Tag Archives | terrorism

Facts don’t forget

The arsenal captured from terrorists in Kashmir in the last two decades

Among the many myths about the trouble the Kashmir, a few continue to be perpetuated by Pakistan and Pakistan-backed Kashmiri propagandists even today. One of them is that Kashmir was an indigenous insurgency, with Pakistan only providing its “moral, political and diplomatic support” (as it continues to do even today in the words of the new Pakistan PM on Thursday). Another one is that India unnecessarily responded with a military hand to a political problem, where a few misguided Kashmiri youth had picked up some weapons (the canard about the high ratio of Indian security forces to civilians in Kashmir has been rebutted in this blogpost).

Here are a few hard facts to demolish these myths.

Figures with Jammu and Kashmir’s home department say that security forces have seized 30,752 AK-series assault rifles, 11,431 pistol and revolvers, 1,027 universal machine guns, 2,262 rocket propelled grenade launchers, 391 sniper rifles and hundreds of other weapons, including light machine guns and self-loading rifles.The ammunition recovered includes more than 45,00,000 bullets and 63,000 grenades, besides 45,000kg explosives.

The figures also reveal that that 21,449 militants were killed and 21,655 arrested during this period, taking the combined figures to over 43,000. Security forces lost over 5,300 soldiers and cops. The number of civilians killed crossed 16,000, officials said.[Telegraph]

The security forces in Kashmir have nearly completed their job, and contrary to what many would like us to believe, are on their way out. Reports indicate that the specialist counterinsurgency Rashtriya Rifles units are likely to be moved to the North-East while AFSPA is likely to be lifted from Jammu and Srinagar districts by the end of the year.

But with the decline in violence to its lowest levels ever, it is easy to forget the level and intensity of violence in Kashmir at the peak of insurgency. The spate of fedayeen attacks on army camps in the late 1990s are a distant memory now. These facts, brought out by the J&K state government now, are a reminder of the formidable challenge overcome by the Indian state in the last two decades. It is something we can afford to forget only at our peril. After all, in Durant’s words, “the present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.”

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Should Pakistan join the gang?

Of countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism by the US

Along with the talk about designating the Haqqani Network as a foreign terrorist group, there have been some whispers about the US designating Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. What exactly does it mean? Here is the official take from the US State Department’s website:

Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors. Currently there are four countries designated under these authorities: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.[Link]

Hasn’t Pakistan “repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism”? Forget the numerous terror attacks in India starting from the days of the Punjab militancy in the 1980s till 26-11 terror strikes in Mumbai, it is Admiral Mullen’s recent testimony to the Senate Armed Service Committee (here is what he said) which explicitly shows that Pakistan qualifies to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.

Yes, Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria could also do with some fresh company. They haven’t had a new member in the gang since August 12, 1993.

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One statement, two versions

Pakistan is a declared nuclear power but a proven jehadi power.

While everyone keeps on harping on the duplicitous and double-faced nature of Pakistan Army and the ISI, Pakistan Foreign Office is not far behind with its behaviour. Anita Joshua in The Hindu notes:

While General Kayani’s response in Spain was that Pakistan reserved the sovereign right to formulate policy in accordance with its national interest, the change made by the Foreign Office in the reply offered by its spokesperson to a question on whether Pakistan considered the Haqqani network an enemy and a threat to its interests was revealing. At the press conference, the spokesperson’s answer was: “Any kind of terrorism is unacceptable. We condemn any act against Pakistan or any other country since we condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

However, in the transcript of the briefing circulated later, any possibility of inferring from the reply that Pakistan considered the Haqqani network a terrorist organisation was removed. Instead, what was circulated was this: “Pakistan has suffered from terrorism and terrorist attacks. We remain deeply concerned about militant activity from across the border into Pakistan. The Government of Pakistan is committed to peace, reconciliation, stability and development in Afghanistan and the region.”[The Hindu]

This shouldn’t be too difficult to understand. Pakistan has two, what it considers to be its strategic assets — the nuclear weapons and the jehadis. There is as much chance of Pakistan giving up its jehadis — whether voluntarily or under coercion — as is of it giving up its nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has used the existence of India as its neighbour to justify the acquisition of both these strategic assets. It was ambivalent about the status of its nuclear weapons programme for a decade while the world looked away. An official testing of the nuclear weapons made that country a declared nuclear power. Pakistan has been similarly ambivalent about its connections with the jehadis while the world has chosen to look away. Unlike the first strategic asset, nuclear weapons, where only official testing has been done, the other strategic asset, the jehadis, have not been officially tested because it is not possible to do so. Instead, it has gone a step further. These jehadis been unleashed by Pakistan army to kill many innocent civilians, soldiers, officials all over the globe — particularly so in India and Afghanistan.

