January 28, 2006

PAKISTAN : Political alienation and the response

VIEW: Political alienation and the response —Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/

The federal government’s efforts to promote stability, economic development and contain religious extremism and terrorism are likely to be undermined by its political strategies that have accentuated divisive trends and given primacy to local and regional issues for political articulation and mobilisation. Its policies have also strengthened Islamist parties

Authoritarian civil and military regimes often become victims of their governance and political management. These governments pursue centralisation, administrative assertiveness and limited power sharing with people who are prepared to work within a delimited political space. They pressure those who openly question their power management or exclude them from the political process.

Authoritarian governance and political management may address the immediate needs of entrenching the rulers and creating a semblance of stability. However, these strategies fragment politics, accentuate political and social cleavages and strengthen sub-national identity movements.

This alienates the people who feel that governmental processes are irrelevant to their needs and aspirations. They either become vulnerable to extremist appeals or get involved in sub-national identity movements to assert themselves in the political domain. These trends are more pronounced if national political parties and networks are not allowed to function. Ethnicity, language, religious-sectarian considerations become the core markers of political identity and the main instrument of political mobilisation.

This fragmentation of the political process may make it difficult for the political forces to pose a unified and nationwide challenge to an authoritarian government but it can make governance and political management difficult. Thus, the policies of dividing, fragmenting or neutralising nationwide political forces to entrench a ruler tend to haunt him in the long run.

Currently Pakistan is run by President General Pervez Musharraf and his close army-intelligence and bureaucratic affiliates and a weak and disoriented civilian set up; nationwide political parties and processes have been deliberately weakened and fragmented. These strategies have created a semblance of stability and participation but the political arrangements have a narrow support base, making their long-term endurance doubtful.

While the power structure is well entrenched in Islamabad, signs of serious trouble are evident at the provincial and lower levels. If the federal government does not change its administrative approach towards these issues it may get seriously bogged down. These may become perennial problems, undermining the government’s policy of economic transformation and its efforts to contain extremism and terrorism.

The uproar in Sindh and NWFP against the president’s campaign for Kalabagh Dam (KBD) showed that the federal government was either ignorant of the ground realities or confident of over-riding the opposition. It was rather surprising that it was not aware of the opposition of some leaders in the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and its allies to the KBD. This shows the limits of reliance on official (including intelligence) channels for policymaking.

The controversy has damaged inter-provincial relations because the political circles in Sindh and NWFP hold the power elite in the Punjab responsible for the federal government’s strident approach on KBD. Further, it has increased Sindh’s distrust of the federal government. Even the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a partner in power with the PML at the federal level and in Sindh, opposed the KBD and joined hands with Sindhi regional-nationalists to seek greater autonomy.

The ill-advised government campaign for the KBD in December and January provided a unique opportunity to regional political forces in Sindh to take centre-stage. They can sustain the momentum of the opposition to the KBD by raising local and regional issues; government policies have weakened in Sindh the PPP, which federalist orientation.

In Balochistan, national issues have lost relevance. Focus has shifted to the current violent confrontation in parts of Balochistan, the mega development projects managed by the federal government, construction of army cantonments and the rights and interests of the province. The Balochistan question cannot be projected simply as an armed confrontation between three tribal chiefs and the federal government.

It involves broader issues of power management, political participation and control of provincial resources. Unless nationwide political forces and processes are allowed to play their rightful role, the current trouble in Balochistan may not be defused. The Islamabad-backed civilian government in the province (PML-MMA coalition) appears to be irrelevant to the conflict in the province and avoids summoning the provincial assembly. Balochistan’s provincial assembly was scheduled to meet on December 17. Its session was postponed to January 27 and then to February 27.

After the Damadola incident in Bajaur Agency on January 13 the federal government could not get its act together to cope with the fallout. The federal cabinet “regretted and condemned” the incident and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz rejected the reports of Al Qaeda presence in the area as a “bizarre thought”. President Musharraf adopted a moderate tone in criticising the missile raid and did not rule out the possibility of the presence of Al Qaeda in the area and some members’ deaths in the raid. Why they took such divergent positions is anybody’s guess.

Was it due to the prime minister’s lack of information or was it a deliberate attempt on his part to secure political mileage from the widespread anti-US wave in Pakistan caused by these attacks? The MMA used the incident to demonstrate its strength in NWFP and mobilised support elsewhere in the country.

The MMA, especially the Jamaat-i-Islami, is expected to use the current anti-US wave in Pakistan to pressure the government. Its decision to challenge the marathon in Lahore on January 29 is another bid to pressure the government. The MMA is expected to use any opportunity to pressure the government by mobilising its hard-core workers, including seminary students. The absence of nationwide political parties like the PPP and the PML-N offers greater opportunity to the MMA.

The political trends of confrontation and fragmentation and sporadic challenges are going to be reinforced by the latest official move to approach Interpol for the arrest of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Ali Zardari. This shows that the efforts for an accommodation between the PPP and the government have been abandoned and the latter has decided to put extra heat on Benazir Bhutto. The Punjab chief minister has joined the federal campaign against the PPP by arguing that in view of its opposition to KBD the PPP could not claim to be a national party. This, he maintained, had reduced it to a regional party. Addressing a meeting in Lahore on January 26, the Punjab chief minister said that the PPP would no longer be able to exploit the people because “the masses have now seen its true face”.

The federal government’s efforts to promote stability, economic development and contain religious extremism and terrorism are likely to be undermined by its political strategies that have accentuated divisive trends and given primacy to local and regional issues for political articulation and mobilisation. Its policies have also strengthened Islamist parties that support militancy and oppose Pakistan’s role in the on-going global war against terrorism.

Pakistan’s troubled domestic political context calls for making earnest efforts for promoting reconciliation, accommodation and meaningful participation. However, the political system is drifting in the opposite direction.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

Sorry Rahul: Yours faithfully, Congress

Sorry Rahul: Yours faithfully, Congress

Ashok Kumar

New Delhi, January 28: It is the last day of the plenary session of the Congress. The President of the party Sonia Gandhi, while speaking over the occasion, was trying her level best to dwell on the priorities of the party in light of the challenges lurking in its path. But those present on the occasion, it seems, did not give much heed to what their party president was trying to highlight.

For the majority of them, somebody occupying the helm of affairs from the Gandhi family is enough; her priorities can take a back seat so far as that ‘Magic Presence’ is maintained in the party.

Meanwhile the Congress people do not want to let go the opportunity to milk this ‘status’ of the party whenever and wherever the elections happen.

The basic requirement of the party is of course to win elections and when someone from the Gandhi family is at the helm of affairs, the victories are taken for granted.

This huge gap (between Congress chief and members), which was evident on the last day of the plenary session of the Congress when the esteemed crowd that gathered there, demanded the appearance of Rahul Gandhi on the podium to address them and assure them of his more active presence in the affairs of the party.

Expecting the cherished leader of the masses to lead the party is something that is an important factor in any political party and Congress is no exception to this fact.

It could well be illustrated that Atal Biharee Vajpayee was similarly a greatly required presence in the Bhartiya Janta Party as was Jyoti Basu for the ruling communist party in West Bengal and Lalu Prasad Yadav for the Rashtriy Janta Dal.

But what makes the vehement demand of the Congress party men for Rahul Gandhi absurd is that he is still far away from having an appeal to the masses like the other veterans, who have treaded to each and every nook of the country and have a fairly good understanding of the nuances which builds up the fabric of the society.

The holler to elevate the latest scion of the legendary Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty has come at a three-day Congress convention that comes to an end in Hyderabad on Monday.

Who would have ever wondered that the assembly which would be the meeting ground for Congressmen all over the country, to transform it into a brain storming session with delegates from all the parts sharing their experience to bring better fruits to the party would end up singing the same rhyme which if repeated too often could be a bitter pill not only for the common man and supporter of the party but for the Congress supremo as well who is trying to revive the party to find the lost ground in certain states which were supposed to be its strong holds quite before the emergence of the regional satraps.

A party new to the coalition scene has recently faced a face off in Karnataka where the Congress led government is threatened by the splinter group of the supporting Janta Dal (Secular).

The Congress Chief is pragmatic enough to realize the gravity of situation and the party’s high handedness in handling the delicate situation.

But it seems difficult to comprehend that the same worry is reflected in the congregation in the plenary session. Instead of trying to pay heed to the party leader the party it seems just does not wants to come out of that notoriously lazy recline where it is idly basking in the magnetism of the individuality that comes handy with the scions of the Nehru-Gandhi family

Rahul first contested elections in 2004 and was elected to Parliament from Amethi, a family citadel in Uttar Pradesh, winning more than a simple majority of the votes cast. But everybody knows, as to whom goes the credit for his maiden and marvelous victory.

It is obvious for anybody to guess why the locales of Amethi voted him to power when he had nothing to show to them except that he was the son of Rajiv Ganhi and the grandson of Indira.

Even Rahul knows and accept this fact more readily than anyone else.

But what Sonia or Rahul accepts is something which becomes immaterial for the petty Congress leaders who shy away from the ground responsibilities and always dream of a joy ride on the legacy of the grand political dynasty powered by anyone who has inherited that family label.

It is not to say that Rahul cannot prove himself as a responsible leader of the party and masses but the whole point is, the Congresswallas should show a minimum of patience and allow the budding scion and heir apparent of the Sonia Gandhi to earn him his well deserved rank of leading one of the oldest ruling party of the country.

As Rahul himself confessed in the plenary session, “My place right now is among our people, my place right now is to learn and to understand so I can serve my people and my party better.”

The Congressmen should have some regards at least for the words uttered by their very own cherished leader, if not for the poor voter of this country.



