Archive for the ‘Islamabad’ Category

Indian Newspaper: Pakistan’s Zardari Has Legitimacy, But No Authority

December 4, 2008

In the wake of the carnage in Mumbai, India is contemplating another round of coercive diplomacy. But the geopolitical winds are unfavourable. In 2002, India was successful in pushing Washington to arm-twist Pakistan. The then ruler Pervez Musharraf learnt a lesson. Today, India has less left behind its push, Islamabad has a greater hold over the US and, in any case, the lights are going out in the White House.

Most Indians believe the Army mobilisation that followed the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) attack on Parliament in 2002 was much sound and fury signifying nothing. It didn’t bring peace on earth. But Islamabad did learn a lesson and paid a price — which should be the goal of any Indian response to Pakistan-based terrorist outrage.

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustan Times

In this picture released by Pakistan People's Party, then ruling ... 
President Zardari.  No authority?
AP Photo/Pakistan People’s Party

The lesson of 2002: before 9/11, Islamabad could count on the US jumping in during any India-Pakistan terror crisis, point fingers at the two countries’ nuclear weapons and persuade New Delhi not to retaliate. After 9/11, the Bush administration told Pakistan, “If India wants to bloody your nose, they have the right.” US embassy officials rang up Indian journalists to stress that the US was no longer using the word ‘restraint’ when it came to India.

The price of 2002: India, after considering and abandoning the demand for the extradition of 20 terrorists because it feared its own courts would let them go, demanded Pakistan put an end to militant infiltration into Kashmir. New Delhi knew very well this would be a band-aid concession. But it calculated a few months of border quiet would be enough to push through a peaceful and fair Kashmir election. Its success on that front is the main reason the turbulent state has seen relatively low levels of violence since 2002.

Outwardly, it seems like India could play the same game again. Pakistan has denuded its border with India of troops. Most have been transferred to fight recalcitrant militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. If India waves a big stick, these troops would have to return to the eastern border. Washington is desperate for that not to happen as its Afghan war effort would be crippled. In theory, then, the US would be prepared to press Pakistan to cough up a concession to ensure the troop transfer doesn’t happen. However, the landscape has changed in all three countries. The most telling is that President George W. Bush is down to his last 50 days in office. There is very little desire in the US to cut the ground from under President Asif Ali Zardari’s feet. He is Mr Nice Guy and Mr Best Hope.

Which raises a question: whom exactly is there to arm-twist in Pakistan? As the recent ‘Now he’s coming, now he’s not’ farce over the ISI chief showed, Zardari only thinks he’s President. He has legitimacy, but no authority. Military chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has authority, but no legitimacy.

General Kayani.  Photo Anjum Naveed/Associated Press

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Pakistan’s Police Losing Terrorism Fight

December 4, 2008

If India’s reaction to the revelation that Pakistan was involved in the Mumbai terrorism didn’t get your attention; this headline might.  Pakistan is roiling from the impact of a widespread terror insurgency, combined with total financial bankruptcy of the nation and internal disputes and rivalries added to decades of unrest with India.  Pakistan’s Army is pinned down in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan; trying to wrestle control and influence from the Taliban and al-Qaeda.  And last weekend, in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, rival groups went on a riotous rampage…..

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Brothers Mushtaq and Ishaq Ali left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.

They went straight to the local Urdu-language newspaper to announce their resignation. They were too poor to pay for a personal ad, so the editor of The Daily Moon, Rasheed Iqbal, published a news story instead. He has run dozens like it.

“They just want to get the word out to the Taliban that they are not with the police anymore so they won’t kill them,” said Iqbal. “They know that no one can protect them, and especially not their fellow policemen.”

Pakistani police officers launch an operation against criminals ... 
Pakistani police officers launch an operation against criminals in Karachi’s troubled area of Lyari, Pakistan, on Thursday, Dec. 4, 2008. Criminals and police exchanged fire during the action that killed one person and injured three, local police said.(AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Outgunned and out-financed, police in volatile northwestern Pakistan are fighting a losing battle against insurgents, dozens of interviews by The Associated Press show. They are dying in large numbers, and many survivors are leaving the force.

