Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pakistan: 77 Militants Killed After School Massacre

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani warplanes and ground forces killed at least 77 militants in a northwestern tribal region near the Afghan border, officials said Friday, days after Taliban fighters killed 148 people — most of them children — in a school massacre.
Meanwhile, a Pakistani prosecutor said the government will try to cancel the bail granted to the main suspect in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks — a decision that outraged neighboring India and called into questionPakistan's commitment to fighting militancy.
The violence at a school in Pakistan's northwest earlier this week stunned the country and brought cries for retribution. In the wake of the mass killing the military has struck targets in the Khyber tribal region and approved the death penalty for six convicted terrorists.
The military said its ground forces late Thursday killed 10 militants while airstrikes killed another 17, including an Uzbek commander. Another 32 alleged terrorists were killed by security forces in an ambush in Tirah valley in Khyber on Friday as they headed toward the Afghan border, the military said.
On Friday morning, troops killed 18 more militants during a "cordon and search operation" in Khyber, the military said.
The military said the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, was traveling to Khyber Friday to meet with troops taking part in the ground operation.
Khyber agency is one of two main areas in the northwest where the military has been trying to root out militants in recent months. Khyber borders Peshawar, where the school massacre happened, and militants have traditionally attacked the city before withdrawing to the tribal region where police can't chase them.
The other area is North Waziristan, where the military launched a massive operation in June.
In the southern province of Baluchistan, Pakistani security forces killed a senior Pakistani Taliban leader along with seven of his associates in three separate pre-dawn raids, said a tribal police officer, Ali Ahmed.
The Pakistani army chief late Thursday signed the death warrants of six "hard core terrorists" convicted and sentenced to death by military courts, the army said.
It was unclear when the military planned to hang the six men, but authorities generally move quickly once death warrants are signed. Such executions are usually carried out at prisons under the supervision of army officers and then the bodies are handed over to relatives for burial.
There was no information on the men or the crimes for which they were convicted.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday announced that he would lift a moratorium on executions in terrorism-related cases. The government has not yet carried out any executions.
The lifting of the moratorium was aimed at demonstrating the government's resolve. But the decision by an anti-terrorism court on Thursday to grant bail to the main suspect in the Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, called into question that commitment.
Lakhvi is one of seven people on trial in Pakistan for the assault, but the trial has produced no results so far. It has been closed to the media.
India reacted with outrage to news of Lakhvi's pending release.
Special public prosecutor Abu Zar Peerzada said he would appeal to the High Court to cancel the bail and said Lakhvi had not yet been released.
In schools across Pakistan, special classes were held Friday, with schoolchildren chanting prayers in memory of the victims of the Taliban slaughter. In mosques throughout the country, worshippers also offered special prayers for the massacred innocents in Peshawar.

India tests 1,000 kg glide bomb

India had on Friday tested a 1,000 kg glide bomb. It was test dropped by an Indian Air Force aircraft in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Odisha.
The bomb developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation was guided by its 'on board navigation system'. It glided for nearly 100 km before hitting the target with precision, according to an official release.
The flight of the glide bomb was monitored by radars and electro-optic systems stationed at the Integrated Test Range. The DRDO labs involved in the development were DARE, Bengaluru, ARDE, Pune, and TRBL, Chandigarh. The RCI, Hyderabad was the nodal agency in the development programme.
The labs have designed the completed avionics package and the navigation system for the glide bomb. Avinash Chander, Scientific Advisor to Defence Ministry and Director-General, DRDO, declared that “The nation today has capability to design, develop and launch heavy bombs for delivery up to 100 km away with high precision”.
G Satheesh Reddy, Distinguished Scientist and Director, RCI stated, “Country has now become self-reliant in the area of guided precision bombs.”
Air Force fritters away Rs 4.5 cr to unfurl smoky tricolor in sky
he Indian Air Force incurred totally avoidable loss of Rs 4.51 crore by purchasing colour dyes for emitting coloured smoke trails depicting India's tri colours- Saffron, White and Green on the occasion of Independence Day and Republic Day, country's national account auditors have revealed.
In its latest report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said that the unrealistic projection of requirement of colour dyes for emitting smoke by Aerobatic Team coupled with decision to import entire quantity at one time for meeting three years' requirement, despite their limited shelf life, not only resulted in over provisioning but also led to avoidable loss to the tune of Rs 4.51 crore.
More than 30,000 litres of colour dyes were procured from an American company to generate the colourful smoke in the wake of Surya Kiran aircraft, the report said adding that the IAF consumed about 7000 litres only of it while the balance quantity of more than 23,000 litres remained un-utilised.
As the IAF had to disband Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team for want of trainer aircraft, the left over colour dye was of no use for it. To cover the losses, the IAF tried to find out alternate users and approached the Army and the Navy but in the mean time the life of dyes expired.

158 Flights Cadets commissioned into IAF

Hyderabad, December 20:
As many as 158 young and energetic flight cadets, including 29 women, on Saturday formally joined into the mainstream of Indian Air Force, when Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhawan, on behalf of the President of India, awarded commission to them today at an impressive Combined Graduation Parade held at the prestigious Air Force Academy at Dundigal near Hyderabad.
The passing out parade marked the culmination of one year rigorous basic and professional training at the Academy and other places including Air Force Stations located at Hakimpet, Begumpet in Hyderabad and Yelahanka in Karnataka apart from Air Force Administrative College Coimbatore. The newly inducted flight cadets will be allotted various branches of Indian Air Force like flying, navigation, air controlling, logistics, administration, accounts and education.
Flying officer Sonu Barak of the flying branch, who was the parade commander, awarded President’s Plaque and the Chief of Air Staff ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in over all merit in pilot course, while flying officer Kuldeep Singh and flying officer Bijender Bhagat were awarded President’s Plaque for standing first in ground duty branch and navigation branch respectively.
In his address, after reviewing the parade, the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R K Dhawan congratulated the cadets to be a part of one of the finest air force in the world. He said that as young leader, they have to build up the quality with credibility and integrity and continue to strive for excellence and meet all challenges. He emphasized the cadets that the word ‘impossible’ should not be in your dictionary. Admiral Dhawan focused on the importance of the core values of the IAF, Mission, Integrity and Excellence.
The passing out parade ceremony culminated with the breathtaking aerobatic display of ‘Sarang Helicopter team’ and Su 30 fighter jet and fly-past of Pilatus and Kiran training aircrafts have captured the attention of the audience.

Data Radio Likely to Replace Age-old Satellite Phone in Army

DRDO Director General & Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Avinash Chander presents the DGEME Trophy for best all-round student officer Major Mamta Gupta at the convocation at Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering in Hyderabad on Friday. Lt Gen Gurmukh Singh is at left | EXPRESS PHOT

HYDERABAD: The graduating engineering officers from the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME), Secunderabad, designed several innovative equipment which are most likely to replace some of the traditional machinery that the field Army is currently using.
A new equipment named ‘Data Radio’, is capable of sending live updates, including video streaming and text messages to the server within 60 km range. Currently the Army is using traditional satellite phones to communicate with the base station and they can transfer only voice messages. But ‘Data Radio’ will enable the soldiers to send live visuals to the commanders who will be working from base camps. Weighing only seven kg, it can be folded into a small briefcase which is like the size of a laptop. A helmet camera is connected to the ‘Data Radio’ to record the video and send it to the transmitter. To send the signal to the server at the base camp, a small antenna is also attached behind the machine.
Similar system will also be installed at base camp where the receiver can show the visuals and text messages from the field on large screen. It will help the commanders to analyse the situation at the field and give commands to the soldiers accordingly.
‘’It will be useful during the recce and secrete operations,” said Major Mamta Gupta, one of the members of the team that designed it. One of its other strengths is that it can function in any weather condition, she added. After the trails it is most likely to be introduced to the field Army.  Apart from the ‘Data Radio’, another interesting creation by the officers was ‘Hand Gesture Based Sensor Application’. A small robot operated with the help of sensors will move according to the commands given by its operator. Two sensor chips attached with both hands of operator will pass commands and its moves can be monitored from 50 metres. A high resolution camera attached to the robot will give clear visuals of its path and it will help the soldiers to find out hidden targets inside buildings. “The basic model can move only on plain surface, but it can be modified to use on any kind of surface by attaching mechanical legs to it,” said Lieutenant Ashwin Nagpal, one of its designers. Both the equipment have been designed as part of the training curriculum at MCEME and soon they will be sent to the Army for examination.  
A total of 57 graduate engineering officers from the Degree Engineering Course and Technical Entry Scheme Course from the Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering, Secunderabad formally graduated here on Friday.
Dr Avinash Chander, scientific adviser to the Raksha Mantri and secretary, department of defence, R&D, who was the chief guest at the convocation ceremony presented the degrees and awards to the officers.
The graduating officers demonstrated the projects they designed as part of their training curriculum. The courses at MCEME mandate the trainee officers to design projects that meet the requirements of the field Army and best among them were awarded during the convocation ceremony.
Peshawar attack mastermind — a volleyball player, child killer
DERA ISMAIL KHAN (Pakistan): The most hated man in Pakistan is a 36-year-old father of three and volleyball enthusiast nicknamed "Slim".