URL: http://www.expressindia.com/
fullstory.php?newsid=62137

The "Triple A" Theory in Pakistan's Drift to Extremism

http://news.fletcher.tufts.edu/
news/archives/2005/02
/_the_triple_a_t.html

Fletcher PhD candidate Hassan Abbas originally set out to disprove the popular “triple A” theory of Pakistani power and politics: that most events in Pakistan were attributable to either “Allah, the army, or America.” In the course of researching for his most recent book, however, he began to believe that aspects of the theory “actually have some merit.”

The result, Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror, offers an in-depth analysis of the factors shaping Pakistan today. On February 4, Abbas presented his book at a reception sponsored by the Program for Southwest Asia and Islamic Civilization and the Ginn Library Book Talk series.

In his remarks, Abbas recalled that within twenty-four hours of Pakistan’s 1947 inception, its leadership had announced a policy of religious freedom and equality.

“How, then” Abbas asked, “did such a transformation occur over the last 50 years?” He believes that five basic factors account for Pakistan’s “drift into extremism.”

The first, the most prominent element in Pakistani politics, is the army, which, explained Abbas, has emerged as the “strongest, most powerful, most resourceful of its institutions.” In 1947 Pakistan inherited a large army from colonial rule, which has been augmented over the years because of a perceived threat from India over the Kashmir region. Military dictatorships, which have ruled the country for nearly fifty percent of its existence, have allowed the army to become embedded into the political arena. The military has also diversified its support base by developing corporate infrastructure in a broad swath of civilian markets, ranging from heavy industry to toothbrush and corn flakes production. A final source of military power, Abbas highlighted, is the “Pakistan army-Pentagon relationship” which began in 1953 when US leaders became convinced that the Pakistani army was a crucial force against Communism. US support for radicalizing elements in Pakistan became a theme interwoven throughout Abbas’ presentation.

A second major factor has been the growth of religious parties and affiliated military groups. Abbas described that progressive entrenchment of religious hardliners into the Pakistani legal and political systems. It began, he said, in the first constitutional assembly of 1947 when clergy who had been opposed to the creation of Pakistan asked for the inclusion of one article in the new constitution: acknowledgement that sovereignty belongs to Allah. The eventual implication of this decision was that because sovereignty rested in Allah’s law, the clergy would define the law. A few years later, during another constitution-making attempt, the clergy asked that the educational system be reformed to focus on Islamic studies.

However, the watershed in the growth of religious parties and militias was the 1979 USSR invasion of Afghanistan, which prompted US intelligence services to financially support Islamic militias and madrasas – religious schools - along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in hopes of developing jihadists to fight against the USSR. Since 1977, the number of madrasas in the area has risen from 350 to nearly 30,000. Although US funding ended in 1990, a decommissioning of the infrastructure has never occurred. Militias originally groomed for counter-Communist efforts continued to be supported by Pakistani government because of their potential use against India.

Abbas described the Pakistani intelligence services – a third element in the country’s “drift” - as a “hydra” and a “state within a state.” Links between Pakistani intelligence and religious militant groups have spanned over the last ten to fifteen years, he said. Former intelligence officers have become “consultants” to these groups, and current officers who were once like “godfathers” to the groups have found it difficult to change mindsets developed over more than a decade of close contact.

The lack of a Pakistani civil society presents a fourth major impediment to national development. Bloated levels of military spending have resulted in a budget of around one percent of national GNP for education and precious little for healthcare.

“No civil society can develop and mature under such a situation,” Abbas said, adding that even in the 2002 elections, moderate political parties were sidelined by the military leadership. The failure to establish strong political institutions has meant that “there will be a vacuum if something happens” to current leader Pervez Musharraf. Abbas argued that the United States “must invest in democratic groups and civil society” or risk significant increase in the support of religious hardliners.

Another implication of under-funded school systems is that people have tended to send their sons to religious schools to receive adequate education - leading to a new generation of misinformed youth. Pakistan’s radicalization will continue, believes Abbas, “ as long as the madrasas are acting as factories producing jihadists.”

The fifth and final problem outlined by Abbas is a disconnect between the Pakistani elite and “ordinary Pakistanis”

“The people at the helm of national affairs do not represent the rest of the country,” he said. The “Pakistan army-Pentagon” relationship has nurtured this divide by treating Pakistan “purely as a strategic tool, first against Communism, and now against radical Islam.” Abbas observed that of a $3 billion grant to Pakistan from the United States, $1.5 billion has been earmarked for military use.

“The US,” said Abbas “ has lost sight of the people of Pakistan.”

Article by Anika Binnendijk, MALD '06

Karnataka -- end of pseudosecularism?

January 29, 2006

COMMENT BY N.S. Rajaram

The real significance of this is teh JDS - BJP alliance. The JDS leader Kumarswamy has said that the people are not interested in the past-- or in
secular-communal debate but want development. This essentially debunks congress pretensions and changes the rules of debate and campaigning.

Expect this to be the key in future elections. So congress can longer hide its dismal record behind the smokescreen of secularism. Expect also Narendra Modi, with his stellar record as CM to be the star campaigner in the next election.

So the importance of the alliance goes beyond Karnataka: it focuses on real issues rather than on the metaphysics of secularism.




Cong bastion at BJP's feet

Pioneer News Service/ Bangalore


Kumaraswamy wins war of nerves ---- Ending the 10-day filibustering tactics of the Congress to remain in power, Karnataka Governor TN Chaturvedi on Saturday invited rebel Janata Dal (Secular) leader HD Kumaraswamy, supported by the BJP, to form the next Government in the State.

Chief Minister N Dharam Singh, who refused to move the motion of confidence in the Legislative Assembly on Friday to prove his majority as sought by the Governor, meekly submitted his resignation on Saturday after the Governor refused to give him one more opportunity to seek the vote of confidence.

The Governor told reporters on the lawns of Raj Bhavan: "I have decided to invite Mr Kumaraswamy to form a government at the earliest as I believe, on the basis of written letters of support from JD (S) and BJP MLAs, that he is in a position to command a majority in the House."

Mr Chaturvedi further said Mr Kumaraswamy had been directed to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly within eight days of assuming office.

"This will also provide an opportunity to the members of the outgoing government to put forth their viewpoints and those who feel that the floor test could not materialise for no fault of theirs."

The Governor noted that he had decided to adopt the present course of action after examining the report of the Speaker Krishna and after consulting constitutional experts, various reports and judicial
pronouncements.

Putting up a brave front, after failing to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly, Chief Minister Dharam Singh told a news conference: "I am not a person who will cling to power. Considering the totality of circumstances and with the Governor pleading inability to grant more time, I have decided to resign."

Trying to make a scapegoat of the Speaker, Mr Dharam Singh, who has been reduced to the status of a caretaker Chief Minister, accused the Speaker of not giving him the opportunity to move the motion of confidence in the House. "I do not understand the attitude of the Speaker," the Chief Minister said.

Mr Dharam Singh maintained that the decision of the Speaker to recognise Mr Kumaraswamy as the Leader of the JD (S) Legislature Party was questionable and against parliamentary democracy. However, Mr Dharam Singh parried questions on whether he blamed former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, whose rebel son Kumaraswamy had brought down his 20-month-old Congress-JD (S) Government -- the first coalition government in the State.

Incidentally, it was the Janata Dal (Secular) president Deve Gowda who was instrumental in zeroing in on Mr Dharam Singh to head the Congress-led coalition. The Chief Minister dispatched his resignation letter through his Principal secretary SV Ranganath.The latest political crisis erupted on January 18 after Mr Kumaraswamy approached the Governor with 45 of his MLAs and staked his claim to form a government with the help of 79 BJP MLAs.

He had sought to pull out of the Government for what he termed as moves by the Congress to split his party and also the humiliation meted out to his father Deve Gowda. The Congress tried to pressure Mr Gowda to prevent Mr Kumaraswamy from forming the Government with the help of the BJP. The Congress high command had dispatched senior leader AK Antony to woo back Mr Gowda by promising Mr Kumaraswamy the deputy CM's post

Government ignored brave jawans during Republic Day

1/27/2006 12:22:45 PM HK Correspondent



NEW DELHI : The Republic Day parade of 2006 was conspicuous by the absence of any investiture ceremony. The President, during the Republic Day parade, honour the soldiers of the country with gallantry awards like Ashok Chakra, Keerti Chakra and Showrya Chakra. The announcer used to read out a citation extolling the great works done by the winners of these medals. Most of the times, the awards used to be posthumous since the infiltrators and terrorists would have finished off our brave jawans by ambushes and claymore mines. It goes without saying that the terrorists are all funded by the ISI and the Pakistan Army.



There were no gallantry awards announcements during the 2006 Republic Day parade. There is no need to probe further since the reason lied in the presence of this year’s Guest of Honour. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was the royal guest of honour for this year’s Republic Day parade. Since he happens to be the protector and preserver of Muslims all over the world, the Indian authorities thought it fit not to honour the Indian soldiers who has to fight only the Pakistanis, blood relations of the Saudi King. How can the “infidels” be honoured in the presence of the monarch who is the protector of the Holy Shrines of Mecca and Medina. Since the United Progressive (or is it Profiteers) Alliance government does not have self respect of any kind, they might have skipped the announcement of the awards.



Since secularism happens to be a one-way traffic (this was what Pinarayi Vijayan, the great secularist of Kerala declared the other day), the skipping of the investiture ceremony will be ignored by all the media in the country. The stance of the government too is to substantiate the one-way traffic theory of secularism. While all other sovereign nations depute persons belonging to all religions as Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, the one and only secular nation (read India) appoints only Muslims as Ambassadors to Saudi Arabia. One need not explain much about the impotency of the rulers of our country. All we can say is “Cry Beloved Country, Cry..”

