Maoist rebels kill 15 police in India: officer

3 02 2009

Source: AFP

23 hours ago

MUMBAI (AFP) — Fifteen police officers were killed in the western Indian state of Maharashtra in a shoot-out with leftist militants, police said Monday.
They were ambushed Sunday in jungle near a village in the east of the state, a stronghold of so-called Naxalites — Communist-, Maoist- and Marxist-inspired groups who claim to represent oppressed, landless rural dwellers.
“The patrolling party was ambushed by the Naxalites and 15 of our men died. The encounter went on for nearly one and a half to two hours,” state police chief A.N. Roy told AFP by telephone.
“Our people also fired, killing and injuring some Naxalites.”
Roy said there were regular skirmishes between police and militants in the area, which is close to the border with neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) by road from the Maharahstra state capital Mumbai.
Indian media on Monday said the militants fled with police weapons, including automatic assault rifles and a mortar shell. But Roy categorically denied reports that the policemen’s bodies were mutilated.
The worst Naxalite attack on police in Maharashtra had shocked the force, the officer said, adding that there was a “renewed determination” to tackle the militants.
“We will continue the fight and not let their sacrifices go in vain,” he said.
The Maoist insurgency, which grew out of a peasant uprising in 1967, his hit more than half of India’s 29 states and the rebels use a heavily forested region in Chhattisgarh as their headquarters.

Terrorism will continue to threaten India: expert

3 02 2009

Source: Dailytimes

By M. Ziauddin

LONDON, Feb 1: India will continue to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat but lacks military options that have strategic-level effects without a significant risk of a military response by Pakistan.This is one of the key conclusions arrived at by Brian Michael Jenkins of US-based think tank Rand Corporation in his testimony (Terrorists can think strategically lessons learned from the Mumbai attacks) presented before the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week (Jan 28).

Another key conclusion of this testimony gleaned from RC’s website is: The focus on Pakistan in this case should not obscure the likelihood that the attackers had local assistance or that other recent terrorist attacks in India appear to have been carried out wholly or partially by Indian nationals. Local radicalisation is a major goal of the terrorists and will remain a major political and social challenge for India.Mr Jenkins believes that neither Indian nor US policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short to medium term. He says most likely the threat will continue to grow and adds significantly, “Other extremists in India inevitably will find inspiration and instruction from the Mumbai attack.”

He declares that safe havens would continue to be key enablers for terrorist groups as they “allow terrorist leaders to recruit, select and train their operators and make it easier for terrorists to plan and execute complex operations, such as the Mumbai attack”.Therefore, at the strategic level, the Mumbai attack underscores, according to Mr Jenkins, the imperative of addressing the trans-national sources of Islamist terrorism in India.

How to do this is an extraordinarily difficult question that will require, he says, the reassessment of basic assumptions concerning policy towards Pakistan by members of the international community.Discussing Pakistan specifically in his testimony, Mr Jenkins says Pakistan continues to play a prominent and problematic role in the overlapping armed conflicts and terrorist campaigns in India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan itself.

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba and other insurgent and terrorist groups find sanctuary in Pakistan’s turbulent tribal areas.“Pakistan’s principal defence against external pressure is not its nuclear arsenal, but its own political fragility — its government’s less-than-full cooperation is preferable to the country’s collapse and descent into chaos.

“Historically, some of them (terrorist organisations) have drawn on support from the Pakistan government itself. While the government of Pakistan has been helpful in capturing some key terrorist operatives, Pakistan is accused of protecting others. And it has been understandably reluctant to use military force against its own citizens in the remote tribal areas where these groups reside. When it has used military force, government forces have not fared well.“Public sentiment imposes further constraints. Many Pakistanis regard India and the United States, not Al Qaeda or the Taliban, as greater threats to Pakistan’s national security. This was perceived as an obstacle to US counter-terrorist efforts even before 9/11.”

analysis: Dealing with a common enemy —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

3 02 2009

Source: Daily times (Pakistan)
Terrorism is a common enemy of Pakistan and India and this challenge cannot be addressed adequately if these countries do not abandon the current negativity in their interaction. There is a need to return to positive diplomacy and cooperation to combat terrorism.

The Mumbai terrorist attacks were a tragic reminder of the growing threat of terrorism in South Asia, which has extremely negative implications for harmony and stability in the domestic, regional and global contexts. Some extremist groups have acquired the capacity to violently challenge internal order in a state and create extremely problematic situations in inter-state relations. Their actions aim at creating anarchy and undermine the state’s capacity to function as an effective political and administrative entity.