His real name is Umar Mansoor and the Pakistani Taliban say he masterminded this week's massacre of 132 children and nine staff at a school in Peshawar - the deadliest militant attack in Pakistan's history.

A video posted on Thursday on a website used by the Taliban shows a man with a luxuriant chest-length beard, holding an admonishing finger aloft as he seeks to justify the December 16 attack. The caption identified him as Umar Mansoor.

"If our women and children die as martyrs, your children will not escape," he said. "We will fight against you in such a style that you attack us and we will take revenge on innocents."

READ ALSO: Pakistani political class in denial over Peshawar massacre

The Taliban say the attack, in which gunmen wearing suicide-bomb vests executed children, was retaliation for a military offensive carried out by the Pakistani army. They accuse the military of carrying out extrajudicial killings.

The accusation is not new. Many courts have heard cases where men disappeared from the custody of security services. Some bodies have been found later, hands bound behind the back and shot in the head, or dismembered and stuffed into sacks.

This photo released by the Taliban show 6-7 men carrying guns in front of a white banner.

Some security officials say privately the courts are so corrupt and afraid, it is almost impossible to convict militants.

"You risk your life to catch terrorists and the courts always release them," said one official. "If you kill them then they don't come back."

The country is so inured to violence that the discovery of such bodies barely rates a paragraph in a local newspaper. Despite this, the school attack shocked a nation where traditionally, women and children are protected, even in war.

Six Pakistani Taliban interviewed by Reuters confirmed the mastermind was Mansoor. Four of them said he is close to Mullah Fazlullah, the embattled leader of the fractious group who ordered assassins to kill schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.

"He strictly follows the principles of jihad," one said. "He is strict in principles, but very kind to his juniors. He is popular among the juniors because of his bravery and boldness."

Pakistani Taliban jihadists at their hideout in Bader, Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan.

Mansoor got a high school education in the capital, Islamabad, two Taliban members said, and later studied in a madrassa, a religious school.

READ ALSO: Inside the Peshawar school where Taliban killed 132 children

"Umar Mansoor had a tough mind from a very young age, he was always in fights with other boys," said one Taliban member.

Mansoor has two brothers and spent some time working in the city of Karachi as a labourer before joining the Taliban soon after it was formed, in late 2007, said one commander.

The mastermind of the Peshawar school attack Umar Mansoor is said to be close to Mullah Fazlullah (above), a Pakistani Taliban commander and Pakistan army's sworn enemy.

His nickname is "nary," a word in the Pashto language meaning "slim", and he is the father of two daughters and a son, said another commanders.

"(Mansoor) likes to play volleyball," said one of the Taliban members. "He is a good volleyball player. Wherever he shifts his office, he puts a volleyball net up."

READ ALSO: Taliban release images of Peshawar killers, warn of more such attacks

The Taliban video describes him as the "amir", or leader, of Peshawar and nearby Darra Adam Khel. Mansoor deeply opposes talks with the government, the commanders said.

"He was very strict from the start when he joined," a commander said. "He left many commanders behind if they had a soft corner (of their heart) for the government."

Massacre aftermath: Is this jihad?

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Women mourn their relative Mohammed Ali Khan, 15, a student who was killed during an attack by Taliban on the Army Public School, at his house in 
eshawar. (Reuters photo)

India, don't wait for the global community to act, must take some pro-active steps to change Pakistan

T's always said that every country has an Army, but Pakistan Army has a country. But this perception too is changing, every country has some types of terrorists but Pakistan terrorists have a country of their own.
Here's a point that should be noted that although ISIS established self claimed terror caliphate of "Islamic State" in the areas of Syria and Iraq but they never have free run like Pakistan terrorists. Every day they are on war with Iraq, Syria, the USA-led NATO forces and the crusaders' against ISIS.The massacre of innocent students in Peshawar no doubt qualifies to be the most brutal, inhuman and unprecedented cold blooded murder. Even ISIS affiliated terrorists would be stunned on what happened in Pakistan? The PM Nawaz Sharif simply condemned the 142 innocent deaths and assured the public to take necessary action.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had openly owned the responsibility of the cowardice and heinous act but Nawaz Sharif was not courageous enough to take their names. The 26/11 Mumbai terror attack master mind Hafiz Saeed is roaming freely in Pakistan, holding rallies, threatening India.
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi had been released on bail just two days after the Peshawar attack because the Pakistani Government's prosecutor reached the court very late. This speaks Pakistan Government in fact has reduced to a non-state actor despite democratically elected. Meanwhile according to the latest reports coming in to save face among the world community Pakistan has re-arrested Lakhvi in some other case.
In the mean time Pakistani Army chief Raheel Sharif and ISI chief Rizwan Akhtar reached Afghanistan and demanded extradition of TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah, else Pakistan would take proactive action against Afghanistan, the way America adopted Abbottabad method to capture Osama bin Laden. Is the world fool? Taliban either from Pakistan or from Afghanistan are in fact created, nurtured, flourished, controlled and monitored by ISI.
Afghanistan has repeatedly complaining this in the world forum for last several years. What is the point in asking Afghanistan to handover Mullah when ISI exactly knows locations of every operative. I feel this is a game plan of ISI for its Afghan-Pak policy post American exit.
It's interesting to know who is controlling whom. Is Pak Army controlling ISI or the other way round is happening? It appears ISI is getting more control than Army, that's why despite Nawaz Sharif appointing his close aid Raheel Sharif as chief of Army staff in Pakistan, yet remained powerless.
The system in Pakistan is in such a delicate juncture that every part of it is just trying to save their positions even at the cost of national interest. This balance may collapse any moment and the world will face serious problems from this nuclear armed terrorist country.
When I use the term of terrorist country, I paused for a moment to examine Pakistan's ordinary public. Peshawar massacre evoked reactions throughout the world and people from every country every street came out with utter anger and deep condolence for the victims with the tearful eyes. But I could not recollect any such thing displayed by Pakistani public during 26/11 incident, neither any other incidents in the world including 9/11 incident, even none dare to take a candle march when novel laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot by Taliban.
That means Pakistan's ordinary citizens are spine less. A democratic country's big strength is its people. When people become weak, coward, irresponsible and spine less then a terrorist country like Pakistan emerges.
Hillary Clinton once while referring to Pakistan's alleged support to terror said that if you nourish snakes in your house and expect that it would bite only the neighbors not you then you are a fool. The snakes started biting Pakistan some couple of years ago and now one can expect the Peshawar type of genocide might be a daily affair henceforth.
I feel this cold blooded execution of students in Peshawar should be viewed as a serious alarming message for the global community in general and India in particular. I don't think America would be too much pro-active in Pakistan's case except some diplomatic tantrum because of Chinese angle. Already ISIS is a headache for western countries. Thus the responsibility of correcting Pakistan falls on the Indian shoulder.
If India thinks that global bodies will take steps to correct Pakistan then it's going in a wrong direction. India is the direct causality of Pakistan's instability and chaos. None will come to save your country. India must realize it. It has to work with Afghanistan, Iran and Russia in dismantling the terror mind set of Pakistani Army and ISI through pro-active actions to replace a terrorist country with moderate democratic Pakistan where people's representatives would have upper hand on military and spy agencies. - See more at:
Taliban threaten to kill politicians' kids next
NEW DELHI: After the gruesome killing of children in Peshawar this week, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan has warned the Nawaz Sharif government that it will start eliminating children of politicians, including Sharif's family, and army officers if the Pakistan government keeps its commitment to hang militants owing allegiance to the terror outfit.

