manmohan brings an economist's cold view to policy: he has the mind of the bania, rather than the warrior, whom we more readily identify with Advani. Advani loves Rajasthan, India's only martial state, and has "developed a fascination for this land of heroes and martyrs."

    India does not need its leaders to be martial heroes and martyrs. We need education and healthcare and a strong economy.

    India, and also Pakistan, needs a bania's self-preserving mentality because under the warrior's code, we commit suicide quite easily, like we did in 1962's avoidable war with China.

    Advani doesn't want the Indo-US nuclear deal because it is surrender. 

    Under it, some current and all future nuclear installations will be now classified as civilian and subject to international regulation, while others will be outside scrutiny, free to make weapons. What is wrong with this deal? India has been starved of nuclear technology for four decades, which it will now get freely. But Advani says it makes us 'strategically subservient' because the US does not treat us as 'equals'.

    He sees foreign policy in terms of honour and dishonour.

    Advani is clueless on economics because of his lack of education, and uninterested in it because the subject lacks heroic emotion.

    If he does take power, his urge for martyrdom will be disciplined by India's bureaucracy, as Vajpayee's was before him. He will be made more realist by the limits of power, which will deflate his bombast, as he finally gets a proper education, at age 82.



    The writer is a former newspaper editor who lives in Bombay. Email: aakar.patel@gmail.com