January 27, 2006

PETN has been recovered for the first time from HuJI militants

Devesh K. Pandey

PETN has been recovered for the first time from HuJI militants




PETN is a plastic explosive that comes second only to RDX in terms of lethality and impact
Due to earlier constraints Bangladeshi militants used `homemade' or crude improvised explosive devices
These militants seems to have managed to carve out a route for procurement of such explosives
A very dangerous trend, say senior police officers
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


NEW DELHI: The seizure of deadly Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate (PETN) explosives and electronic detonators from the two alleged Harkat-ul-Jehad-e-Islami (HuJI) militants arrested by the Special Cell of the Delhi police on Tuesday indicates a sudden change in the choice of explosives by Bangladesh-based militants to carry out terrorist acts.

This is probably the first time that the police have recovered PETN from Bangladesh-based militants. PETN is a plastic explosive that comes second only to RDX in terms of lethality and impact.

On earlier occasions, militants belonging to HUJI, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen and other outfits operating from Bangladesh had been found using crude bombs and those with a potassium chlorate/ammonium nitrate base and sulphuric acid, a technique mastered and popularised by senior Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant Abdul Karim Tunda, who had set up base in Bangladesh over a decade ago.

Senior officers were earlier of the view that since it was very difficult to smuggle in "controlled" explosives like PETN and RDX, Bangladeshi militants were constrained to use "homemade" or crude improvised explosive devices.

However, in case of those operating from the Kashmir Valley, it was easier to bring in these explosives through couriers operating on Indo-Pakistan border along Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Rajasthan. Due to this fact, the Khalistani militants were also found using PETN and RDX in large quantities.

"Now that the Special Cell has recovered a PETN consignment from HuJI militants Said-Ul and Sohed-Ul, who disclosed that they had brought the explosive from Bangladesh, it seems that the Bangladeshi militants have managed to carve out a route for procurement of such explosives. This, if true, is a very dangerous trend," said a senior officer.

Besides, in December last, the Special Cell had arrested three alleged HuJI militants, Mohammad Ibrahim, Nafiq-ul-Vishwas and Hilal, whose interrogation purportedly revealed that "aspiring" militants were now being trained in ISI-run camps near the Balochistan border.

Another fact that came to light was that while earlier spies and militants using Bangladesh as a transit point travelled on Pakistani passports, lately some Pakistani nationals have been planted there to arrange forged Bangladeshi passports for the purpose.

Disclosures made by Said-Ul and his cousin, Sohed-Ul have also indicated another trend of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants being employed as sleeper/courier agents in the Capital.

While the police said Said-Ul was wanted by the Bangladesh police in connection with several terrorist activities, Sohed-Ul was also helping him set up base in Delhi.

India, Saudi Arabia agree to cooperate on fighting terrorism

India, Saudi Arabia agree to cooperate on fighting terrorism

New Delhi, Jan 27, IRNA
India-Saudi Arabia-Joint Declaration

Noting that terrorism is a scourge for all mankind and there is a need to intensify and coordinate bilateral, regional and global cooperation to combat and eradicate the menace, the two countries agreed to cooperate to fight this and other transnational crimes like money laundering, drugs and arms smuggling in a sustained and comprehensive manner.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi Friday signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on combating crime that would help in the fight against terrorism, extremism and criminal elements, it said.

The MoU said the two countries shall make concerted efforts for an early realization of the proposals to conclude a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism which is before the UN General Assembly and the setting up of an International Counter Terrorism Centre as called for by the International Conference on Counter Terrorism held in Riyadh in February last year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Saudi King signed a landmark "Delhi Declaration" under which the two sides will work for closer cooperation in the field of information and communication technology, agriculture, bio-technology and non-conventional energy technologies.

The elements of the proposed strategic energy partnership between the oil-rich Sheikdom and energy hungry India include reliable, stable and increased volume of crude oil supplies through "evergreen" long term contracts.

It also envisages cooperative and joint ventures, both in the public and private sectors, in the upstream and downstream oil and gas sectors in India and Saudi Arabia as well as in their countries.

Saudi investments in oil refining, marketing and storage in India, subject to commercial viability and setting up of India-Saudi, subject to commercial viability and setting up of India-Saudi ventures for gas-based fertiliser plants in Saudi Arabia are other aspects of the energy partnership.

Also the two sides agreed that cooperation in the field of science and technology, tourism, youth affairs and sport, agriculture research and education, technical education and vocational training and other fields of mutual benefit should be intensified through signing of agreements and memorandum of understanding as necessary, it said.

Reflecting the view that India and Saudi Arabia are developing a broad strategic vision, both countries are determined to work together closely for the welfare and benefit of their peoples and stability in the region and the world, it said.

Both countries recognised the close inter-linkage of the stability and security of the Persian Gulf region and the Indian sub-continent and the need for maintaining a secure and peaceful environment for the development of the countries in the region.

In the field of political cooperation, both sides exchanged views about international developments, especially those related to the dle East and expressed their commitment to the principles of international legality and the importance of maintaining international peace and stability.

The two sides welcomes the ongoing dialogue between India and Pakistan and their continued efforts aimed at settling the outstanding issues between the two countries.

Emphasising the importance of the Beirut Arab Peace initiative and the Road Map, the two sides realised that the complementarity between the two plans would invigorate the peace process in the Middle East and lead to the establishment of a viable and independent stage of Palestine within secure borders side by side with Israel.

With regard to the Iraqi situation, both sides expressed the hope that Iraq would turn a new page in history that will assure its security, unity, territorial integrity and prosperity and respect for its sovereignty and independence.

Piece by piece, information can yield secrets when put together

by Senior Airman Jessica Switzer
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

/26/2006 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFPN) -- These days modems come built into computers and Internet access many times is cheaper than regular telephone service. It seems everyone has a license to cruise the information super highway.

There are a variety of ways for people to interact across the globe, such as e-mail, chat rooms and instant messaging services. However, some of this interaction may not be on the level.

“People seem to think that talking to others about unclassified information is harmless, but it’s not,” said Capt. Eric Eibe, 39th Air Base Wing operational security program manager. “Enough unclassified information pieced together may likely form a classified picture. I’ve seen too many times where a deployed military member will advertise in a chat room their full name, rank and unit and where they are currently deployed.”

Like any other kind of anti-terrorism and force protection actions, people should be careful about what information they share over the Internet and through e-mail.

“With the dawn of the information age, our adversaries have another tool with which to acquire information we don’t want them to have,” said Capt. John Peresta, 39th ABW antiterrorism and force protection chief. “Whether it’s done by hacking into computers or people mentioning sensitive information to friends and family through e-mail, computers have become a favorite for terrorists to gather information about military activities.”

While e-mail and chat rooms are a way for terrorists to get information directly from military personnel, home computers themselves are not immune from giving away information to enemies through spyware. Viruses, while not necessarily an information-gathering means, can be used to overwhelm a system and destroy it.

“There are many risks with hooking any system up to a network,” said Senior Airman Jennifer Heckle, 39th Communications Squadron information protection technician. “By hooking your computer to a network you are making it available to others, to include those that want to do harm to any system they can.”

Spyware is a program that gets on a person’s computer and, like the name indicates, spy on the user’s activities, Airman Heckle said. It can collect information like what the user types and what Internet sites they visit and transmits back to the source of the program.

The implications of this type of program infecting a computer are far reaching, and should frighten anyone, she said. This kind of program can collect passwords, social security numbers and personal information that could be used to steal a person’s identity or even to access restricted sites.

While viruses and malicious programs like Trojan horses and worms have a variety of ways of getting on a computer, they all act and are activated in different ways.

“A virus needs human interaction to become malicious, usually in the form of an executable file,” Airman Heckle said. “The file is activated when a user clicks on or executes the program. A worm does not need human interaction. It can spread from machine to machine and has the ability to replicate itself without any human help.”

A Trojan horse uses another program to hide its presence, Airman Heckle said. Once the program is activated the Trojan horse begins to wreak havoc on the host system, such as launching pop-up ads and in some cases opening a backdoor for someone else to access the system.

Often systems are infected with these types of programs through shareware downloads.
“The best thing to do before you download software is to do research on it,” Airman Heckle said. “It is also highly encouraged to load the free antivirus software provided by the Air Force for home use.”

If you are doing official work at home, free antivirus software may be available. People can access this software with the help of their unit’s computer network security personnel.

“Whether you are using high-speed or dial-up Internet, you should always be aware of what sites you are accessing and downloading,” she said. “It is recommended you use any available software firewall that comes with your operating system and purchase a hardware firewall to enhance your security posture.”

Viruses and spyware put individuals and systems at risk but people should remember that often they are the weakest link in the chain. People who don’t carefully review what they have written before hitting the “send” or “post” button put everyone at risk.

(Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)

US Defense review addresses uncertain, unpredictable world

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

1/26/2006 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The Quadrennial Defense Review, to be delivered to Congress Feb. 6, will be dominated by two words: uncertainty and unpredictability, senior defense officials said Jan. 25.

Congress mandates that the Department of Defense conduct the QDR every four years to ensure the armed forces have the right mix of people, skill sets and capabilities to meet current and future challenges to national security.

"We cannot predict with any certainty whatsoever how our forces may be used in the future," an official said. "We can say with a very high probability that in the next 10 years, U.S. forces will be employed somewhere in the world where they are not today."

Officials said the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, forced a change in U.S. security and military strategies. While transforming the Defense Department was already a priority, the attacks imposed a "powerful sense of urgency" on the department.

The United States is now in the fifth year of a different war, and "we need to shift our balance and (the) capabilities we have," an official said.

Officials said the 2005 review discusses four major challenges. The first is threats posed by traditional foes.