READ ALSO: Pak Taliban target army-run school, kill 132 children in revenge attack

The warning came in the form of a letter, written apparently by Mohammed Kharasani, believed to be a top commander of Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah. It was received by Pakistan authorities on Friday evening. TOI has access to the letter.

READ ALSO: Peshawar attack mastermind — a volleyball player, child killer

Top sources said they were trying to verify if the letter was genuine. The letter justified the killing of young children saying the kids were committed to following in the footsteps of their parents.

While the letter doesn't mention India, it is still of interest as one of those facing death sentence in Pakistan is Omar Sheikh, one of the terrorists released in the Kandahar hijacking and also the killer of Daniel Pearl.

The letter says that if any incarcerated terrorist is killed, TTP will take revenge by killing more young children. "Let us make it clear to Pakistan establishment that if any of our associates is harmed, we will avenge ourselves by targeting your children. We would ensure that houses of army generals and political leaders become centers of mourning," said the letter.

Women mourn their relative Mohammed Ali Khan, 15, a student who was killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, at his house in Peshawar December 16, 2014. (Reuters photo) 

READ ALSO: Peshawar attack: Taliban attackers shot most students point blank in head

It accused the Pakistan government of falling prey to the designs of the army and ISI when what was required was a reform of these institutions. "Why the human rights organizations, which are not aware of the reasons of the attack on Army Public School, silent on this decision of the infidel government. We, in light of Islamic teaching, consider the killing of the children of army personnel as justified as they are not opposing the anti-Islam role of their parents and are committed to follow the path of their parents. We are giving an open invitation of debate to religion leaders who are issuing decrees in favour of the government."
Read this in Hindi — अब पाकिस्तानी नेताओं के बच्चों को मारने की धमकी

INTERVIEW: ‘Our most dangerous 

war’: Gen (retd) Hamid Gul 


The writer is Associate Editor,
 Pakistan Today.
He can be reached at

The old spymaster is for preserving the old ‘arrangement’ for Afghanistan Peshawar changed everything about Pakistan. It remains to be seen, though, whether it will change something about Pakistani policy as well. There’s been much chest-thumping by the government, and the army chief sorted some things out with the Afghans and ISAF, implying a more expansive hunt for Mulla Fazlullah. Importantly, rid of political pressure, Nawaz Sharif now bears the responsibility of crushing the insurgency in a way that the public demands. The government has started executing Taliban prisoners on death row, but a lot more needs to be done.The attack has also led to a far more public debate than before about the birth and evolution of the Taliban – from the days of the Afghan mujahideen to Afghanistan’s Taliban government, and now to the TTP insurgency – and the role of state institutions. Talk of good and bad Taliban supposedly ended with the launch of Zarb-e-Azb, but there was never a real public discourse about ‘strategic depth’. And after hundreds of innocent children were tortured, shot and beheaded in Peshawar, people want answers. Was the basic security paradigm, which allegedly manufactured proxies for the usual intelligence covert business, really worth it? Did securing eastern and western flanks, in the way our security apparatus thought best, really keep us strong internally?There’s no confusion about how the army sees things today. It’s about terrorists “of all hues and colours”, Gen Raheel has repeatedly assured us. But old hands at the Great Game still advise caution. “There is pain in every war” said Gen (retd) Hamid Gul. He headed the ISI at one of the most crucial phases in the mujahideen’s long mutation into the world’s biggest multi-national, multi-ethnic and single-purpose fighting machine. The genesis of practically all al Qaeda like outfits is traced to those fateful days when Pakistani, American and Saudi intelligence set up factories that produced jihadi fighters by the thousands.He talked to DNA exclusively regarding Pakistan’s present predicament.

What now?Immediately after Peshawar, as the state reacts with force, he says the first order of business must be improving the legal process that tries these terrorists.

“The Anglo-Saxon legal system”, which we follow, “is based on the law of evidence, and is too weak to deal with the situation Pakistan faces”, he says.“The Anglo-Saxon legal system”, which we follow, “is based on the law of evidence, and is too weak to deal with the situation Pakistan faces”, he says

It has definitely proved weak for Pakistan, but that is not just because of the evidence part, though it has been one of the biggest hurdles. Judges have also been harassed and threatened by the Taliban. And in an environment where the more they kill the easier they walk scot free, it’s natural for some to place survival ahead of following the law to the letter.“We need military courts. They ensure quick dispensation of justice. When terrorists receive immediate punishment, the detrimental value of justice will increase”.But such systems work best when certain procedures are in place, he points out. Unlike India, Pakistan does not have a Protection of Army bill. And despite its reputation of influence and power, military intelligence lacks certain privileges that can help improve its effectiveness.“Nobody talks about IB, everybody talks about ISI”, he says. “IB has the power to arrest, but ISI doesn’t”.It turns out that he did initially lobby to increase the agency’s power, but eventually decided against making too much noise. Plus they had an arrangement with IB, at least till his time. They would provide the people that needed to be ‘questioned’, and the said personnel would be returned after gathering required information.Also, he finds it strange that while ISI is always in the news, and in drawing room discussions, IB is hardly mentioned. Even though “like the FBI, it is responsible for picking up local intelligence, which is then shared with other agencies”, it escapes popular attention.Nawaz and the armyThese are, perhaps, Nawaz’s toughest times in office. The dharna pressure might have receded, but a far stiffer test of his leadership is already underway. He cannot hide behind political agitation anymore. And he must deliver on terrorism. He’s OK with the military for the time being, but there is always a sense of friction that built throughout the talks with the Taliban and Gen Musharraf’s treason trial.And as Nawaz has grown weak the army has strengthened, both at home and abroad. The most crucial leaders, from Kabul to Washington, see their time better spent meeting with Sharif the COAS than Sharif the prime minister.“The army’s stature has clearly improved over the last few months”, he says, agreeing with the analysis. “But it is important for the military to maintain its distance from mainstream politics, just like it is doing. It’s better to exercise whatever control it keeps from behind”.And it’s too soon to call on the chances of the government working smoothly with the military as the war against the TTP takes a decisive turn.“The way I read Nawaz Sharif, it seems he has his eye on the Senate elections due shortly”, he adds. “If he emerges with a majority, he’ll go for constitutional amendments”.And once that gives him power to post and transfer generals, the army will be castrated, just like Nawaz wants it.

The most crucial leaders, from Kabul to Washington, see their time better spent meeting with Sharif the COAS than Sharif the prime minister

Of course, whether or not such a situation develops, or causes friction with the military, remains to be seen”, he points out. But still, again as he reads it, this thought will be in minds on both sides of the divide, and therefore assumes greater importance. “Still, the military must be careful not to over-reach”.

And Peshawar?This is where the old guard disagrees with the sentiment gaining force. After the Peshawar tragedy, especially, there are few buyers for the old proxy policy. The army, too, is done with it for all intents and purposes. Yet the old spymaster won’t let go.This is a very long debate, he warns, and all angles must be calculated before advocating bold, even violent, policy turns. He still believes, contrary to overwhelming public opinion, especially since Peshawar, that not differentiating between different Taliban groups is not a good idea in the long term.Sartaj Aziz’s recent slip-of-tongue regarding the Haqqanis was, according to him, actually the truth of the matter. “Really, why should we engage groups that pose no threat to us and invite unnecessary backlash?” he asks. “How is it our responsibility?”Tactically, the operation might take precedence now, “but futuristically, there is no credible outcome other than talks and understanding”, he adds.He also believes that pushing the anti-Taliban operation, and continuing to adhere to US policy, will “alienate Afghanistan”, and we can’t allow that.“There is no choice, wars have ups and downs, and this is our most dangerous war yet. We must continue with the policy that has been in place for 40 years”.Besides, he says, “all hues and colours” eventually plays into India’s hands. “There is not one registered case against JuD or LeT in Pakistan”, he points out for some reason. “And if some groups are active in Kashmir, they are only doing the military’s work”. Who would lose out, really, if Kashmir is secure and a large bulk of the Indian army is freed from there, seems to be the sentiment.And for Peshawar never to happen again, he is convinced that there is a need to look slightly longer into the past; like Pakistani compliance in the terror war, especially the long years of drone bombs, prominent among them the Bajaur madrassah, where 80 people, mostly children, were killed.“Pakistan suffered its first suicide attack after Oct ’06, when Musharraf falsely took responsibility for that attack”, he says. “I took the case to the Supreme Court, to ask for stopping our air space violation under Article 245, but it was dismissed since I was not an affected party”. Apparently he took the stand, disagreeing with the Court. But not much came of it.In a nutshell, for him Peshawar marks a storm, but one where better senses should prevail with long term survival and interest taking priority over other things. That is the doctrine most Pakistanis now disagree with, especially after the murder of those innocent children.