With all the talk that is going on nowadays between Pakistan and the US, hope the world finally sits up and points to what Pakistan really now is — a declared “nuclear weapon” state but a proven “jehadi” state. Let us not forget that defining the problem correctly is the first step towards solving it. As Einstein said, “If I had an hour to save the world, I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.”

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Home Minister answers the questions

A need for more transparency in providing information.

After the Mumbai blasts in July earlier this year, this blogger had posted four questions for the Union Home Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram. You can read them here or here. The questions were about the lack of progress in four critical institutions pertaining to internal security: CCTNS, NATGRID, NCTC and a Ministry for Internal Security.

In his speech while inaugurating the DGPs/IGPs Conference at Delhi today, the Home Minister answered three of the four questions.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS). From time to time there have been slippages but we have taken corrective steps and I am hopeful that the nationwide network will be in place by March, 2013. Some States have not yet selected the system integrator; some have not yet set up State Data Centre. These are matters that require the personal attention of the DGP of the State.

The other ambitious project is NATGRID. Government approved the project on June 6, 2011 and I believe that it is proceeding according to schedule and the phases that have been approved will be completed in 18 months.

The most important unfinished agenda is the National Counter Terrorism Centre. It was an idea that I had unveiled in my Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture delivered in December, 2009. The underlying premise is that there is a subtle difference between anti-terrorism and counter terrorism. To borrow a phrase from the National Strategy for Counter Terrorism published by the US Government in June, 2011, the goal must be “to disrupt, dismantle and eventually defeat” the terrorist groups. Today, we do not have an organisation devoting its whole time and energy to that task. I hope to secure a Government decision on setting up the NCTC. Once there is a decision, I am confident that the core team of NCTC can be installed within 60 days and the full structure can be put together within 12-18 months.[PIB]

While work on CCTNS and NATGRID has finally started, albeit belatedly, the proposal for an NCTC is being spoken about now. But what is completely missing from the agenda is a dedicated Ministry for Internal Security. If one were to be cynical, would it need another big terror attack to get the idea of a ministry for internal security up for discussion?

Another noteworthy highlight of the speech was the Home Minister’s willingness to share more information about actions taken to prevent terror attacks.

Since 26/11, security forces and intelligence agencies have neutralised 51 terror modules. To illustrate, Abdul Latif and Riyaz who were planning to attack ONGC installations were arrested in Mumbai in March, 2010. Zia ul Haque was arrested in Hyderabad in May, 2010 and a major terrorist action against a multinational company was disrupted. A 10 member SIMI module was busted in Madhya Pradesh in June, 2011 and their plan to assassinate three Judges was foiled.[PIB]

This should hold a lesson for the home ministry too. They should stop classifying every information as ‘sensitive’ or ‘confidential’. They could make the interrogation details of suspects — up to a certain level — more accessible to the public. Unless the ministry communicates to the public what it has done successfully, the attention will always be directed at its failures. The role of counter-terror machinery is akin to those of a goal-keeper in football or a wicket-keeper in cricket. You only get noticed for your mistakes; the successes are a part of your routine.

Finally, the Home Ministry must advice all the state police departments to update their websites with more relevant information — the dossiers of the Most Wanted, and the confessions and charge-sheets of those arrested and convicted in terror cases.

In these cynical times, an emphasis on increased transparency in their dealings will not only regenerate the common man’s trust on the government agencies but also make the agencies more accountable and responsible. It means that there should be no need for anyone to ask questions of the government agencies. The answers should always be publicly available.

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Perilously close to crossing constitutional limits

P Chidambaram on establishing the National Investigation Agency

From the US Embassy (Delhi) cable dated 4th Mar 2009:

¶12. (C) Referring to the newly-formed National Investigation Agency (NIA), Chidambaram observed that he had a new weapon in hand to combat terrorism. He conceded that he was coming “”perilously close to crossing constitutional limits”" in empowering the NIA. He explained that the concept of a “”federal”" crime does not exist in India, with law and order the responsibility of state governments. Federal law enforcement agencies, therefore, have to seek permission of the states in order to become involved in an investigation. He opined that the NIA law would be challenged in court because it ascribes certain investigating powers to the NIA which may be seen to conflict with responsibility that is exclusively with the states. Mueller agreed that the U.S. Constitution empowers the FBI when crimes “”cross state borders”" but noted the FBI faces similar jurisdictional problems from local, state and federal agencies.