"This basically involved major combat ops and state versus state conflicts, and we looked at everything else as a lesser included case to be able to meet that," an official said.

In the future, irregular challenges will be more common. Official used Iraq and Afghanistan as examples of irregular threats facing the United States, but included operations in areas such as the Horn of Africa, the Philippines and Haiti in this challenge. The enemy in this case would be within the state, but not sponsored by the state.

A third challenge is a "catastrophic set of challenges." These are unacceptable attacks on the United States such as Sept. 11 or Pearl Harbor.

"Getting hit by a nuclear (improvised explosive device) in one of our cities would be an example of that," an official said.

The fourth is a "disruptive" challenge.

"That is a challenge or threat that would come against us and neutralize the American military as a key instrument of national power," an official said.

This review looks at developing military capabilities to address all four challenges.

A second part of the review recognizes that changing forces in the field would mean re-vamping headquarters. He said the current headquarters’ setups are not sufficiently agile to command the fighting forces America has already deployed.

This review capitalized on lessons the U.S. military has learned around the world. Lessons from experiences in the Horn of Africa, Former Soviet Republic of Georgia and Africa's Pan Sahel region figured prominently because of the new way America had to deal with allies. Developing capabilities in allies is as important as developing capabilities in the U.S. military, officials said.

Humanitarian operations are another big area for the American military. Officials said the "biggest victories to date in the war on terrorism" have been in the U.S. response to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean and to the earthquake in Pakistan. As a result of those operations the "shift away from radical Islam has been very, very significant," an official said.

The review addresses four focus areas:

-- Providing in-depth homeland defense;

-- Hastening the demise of terror networks;

-- Stopping hostile powers or rogue elements from acquiring weapons of mass destruction; and

-- Influencing countries at strategic crossroads.

Officials believe this will influence three countries at these strategic crossroads: Russia, China and India.

The review has 12 areas that cover everything from headquarters functions, to partnership capabilities, to recommending "leading-edge technologies" that could help warfighters in the fiscal 2007 budget request. Officials said major shifts in acquisition funding must be part of the Future Years Defense Plan.

Finally, the force-planning construct is basically a refined version of the 2001 review. The U.S. military will be able to do two near simultaneous major conflicts, one of which involves regime change, an official said.

"Going forward, we want one of them to be a prolonged irregular campaign," he said. "The analysis we did in the QDR clearly proved the most stressing thing on the force is not the high-intensity major combat operations, but the prolonged irregular campaign that requires a rotational base to support it."

India Says U.S. Envoy Expresses Regret over Nuclear Comment

India Says U.S. Envoy Expresses Regret over Nuclear Comment
By REUTERS, NEW DELHI


The U.S. envoy to India on Jan. 26 expressed regret over his comments that a nuclear deal between Washington and New Delhi may stall unless India votes against Iran next month at a meeting of the U.N.’s atomic energy agency.

Ambassador David Mulford’s statement came a day after he told an Indian news agency that if India decided not to vote against Iran, “the effect on members of the U.S. Congress with regard to the civil nuclear initiative will be devastating.”

The remarks upset New Delhi, which rejected attempts to link the vote to the landmark India-U.S. nuclear cooperation pact.



Mulford was called in by the Indian foreign secretary on Jan. 26 and told that his remarks were “inappropriate and not conducive to building a strong partnership” between the two countries, an Indian Foreign Ministry statement said.

“The ambassador expressed his sincere regrets, saying that his remarks had been taken out of context,” the statement said. “It was not at all his intention to question India’s right to take decisions on various issues on the basis of its own national interests.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to meet on Feb. 2 to discuss whether to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council over a nuclear program the West says is aimed at developing weapons, which Tehran denies.

In July, U.S. President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached an accord on civil nuclear energy that would reverse a nearly 30-year-old ban on atomic cooperation with New Delhi, which has tested nuclear arms.

The deal has yet to be fully worked out, especially the key requirement of a separation plan for India’s civil and military nuclear facilities, and must then pass a final test in the U.S. Congress and be agreed to by the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.

India surprised its historic ally Iran in September by siding with the West when the IAEA declared Iran had failed to comply with its international obligations.

The diplomatic turnaround triggered domestic uproar with communist allies of Singh’s government, accusing it of selling out to the United States.


COMMMENT
US Ambassador’s comments were well planned remarks. The logic goes like this. US do not want to go with the deal after Jan 19-20 Mr. Burns meeting with Mr. Saran and they are looking for a nice reason to ditch the deal. Now after these comments from US Ambassador it does not make sense for India to vote in favor of US with regards to Iran. At best India will abstain from voting. Then US congressmen can quote India is a concern with regards to Iran and hence we have decided to reject the deal.

A Complex and Changing Air War

The top airman in Southwest Asia discusses air operations over Iraq and Afghanistan.


A Complex and Changing Air War

By Marc V. Schanz, Associate Editor AFA.ORG


Lt. Gen. Walter E. Buchanan III, commander of USAF’s 9th Air Force and US Central Command Air Forces, met on Oct. 27, 2005, with the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C. What follows are excerpts of his remarks about unmanned aerial systems, air support for urban combat operations (especially the November 2004 fight for Fallujah), and ways of performing new missions in the war on terror.

You’ve Come a Long Way

“In March of 2002, the mission briefings over Southern Iraq at that time, the mission commander would get up and he’d say, ‘OK, we’re going to have the F-15Cs fly here, the 16s are going to fly here, the A-6s are going to fly here, tankers are going to be here today.’ Then they would say, ‘And oh by the way, way over here is going to be the Predator.’ We don’t go over there, and he’s not going to come over here and bother us. ... It was almost like nobody wanted to talk to them. ... It wasn’t too long before ... people were incorporating the Predator into the mission plan as part of your ‘gorilla package.’ ”


Evolution of the Predator

“It gives me the ability to put a persistent stare overhead. That’s where I talk about the target development piece. Other airframes don’t have the loiter time to be able to quietly stay, hang overhead for hours at a time if necessary, and develop this target. Quite honestly in this insurgent environment, that’s been one of the real values of that. A long loiter UAV, especially with the reachback that the Predator provides.”


Electronic Fratricide

“Part of the issue is, we have such a proliferation across the field, all well-intentioned, of jammers and systems to keep our soldiers and marines safe—the right thing to do, but they have unintended consequences. If you had a soldier in here today, he would tell you that we have systems that we give him to keep him safe and to provide some cover against electronically detonated IEDs, that when they’re on, he cannot use his radio. For him to make a radio call, he has got to turn it off so he can transmit or receive. That’s not perfect. But then again, too, if I create a notch in his jammer to allow him to transmit on that frequency and the insurgent learns where that frequency is and he’s then smart enough to move to that notch— ... It’s a hard problem. People overstate how easy this is.”


Fighters vs. UASes

“Right now, I’m taking the Litening AT and the Sniper, [the] latest generation targeting pods on an F-16 or an F-15E or an F-18, and I can put that overhead a target, and I can provide the same kind of coverage as I could potentially with the Predator now. Right now, the Predator video can be beamed down to the [controller] on the ground. I have that capability in some of my advanced targeting pods but not most of them yet. ... With the Predator, I have the ability to beam that video not only down to the ground but also to higher echelons of command, depending on the importance of the target and what’s happening. I can’t do that with a targeting pod. ... The nontraditional ISR mission [has] been very, very effective in making things happen.”


UAV Crowding

“Here’s the problem we’re getting to: ... I anecdotally understand we have over 1,000 UAVs on the ground, in the [area of responsibility], with the majority of those flying below 3,000 feet. That is a very thick environment. We have in fact had occasions where they have run into helicopters. Fortunately, to my knowledge, we have not hurt anybody yet. We have damaged airplanes and knocked them down, but we’ve not injured anybody. ... My fear is, the day will come where we will have a C-130 full of troops and ... a Scan Eagle, a Shadow, a Pioneer, whatever, is going to come through the cockpit and take out a C-130 because we did not deconflict. ... Above 3,000 feet, we deconflict via altitude. I deconflict via space. I deconflict via time. ... But folks have got to play by those rules, and I will tell you not everybody who’s flying UAVs in the AOR is a rated pilot that understands that and that deconfliction piece.”


Airpower: The Fallujah Model

“Prior to the actual [Fallujah] operation itself on the ground, there were a number of what were referred to as shaping operations. It was a very, very joint fight [as] most of those bombs that were dropped during that time frame were in fact Air Force and Navy as we went essentially down in the industrial section of Fallujah, down in the southeastern section. ... While it was in the Marine AO, ... it truly was a joint operation. ... During the actual assault phase going in, ... a majority of the air that was used during that time frame was in fact the Marines. And part of that was by design. ... They wanted to use their organic air. I have no problem with that.”


Deterrence, Iraq Style

“The bigger piece was there was a very clear intelligence signal that the insurgents, once we put pressure on Fallujah, were going to try and cause a fight somewhere else. Mosul was an area of concern and so was Al Qaim. So, if you go back and check, you would find that during that period everyone surged, and I had the carrier and the assets, my own assets, and then we were actually providing increased coverage in the north over Mosul and then over on the western edge waiting to see if the insurgents erupted. It turns out they were not able to effectively do so, so there wasn’t that much of a fight to see in that regard.”


No, That Brown Roof

“One of the things we found ... hard was when you’re dealing with an urban environment; we’re looking from the ground, looking down. It was very, very hard sometimes to quickly get the pilot’s eyes exactly on the target that the JTAC and the ground commander were talking about. In all honesty, if you took an overhead picture of Fallujah and looked down, it’s a town full of literally flat brown roofs and a couple of mosques here and there. ... There’s one instance I can speak of in Fallujah where from the ground I looked up and I saw three different buildings. From the air, the roofs were all connected.”