Guv pays tribute to martyrs

Tribune News Service
Dehradun, December 20
Governor Aziz Qureshi paid tributes to Army soldiers during a re-union of the officers, who passed out of the Indian Military Academy in 1964, here yesterday.
“The true heroes of our country are our soldiers. We have full faith in them. We are proud of them as they are the protectors of our country’s prestige and honour,” said the Governor.
He said the role played by the Army in the disaster relief and rescue operation in the state last year, was commendable. “I am proud to be an Army officer’s son and to be the Governor of the ‘virbhumi’ of Uttarakhand,” he added.
He said facilities for retired Army personnel and for the next of kin of the martyrs needed to be enhanced. He advocated that all organisations for the welfare of soldiers should be run by former Army personnel.
The Governor invited all the 1964 batch officers and honoured them.
People clear snow from their roofs at Kufri near Shimla on Saturday. Tribune photo: Amit Kanwar
Barack Obama signs massive defence budget; grants one billion dollars to Pakistan
By: Press Trust of India | Washington | Posted: December 20, 2014 9:34 am | Updated: December 20, 2014 9:39 am

President Barack Obama has signed a massive annual defence policy bill which grants USD 1 billion to Pakistan for the expenses made by its army in support of the US military operations in war-torn Afghanistan.
The National Defence Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2015, signed by Obama on Friday, sets overall defence spending at USD 578 billion which has provision for release of Coalition Support Fund amounting to USD 1 billion to Pakistan.
CSF is not a military aid but a reimbursement to Pakistan for the expenses made by its army in support of the US military operations in Afghanistan.
Though there are conditions attached for the disbursement of the amount to Pakistan, with regard to it taking action against terrorist organisations and in particular the Haqqani network, but as usual the Defence Secretary can waive off these certification under national interest, as has consistently been the case for the past several years.
US and Pakistan are now holding talks on extending CSF even after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The NDAA asks the Defence Secretary to submit a report to the Congress on US-Pak bilateral security co-operation within the first 90 days of the passage of this bill and every six months thereafter till December 2017.
According to NDAA 2015, out of the USD 1 billion, USD 300 would not be released to Pakistan unless the Defence Secretary certifies to the Congressional Defence Committees that Pakistan has undertaken military operations in the restive North Waziristan that have contributed to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani network.
The Defence Secretary also needs to certify that steps were taken to ensure that North Waziristan does not become a safe haven for the Haqqani network.
In the report, the Congress also seeks a description and assessment of the effectiveness of efforts by Pakistan, unilaterally or jointly with the United States, to disrupt operations and eliminate safe havens of Al-Qaeda, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and other extremist groups such as the Haqqani Network and the Quetta Shura Taliban.
It also seeks assessment of efforts by Pakistan to counter the threat of improvised explosive devices and the networks involved in the acquisition, production, and delivery of such devices and their precursors and components.
- See more at:

CAG Flays Centre for Delay in Making Trucks for Army

NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General, in its latest report tabled in Parliament on Friday, blamed the Centre for inordinate delay in indigenisation of all-weather, high-mobility Tatra vehicles and Army’s main battle tanks.
Tatra, the vehicle used most extensively for mounting missiles and radars by the Army, was being imported from Czechoslovakia since 1969 and to attain self-reliance and effect savings in foreign exchange, the government in 1983 decided to indigenise the production of these vehicles.
A Defence public sector undertaking, Bharat Earth Movers Limited, accordingly signed a collaboration agreement with M/s Omnipol (OEM) in 1986 with an objective to attain 86 per cent indigenisation by 1991.
“However, in 2014, the target is yet to be attained. The BEML attributed the delay mainly to the failure of the ministry in placing orders for sufficient number of vehicles between 1986 and 1991. We, however, found that the delay in process of indigenisation of Tatra vehicles was due to lack of clear long-term projection of orders by Army to BEML, though the Army had procured 7,942 vehicles during this period. As a result, the objective of self-reliance in production of these vehicles was defeated,”the CAG observed. Tatra trucks were in the news after a retired Army officer offered `14 crore bribe to then Army chief General V K Singh to clear further orders.
Meanwhile, the CAG also observed that the domestic production of main battle tanks for the Army did not meet the schedule planned for timely fulfillment of the Army’s needs. “The production of main battle tank (MBT) Arjun was derailed due to frequent changes in design, contrary to the assurance in 2004 that the design had been frozen. Introduction of new requirements not envisaged in the original requirements by the Army led to dismantling of already manufactured MBTs” the CAG pointed out.

Indian Muslims condemn Pakistan school massacre

Universal condemnation follows in the wake of the attack by Pakistani Taliban militants that targeted children and staffers at a school in Peshawar.India's Muslim community is expressing outrage after Pakistani Taliban gunmen on Tuesday (December 16th) slaughtered at least 149 people at an army-run school in Peshawar.
Indian youths hold placards and candles during a vigil on Wednesday (December 17th) for 149 students and staffers massacred by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants a day earlier at an army-run school in Peshawar. [Sajjad Hussain/AFP]
    Indian youths hold placards and candles during a vigil on Wednesday (December 17th) for 149 students and staffers massacred by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants a day earlier at an army-run school in Peshawar. [Sajjad Hussain/AFP]
An investigator collects evidence Wednesday (December 17th) at the site of Tuesday's attack by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. [A. Majeed/AFP]
    An investigator collects evidence Wednesday (December 17th) at the site of Tuesday's attack by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan. [A. Majeed/AFP]
Muslims across India and from all walks of society described the attack as un-Islamic and called for the perpetrators – Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, who claimed responsibility for it – to be punished sternly.
They joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi and fellow citizens from other faiths in condemning the atrocity as well as honouring the memory of the many innocents who were gunned down this week in the northwestern Pakistani city.
By Friday, the death toll in the mass shootings at the Army Public School had risen to 149, AFP reported. Most of the victims were children. Meanwhile in Pakistan, three days of national mourning ended Friday.
Those who commit such acts are not Muslims and do not represent any sect of Islam, said Maulana Muhammad Sufyan Qasmi, vice-chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband (Waqf), a world-renowned Islamic seminary in India.
"The Holy Qur'an has urged Muslims to stand united against those who kill children, women and older people," he told Khabar South Asia. "I declare that such elements are hypocrites and non-believers in Allah's divine message. They are killers of humanity and have no religion.
"They should be punished and their support system should be completely destroyed," Qasmi added.
In Kolkata, Shafique Qasmi, the imam at Nakhoda Masjid, said words were insufficient to describe this "barbarous attack".
"The attack by the terrorist group TTP goes against all human and Islamic values. It is a clear violation of the tenets of Islam," he told Khabar. "Those who attacked the school are dead. But their leaders who ordered the attack must be around. Pakistani authorities should hunt them out and hang them in public."
The imam also called on Pakistan's government to destroy the cells and networks of all who engage in violence and kill innocent people.
K.M. Baharul Islam, an academic based in Kashipur, Uttarakhand, was among other Muslims who echoed that sentiment.
"People wonder how these terrorists all over the world get excessivefunds and weapons," Islam, who chairs the Centre of Excellence in Public Policy and Government at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), told Khabar.
In his opinion, terrorist groups are a "curse on humanity".
"They need to be dealt with strong force and no mercy should be shown to them. It is in the best interest of Pakistan to chase them and dismantle their networks," he added.
In Kupwara, Jammu and Kashmir, Maulana Iqbal Ahmad, head of the local Darul Uloom, called those who kill schoolchildren "enemies of humanity", who had to be "dealt with sternly under the law".
In Srinagar, a Muslim parent called the massacre a cowardly act.
"My heart goes out to sympathise with bereaved families, who lost their near and dear ones in this brutal militant attack," Sayeed Ahmad Shah said.
Terrorists taint Islam's image
Some Muslims consider the massacre a flashpoint for renewed efforts to stand against extremism and expel them from the community.
"Ulemas and political leadership in Pakistan need to cut across their differences and put a joint effort to get rid of so-called Jihadi culture," Sirajuddin Qureshi, president of the India Islamic Cultural Centre in New Delhi, told Khabar. "Those who remain adamant on violence should be ostracised and disowned by the Muslim community."
True jihad is about protecting people from terrorists, he said. And true Muslims do not commit heinous crimes such as kidnapping and taking people hostage, and terrorising women, children and other innocents, Qureshi said.
Muslims also must not allow themselves to be fooled by doctrines espoused by extremist organisations such as the TTP, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, said Zafarul-Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM), an umbrella group headquartered in Delhi.
These extremists mislead the masses in the name of Islam, Khan told Khabar.
"The pristine and peaceful message of Islam totally disowns the blood-thirsty ideology and tactics of these terrorist outfits."Akhtar Ali in Kolkata and Amin Masoodi in Srinagar contributed to this report.