Kathy Gannon, Associated Press Writer

The number of terrorist attacks against police has gone up from 113 in 2005 to 1,820 last year, according to National Police Bureau. The death toll for policemen in that time has increased from nine to 575. In the northwestern area alone, 127 policemen have died so far this year in suicide bombings and assassinations, and another 260 have been wounded.

The crisis means the police cannot do the nuts-and-bolts work needed to stave off an insurgency fueled by the Taliban and al-Qaida. While the military can pound mountain hideouts, analysts and local officials say it is the police who should hunt down insurgents, win over the people, and restore order.

A Pakistani police officers seen outside the heavily guarded ...
A Pakistani police officers seen outside the heavily guarded Badaber police station at outskirt of Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday Nov 4, 2008. Police officers left the police force a month ago, terrified of dying as their colleagues had — beheaded by militants on a rutted village road before a shocked crowd.(AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

“The only way to save Pakistan is to think of extremism and insurgency in North West Frontier Province as a law enforcement issue,” said Hassan Abbas, a South Asia expert at Harvard University’s Belfer Center Project for Science. “Rather than buying more F-16s, Pakistan should invest in modernizing its police.”

In the Swat Valley, militants have turned a once-idyllic mountain getaway into a nightmare of bombings and beheadings despite a six-month military operation to root them out. About 300 policemen have fled the force already.

On a recent evening in Mardan, Akhtar Ali Shah had just slipped out of his deputy police inspector’s uniform to head home. In an escort vehicle, a half-dozen of his guards had inched outside the giant white gates of the police station for a routine security check.

The bomb exploded minutes later. Through a cloud of dust and dirt, Shah saw five of his six guards lying dead near the blood-smeared gate. The head of the suicide bomber rested nearby.

“We are the ones who are getting killed by the terrorists that we are facing,” Shah said later.

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081204/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan_police_under_fire

U.S. Message to Pakistan: Battle Terror, Not India

December 4, 2008

U.S. officials said Wednesday that they are pressing Pakistan to change the primary mission of its intelligence services from preparing for war with India to actively helping the fight against Islamic extremists, some of whom have been linked to last week’s attacks in Mumbai.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) shakes hands with ... 
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) shakes hands with India’s Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee before their meeting in New Delhi December 3, 2008.(B Mathur/Reuters)

That is the message Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Michael G. Mullen are delivering to President Asif Ali Zardari in Islamabad this week, the officials said. Adm. Mullen was in Pakistan on Wednesday and Miss Rice was expected there Thursday.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and parts of its military have been accused of being too close to militant groups that have staged numerous attacks in both Pakistan and neighboring India.

By Nicholas Kralev
The Washington Times

The chief of the United States military, admiral Mike Mullen, ... 
Chairman of the United States Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen Wednesday asked Pakistan to “investigate aggressively” any possible links that groups based in Pakistan have to the Mumbai attacks.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jason Kempin)

“The ISI has been geared up for years to fight its neighbor next door,” a senior U.S. official said in reference to India. “It’s supportive of the Taliban in Afghanistan; it’s skeptical of the war on terror and thinks it’s a war against Islam. That has to change.”

In the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 170 and wounded hundreds, “the situation has changed dramatically, and Pakistan has to follow every lead” to get to the bottom of the plot, he said.

“Otherwise, the Indians might decide that Pakistan cannot be counted on to be a partner in the war on terror,” said the official, who asked not to be named because he was discussing sensitive private exchanges with the nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian security forces are holding the only Mumbai attacker to be captured alive, and officials there say he has admitted to being a Pakistani and a member of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist group thought by some to have ties to current and former ISI members.

The U.S. official said the real war is with militants along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. Some Pakistani officials have suggested that they may need to move troops from that border to the Indian border if tensions rise further. But the U.S. official said there are “no signs that India will move additional forces” to the border.