Map Reading 101

“We went into this fight with everybody having the exact same map all the way down to the company commander up to the folks in the airplanes, and so now, believe it or not, it got to the point where people would say, ‘OK, do you see the ‘L’ in ‘Fallujah’ on the map? Go two blocks south from that, and that’s where I want to start from.’ Because the first Fallujah going in, you may remember, we had to use the crossroads to the east [of the city as] the starting point. ‘You see the highway crossroads to the east? Yep. OK, now going from there, going west’—and you kind of follow yourself in and count streets and all that kind of thing. We were much better at it.”


Precision Rules

“If you go back and you count the numbers in Fallujah, what you will find is that as long as you count strafe and rockets, as ... semi-[precision guided munitions], ... every weapon dropped in Fallujah during that time frame was a PGM. They were either laser guided Maverick, Hellfire, or they were laser guided GBU-12s, 500-pound weapons, or they were in fact GPS guided weapons. So as you and I count forward from Desert Storm, Allied Force, marching our way forward, we’re to a point now where in this kind of a tight urban environment we were essentially precision guided. That was the name of the game, to make things happen.”


Not LD/HD by Choice

“Know that [assets] are not low-density, high-demand because we want them to be that way. We’d all love to have more. Unfortunately these systems, as we go through our force structure, we just don’t have the numbers. ... Things like U-2s, Rivet Joints, [Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System and AWACS aircraft] are in that category, although right now I’m not using AWACS, and you could make a case that Predator’s in the same boat in making that happen.”


Intel Sustainment

“This kind of fight, an insurgent fight, ... [is] intel intensive, and so any kind of sensor system that I have that will allow me to put a persistent surveillance over the battlefield is better. The problem is trying to sustain that fight. There’s a magical balance between the requirement and sustainment. ... If one is good, two must be better, and three must be really much better. You have to be very careful. [CENTCOM commander Army Gen. John P. Abizaid] warned us all to make sure that we pay attention to the ability to sustain this fight because ... this is not something that’s going to be over with in just a couple of months. ... We need to make sure that we pace ourselves and we can sustain it.”


Old Platforms, New War

“A very good case in point ... is the JSTARS—a tremendously valuable system, designed principally and obviously to fight the Fulda Gap tank war during the Cold War, but has during Desert Storm and since come to be [an] invaluable asset in Iraq, especially now as we begin controlling, looking at some of the borders in the wide open western desert spaces, its GMT radar being able to pick up obviously vehicles that are moving, and then our ability to cue that with other systems.”


Retaining Airmen

“I worry about AWACS, I worry about Predator [crews]. Predators have been in combat now for over a thousand days straight. ... We have some high stress career fields—security forces right at the top of the list, [explosive ordnance disposal], civil engineers. ... The issue is, our force structure was not designed for this kind of a fight, and we are also being asked to do things with our security force airmen that we’re not trained for.”


Maintaining Forward

“My legacy airplanes forward are actually doing very, very well, and I’m flying them at a higher use rate than I would back in the States. And I’m doing all the normal maintenance things. I’m doing phased maintenance, your major time overhauls, if you will, on an airplane, and I’m doing them in some expeditionary environments. At Kandahar you’ll see A-10s and EA-6s [in] expeditionary tents, if you will, and the kids are doing well.”


Old Things Break

“At the same time I will also tell you that we’re finding that with the tempo and the age of some of the systems, we are in fact planning some new and unique breaks. The best example, probably, is the C-130 fleet, and I’m sure you’re probably well aware that we’ve found some cracks in the airframes that have caused us to restrict ... the loads they can carry. We began to see those, then we had to re-evaluate. [The cracks] were beginning to show up sooner.”

PAKISTAN’S EXPLOSIVE WESTERN FRONTIERS AND THEIR IMPACT

by Dr Subhash Kapila

Introductory Observations

Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers” today are in an explosive state as manifested by the armed rebellion in the Waziristan Region of the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) and Baluchistan. Violent uprisings are also taking place in the so-called Northern Areas, which formed part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K).

While strategic analysts and media analysts have focused individually on the explosive situation in each of these regions, there seems to be an absence of an over-all integrated analysis of Pakistan’s explosive “Western Frontiers” and its impact, particularly on the United States and its policies in the region. It also has implications for China, India and Iran. The impact on Pakistan, if it does not handle the situation with political adroitness, could be suicidal.

At the outset, for international observers, the point needs to be made that Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers” do not rest on India, and hence Pakistan’s’ propensity to blame India for all her ills, would be misplaced in this case.

This paper attempts to present an integrated analysis of the explosive state of Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers” on the major powers stated above.

But first, a brief examination of the geo-strategic significance of Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers”.

Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers”: The Geo-strategic Significance

Pakistan’s western frontiers commence from the Gwadur Bay on the Iran-Pakistan border on the Arabian Sea. The frontier runs initially northwards towards Saindak, than briefly takes an eastern delineation, till short of Quetta. It then swings in a north-easterly direction towards Chitral and Gilgit (Northern Areas).

Beginning from the South, Baluchistan shares borders with Iran and Afghanistan; the NWFP shares borders with Afghanistan; and Gilgit shares borders with Afghanistan and China. Chitral and Gilgit provide the Southern base of the Wakhan Corridor.

Historically, neither Baluchistan nor NWFP opted for Pakistan, when it emerged as a separate state in 1947. Use of military force by Pakistan in the former and last minute political machinations by the British Governor in the latter, led to their emergence as the western peripheral regions of Pakistan. Gilgit and its surrounding regions were annexed for Pakistan by the British officers of Gilgit Scouts, a frontier militia.

As a result of the above these three regions have remained in active turbulence since 1947. Today, Baluchistan freedom struggle is in a fifth stage of armed rebellion. In NWFP, the Waziristan Region in which are located the sanctuaries of the Al Qaeda and Taliban, is in a “semi-independent state” with Pakistan Army’s entry prevented by armed resistance. In the general area of Gilgit and its surroundings, the Balwaristan freedom movement is active. In NWFP there has been a running demand for an independent state of Greater Pakhtunistan.

These important geo-strategic regions of Pakistan’s western frontier have remained grossly under-developed. The major reason being the “Punjab-centric” priorities of successive Pakistani Governments, a condescending disdain for the fiercely independent tribes which inhabit these regions and Pakistan getting away with all this, because these regions had a strategic utility for United States military needs in the region; and hence a permissive American attitude to Pakistan’s high-handedness towards these regions.

Pakistan persists in a state of denial on the explosiveness of its Western frontiers. Be as it may, but the fact remains that this explosiveness has a serious impact on United States political and military strategies in the region.

United States Critically Impacted by Pakistan’s Explosive Western Frontiers

The United States has maintained a deafening silence on the explosive state of affairs in Baluchistan where the Pakistan Army has been using American supplied gun-ship helicopters for attacking and napalm-bombing of the Baluch independence movement. The United States is silent on Pakistan’s inactivity or reluctance to flush out the Al Qaeda and Taliban from Waziristan. Pakistan Army grudgingly targets the Al Qaeda foreigners only, but scrupulously spares the Pakistani Al Qaeda and Taliban cadres.

The United States today faces two major challenges in South-West Asia, namely, the political and military stabilization of Afghanistan and its emergence as a moderate Muslim democratic state model; and secondly, United States perceived Iranian nuclear challenge threat.

United States political and military strategies to meet both these challenges would be heavily dependant on stable western frontiers of Pakistan in Baluchistan and NWFP.

It is not obtainable today as a result of the personality of Pakistan’s military dictator, General Musharraf. It would be fair to state that Baluchistan and the NWFP have become markedly explosive during Musharraf’s military regime.

The United States policy establishment is seemingly failing to distinguish that in the very regions where it is being permissive of General Musharraf’s military waywardness, are the very regions which are crucial for the execution of United States military strategies in relation to Afghanistan and Iran.

The United States is therefore presented with two different sets of strategic dilemmas by Pakistan’s explosive western frontiers, namely:

Baluchistan must be preserved as a stable strategic entity to further United States military strategies in the region.

Waziristan should not be permitted to become Pakistan’s future launch-pad for Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.
United States strategic planners are competent enough to devise appropriate actions to secure the above American interests. It may even call for some harsh options. While moving away from this aspect, it would be pertinent to state that the United States should have a special interest in pre-empting the emergence of Baluchistan as a Chinese strategic outpost, which the Pakistan Army is presently inclined to assist, despite being United States “most trusted ally”.

China Needs to Worry about Pakistan’s Turbulence

China in the last four decades has invested heavily in Pakistan’s strategic utility as a regional spoiler state. Today, China stands actively assisted by the Pakistan Army in converting Baluchistan into a Chinese strategic outpost in the Gulf Region, with special reference to Gwadur naval base.

With Baluchistan in armed rebellion including targeting of Chinese personnel in the region, and Baluchistan’s strategic utility in American military designs, the stakes are stacked against China.

Similarly, the violent political turbulence in the Northern Areas and the Islamic Jehadi activities in NWFP has serious spill over effects on China’s hold on its Muslim majority province of Xinjiang.

The major impact of these developments on China could lead to a re-assessment of Pakistan’s strategic utility and a revision of China’s South Asian policy formulations. This is an opportunity itself of far reaching strategic importance for China.

Iran Adversely Impacted Militarily

For Iran, the explosiveness of Pakistan’s western regions is both a threat and an opportunity in terms of military impact. It is a threat if it leads to resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan via Pakistan’s covert connivance in letting Waziristan emerge as a springboard for this purpose.

It is an opportunity for Iran to stoke the fires of Baloch nationalism in Baluchistan and develop it as a strategic counter-pressure point against Pakistan to arrest Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan. In both cases, Iran would have to re-cast its military strategies and deployments on its borders with Baluchistan and Afghanistan.