Terrorism and democracy cannot co-exist. These transnational terrorist groups have to be neutralised if democracy and stability are to be secured. This is especially important for countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh that have returned to democracy in the recent past. The Mumbai incident strengthens extremist and hard line political forces in India and marginalises those standing for democracy, peace and good neighbourly relations.

The Indian and Pakistani responses to the Mumbai attack showed that the two states lack a coherent and shared approach to deal with such situations. The home secretaries of India and Pakistan had met in Islamabad on November 25-26, 2008 and reaffirmed their resolve to cooperate with each other for combating the menace of terrorism. Pakistan’s foreign minister was in New Delhi on a peace and goodwill mission when the Mumbai attacks took place. These diplomatic overtures were the first victims of the Mumbai incident.The response of India and Pakistan to the Mumbai incident could be described as episodic, highly nationalistic and shortsighted. Both wanted to play safe by returning to the traditional India-Pakistan confrontation framework. Their initial responses were shaped mainly by mutual distrust and hostility rather than by a desire to view the Mumbai attacks as a challenge that required cool-headed analysis and cooperation.

The task of the Indian government was made difficult by Indian private sector TV news channels that sensationalised the incident. Some anchorpersons openly engaged in Pakistan bashing; some virtually declared war on Pakistan. Their counterparts in Pakistan went on the defensive, arguing that India had started maligning Pakistan before the identity of the terrorists was established. They further accused India of covert efforts to destabilise Pakistan.As compared to the Indian response to the attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh avoided some extreme steps like snapping off all communication and trade, recall of ambassadors and reduction of staff of the embassies, and troop mobilisation to the border.This time, the response was tough but measured to avoid an eyeball-to-eyeball military confrontation on the border that could escalate to an all-out war.

The changed strategy reflected a rethink in India on ways to deal with Pakistan in a situation of serious conflict. The 2001-02 Indian troop mobilisation did not extract any concession from Pakistan, which had also moved its troops to the border. India withdrew these troops unilaterally in October to peacetime positions.In the subsequent period, the Indian strategic community explored other punitive options for dealing with Pakistan keeping in mind the presence of nuclear weapons in South Asia.

They suggested surgical airstrikes or swift commando raids on militant training camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, limited war rather than a full-fledged war, and Cold Start, which also discarded the notion of total mobilisation of troops to the border with Pakistan.Therefore, instead of full mobilisation, the Indian government moved some troops from peacetime locations to positions closer to the border, but not on the border. Good sense prevailed with the policy makers who decided not to invoke the newly articulated notions of punitive military action against Pakistan.Instead, India launched a comprehensive and aggressive diplomatic offensive against Pakistan with the objective of undermining Pakistan’s reputation and isolating it at the international level.

India would like the international community, especially the United Nations, to declare Pakistan a terrorist state and impose sanctions. The US and European states sympathise with India and are pressuring Pakistan to control terrorist groups based in Pakistan. However, they do not share the Indian aim of isolating Pakistan or designating it a terrorist state. This has caused some anger in India but has also injected realism in its policy towards Pakistan, although the Indian leadership is continuing with its tough rhetoric to deflect pressure from the political right and hard line Hindu groups.

Pakistan’s initial response to the Mumbai incident was confused and the government went into an unrealistic denial mode, i.e. the arrested terrorist and others were not Pakistanis, although some Pakistani TV news channels had provided enough evidence to show that the surviving terrorist belonged to a village in Pakistani Punjab.It took prodding by friendly countries and an internal re-assessment after Pakistan received a dossier from India in the first week of January that the Pakistani government decided to closely examine the linkages between the Mumbai terrorists and Pakistan’s militant groups. Pakistan had earlier banned Jama’at-ud Dawa and detained its leaders.The main victim of the terror incident is the peace process.

Though interaction between India and Pakistan, especially trade and travel, has not been broken off, it has slowed down because of unannounced bureaucratic hold-ups. If the present trends continue, these relations may not be sustainable.This complex and difficult Indo-Pakistan situation led two societal groups, i.e. South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) and the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA), to put together a non-official delegation comprising people belonging to civil society groups, political parties and the media that visited New Delhi recently to talk on these issues with their counterparts there.The visit provided a useful opportunity to civil society groups from both countries to exchange views on terrorism and India-Pakistan relations unhindered by official sensitivities.

The people in India expressed strong anger against Pakistan and outlined what could happen if a Pakistan-based terrorist group launched another attack. Such an attack would completely marginalise those who advocate diplomacy and direct interaction for resolution of all problems, including terror related issues.The Indian response is not monolithic. The opinions expressed included a hard line towards Pakistan; anger, anxiety and concern about terrorism; the desire to work through diplomatic channels; support for Pakistan’s current democratic dispensation; and the need to revive normal interaction.