The NIA has a rather informative website — where these links (here and here) throw some light on the origins of the agency. The rather laconic FAQ section though doesn’t fully explain the fear expressed by Mr Chidambaram.

In fact, when the NIA bill was introduced in the parliament, Mr Chidambaram had written a detailed letter to all the CMs explaining the scope, extent and application of the NIA Act. The NIA Act — along with the amendments to Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 and the the Criminal Procedure Act — could be pushed through because of the public outrage caused by the ghastly 26-11 Mumbai terror strike. No political party or leader wanted to be then seen as opposing moves being initiated to overcome the serious threat posed by the terrorists.

The Act has since been invoked by the Centre in many cases, mostly pertaining to terrorism. But there have been murmurs of discontent from the states when all the cases of so-called “Hindu Terror” were proposed to be shifted to the NIA. Although the NIA Act empowers the Centre to suo-motu direct the probe agency to investigate any terror-related case, Union home ministry has written letters to the CBI and state governments concerned asking them whether they would like to hand over all “Hindu terror” cases — including the Malegaon blasts of 2006 and 2008, the Ajmer Dargah blasts case of 2007 and the 2007 Mecca Masjid blasts case — to the NIA.

This action by the Home Ministry — to write to all states for their consent — before transferring the cases to the NIA is perhaps the best way to overcome the fear expressed by Mr Chidambaram. This trust-based coordination between the states and the centre is the only way India can effectively battle serious challenges like terror. While it may be “perilously close to crossing constitutional limits”, this rapport will ensure that these limits are never crossed.

Also read on the NIA: The new agency in town (Pragati)

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The terror(ising) logic

Why has Pakistan dropped the phrase ‘frontline state in war against terrorism’

It is slightly dated news by now that Pakistan has decided to drop the phrase ‘frontline state in war against terrorism’ used to stress Pakistan’s role in anti-terror efforts in the region. But it was the logic of why the decision was taken that caught this blogger’s eye.

He said the ‘frontline’ phrase was misleading and created an impression that the problem of terrorism was specific to this region – something which contradicts Pakistan’s position that it is a global phenomenon.

“We don’t want to be seen as the epicentre of terrorism any more.”[Dawn]

How does being a “frontline state in war against terrorism” become synonymous with being the “epicentre of terrorism”? Anyone?

The news-report further goes on to helpfully explain the hypothesis.

Instability, a shrinking economy, currency devaluation, massive internal security expenses and loss of investment and export markets are just some of the manifestations of the debilitating effects this phrase and the country’s alliance with the West has caused.[Dawn]

“Debilitating effects this phrase and the country’s alliance with the West” have caused! Got it now. First goes the phrase. Then goes the alliance with the West. Hopefully.

Meanwhile Pakistan army chief was at the Sri Lankan Defence Services Command and Staff College at Sapugaskanda earlier this week. And here is what he said about India there.

“An arms race with India is not an option for Pakistan,” adding that the defence budget of India is nine or ten times bigger than Pakistan’s. But he said that he stands by the fact that he is India-centric as Pakistan has some unresolved issues and a history of conflicts with its neighbour.[TST]

Fine. India-centric he is. And terror-centric, he is not.

That leaves this blogger with just one final query. What is the new phrase that Pakistan plans to use to describe itself to wrest more aid from the West?

Any guesses!

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On India’s Terrorism Risk Index ranking

India is 15th in the latest TRI rankings. But are we serious about the Maoist threat?

Nowadays there are world rankings for everything. And this includes a world ranking for terrorism risk as well. So what is this Terrorism Risk Index? As the firm which devised this index explains on its website:

The Terrorism Risk Index (TRI) is developed by global risks advisory firm, Maplecroft, to enable organisations to identify and monitor terrorism risks to human security and international assets. The index uses data from June 2009 to June 2010 to assess the frequency of terrorist incidents and the intensity of attacks, which includes the number of victims per attack and the chances of mass casualties occurring. It also includes a historical component assessing the number of attacks between 2007 and 2009 and looks at whether a country is at risk from a long-standing militant group operating there.[Link]

Let us get one thing out of the way at the beginning itself. The index matters because despite being based on historical data, it is intended as a forward-looking risk assessment for multinational businesses.