The impact on India, the remaining major power to be examined, would be done after discerning the impact on Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Continued Explosiveness on Western Frontiers is Suicidal

Pakistan, even after sixty years of independence is a fragile state, largely, due to its own acts of omission and commission.

Pakistan in all these decades could smugly indulge in military adventurism against its predominant neighbour India, chiefly because its western frontiers were not explosive. Today, Pakistan faces explosive volatility on its western frontiers as a result of a combination of factors:

Under development of western frontier regions due to “Punjab Centric” over-riding priority policies.

“Punjabi imperialism” perceived by western regions due to Pakistan Army high-handedness to find military solutions to political problems.

General Musharraf and Pakistan Army’s increasing unpopularity perceived as acting as “American Stooges” against Islamic interests.
It is no wonder that both in Baluchistan and NWFP the Islamist parties could come into power in the last elections. Events in Baluchistan are being foreseen even by Pakistani strategic analysts as a re-run of the 1971 civil war, leading to the emergence of the breakaway Bangladesh (former East Pakistan).

Pakistan’s revived strategy of Taliban resurgence via the Waziristan route may result once again in an over-stretch of Pakistan Army, continued explosiveness in NWFP and generate in its wake many crucial contradictious in Pakistan, domestically.

Pakistan would be suicidally dooming itself if it does not rein-in the explosiveness of its western frontiers by politically realistic policies. There is no scope for military adventurism in these crucial regions.

India: Explosiveness of Pakistan’s Western Frontiers is Both a Threat and an Opportunity

India has both threats and opportunities emerging from the explosiveness of Pakistan’s western frontiers.

The major threat to India would be a further and added boost to Pakistan’s proxy war in J&K and terrorism all over India. This could be prompted by three reasons.

Firstly, as a desperate measure to divert Pakistani domestic attention from the explosive western regions to a threat from India.

Secondly, as a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived misreading that India is behind the Baluchistan armed struggle against the Pakistani rule.

And, thirdly, to prevent India form politically interfering in the Pakistani-sponsored Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.
In terms of opportunities, even though some may view it as perverse, the impact could be:

Pakistan’s military strength would be diverted from the eastern frontiers with India to Pakistan’s explosive western frontiers.

Pakistan Army’s domestic image would suffer as it increasingly gets engaged in civil war – like operations and its propensity for atrocities.

Pakistan would be offering Baluchistan to India as a political counter-pressure point.

As a tangential spin-off, India could gain by a re-assessment of China’s South Asian policies and a further reinforcement of US-India strategic partnership as a result of American frustration with its unstable Pakistani ally. Tangentially, it could also possibly lead to Pakistan becoming more amenable to a realistic India-Pak peace dialogue minus the Kashmir obsession. The last would be a spin-off from a strategic bind on both it flanks.

Concluding Observations

Pakistan today is at a historical cross-road. It could either pull itself out of the self-created political and military mess or as Pakistani strategic analysts foresee, could drift into a repeat of its 1971 misadventure of a break-up of Pakistan.

In the case of the latter, the consequences for Pakistan would be suicidal. Unlike East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) which was a distant separate limb, ethnically and culturally, the western frontiers are different. Unlike East Pakistan which had borders largely with India, the western frontier regions are contiguous to a number of countries and provide the western flank to Pakistan proper.

Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers” are geo-strategic regions in which inter-sect the strategic interests of the United States, China and Iran; in a way even India’s. Hence the explosiveness of these frontiers does not remain a solely Pakistani domestic concern. It has serious external implications for all these countries.

More than any other nation, where both threats and opportunities arise from the explosiveness of Pakistan’s “Western Frontiers”, the United States has only threats arising from the developing situation. The United States national security interests in South West Asia, and in particular, Afghanistan and Iran are severely impacted.

In this developing explosiveness in Pakistan’s western regions, the United States needs to painfully realize that American national security interests far outweigh the prevailing American mindset of the Pakistani military dictator’s “indispensability” to USA. He is not the solution, he is the problem itself. The United States may be forced with the prospects of some hard solutions.

(The author is an International Relations and Strategic Affairs analyst. He is the Consultant, Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. Email: drsubhashkapila@yahoo.com)

January 26, 2006

BALOCHISTAN : Baloch leader Akbar Bhugti living in mountains



’Military action forces Bugti to live in mountains’


DERA BUGTI: Veteran Baloch leader and former Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Akbar Bugti has said that it was because of ’kindness’ extended by the state towards him that he was living in mountains.

Taking on telephone from an undisclosed location on Wednesday, Mr Bugti said the area where he was living right now belongs to him and he used to hunt when he was young and he had plenty to eat and drink and generally speaking he was quite fine despite the fact that government machinery had been used to take control of the area.

Referring his attention to his native town, Nawab Akbar Bugti said the situation in Dera Bugti was very awful as most of the houses and building have collapsed due to bombardment and inhabitants of the area have been forced to flee their homes.

He said it is common observation that nation do face tough situations but they fight for their rights and never let go the cause and keeping in view this, whatever Baloch people can do they are doing so.

He alleged that state agencies were looking in really bad mood but Baloch nation will never abandon the struggle for their rights.

On a query about the visit of MQM to Dera Bugti, Nawab Akbar Bugti said MQM lost its trust after withdrawing from the deadline it gave in to quit the government within hours and even MQM leadership did not talk to Agha Shahid Bugti or any other senior Baloch leader for a visit to the area.

As a matter of fact when the area is in deep crisis how we could have met the MQM delegation, he asked.

January 24, 2006

CRISIS IN BALOCHISTAN : Attrocities of Pakistani Army against Hindu and Sikhs

CRISIS IN BALOCHISTAN : HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF PAKISTAN REPORT

Below are excerpts from the report released by Human Rights commission of Pakistan on crisis in Pakistan where Hindu and Sikh community has paid heavy price at the hands of Pakistani Millitary .

1. In both Dera Bugti and the Kohlu area, HRCP received evidence that action by armed forces had led to deaths and injuries among civilians. Populations had also been subjected to indiscriminate bombing. Many of the victims were women and children. Lists of casualties are included in the report. The dead included some Hindus, many of whom had been forced to leave their homes due to the fighting. ( Page 1)



3. The Hindu Community

HRCP met a delegation of the Hindu community, who had left the town of Dera Bugti and were taking refuge in Sui. They told the team that all members of their community had shifted out of Dera Bugti. Some were in Sui, while others had migrated to other parts of Pakistan. They presented a home video to the press and
members of the team. It was shot during the outbreak of violence on March 17th, 2005, in Dera Bugti. The video shows unarmed civilians running around for shelter during shelling, bombardment, and firing. According to them, the fatalities occurred because of the heavy force used by the Frontier Corps. They confirmed that 33
members of their community were killed, mostly women and children, who were in their homes and could not take shelter quickly enough. The video shows dead bodies with severe injuries.

Hattu Ram, a small shop owner, aged 60, told HRCP that 200 to 250 Hindu families had migrated from Dera Bugti to Kashmore, Lehri and other places. Only two Hindu and three Sikhs remained in the town. The Hindus homes had been located under the boundary wall of Nawab Akbar Bugti’s residential quarters, and almost the entire community had fled in fear after fighting began..

(Page 29)

2. List of Hindus killed on March 17th, 2005 at Dera Bugti ( Page 26)

On March 17th 2005, tensions were high when patrols of FC and armed Bugti tribesmen came face to face, leading to harsh words between them. An exchange of fire, with rocket launchers followed. According to credible reports eight paramilitary personnel died while 62 people including 33 Hindus were killed by the attacks made by the security forces.

Sr. # Children’s name and parentage Age

1. Atti Divi d/o Bacha Mal One & half years
2. Quvita Devi d/o Dewan Chand 3 years
3. Sarkasha Devi d/o Saroon Kumar Two & half years
4. Amar Devi d/o Rajes Kumar One & half years
5. Deepak Kumar s/o Narenjan Kumar One & half years
6. Vicky Kumar s/o Tara Kumar One & half years
7. Ajeet Kumar s/o Vicky Kumar 2 Years
8. Washal s/o Manoher Lal Five & half years
9. Raveet s/o Manoher Lal Two & half years
10. Rekha Devi d/o Rukan Chand 5 years
11. Ameer Chand s/o Rukhan Chand 2 years
12. Sant Kumar s/o Nand Lal 5 years
13. Sangeeta Davi d/o Nand Lal 3 years
14. Narmeeta Devi d/o Moti Lal 7 years
15. Vikram s/o Sant Lal 9 years
16. Barkha Devi d/o Luchhman Singh 3 years
17. Ramesh Kumar s/o Preetam Kumar 1 year
18. Ravi Kumar s/o Ramesh Lal 5 years
19. Ameet Kumar s/o Dewan Chand 16 years


Women Name

1 Zarka Devi w/o Manoher Lal
2 Sharmeela Debe w/o Rukhan Chand
3 Mai Conish Devi w/o Moti Lal

Men Name


1 Mukhi Mohan Mal s/o Brama Mals
2 Dewan Chand s/o Tara Chand
3 Saroom Kumar s/o Deyal Dass
4 Laloo Mal s/o Deyal Dass
5 Ram Lal s/o Chander Lal
6 Rajesh Kumar s/o Chander Lal
7 Narjen Kumar s/o Ranjhan Dass
8 Nand Lal s/o Sobha Singh
9 Resha Dass s/o Nand Lal
10 Bacha Mal s/o Mokhi Mohan Mal
11 Suresh Kumar s/o Santu: succumbed to his injuries on 22nd of March, 2005