To make sure the Indians give Pakistan no excuse to transfer troops, Miss Rice visited New Delhi on Wednesday. She said that any response by India “needs to be judged by its effectiveness in prevention and also by not creating other unintended consequences or difficulties.”

Related:

Mumbai Terrorists: The Facts We Know

 Banned Pakistani Militant Leaders Believed Orchestrated Mumbai

India Says Pakistan Accepts Blame for Mumbai; U.S. Seems To Agree

December 2, 2008

The terrorist massacre in Mumbai was plotted in Pakistan and was executed by Pakistanis, Indian and US officials now agree. The big question now: How culpable are the Pakistani government and its military and intelligence agency, and how can the answer be handled either way it turns out?

That’s the tricky issue facing New Delhi and Washington as they put together pieces of the terrorist jigsaw to claimed 170-plus lives, including nearly 40 Muslims and nationals from 10 countries.

The Times Of London

US advice to India: wait and see how Pakistani government cooperates in the investigation before any punitive action. US directive to Islamabad: prove your protestations of innocence and non-complicity at the official level, with a full and transparent cooperation in the face of overwhelming evidence that the footprints of the terror attack lead back to Pakistan.

This is the gist of the exchanges between the three countries. On Tuesday, Washington broadly accepted India’s contention, based on evidence now shared with US law enforcement and intelligence agencies that the terror trail led to Pakistan. The preponderance of proof include detailed confessions by the one surviving terrorist, GPS tracks, e-mail and electronic tracks, telephone intercepts, and ordnance and forensic evidence, among other things.

US acceptance of India’s case — dismissed out-of-hand as knee-jerk, premature etc — was signaled by an unnamed senior American official who was quoted by Reuters as saying ”There are a lot of reasons to think it might be a group, partially or wholly a group, that is located on Pakistan’s territory.”

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Mumbai: Attack Mastermind Identified; On The Run

December 2, 2008

Mumbai police believe a senior Lashkar-e-Taiba planner in Pakistan masterminded the Mumbai terrorist attacks last week and was among several leaders of the militant group who were in touch by satellite links with the 10 terrorists in the two days before they landed in India.

By Geeta Anand in Mumbai and Zahid Hussain in Islamabad
The Wall Street Journal
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A senior police official said that, in all, the names and numbers of five members of the Pakistani group’s leadership were contained in a satellite phone left behind by the terrorists on a fishing vessel they hijacked then abandoned before reaching Mumbai. Records from the phone show calls had been made from it to these five men.

Among them: Yusuf Muzammil, head of Lashkar-e-Taiba’s terrorism operations against India. The senior Indian police official said he was identified as the mastermind of the attacks by the only terrorist captured alive, Ajmal Kasab, or Qasab. The police official said two of Mr. Muzammil’s deputies orchestrated the strikes, according to Mr. Kasab’s testimony.

A senior Pakistani official confirmed that India has told Pakistan that the attack was planned by Mr. Muzammil. Mr. Muzammil’s name appears on a list of 20 people given by India to Pakistan. India is demanding the names on the list be handed over.

Related:
What We Know About Mumbai Terrorists: Mad Dogs Off The Leash

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Pakistan’s Zardari Says Militants Could Start Regional War

December 2, 2008

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has appealed to India not to punish his country for last week’s attacks in Mumbai, saying militants have the power to precipitate a war in the region, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

Zardari, whose wife, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated by Islamist militants last year, warned that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbors.

“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Zardari in an interview with the Financial Times.

“We live in troubled times where non-state actors have taken us to war before, whether it is the case of those who perpetrated (the) 9/11 (attacks on the United States) or contributed to the escalation of the situation in Iraq,” said Zardari.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the ... 
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the National Security Conference to discuss ongoing tension between India and Pakistan flared after the last week’s Mumbai attacks, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008 in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan has proposed a joint investigation of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai after India blamed elements in Pakistan for the bloodshed.(AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

More from Reuters:
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From the Financial Times (UK) 
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Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan’s president, made an urgent appeal to India yesterday not to punish his country for the terror unleashed on Mumbai last week, as Indian officials blamed a Pakistani militant group for the three-day rampage.