In total, 16 countries out of 196 considered for the index are considered at extreme risk. The top 10 are Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestinian Occupied Territory, Colombia, Thailand, Philippines, Yemen and Russia.

India, which is at 15th place, is also part of the countries considered as extreme risk. In the previous rankings issued in February 2010, India was at the 6th spot. Does this mean that the terror risk in India has decreased? Not really. Here is why:

“India experienced a total of 749 terrorist incidents between June 2009 and June 2010. This compares to 775 terrorist attacks between June 2008 and 2009, a year previously. Levels of terrorism in India have thus remained constant and the country’s ranking has remained in the extreme risk category,” the index explained. India experienced a significant number of mass-casualty attacks — 127 attacks resulted in 100 or more fatalities.[DC]

This apparent dichotomy — constancy of risk threat in India despite a rise in India’s world ranking — is best understood by considering the fact that the cohort of extreme risk countries in the last rankings comprised only nine countries while it has gone up to sixteen now. In other words, the risk of terror in other countries has gone up while it has remained almost constant in India.

The number of terror incidents in India from Islamist jehadis have reduced significantly in the last couple of years. Bar a Pune bakery blast, there have been no spectacular incidents of terror on the Indian mainland. The number of terror incidents in Jammu and Kashmir has also declined over the years, and plateaued in the last two years. India has also achieved some success against the militants in the North East in the same period. More cooperation from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Burma, coupled with political negotiations with the insurgent roups, has led to a decline in terrorism in the North Eastern states.

This means that the terror risk in India is being perpetuated mainly by the Maoists. The Maoist insurgency angle of terror has been noticed by the TRI report as well. It makes a mention of attacks on “mining operations in Chattisgarh, India” while referring to business assets that are vulnerable in high risk countries. The Prime Minister’s repeated invocation since 2006, of Maoists being the biggest internal security threat to the country might have made the statement sound boilerplate now but it doesn’t change the facts on ground. Governments in India, both at the centre and in the states, haven’t yet found a way to effectively and efficiently handle the Maoist threat.

What is India’s national policy to defeat the Maoists? What is the strategy being followed by the states confronting the threat of Maoists? Where is the national debate on the subject?

After all, out of 636 districts in the country, 223 districts, as per MHA’s 2009 estimate, are affected by Maoist activities. This data-point should be a good enough reason for our analysts and media to focus on this grave threat facing the country. India doesn’t need another Dantewada-like ghastly terror strike by the Maoists to debate and formulate a coherent policy to finish this grievous threat.

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True lies [Na-Pak version]

Can a suicide bomber claim to be as much a victim of explosive as the innocent people killed by that bomber?

In response to British PM David Cameron’s statement at Bangalore about Pakistan’s links with terror, here is the complete official statement from Pakistan’s foreign office:

Terrorists have no religion, no humanity, no specific ethnicity or geography. Terrorists’ networks, as the UK knows full well mutate and operate in different regions and cities. The genesis of terrorism as a global phenomenon warrants close attention. Pakistan is as much a victim of terrorism as are Afghanistan, India or other countries.

Pakistan has done much more than any other country in combating terrorism. Our people and security forces have rendered innumerable sacrifices. We hope that our friends will be able to persuade India to view this issue objectively and the value of “cooperation” in counter terrorism.[Link]

“Pakistan is as much a victim of terrorism as are Afghanistan, India or other countries.” Indeed. Truer lies were never spoken. For as that Jewish saying goes, “A half-truth is a full lie.”

The complete truth is this: Pakistan may be a victim of terrorism along with India but the terror that India suffers is owed completely to Pakistan. For decades now, Pakistan has used terror as an instrument of state policy against India — as a strategic tool of its diplomatic and national security policy. And it has not been merely limited to something that has been an outcome of an Islamist- jehadi ideology which has occupied the centre-stage in last two decades. In the 1980s, Pakistan’s abetment and promotion of terror in Punjab  had little to do with some non-state actors spreading their rabid version of jehad in India. Even today, while Pakistan acts against the terror groups threatening the Pakistan army and its intelligence agencies [this explains where Pakistani "people and security forces have rendered innumerable sacrifices"], it doesn’t merely turn a blind-eye but actively promotes India-centric terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Toiba.

If Indians were to view this issue objectively — as the Pakistan foreign office suggests — they would only come to this conclusion:  can a suicide bomber claim to be as much a victim of explosive as the innocent men, women and children killed by that bomber?