Men Injuired

1 Ashok Kumar s/o Tara Chand
2 Gulshan Kumar s/o Sunder Lal
3 Jaspal s/o Sunder Lal
4 Santosh Kumar s/o Moti Lal
5 Govind Ram s/o Rukhan Chand
6 Ramesh Kumar s/o Moti Lal
7 Narres s/o Tara Chand
8 Mankoo s/o Deyal Dass
9 Krin Kumar s/o Lal Chand
10 Pond Kumar s/o Deyal Dass
11 Bhagwan Dass s/o Meechal Ram
12 Sham Lal s/o Nama Mal
13 Bhagoo Mal s/o Chon Lal
14 Roshan Kumar s/o Moti Lal
15 Vicky s/o Doulat Ram
16 Navend Lal s/o Mohan Ram
17 Darshan Kumar s/o Bhagwan Dass
18 Jewat Lal s/o Lal Chand
19 Sanjeet s/o Anand Lal


Sr. # Woman injuired

1 Tai Devi w/o Chander Lal
2 Anjna Devi w/o Rajinder Kumar
3 Asha Devi w/o Dewan Chand
4 Daughter of Chander Lal
5 Mai Laila w/oSantoo Mal

Pak hardliners oppose Sohni Mahiwal

Pak hardliners oppose Sohni Mahiwal
Jan. 24, 2006





Pakistani hardliners pledged on Tuesday to protest against the country's plans to screen an Indian movie for the first time in 40 years, accusing Bollywood films of spreading "obscenity and vulgarity". Film fans and the movie industry reacted with delight after officials said on Monday that cinemas in Pakistan will be permitted to show the 1984 love story Sohni Mahiwal. There were calls for the government to completely overturn its ban on all Indian films, which was imposed after the two countries fought a war over Kashmir in 1965. "This will strengthen and promote friendly relations between Pakistan and India," Pakistani movie star Nirma said. "There is no harm in the exhibition of Bollywood movies in Pakistan and likewise Lollywood movies in India," she added. Despite the government ban, Bollywood films have long had a massive audience in Pakistan on pirate DVDs and via cable channels. Amid a two-year thaw in relations between the nuclear rivals, Indian film stars have recently started making trips over the border and there have also been a handful of joint Bollywood-Lollywood productions. Pakistan's film censor board said Sohni Mahiwal was cleared because it was a co-production between India and the-then Soviet Union, and also because it is set in the Punjab region which is split between India and Pakistan. "All new Indian movies are available on CDs and cassettes in Pakistan on the same day they are exhibited in Indian cinemas," film critic Farah Warraich said. "If the government cannot stop the exhibition of Indian movies on cable, then it should also allow the exhibition of Indian movies in cinemas." Bollywood fan Aatika Pervez, a medical doctor from Lahore, agreed. "We watch every new Indian movie through our cable network and I personally feel that the government cannot stop it," she added. However Pakistan's powerful alliance of hardline Islamic parties, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), opposed the move, saying that Indian movies with their risque dance routines were not suitable for Pakistani viewers. "We are of the view that Indian movies spread obscenity and vulgarity," MMA central leader Liaquat Baloch said. " "These (Indian) movies cannot be watched with family members and as such we will be opposing their exhibition in Pakistan," Baloch said. The MMA, which governs Pakistan's deeply conservative North West Frontier Province bordering Afghanistan, has previously burned TVs, videos and DVDs and other "immoral" material. Since coming to power in the province, the alliance has banned music in public transport and barred pictures of women on commercial billboards. Yet the MMA attracts far less support in less conservative parts of Pakistan and they face a tough battle against the widespread popularity of Bollywood here. The News daily said lifting the ban, if it happens, would open "new vistas" for entertainment-starved Pakistanis.

'No foreign support to Baloch unrest', says a French diplomat

From M Rama Rao reporting for Asian Tribune from New Delhi



New Delhi, 24 January, (Asiantribune.com ): A senior French diplomat has publicly contradicted Pak President Musharraf's claim that India has been helping Baloch insurgents. In fact, the diplomat Frederic Grare contends that foreign support to Baloch movement doesn't appear even imminent.

Grare report, 'Pakistan: a resurgence of Baloch nationalism', was released by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington this past week. What qualifies his study is his personal knowledge of the scene as he had a posting in Pakistan. He also had a four year stint in New Delhi.

The French diplomat makes two broad conclusions which are not going to please Islamabad.

First the Baloch issue is going to be a pestering sore. 'The risk of a prolonged guerrilla movement in Balochistan is quite real', he says.

Second the possibility of a civil war is not ruled out.

'The outbreak of another civil war in Balochistan between the nationalists and the Pakistan Army cannot be ruled out if the minimum demands of the Baloches are not met', he cautions.

Grare's analysis of the root causes of trouble in Balochistan will not please Islamabad either. He traces what he calls a deep feeling of mistrust amongst the Baloches towards Islamabad to 'almost six decades of intermittent conflict'.

He puts the blame for the present crisis in Balochistan at the door step of President Musharraf's government. He says the federal government had provoked the Baloches by undertaking projects like the Gwadar port, which locals saw as new instruments to perpetuate their exploitation, marginalisation, and dispossession.

The Baloches, he argues, will not forget General Pervez Musharraf's recent 'insults' at their nationalist leaders.

Grare's study also takes a look at the projects that were trumpeted as the means to Balochistan's development and integration. It notes these have so far led only to ' the advance of the Pakistani military in the province', accompanied by 'the removal' of the local population from their lands and by an 'intense speculation' that benefits only the army and its "henchmen".

Baloch nationalism is, therefore, a reality that Islamabad cannot pretend to ignore forever, he remarks.

Cautioning that the Balochistan province is likely to enter a 'new phase' of violence, the French diplomat avers that the long-term consequences are 'difficult to predict'.

In his assessment, this conflict could be used in Pakistan and elsewhere as a weapon against the government in Islamabad . "Such a prospect would affect not only Pakistan but possibly all its neighbors. It is ultimately Islamabad that must decide whether Balochistan will become its Achilles' heel," Frederic Grare writes in his report.

At the very out set, he clearly states that the Baloch movement cannot hope to succeed. "In the absence of foreign support, which does not appear imminent, the Baloch movement cannot prevail over a determined central government with obviously superior military strength" but still "can have a considerable nuisance value", he observes.

Most observers, according to Grare, concur that Baloch nationalists are raising the stakes to strengthen their negotiating position vis-à-vis the central government. Movement leaders have made it known that they would be satisfied with a generous version of autonomy. In the absence of their winning autonomy, however, the medium- and long-term consequences of the struggle for independence cannot be predicted today."

Observing that the question of Baloch identity, role of army and Islamist fundamentalism are intertwined in the daily gun fire and rocket attacks that are rocking Balochistan, the French diplomat remarks that the national question is central to the ethnic divisions in Pakistan.

"The elite, in particular the army elite, has never recognised ethnic identities. From Ayub Khan to Pervez Musharraf, the army elite has always tried to promote a united Pakistan," he points out. Cognisant of their province's strategic and economic importance, he argues, the Baloch have been all the more resentful of the military's "arrogance and contempt".

He opines that the Pakistan Army exercises its power by "manipulating" Islam to weaken Baloch nationalism and, even more important, to conceal the real nature of the Baloch problem from the outside world. "The Baloch crisis is not just the unintended outcome of more or less appropriate decisions. The crisis epitomizes the army's mode of governance and its relation with Pakistan's citizens and world public opinion," he adds.

-Asian Tribune –

China's pearl loses its luster

By Sudha Ramachandran

Tuesday Jan. 24, 2006, BANGALORE: The port project at Gwadar in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province appears to be in trouble. Baloch insurgents battling Islamabad are opposed to the project and have been attacking people working on it. Besides, some differences appear to have cropped up between the Pakistan government and the project's main funder - China - over financial aspects of the project.
Gwadar is on Pakistan's Arabian Sea coast, just 72 kilometers from Iran. It is near the mouth of the Persian Gulf and is 400km from the Strait of Hormuz. The Pakistani government identified Gwadar as a port site way back in the 1960s, but it was only in 2001-02 that concrete steps on the proposal were taken.

It was the arrival of US troops in Afghanistan - literally at China's doorstep - in the autumn of 2001 that spurred Beijing into action. China agreed to participate in funding, construction and development of a deepsea port and naval base in Gwadar and in March 2002 Chinese premier Wu Bangguo laid the foundation for the port. Its engineers are engaged in the port's design and construction.

China insists its interest in Gwadar is purely commercial. No doubt it is hoping that the port will transform the economy of its landlocked Xinjiang province.

However, Gwadar port has a far-larger significance in China's scheme of things. It is said to be the western-most pearl in China's "string of pearls" strategy (this is a strategy that envisages building strategic relations with several countries along sea lanes from the Middle East to the South China Sea to protect China's energy interests and other security objectives), the other "pearls" being naval facilities in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and the South China Sea. [1]

China's interest in the Gwadar project stems from the port's proximity to the Strait of Hormuz. A base at Gwadar enables China to secure the flow of its oil - 60% of its energy supplies come from the Middle East - through the strait. More important, Gwadar is said to be a "listening post" for the Chinese, one that will enable Beijing to monitor movement of US and Indian ships in the region.

Pakistan is eyeing huge economic and strategic gains, with Gwadar poised to become a key shipping hub at the mouth of a strategic waterway. A port at Gwadar provides Pakistan with strategic depth vis-a-vis India. Gwadar is 725km to the west of Karachi port, making it that much less vulnerable than Karachi to an Indian naval blockade.

Not surprisingly, the construction of Gwadar port and Sino-Pakistan cooperation in the project are causing concern for India, the United States and Iran. The Chinese presence in the Arabian Sea heightens India's feeling of encirclement by China. Iran fears that the development of Gwadar port will undermine the value of its own ports as outlets to Central Asia's exports.