Snakes and settlers

The Indian Air Force is celebrating its Silver Jubilee (25th anniversary). The picture shows an aerial view of the IAF Station in Madras.

T.R. Raghavan on the days when doctors went on house visits every weekend and reptiles crossed people’s paths regularly

The decision to buy a plot in the suburbs led me to East Tambaram six decades ago. The first day I travelled to my workplace from my new address, it was challenging. I had to travel by the Pallavan bus, which was packed with vendors who were carrying goods — vegetables, fish, meat and other eatables — to the market.
The daily commute was difficult for us. However, when we returned home, the open land and the breeze were a balm to our tired bodies.
We would use the only available bus service (route no. 51-A) between Tambaram and Agaramthen, because our house was located mid-way between these two areas.
To reach home, we would walk through the IAF quarters, enjoying the tranquillity of the open fields and the aroma of the freshly made chappathis, saying ‘namaste’ to everyone we met on the way. From safety pins to groceries and motorcycles, the IAF Quarters was where everything could be purchased.
Now, when I walk through the thoroughfare near the IAF Quarters, I feel sad to see the area filled with more quarters leaving little space for breathing.
In our Association (Balaji Nagar & Padmavathy Nagar Residents Welfare Association,) we used to sponsor individual-endowment prizes to competent persons on achievements.
There was a happy occasion when my daughter was crowned the best singer of that area.
There was a sense of oneness among the residents of the area. Our Association celebrated the Silver Jubilee with greetings from the then District Collector.
Near the Indian Air Force Training is the centuries-old Madras Christian College, next to Tambaram Railway Station and only a few schools in the area. In East Tambaram, sighting snakes was common.
When anyone would bring up the subject and ask, “How do we live with them?”, I would say the snakes should be asking the question because we had come to live in their area.
For almost every condition, residents turned to one lady doctor and a male doctor, who would pay a visit to every household in the neighbourhood on their motorcycles, every weekend, to find out if everyone was fine.
For medical emergencies, residents would go to a Public Health Centre at Camp Road Junction. Dr. Gangadhar Sarma, a skin specialist from Hindu Mission Hospital, West Tambaram, was the patron-doctor running the show.
He would travel by his cycle to visit people.
Today, East Tambaram has shed its sleepy character. It is bustling. The development of the section around the IAF Quarters, which would be idyllic in the past, is symbolic of the changes that have taken place across the area.
Every available space seems to have been occupied. Transport facilities have improved, but many of the roads are still bad.(T.R. Raghavan, Former president,Balaji Nagar & Padmavathy Nagar Residents Welfare Association, Selaiyur, East Tambaram.)

Vivek Murthy Makes History As First Indo-American Surgeon General

The Democratic controlled Senate voted Monday 51-43 to confirm Vivek Hallegere Murthy as ‘America’s doctor’ more than a year after his nomination with the Republicans dead set against him because of his support for gun control and President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
WASHINGTON – Vivek Hallegere Murthy has made history as the youngest US Surgeon General and the first of Indian descent with his Senate confirmation in the teeth of strong opposition of powerful gun lobby.
The Democratic controlled Senate voted Monday 51-43 to confirm Murthy, 37 as ‘America’s doctor’ more than a year after his nomination with the Republicans dead set against him because of his support for gun control and President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
Born in England, Murthy moved with his Indian parents to Miami when he was three.
He would become the leading US spokesperson on matters of public health.
He will also be the operational head of the 6,500-strong US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, one of the seven uniformed services including army, navy, air force and marines.
Murthy, a bachelor, has said he will focus on preventing chronic diseases, efforts to curb smoking, and programmes to improve diets and combat obesity.
Applauding the Senate for confirming Murthy, Obama said “as ‘America’s Doctor,’ Vivek will hit the ground running to make sure every American has the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.”
“He’ll bring his lifetime of experience promoting public health to bear on priorities ranging from stopping new diseases to helping our kids grow up healthy and strong,” he said in a statement.”
“Vivek will also help us build on the progress we’ve made combatting Ebola, both in our country and at its source,” Obama said “Combined with the crucial support for fighting Ebola included in the bill to fund our government next year, Vivek’s confirmation makes us better positioned to save lives around the world and protect the American people here at home,” he added.
A physician with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, he co-founded an advocacy group in 2008 called Doctors for Obama, a national organization of 16,000 doctors and medical students.
It later became Doctors for America and promoted the Affordable Care Act nicknamed Obamacare.
Murthy has also founded two other organizations. Visions Worldwide focuses on rural health in India and on HIV/AIDS education in India and the US, while TrialNetworks is a software company focused on making drug development and clinical trials more efficient.
Murthy’s confirmation Monday on a 51-43 vote was largely along party lines. Just one Republican voted for him, while three Democrats voted against his confirmation.
Democrat party leaders had delayed a vote on Murthy’s confirmation until the lame duck session fearing some party members running for re-election from conservative states may not vote for him.
Several members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) welcomed Murthy’s confirmation.
The lone Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera, CAPAC Health Care Task Force Co-Chair, called Murthy “an excellent choice for this role” saying “his appointment is historic for the Indian American community.”
CAPAC Chair Judy Chu said Murthy’s confirmation “is a testament to both his own distinguished career and the great strides made by the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.”
Joseph Crowley, Democratic Co-Chair of Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans said “the confirmation of the first surgeon general of Indian descent is a victory for the entire Indian-American community, whose young children will grow up knowing that anything is within their reach.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng said Murthy’s confirmation just a week after that of Richard Verma as the first Indian-American ambassador to India illustrated “the continued growth and influence of Indian-American community, and highlights the exceptional contributions that Indian-Americans make to our nation.”

Naval chief says strive for excellence

Flight cadets in a jubilant mood after the passing out parade at Dundigal. The Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R.K. Dhawan, was the chief guest at the Air Force Academy on Saturday. —DC

Hyderabad: The atmosphere on Saturday was festive at Air Force Academy in Dundigal where the parents and relatives cheered 158 flight cadets who received the President’s Commission after successfully completing the basic and professional training to join the Indian Air Force. Twenty nine of them were lady flight officers.
Flying officer Sonu Barak of the flying branch, who was the parade commander, was awarded the President’s Plaque and the Chief of Air Staff ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in overall merit in the pilot course.
Flying officer Kuldeep Singh and flying officer Bijender Bhagat were awarded President’s Plaques for bagging the first positions in ground duty branch and navigation branch respectively.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhawan told the cadets that the word ‘impossible’ should not be in their dictionary.
The passing out parade ceremony ended with an aerobatic display of ‘Sarang Helicopter team’ and Su 30 fighter jet.