However, there was near unanimity on the view that Pakistan must provide a credible response to the Indian dossier, showing seriousness in dealing with terrorist groups.Despite the tough political statements by Indian government officials and aggressive comments by hard line Hindu groups, the prospects of revival of normal interaction between India and Pakistan are discernable in New Delhi. Much depends on how Pakistan deals with the Indian dossier, in terms of credibility of response and the kind of administrative and legal action that will be taken to neutralise terrorist groups.

However, there is a lack of understanding in India of how terrorism has become a threat to Pakistan’s internal stability; they are more focused on their own problems.Terrorism is a common enemy of Pakistan and India and this challenge cannot be addressed adequately if these countries do not abandon the current negativity in their interaction. There is a need to return to positive diplomacy and cooperation to combat terrorism.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

US think-tank warns of more attacks on city

3 02 2009

3 Feb 2009, 0234 hrs IST,
S Balakrishnan, TNN :

MUMBAI: The Rand Corporation, a highly-respected US think-tank, has warned of more terror strikes in India in the “forseeable future”. It has also stated that the 26/11 Mumbai attack had “local assistance”. TOI was the first to report about the Lashkar-e-Taiba “fidayeens” getting local support to carry out their operation. But the investigators are still to explore the local angle.
The warning of future attacks came in the course of a testimony given by Brian Jenkins of the corporation before the US senate committee on homeland security and government affairs on January 28. It is titled `Lessons learned from the Mumbai attacks’.
Jenkins said India will continued to face a serious jihadi terrorist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist groups. “India lacks military options that have strategic-level effects without a significant risk of a military response by Pakistan. Neither the Indian or US policy is likely to be able to reduce that threat significantly in the short to medium-term. Most likely, the threat will continue to grow. Other extremists in India will inevitably find inspiration and instruction from the Mumbai attacks,” he observed.
Apart from targeting the high-profile Taj and Trident hotels, which have a large number of foreigners, the 26/11 attackers also targeted ordinary people at CST rail terminus, Jews at Nariman Point and foreigners at Leopold Cafe.
Jenkins said, terrorists designed the Mumbai attack to do what the authorities were not expecting. “There were no truck bombs or people attempting to smuggle bombs onto trains, as in previous attacks. Since attacks against high-profile soft targets are relatively easy and cheap to mount, such institutions will remain targets of future attacks. Many of India’s older symbolic buildings were not built with security considerations in mind or are at exposed locations.
Indian security agencies have taken Jenkin’s analysis seriously and are urging the government to take appropriate measures.

‘Pakistan must close Taliban bases that train anti-India militants’

3 02 2009

31 Jan 2009, 1240 hrs IST, IANS

WASHINGTON: Getting Islamabad’s cooperation to close Taliban sanctuaries in its tribal areas may be Washington’s single hardest challenge as Pakistan has always used them to train people to operate in Kashmir or India, says a leading US expert.
Bruce O. Riedel, an expert on South Asia who has worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Pentagon and National Security Council, says new special envoy Richard Holbrooke needs to reverse the negative momentum in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Taliban’s military successes in Afghanistan have to be reversed and Islamabad must help close their sanctuaries on Pakistani territory, he said in an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington think tank.
But Riedel says “trying to get that cooperation out of the Pakistani government in my judgment will be the single hardest test that Ambassador Holbrooke faces and in fact may be the single hardest foreign policy challenge President (Barack) Obama faces”. The Pakistani military is of two minds about the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the border with Afghanistan, he said.
It has always used FATA “as the place where it could create groups like the Taliban, or encourage the development of the Taliban, where it could train people to operate in Kashmir or to operate in India”.
“But now that it sees that it’s losing control of that area, it’s increasingly concerned about the future,” Riedel added.
US Predator attacks on al-Qaida targets in that area had scored some important successes, but they had also helped further the alienation of the Pakistani people away from the US and badly eroded American brand image, Riedel said.
“Polling in Pakistan shows that a majority of Pakistanis blame America for the country’s internal violence. India comes in second place, and the al-Qaida and militancy comes in third place,” he said. “Any time that you are outpolling India as the bad guy in Pakistan, you’re in deep, deep trouble.”
Pakistan’s concerns in Afghanistan derive in large part from its concerns about India, the expert said.
“It can’t try to deal with these problems in isolation. But you also have to deal with them with a great degree of subtlety and sophistication, because there are decades-old fears among all the parties about American intentions,” Riedel said.