As the government in New Delhi faced mounting domestic pressure to respond forcefully to the attacks, Mr Zardari urged Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister, to resist striking out at his government should investigations show that Pakistani militant groups were responsible.

His appeal came as tensions rose between the two countries. A day after the security forces finally regained control of Mumbai, Indian officials blamed Lashkar-i-tayyaba, a prominent militant group linked to previous attacks against India. Its name translates as Army of the Pure.

Speaking exclusively to the Financial Times, Pakistan’s president warned that provocation by rogue “non-state actors” posed the danger of a return to war between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

“Even if the militants are linked to Lashkar-i-tayyaba, who do you think we are fighting?” asked Mr Zardari, whose country is battling al-Qaeda and Taliban militants on its border with Afghanistan.

But Indian officials last night stepped up the pressure on Pakistan. The ruling Congress party’s general secretary M Veerappa Moily told the FT: “All the terrorists involved in the Mumbai blasts are related to Pakistan-based Lashkar-i-tayyaba. We are seriously concerned and the government won’t let such acts go lightly.”

New Delhi was yesterday facing intense domestic criticism over its response to the attacks which claimed at least 172 lives.

India is not considering taking military action against Pakistan ... 
India is not considering taking military action against Pakistan over the attacks in Mumbai, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Tuesday.(AFP/Raveendran)

Shivraj Patil, the home minister, resigned as criticism intensified over the response of the security forces to the attack on India’s financial capital.

“The Congress government has no moral authority to survive,” said Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party, blaming its weakness for collapsed intelligence gathering and a poor security response to the terror strike.

The Mumbai attacks ended on Saturday when commandos killed the last gunmen holed up at the Taj Mahal hotel.

Some of the most stinging criticism of the response of the emergency services came from business. “The police were woefully inadequate in terms of equipment and in terms of being prepared,” said Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group that owns the Taj Mahal hotel. He said fire engines had taken three hours to arrive when the hotel caught alight.

Additional reporting by James Fontanella-Khan in Mumbai

Mumbai: Pakistan Offers Joint Investigation and Cooperation

December 2, 2008

Pakistan offered Tuesday to work hand-in-hand with India to track down those responsible for the Mumbai attacks but declined to respond immediately to a demand that it hand over 20 terrorist suspects.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi suggested setting up a “joint investigation mechanism” into the assaults, which left 188 dead.

As tensions mounted between the nuclear-armed neighbours over the siege of India’s financial capital, India demanded that Pakistan arrest and extradite the list of terror suspects.

But Qureshi did not respond to the handover request.

Among the suspects was Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that has been accused of carrying out last week’s dramatic assault on Mumbai.

Pakistan’s prime minister said his government wanted proof of India’s allegation that all the attackers were Pakistanis.

CNN and other US networks reported that the United States had warned India in October hotels and business centres in Mumbai would be targeted by attackers coming from the sea.

One US intelligence official had named the Taj Mahal hotel, one of 10 sites hit in the 60-hour siege by gunmen, as a specific target, ABC television said.

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thasia_afp/indiaattacks_081202124823

India Tells Pakistan To Hand Over Terrorists

December 2, 2008

India demanded that Pakistan hand over suspected terrorists believed living in the country — including its most-wanted man — as diplomatic wrangling between the nuclear rivals intensified Tuesday following the deadly Mumbai attacks.

A list of about 20 names was given to Pakistan‘s high commissioner to India during a meeting Monday night, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters.

By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press Writer

India has already demanded Pakistan take “strong action” against those responsible for the attacks, and the U.S. has pressured Islamabad to cooperate.

The moves come as the government faces widespread accusations of security and intelligence failures after suspected Muslim militants carried out a three-day attack across India’s financial capital, killing 172 people and wounding 239.

The 10 gunmen had trained for months in camps operated by a banned Pakistani militant group before slipping into Mumbai from the sea, the only known surviving attacker told police.