Enforcement Directorate to further probe former IAF Chief

The Enforcement Directorate seems to be tightening the noose around former Indian Air Force Chief (IAF) S.P. Tyagi in connection with its probe into the multi-crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal.
The agency now wants to seek elaborate clarifications from the former IAF Chief and also plans to confront him with businessman and lawyer Gautam Khaitan, who has already been arrested by the enforcement agency in connection with the case.
Sources said, “The decision to seek clarifications from the ex-IAF Chief has been taken after disclosures made by Mr Tyagi’s cousin.
He is expected to be called for clarifications in the first week of January,” sources said. Investigations by the ED into the deal have revealed that two months after taking charge of the then Chief of Air Staff, S.P. Tyagi (Retd), the Air Headquarters on March 7, 2005 agreed to reduce the mandatory service ceiling of the VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres, reversing its earlier consistent stand according to which change in service ceiling was “non-negotiable”, sources said.
Sources said, “It was during the tenure of Mr Tyagi that the Air Force conceded to reduce the service ceiling for VVIP helicopters to 4,500 metres as mandatory ‘operational requirement’ (OR). Earlier the IAF was opposing it on the grounds of security constraints.”
The Air Headquarters in April 2004 had reached a decision that AgustaWestland was not an option as VVIP helicopters due to its failure in meeting the service ceiling mandatory OR, they added.
“Mr Tyagi took over as the Chief of Air Staff on January 1, 2005.”
And finally, the Air Headquarters agreed to reduce the service ceiling and award the contract to AgustaWestland on March 7, 2005,” sources said.
Military help sought for tanks’ maintenance
Military help sought for tanks’ maintenance
By: Sandip Dighe

1971 war relics have been rusting in PMC-run parks

Finally giving importance to the maintenance of military equipment, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)'s garden department has requested Southern Command officials to impart special training to its employees in order to maintain the army equipment at the gardens in the city.

Mirror had highlighted the issue of a particular army tank used in the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which has been lying in a condition of stark neglect, in its report 'PMC tanks on maintenance' on December 17, 2014. It was only when citybased Colonel (retd) Sadanand Balwant Salunke of 6 Maratha Light Infantry (MLI), noticed the condition of the tanks, that PMC took any notice.According to department records, the Southern Command has 
donated two war tanks to the PMC which are on display at Sambhaji 
Udhyan and Major Pradip Tathawade garden.
While department officials are of the opinion that they carry out maintenance of these tanks regularly, they deign to admit that they need the assistance of army experts who are more familiar with the technicalities and the spare parts."We sent an official communique to Southern Command on Friday, requesting them to impart special training to our employees so that they can aintain these tanks regularly. Once our keepers are trained, the tanks will be taken care of," said ukaram Jagtap, chief garden superintendent of PMC.Currently, the tanks are covered in dust, their aint having long faded. Moreover, no information is provided about the tank for visitors.Sources rom he department told Mirror, "We will raise this issue in our general meeting. There should be detailed nformation about the tank for visitors. As many as 1,000 people visit both these gardens every day."Jagtap added, "The department has been maintaining the fighter planes placed in three gardens n the city as we are getting regular assistance from the Indian Air Force (IAF). We will follow a similar ystem with the army tanks as well. We will also get information about the tanks' history, capacity etc nd put it up for visitors."Col (retd) Vinay Dalvi said, "The army usually gives either captured or nserviceable equipment to civic authorities. Before giving these away, the army removes crucial spare arts such guns, weapons and communication systems. Therefore, these tanks will not require much aintenance. They just need to be painted."A Southern Command official told Mirror on condition of nonymity, "We are yet to receive any official communication from the civic authorities. Once we do,  will consider their proposal and as per army provisions, give them our ssistance."
Patriotic fervour marks IAF parade
A total of 158 Flights Cadets, including 29 women, commissioned into Indian Air Force 
Hyderabad: As many as 158 flight cadets, including 29 women, on Saturday formally joined into the mainstream of Indian Air Force when Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan, on behalf of the President of India, awarded commission to them at an impressive Combined Graduation Parade held at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal near Hyderabad. 
 The passing out parade marked the culmination of one year rigorous basic and professional training at the academy and other places including Air Force stations located at Hakimpet and Begumpet in Hyderabad and Yelahanka in Karnataka apart from Air Force Administrative College, Coimbatore.  The newly inducted flight cadets will be allotted to various branches of Indian Air Force like flying, navigation, air controlling, logistics, administration, accounts and education.
Newly commissioned IAF cadets taking out a parade at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad on Saturday
Newly commissioned IAF cadets taking out a parade at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad on Saturday

Flying officer Sonu Barak, who was the parade commander, was awarded ‘President’s Plaque’ and the Chief of Air Staff ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in over all merit in pilot course, while flying officers Kuldeep Singh and Bijender Bhagat were awarded President's Plaque for standing first in ground duty branch and navigation branch, respectively.
 In his address, after reviewing the parade, the Admiral R K Dhowan congratulated the cadets for being part of one of the finest air forces in the world. He said as young leaders, they had to build up the quality with credibility and integrity and continue to strive for excellence and meet all challenges.  He instructed the cadets that the word ‘impossible’ should not be in their dictionary.  Admiral Dhowan focused on the importance of the core values of the IAF - Mission, Integrity and Excellence. 
New IAF women cadets hug each other after the graduation parade
New IAF women cadets hug each other after the graduation parade

 The passing out parade ceremony culminated with the breathtaking aerobatic display of ‘Sarang Helicopter team’ and Su 30 fighter jets. The fly-past of Pilatus and Kiran training aircrafts 
Arrest warrants issued against Pakistan Taliban chief, 7 others -
The Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah had launched the brazen militant
assault on Karachi airport in June that killed at least 37 people. (Source: AP photo/file) -
By: Press Trust of India | Karachi | Posted: December 20, 2014 8:53 pm | Updated: December 20, 2014 9:02 pm
An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Saturday issued non-bailable arrest warrants against eight persons, including Pakistan Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, for the brazen militant assault on Karachi airport in June.
An anti-terrorism court in Karachi issued the arrest warrants against Fazlullah, former TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid and six others.
The court issued the warrants after police filed a chargesheet in the court, The Express Tribune reported.
At least 37 people, including all 10 terrorists, were killed after an all-night battle with militants who besieged Karachi airport’s old terminal on June 8.
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid had claimed responsibility for the audacious attack on the country’s largest airport, saying the attack was carried out to avenge the death of Hakimullah Mehsud, former TTP chief who was killed in a US drone strike earlier this year.
The militants had also mounted another attack on a security check post outside the 
airport just a day after the attack, without causing anymore casualties.
Earlier in October, four suspects allegedly liked with al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Harktul Jihad-e-Islami (HJI) militant outfits were arrested during raids in different parts of Karachi.
“The arrested suspects used to provide logistical support to the attackers,” Crime Investigation Department’s acting Deputy Inspector General Saqib Ismail Memon had told media.
In June the Pakistan army began a long-awaited operation, named Zarb-i-Azb, against militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency after the deadly assault on the Karachi Airport.
And after the recent attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School that killed 148 people, mostly children, the army has escalated its offensive in the tribal region.
Pakistan has been battling militant groups since 2004 after its army entered northwestern tribal belt bordering Afghanistan to search for al Qaeda fighters who had fled across the border following the US-
led invasion of Afghanistan.

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Indian leaders tell me let’s make 

history. Modi can’t be an exception: Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri

Why Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri
THE former pakistan foreign minister is part of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party that has been protesting against the Nawaz Sharif government and is seen as one of the reasons for the unsettled new regime. Kasuri is also among the few big Pakistani names propagating Track II diplomacy with India in the face of a great deal of scepticism, and one who remains optimistic about progress in ties under the Modi government despite recent setbacks. His grandfather had participated in the Khilafat Movement along with Mahatma Gandhi.
Praveen Swami: Best known as the brains behind Pervez Musharraf’s government, Mr Kasuri has been a key actor in finding some sort of a resolution to the Kashmir dispute. He is with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party right now. What can you tell us about the churning in Pakistan?
Let me tell you why I am here, and then I’ll leave the rest to you. I am here to promote peace between Pakistan and India, particularly at a time when official dialogue is not on. When we invited you, things were much better, and now they are much worse. I have been involved for more than 20-25 years in the peace process, much before I became the foreign minister. When my book comes out, I plan to say unpleasant things to Pakistanis and Indians. The idea is to promote discussion and to make us realise that Pakistan or India cannot wish away the other. As your wise prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had said, you can choose your friends but you cannot change your geography.
PRAVEEN SWAMI: There is a great deal of scepticism about Track-II politics. How are you persisting with this process in the face of such negativity?
This cynicism is not simply in India. When I had just taken over as foreign minister, an Indian delegation of MPs, journalists and civil society activists was visiting Islamabad. I was advised not to meet them but I not only backed the delegation, I insisted they meet the President and the PM.
I used to interact with the Indian media directly and took the risk of getting misquoted because that was the only way I could get to the people of India. By talking at Hyderabad House with my counterpart, nothing would come out except a spin the next day in Pakistani and Indian papers.
Once, I was in Washington, addressing a think tank. Things were going on beautifully between India and Pakistan then. When I was addressing them, they asked me about Kashmir… Two hours later I was told about the serial bombing in Mumbai. At another think tank, the first thing I said was, “I commiserate, it’s a disaster”. But what did the ministry of external affairs in Delhi, because of misreporting by somebody in Washington, say? That “foreign minister Kasuri says that as long as Kashmir is there, this will continue to happen”. I thought nothing that would appear in Pakistani papers would have an impact, so I talked to some of the top media people in India. I had myself interviewed and the Indian media corrected itself within 24 hours.
You cannot get anywhere by relying only on official channels. Pakistan and India have excellent diplomats who spend their entire lives on commas, fullstops, paragraphs. I remember at a conference, Indians were trying their best to get a paragraph deleted on terrorism and liberation movements, and equally persistent Pakistani officers wanted it included. I am not running down foreign service officials, they are trained for that. But there is a world beyond commas and fullstops, when you have to get to the heart of the matter.
SHUBHAJIT ROY: You have worked with Pervez Musharraf and Imran Khan. What is common between them?
I worked with Musharraf not when he took over as chief of the army, but after the elections. There is a big difference. There’s a joke in Pakistan that first the military generals take over and then they try to become great democrats. That’s when their fall starts. His (Musharraf) first three years were very good till he was compelled, as Ayub Khan was, to try to pander to public opinion. And when you do that, it does not work out.
I was foreign minister under Musharraf after the elections and maximum progress took place (then). Politicians in Pakistan have a much lesser threshold of tolerance as far as arguments are concerned. When I argued with PM Nawaz Sharif on the 15th amendment to the Constitution, called the Shariat Bill, the only way I could make my point was by resigning in a stormy meeting. With Musharraf, I used to disagree on many things.
I think it is not fair to ask for differences between Musharraf and Imran Khan. With Imran, I have had occasions to disagree. The one place I agree entirely with Imran Khan is on India. I am chairman of the Kashmir Committee and on that I have had no difference with him.
Rakesh Sinha: How do you explain an incident like the Wagah bombing? How much of a concern is it inside Pakistan?
Thank you for asking this question. Because unless Indians understand that Pakistan itself is a victim of terrorism, you won’t be able to empathise. Because you always see Pakistan as the territory from which all terrorism is operated. Now, of course, Islamic State (ISIS) has taken over by leaps and bounds. And we are nowhere in sight. In fact, al-Qaeda is now fighting for survival. They have even declared an Indian as their head for South Asia because they fear such great competition from the ISIS for that space for Islamic Khilafat… So, when you talk of Wagah, let me take you to the attack on (the Pakistan) GHQ (General Headquarters), to the attack on the naval headquarters, to the fact that the North Waziristan operation (Operation Zarb-e-Azb) has been on and army jawans are embracing martyrdom on a daily basis and killing many more.
Wagah was a terrible incident, but we have been facing this for a long time. Our intelligence agencies, our security forces have all faced major attacks by terrorists. There is an international agenda of global jihadists who feel that all rulers in the Islamic states are pawns of the Americans and that they are a hurdle in the creation of an Islamic Khilafat.
Ironically, the Khilafat Movement in India, which Mahatma Gandhi also participated in, was very different because Muslims were not radicalised then the way they have been after American interventions in Iraq or Afghanistan or Syria. Wherever they (Americans) have gone, they end up radicalising the local Muslims. I don’t know if they do it on purpose or it is an accidental byproduct.
So, the Khilafat Movement, in which my grandfather took part along with Gandhi, was a positive movement, hoping to bring Hindus and Muslims together in the struggle against British rule. The Khilafat was also once vested in Ottoman Turkey, which had a great degree of tolerance. The modern-day khilafats only look at a broad idea of Muslims being one ummah but forget that only those khilafats lasted which included everybody—Christians, Jews or whoever—in the empire. In the Mughal Empire, the most successful was Akbar. And the decline started when people became less tolerant.
So, Wagah is very important but it’s just one latest incident. We have been at the receiving end now for many, many years. I record this as almost an existential threat. And that is why, the Pakistani army has taken them on in no uncertain terms. And even if you don’t wish to accept what the Pakistani army says, even the Americans have now started saying that the action in North Waziristan is targeting all sorts of terrorists and not a particular group.
Abantika GHosh: Do you think PM Narendra Modi can take the Kashmir issue ahead?
Oh yes, on anything. When I sent the draft of my book to my publisher, at that time, Mr Modi had won and become PM. There were a lot of stories appearing in the Indian media that he’s not a Vajpayee. I thought that he has been a successful chief minister and he would like to focus on development, which is what he said. When I was foreign minister, there were soldiers eyeball to eyeball. But we didn’t have militarisation of nuclear weapons to the extent we now have. Both countries have stockpiled fissile materials in an unbelievable manner; both have sophisticated delivery systems—not just ballistic missiles, but also cruise missiles. Both have a second-strike capability. So, if war at that time was unthinkable, only a mad man can now think of a war between the two countries.
But of course, the Foreign Secretary talks were cancelled following the meeting of the Pakistan High Commissioner with the Hurriyat leaders. Pakistanis said we always knew this would happen. So, I had to write a paragraph in my book to bring it up to date and I have not changed my opinion. Every Indian leader I have privately spoken to has said, ‘Let’s make history’. How can Modi be an exception to that? Let’s hope for the best.
Seema Chishti: You said wherever America goes, it radicalises local Muslim populations. Does Pakistan now look back with regret to a close alliance with America over the decades? Is that the reason Pakistan is facing so much trouble now?
One of the first chapters in my book is called Pakistan’s security dilemma. And I trace it from Liaquat Ali Khan’s visit to Washington rather than to Moscow. The reason I have given for that is our relationship with India—a much bigger country. Pakistan didn’t have anything at that time, except our defence forces, which were also much smaller then than what India had. And, some leaders at that time had made statements that Pakistan might not last.
The founding fathers were not blessed with hindsight. They were fighting for the survival of a newborn state. So, put yourself in their shoes.
They thought they could get help from the rightist states. In Pakistan, even at that time, I remember in my father’s household—he belonged to the little band of Progressives and Leftists—the overwhelming opinion was that we should have gone to Moscow. Now, of course, people fully realise the consequences of Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s decision to support the United States in the manner that it has caused havoc.
Seema Chishti: Is there a degree of regret about the Zia-ul-Haq years?
There was a general feeling that when General Zia-ul-Haq had assumed power, he was isolated internationally, particularly after hanging Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. But then came the Soviet invasion and he became the darling of the West. Nowadays, there is a feeling that we have paid a very big price for that.
Monojit Majumdar: Did you or your party expect some kind of an army intervention in the Azadi March stand-off?
Let me tell you what I meant when I say that the army had an opportunity. If Asif Ali Zardari had restored the Chief Justice after coming in, he would not have faced the problems he did. He had his two prime ministers sacked by the judiciary. Pakistani judiciary, civil society and media are very powerful. A feeling is developing that if the parliament doesn’t assert, the Azadi March will become meaningless. All powers will be taken over by the media and judiciary.
Pakistan isn’t an easy country to explain. Even the military is summoned by the chief justice. There’s always an intricate balance in
society. It’s not like the media gives an order and everyone goes around saying, yes. Yes, once the commander-in-chief makes up his mind, the idea of discipline comes in. There’s also collective discussion among the four commanders. In my opinion, they had opportunities, and if you ask any visiting Pakistani journalist, they’ll tell you they had but they didn’t utilise these opportunities.
Now Imran Khan, if you ask me, why the hell would he want the military to take over? In fact, he thinks he’s the next PM. Once the military takes over, everything changes. Politicians take advantage of situations. Imran Khan, we assume, was taking advantage of a political situation. I don’t think he’ll want a military takeover. There’ll be very little in it for a politician.
Praveen Swami: Do you have any idea whether the India-Pakistan back channels can be revived again?
I’m in no position to give any advice to Modi. But I’ll say one thing. For Pakistan-India progress, it’s vital Modi singles out who he entirely trusts. (That person) doesn’t have to be a scholar or great diplomat, he should just have common sense and Modi’s trust. He shouldn’t spill the beans after retirement.
So, once he has that person, the back channel can go on. My experience says that you can move so rapidly. We say, we can’t accept it. India says we can’t accept it. When the back channel people are talking in the morning, they’ll say something, by the evening, they’ll have a decision. They’ll just bypass all bureaucratic hurdles. The immediate person is very important, whoever the top decision maker is. The back channel would help greatly, and some people are speculating on names.
Seema Chishti: You’ve been fairly critical of the bureaucracy. In the backdrop of the failed Agra summit, is there something missing when Indians and Pakistanis are talking?
There are some very good diplomats in the foreign office. But they are cynical of Track II, they think it doesn’t contribute in any meaningful way. I think it does. We had a summit meeting in Agra, where Pervez Musharraf, who was clearly a decision-maker and a military and political representative at that time, met Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Despite the discovery of the ayah who had raised Musharraf and the Nehar Wali Haveli and the media going into raptures over the return of prodigal son Musharraf, the summit failed. Why? No homework had been done.
And that is why the back channel we worked on will never fail. Statesmen can’t reinvent the wheel. They can only put a new tag. What do they do? Paragraph 9 will become paragraph 5, 3 will be 2 and they’ll put their own new tag. Because there’s no other way to do it.
Praveen Swami: We see the ceasefire, on which this whole peace process was predicated in 2002-2003, fraying at the edges in the last few months. Do you believe India and Pakistan have enough mitigation measures to prevent a crisis from escalating, particularly because you said there are now miniaturised, easily deployable nuclear weapons as well as cruise missiles which will come into play? One of the scenarios people have talked about is a large terrorist attack in Delhi provoking missile strikes. Do we have an adequate mechanism for this, and if not what should we have?
Despite 20,000 war heads in the possession of the US and 20,000 in the possession of the Soviet Union, they were able to erect some sort of an architecture that prevented them from going to war. We did start that at our time, pre-notification on missiles. We had made some suggestions to Indians (on) the threat of accidental firing, but not cruise missiles, because we had secretly developed ours which the Indians didn’t know. The Indians at the time thought they were one up, and why the hell should Pakistan go for cruise missiles.  But now both have demonstrated and I think they should be brought under the ambit and we need that architecture desperately. And for that, we need experts from both Pakistan and India to sit down and develop that architecture. Otherwise, it’s going to be very scary indeed.Transcribed by Sarah Hafeez, Sumegha Gulati & Aniruddha Ghosal