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Reactions to Thimpu

A quick overview of editorials from some Indian & Pakistani newspapers on the Thimpu talks.

The two Prime Ministers have met at Thimpu. And they have decided to take the peace process forward. The spin-masters have been at work. Having learned the lessons from Sharm-el-Sheikh and Foreign Secretaries’ press briefings in Delhi, no joint statement has been issued, and the press briefings of the two countries were also scheduled at the same hour. Good media management by both the sides, one must acknowledge.

Here is a quick review of the editorials in major Indian and Pakistani newspapers to get a sense of the idea behind pushing these talks, and various responses to them.

Indian Express edit says:

Like his two predecessors, Inder Kumar Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the PM believes that a durable peace with Pakistan is critical for the realisation of India’s aspirations of peace and prosperity at home, and a larger role in world affairs. It is therefore in Delhi’s own interest, he has insisted so often, to overcome the bitter legacies of Partition. You might even say it is India’s “karma” and “dharma” to strive for that structural change in Indo-Pak relations despite its apparent elusiveness.[Indian Express]

From The Hindu:

On the other hand, the peace constituency within Pakistan has been growing. Obviously, the best Indian strategy is one that seeks to enlarge that constituency. This seems to be the crux of what the Prime Minister is attempting to do.[The Hindu]

The Telegraph only sees this through rose-tinted glasses:

In Thimphu, Mr Singh demonstrated that he has not moved an inch from his declared position. He wants to establish peace and normalcy with Pakistan. This desire is informed by a vision; it is also influenced by the demands of practical politics. Mr Singh wants India, as the largest and most powerful country in South Asia and the only country from the region that has been invited to sit at the global high table, to take the lead to establish peace. He sees this as India’s historic destiny, which India should not deny because of petty considerations. This is his vision of India and its role in world affairs. Mr Singh is the only Indian prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru to think on this scale and at this philosophical level. This vision is, however, grounded in reality. India’s progress and prosperity are tied to peace in the region. Mr Singh knows that even the short-term goals of a higher level of economic growth and incremental social and administrative reforms are unattainable if his and his government’s attention is every so often diverted by the threat of violence originating in Pakistan.[The Telegraph]

Hindustan Times edit is uncharacteristically downbeat:

It would have been understandable if anything positive had come of the Indo-Pak bilaterals, but so far it has always been one step forward and two backward. The latest one that comes after the long freeze post-Sharm el-Sheikh too yielded nothing though the spinmeisters on both sides have read much meaning into the tea leaves. The only positive outcome of the dialogue is that it lessens the scope for outsiders like the US to put their oar into the works. The agreement that the two foreign ministers must hold talks is indicative that we have slid right down the biggest snake on the snakes-and-ladders board and are starting from almost scratch.[Hindustan Times]

The Times Of India, for whatever it is worth:

Engagement needs to be kept up no matter what differences between New Delhi and Islamabad there might be. That’s true even if a lot of energy is likely to be expended on what the structure of future talks or “modalities”, that word beloved of bureaucrats on both sides is going to be.[ToI]

Then there is this scathing edit in Asian Age:

However, it is not the satisfaction of individuals, no matter how exalted, that concerns us. What is important is the effect on the national spirit of the reconciliation bids with the leadership of a country whose actions over time amply show it entertaining no authentic vision of camaraderie and peace with India and which has done what it can to encourage professional India-haters to foment terrorism against this country. Indeed, this is why Dr Singh was constrained to be candid with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the Bhutan capital and pointed out that there was “lack of mutual trust in the relationship”. It should also be borne in mind that after 26/11, then external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee took the country into confidence more than once and announced that much as India desires to take matters forward with Pakistan in a spirit of normalisation, it would find it impossible to go back to the suspended comprehensive dialogue process until Pakistan ensures that those responsible for the assault on Mumbai were meted out the judicial punishment they deserved. Needless to say, there has been nothing from Pakistan other than a cold, formal and grudging expression of regret in regard to the Mumbai attacks. In the event, it is painfully clear that Dr Singh’s forward step in Thimphu — with no demand for it from any significant domestic constituency — undermines the credibility of the solemn promises publicly made by the former external affairs minister.