India’s foreign intelligence agency received information as recently as September that Pakistan-based terrorists were plotting attacks against Mumbai targets, according to a government intelligence official familiar with the matter.

The information was then relayed to domestic security officials, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to talk publicly about the details.

India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the all-party meeting ... 
India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the all-party meeting in New Delhi November 30, 2008. India warned Monday that the Mumbai attacks were a major setback to relations with Pakistan and promised a “stern” response, as Washington urged Islamabad to cooperate fully with investigations(AFP/Raveendran)

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U.S., India Face Blackmail From Pakistan on Terrorism

November 30, 2008

Pakistan says “sorry” but tension with India forces withdrawal of troops in tribal areas facing Afghanistan where taliban and al-Qaeda roam….

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The United States and India face tactics bordering on blackmail from a militarized Pakistan – where civilian control is still very dodgy — as they coordinate efforts to eliminate terrorism in the region, according to analysts and officials on both sides.

By Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
Times of India

In what is turning out to be an elaborate chess game in the region, Islamabad on Saturday made its “Afghan move” to counter the US-India pincer, telling Washington that it will have to withdraw some 100,000 Pakistani troops posted on its western borders to fight the al-Qaida-Taliban and move them east to the Indian front if New Delhi makes any aggressive moves.

Troops from Pakistan's army secure an area in the troubled ...
Pakistani troops and tanks on patrol in the tribal areas facing Afghanistan.
REUTERS/Abdul Rehman (PAKISTAN)

In Washington, Pakistan’s ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani said there is no movement of Pakistani troops right now, but if India makes any aggressive moves, “Pakistan will have no choice but to take appropriate measures.”

Stripped of complexities, Pakistan is conveying the following message to the US: If you don’t get India to back down, Pakistan will stop cooperating with US in the war against terror. Consequently, this also means Pakistan will use US dependence on its cooperation to wage a low-grade, asymmetric, terrorism-backed war against India.

Pakistan’s withdrawal of troops from the Afghan front would obviously undermine the US/Nato battle in Afghanistan and allow breathing space for Taliban and al-Qaida. It would also ratchet up confrontation with India, which is at low ebb right now because Islamabad has been forced to engage on its western front and this minimizes Pakistan-backed infiltration into Kashmir, allowing India to tackle the insurgency in the state.

Related:
Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and Internal Pressure
and
Pakistan warns India of troop redeployment

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a_face_Pak_blackmail_on_terror/article
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India’s Police: Mumbai Terror Created By Pakistani Militant Group

November 30, 2008

The only gunman captured by police after a string of attacks on Mumbai told authorities he belonged to the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, a senior police officer said Sunday.

By RAMOLA TALWAR BADAM, Associated Press

Indian special police officers exit the landmark Taj Hotel in ... 
Indian special police officers exit the landmark Taj Hotel in Mumbai, India, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008. Indian commandos killed the last remaining gunmen holed up at the luxury Mumbai hotel Saturday, ending a 60-hour rampage through India’s financial capital by suspected Islamic militants that rocked the nation.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Police have said 10 gunmen terrorized Mumbai during a 60-hour siege, and all but one were shot dead.

Joint Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said the assailant now in custody told police the group had intended to hit more targets during their attacks on India’s financial capital that left at least 174 dead.

“Lashkar-e-Taiba is behind the terrorist acts in the city,” Maria told reporters. “The terrorists were from a hardcore group in the L-e-T.”

India’s Home Ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

The group has long been seen as a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service to help wage its clandestine war against India in disputed Kashmir.

Police arrested the lone surviving militant, Ajmal Qasab, and Maria said he confessed his links to Lashkar during interrogation.

“Ajmal Qasab has received training in a L-e-T training camp in Pakistan,” he said. “Our interrogation indicates that the terrorists had other places that they also intended to target.”

Related:
Mumbai: Condoleezza Rice Tells Pakistan To Fully Cooperate, Investigate
and
Pakistan’s Government Surrounded by Terrorists, U.S., Indian and internal Pressure

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