Ex-Army Chief V K Singh Blamed For Mumbai's Adarsh Housing Row

MUMBAI: Members of scam-hit Adarsh Housing Society today accused former Army chief V K Singh of being responsible for the controversy surrounding the highrise that stirred a political storm in Maharashtra and claimed there was no illegality in construction of the building here.       
Army chief Gen V.K. Singh (PTI file photo)
Ex-Army chief Gen V.K. Singh (PTI file photo)
Addressing a press conference here, they claimed the prime land in Colaba on which the highrise was built does not belong to Defence Ministry, as alleged, but to the state government, and demanded the structure be regularised.        
The allottees of the 31-storey building cited RTI documents in support of their claim and said the criminal case made out against them by CBI has "fallen flat" after it had been established that the land does not belong to Defence Ministry.    
It is the prosecution case that the land was actually meant to be a six-storey structure to house Kargil war heroes and their kin but was later extended to 31 floors allegedly without mandatory permission.             
Brigadier (Retd) T K Sinha, ad-hoc Chairman of Adarsh Housing Society, accused V K Singh, now a Union Minister, of sparking the entire controversy and "misleading" the then Defence Minister A K Antony.

The Effects of Aging on Your Digestion
As you age, your gastrointestinal tract does too. That means that it is important to monitor the foods you eat not only to maintain a healthy weight, but also to ensure that you are taking the best care of your digestive system. Here are five ways that your digestion can change as you age and tips for taking the best care of yourself and your health.
1. Chewing
As you age, chewing food can become more difficult, especially if you have dentures or poor dentition. You may not think of chewing as part of the digestive process, but it is in fact the first and most important step in taking care of your digestive system. When you chew, you are breaking down the food so that the stomach acid and intestinal enzymes can later break it apart into nutrients to be absorbed into your intestines.

In order to avoid choking on your food or slowing down your digestion, make sure to chew your food as thoroughly as possible or to cut up your food into smaller pieces. Also, it is important to continue visiting the dentist on a regular basis, about twice a year to make sure that your mouth is healthy and ready to chew. Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements or getting them through your diet can also help with your digestion and other aspects of your internal health. Women ages 50-70 should get about 1,200 mg of calcium and 600 IUs of vitamin D and men of the same age should get 1,000 mg of calcium and 600 IUs of vitamin D daily.   

2. Swallowing

After chewing, the next most important aspect of your digestion is swallowing your
 food properly. As you age, your esophagus, or the pipe that connects your mouth with your stomach, does not contract like it used to, make it more difficult to swallow larger pieces of food. Indeed, when individuals over 50 need to swallow large pieces of food, it can take them 50 to 100 percent longer for the food to make its way to you stomach because your esophagus muscles are out of shape.


One of the most common conditions among aging individuals is called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can cause pain or a burning sensation in your chest when you digest and even the narrowing of your esophagus. Although there is not cure for a narrowing esophagus, one way to prevent this condition and to maximize your digestion with age is to chew your food slowly and in small pieces and to exercise and maintain a healthy weight. Avoid foods high in fat or sodium, which can worsen the feeling of heart burn or reflux, and if the symptoms still do not subside, it is recommended to visit your doctor for medical treatment.

3. Your Stomach

At the end of your esophagus lies the entry into your stomach called the lower esophageal sphincter. As you age, this ring-like muscle at the opening of the stomach gets weaker, once again contributing to heartburn and acid reflux. The muscle fails to relax properly, which allows acid and sometimes other stomach contents to make their way back up the esophagus pipe.

It is important that if you have suffered from heartburn or indigestion in the past to take note of the foods that may make you feel that way. Spicy and highly acidic foods are some of the major triggers for this condition, along with citrus fruits and high-fat foods. It helps to eat smaller meals that are low in acid and sodium because this can dramatically decrease your chances for heartburn.

Another common condition to watch out for in your stomach is called H. Pylori, or a bacteria on your stomach lining that can cause ulcers or sores in the morning or when your stomach is empty. The infection can be detected through blood tests, blood tests and endoscopy, a small tube inserted in your mouth that extends down to your stomach. If you discover that you have H. Pylori there is no need to worry because the condition can be treated with a combination of antibiotics and acid-suppressing medications.

4. Intestines

With age, your intestines start to get lazy when it comes to absorbing key nutrients like calcium, vitamins A, B-12, K and D). This is because the muscle movements get slower and the colon function also changes. As a result, adults from ages 50 and up may experience more constipation and have a greater risk of developing colon cancer or diverticulitis, a condition in which small pouches in the colon become infected.

As mentioned above, it is recommended to make up for these missing vitamins either in your diet or with supplements. You can relieve your constipation by increasing your daily fiber intake and decreasing your intake of fatty and high-cholesterol foods. In order to naturally increase your fiber intake, eat more whole grains and try to have a fruit or vegetable with every meal. Here are some great ways to naturally increase your daily fiber intake.

doctor5. Your Liver

You may not know that people ages 60 and over have a greater risk of developing gallstones, or hard crystals that form in the gallbladder when your liver is unable to process the cholesterol and other parts of its bile. Bile is a substance you need to digest fat, which is made by the liver, but is stored in the gallbladder. Your risk for gallstones increases with age because the because the bile duct at the opening of your intestine narrows, forcing the bile to stay in the gallbladder for longer periods of time, which causes it to harden.

In order to help prevent the formation of gallstones, which can be painful and often require removal surgeries, it is recommended to strictly control your fat intake so as not to overwhelm your gallbladder. Unfortunately, if you have gallstones you most likely won't experience symptoms, and if you do it is usually a mild pain in the pit of your stomach or the upper right part of your belly. The pain can even spread to your right upper back and shoulder blade. If you experience or have experienced any of these symptoms, it is important to immediately contact your doctor.

Lastly, make sure that you remain in constant consultation with your doctor about your digestive health, and ask for extra blood or breath tests the next time you have a check-up.