As for the US, it has been uncomfortable with Chinese presence at the mouth of a key waterway. And now in the run-up to a possible war with Iran, Washington appears to be eyeing Gwadar's naval facilities all the more. It appears that the US is pressuring Pakistan to reduce Chinese involvement in the project and to involve Washington instead.

The New Delhi-based online Public Affairs Magazine has reported that the US "could be [pressuring] Pakistan to outprice the Chinese from Gwadar to take over the entire facility". Citing diplomats, the report said: "Pakistan has now raised the cost of Chinese participation to US$3 billion in addition to the $1.5 billion yearly payment, which China has refused, saying it is steep, and in breach of the terms of the contract. China has said that it had already agreed to offset construction costs by giving Pakistan four frigates, but Pakistan is unmoved, and offered to return all the Chinese investment, if they would have it that way."

Dismissing such reports as "wishful thinking on the part of India", a Pakistani government official told Asia Times Online that the Gwadar project was "very much on track" and that "Sino-Pakistan cooperation in the venture remains strong".

But even if the reported differences between China and Pakistan in the Gwadar project were indeed "wishful thinking on the part of India", the project is under fire from Baloch insurgents.

Balochis are not opposed to the Gwadar port project or other megaprojects per se. What they are opposed to is the way these projects have been conceived and implemented. They resent the fact Balochis have been excluded from the benefits of these projects and that "outsiders" have grown rich by exploiting Baloch resources. Balochistan's Sui gas reserves, for instance, meet 38% of Pakistan's energy needs, but only 6% of Balochistan's 6 million people have access to it, and the royalties Balochistan receives for its gas are very low, especially when compared with what other provinces receive.

Likewise, the Gwadar project does not seem to be transforming Baloch lives for the better. Baloch nationalists see Gwadar as "a non-Baloch project", one that has been conceived and implemented without provincial approval or participation, in which "outsiders" have gained the most. They point out that land in Gwadar is being sold at throwaway prices to non-Baloch civil-military elites.

There is concern, too, that the Gwadar project would leave Balochis a minority in their homeland. As the Baloch leader, the Khan of Kalat, pointed out in an interview to the Pakistani daily Dawn, the entire project would need at least a million people, and with Gwadar being a town of 60,000, people from "Karachi, mostly Urdu-speaking", would be brought in.

Not surprisingly, then, the Gwadar project has been repeatedly targeted by Baloch insurgent groups such as the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the Baloch Liberation Front and the Baloch People's Liberation Army. Insurgents have struck repeatedly with bombs and rocket attacks. In 2004 for instance, Gwadar airport was the target of rocket attacks.

Several of the insurgent attacks in Gwadar have targeted Chinese working on this project. About 500 Chinese engineers are employed in Gwadar. On May 3, 2004, three Chinese engineers were killed and nine others injured in a bomb blast by the BLA. On May 14 last year, four bombs went off in Gwadar. Then in October, several Chinese engineers had a narrow escape when the vehicle in which they were traveling missed a landmine. The following month, insurgents launched a rocket attack on a Chinese construction company in the Tallar area of Gwadar district. The Chinese engineers and other staff escaped unhurt but several vehicles were damaged.

In total, according to official data, there were 187 bomb blasts, 275 rocket attacks, eight attacks on gas pipelines, 36 attacks on electricity-transmission lines and 19 explosions on railway lines in 2005. At least 182 civilians and 26 security force personnel died in the province during 2005.

An interesting aspect about Baloch nationalist insurgents, who are by and large secular, and the religious militants is that while both view China as an enemy, their opposition to Chinese involvement in the Gwadar project differs. Tarique Niazi, a specialist on resource-based conflict, said: "Baloch nationalists, for instance, are opposed to the Chinese government for advancing its strategic goals at the expense of their freedom and autonomy. But several religiously inspired groups are opposed to the Chinese government for its putative persecution of the Uighur Muslim minority in the autonomous region of Xinjiang."

The kidnapping of two Chinese engineers in October 2004 by members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is said to have been a response to Pakistan's killing of ETIM chief Hasan Mahsum, to whom it had provided shelter in South Waziristan, on Beijing's request.

While India, Iran and the US might be wary of the Sino-Pakistan cooperation in Gwadar, internal opposition to the bonding seems far greater, as indicated by the ferocity and frequency of attacks on the Gwadar project and Chinese employees there.

With the Baloch insurgency growing in intensity and the Pakistani government's military approach to the problem only fueling Baloch resentment and the insurgency further, it does seem that even if the Gwadar port project is, as officials claim, "on track", it will be near impossible to realize its full potential.

Note

[1] In Bangladesh, China is building a container port facility at Chittagong and is "seeking much more extensive naval and commercial access", according to reports.

In Myanmar, China is building naval bases and has electronic intelligence-gathering facilities on islands in the Bay of Bengal and near the Strait of Malacca.

In Cambodia, China signed a military agreement in November 2003 to provide training and equipment.

In Thailand, Chinese navy ships took part in a joint search-and-rescue exercise with the Thai navy in the Gulf of Thailand December 13, 2005. The drill, the first between the two navies, was launched after a Chinese navy ships formation concluded a four-day visit.

Sudha Ramachandran is an independent journalist/researcher based in Bangalore.

(Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing .)

January 23, 2006

F-22A Raptor flies first operational missions

by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

1/23/2006 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- The F-22A Raptor showed another of its capabilities when it flew its first two operational sorties over the United States in support of Operation Noble Eagle Jan. 21 and 22.
The Raptor mission came one week after the 27th Fighter Squadron -- the first unit to fly the jet -- converted to the Air Force’s fifth-generation stealth fighter. The jet just reached its initial operational capability in December.

"Since becoming IOC, we have the ability to deploy," squadron commander Lt. Col. James Hecker said. "This is our first operational mission, the first mission where we've carried live ordnance.”

Operation Noble Eagle provides air defense over the United States and Canada. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the nation, North American Aerospace Defense Command fighters have responded to more than 2,000 air events over the two countries. Aircraft have flown more than Noble Eagle 40,000 sorties.

The colonel said there is plenty of excitement at the unit, though many of its pilots have flown Noble Eagle missions.

“Most of our pilots have done this before, but not with the Raptor,” he said. “It's a big step for us and a big step for the Raptor program."

Capt. Geoff Lohmiller flew one of the sorties. He said while it felt good to finally get a real mission under the F-22A's belt, the pilots looked at it like any other mission.

"It's not much different," he said. "We train for this every day. The great thing about this jet is that it has the capability to do so many different things."

Colonel Hecker said the F-22A provides advantages to Operation Noble Eagle that “legacy” fighters can't provide.

"Operation Noble Eagle is one of many missions the Raptor is capable of," he said. "We bring some things to the mission that others can't.”

With its advanced sensor package, the F-22A has the capability to detect and track targets better than other fighters, the colonel said.

“We get a God's-eye view of the airspace and everything in it,” Colonel Hecker said. “And its supercruise allows us to intercept targets faster and further out."

Supercruise is the F-22A's ability to remain at supersonic speeds without using its afterburner. This allows faster sustained speeds with lower fuel consumption.

Captain Lohmiller said the F-22A's sensors made a big difference during his mission.

"I had a lot more situational awareness," he said. "There's a lot of stuff flying around up there. It's easier to keep track of them in this jet. It's all right at our fingertips."

Maj. Gen. M. Scott Mayes, 1st Air Force and Continental U.S. NORAD Region commander, said the squadron and its jets are welcome additions to the Noble Eagle mission.

"In a dynamic and changing global threat environment, the F-22 Raptor will enable our nation to best defeat emerging threats and provide our forces a decisive and overwhelming advantage," General Mayes said.

The general said the command is looking forward to fully integrating the Raptor's capabilities -- “alongside our smart mix of alert fighters, irregular air patrols, airborne early warning assets, improved radar coverage and connectivity and a multi-layered air defense.

With everything we bring to bear, we are posturing ourselves to fight not just today's war, but tomorrow's threat and beyond," he said.

Langley's 94th Fighter Squadron is next that will convert to the F-22A, with its first jet scheduled to arrive in March.

(Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)

Elite J-K cop unit nabs its own for militant links


SOG Harkat commanders cellphone with cops phone number leads to arrest of 2 cops


MAJID JAHANGIR

Posted online: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 0221 hours IST

SRINAGAR, JANUARY 22: Sending a wake-up call to security forces in the Valley, the Special Operations Group (SOG), the elite counter insurgency unit of the J&K Police, have arrested two of their own members for links with Pakistani militants.
The two men, a senior police official said, had not only planned to assassinate a SP but were even tipping off militants about security operations.

We have arrested constable Mohammad Rafiq Dar and SPO Nazir Ahmad who were part of the SOG in Pulwama district. They were working for Harkat commanders, providing them information about our operations. This was on for a long time. During interrogation, they told us about their involvement in three murders. They stole an Ak-56 rifle and sold it to militants for Rs 40,000, the official said.
Sources said it was sheer luck that led to the nexus between the two policemen and the militants. The police raided the hideout of Saifullah, Harkat commander in Shopian, around Eid. He had already been alerted and fled but he left his mobile phone behind. The police found Rafiqs mobile number on the phone. The call register also showed that Saifullah had been in touch with Rafiq, the official said.

According to the police, the decision to arrest Rafiq was taken after Saifullah was trapped in the house of Congress councilor Nisar Ahmad Dhal in Shopian when a joint team of Army and SOG encircled him.
Saifullah was killed in the encounter. During searches, we recovered another mobile phone from Dhals daughter Rubi. This phone was also used by Saifullah. We again found Rafiqs number on it, the official said.