If we look at the time-line, we can’t miss seeing that 26/11 followed not long after the Sharm el-Sheikh understanding which may have persuaded the Pakistani extremists that their execrable actions of terrorism against India would carry no costs for the formal processes between India and Pakistan. The Pakistan government was also likely to see the issue through a similar lens. If there is a likely net gain from the Thimphu stage of the India-Pakistan process, it is hard to see. Indeed, if Pakistan public opinion is not unduly enthused, for a formal resumption of the suspended composite dialogue was not announced although what came about may lead to that, UPA-2 would have fallen between two stools. True, history must not shackle us. But we must unshackle history only when the winds are favourable.[Asian Age]

Starting with Dawn from the Pakistani side:

Finally, the shadow of Afghanistan looms large. The Americans are believed to have leaned heavily on India to talk to Pakistan once again, and no doubt that pressure had something to do with the announcement in Bhutan.

It may be a stretch too far at the moment, but perhaps sustained American pressure could push Pakistan and India closer to an accord.[Dawn]

Here is the edit from The News:

But the biggest issue of all is that of terrorism. It is all very well for India to point fingers at Pakistan and blame it for what happened at Mumbai. But things are not quite as simple as that. The hearings in the Ajmal Kasab case have exposed some of the complexities. There can be no doubt that the terrorist threat is one that arises as much from India’s realities as from those of Pakistan. Both need to be tackled if the bomb blasts and killings are ever to stop. There is in this great potential for the two countries to work together. But this can happen effectively only if India shows a readiness to accept that it too has problems that lead to violence and have over the years contributed to the rise of terrorist groups that operate from within its borders.[The News]

From the Daily Times, titled Leaving Mumbai Behind:

After holding out on recommencing composite talks with Pakistan after the deadly Mumbai attacks, what has made India proceed with an about turn, especially after its categorical refusal to do so before Pakistan takes strict action against the perpetrators? With the war on terror an international melting pot of consensus, India’s stubbornly turning a deaf ear, constantly, to the option of positive dialogue with Pakistan is being seen in international circles as a self-inflicted boxing in of its role in this war.[DT]

These edits provide a worthwhile pointer to the Indian rationale for these talks — India can’t progress further without peace with Pakistan, Need to enlarge the peace constituency in Pakistan, and a Grand vision of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — and the Pakistani belief that India has been forced to come to the table because of international pressure brought upon it.  This sounds like routine stuff. But it only leaves us with one unanswered question: how is Thimpu different from Sharm-el-Sheikh, which had left most Indian media commentators so enraged? B. Raman answers that question with brutal honesty. It isn’t.

From the above quotes relating to the meetings of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani at Sharm-el-Sheikh in July last and at Thimpu on April 29,2010, it is evident that Dr.Manmohan Singh has once again conceded at Thimpu as he had done at Sharm-el-Sheikh Pakistan’s point of view that India’s dissatisfaction over the perceived lack of action by Pakistan against the “terror machine” in Pakistan as the Foreign Secretary put it should not be allowed to stand in the way of a resumption of the dialogue on other issues of importance.[Link]

But saving the best for the last, here are the unintentionally queer views of the Pakistani Prime Minister:

Prime Minister Gilani, while refreshing his memories about Dr Manmohan Singh, said that he was a pleasant and down-to-earth gentle person who was very fond of his early school day’s memories. The Indian prime minister said that he loved to visit Pakistan. The Indian prime minister and his wife Kurdeep Kore are very fond of Reuary (a sweet delicacy made by raw sugar) of his native district. “I will send Reuary as souvenir to the Indian prime minister,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister was asked about his link with his Indian counterpart as of saint and disciple since he (Gilani) is a spiritual person and Dr Singh has admired it several times, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani responded with laughter, saying Dr Singh himself is a ‘saint’ and he has no dearth of saints beside him.[The News]

The TelegraphThe Telegraph

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The tertium quid

Maoism — terrorism or socio-economic class struggle?

While the Indian army chief was happy labelling Maoism as a “socio-economic class struggle”, here is how Ai Ping, the director-general of the Communist Party of China’s Bureau 1 that advises Beijing on its South and East Asia policies characterised the Maoists.

Maoism is nothing but terrorism. The Maoists should never expect any financial, political or military support from China.[Telegraph]

What has the world come to? Mao’s country claims that its “focus has changed from class struggle to economic development.” And a liberal democracy talks about socio-economic class struggle being waged on its own land.

Tailpiece – Ai also proclaimed that “modern India was a product of colonial rule while modern China came into existence through a revolution.” Well, Martin Jacques in the LA Times disagrees, calling China the “longest continually existing polity in the world, [dating] back to 221 BC and the victory of the Qin.”

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