November 09, 2013

America exits Afghanistan, trouble may come visiting India


AP
Srinagar, November 09, 2013
First Published: 14:34 IST(9/11/2013)
Last Updated: 15:59 IST(9/11/2013)


India is bracing for more militancy in battle-scarred Jammu and Kashmir, believing that fighters now focused on resisting US-led troops in Afghanistan will shift toward the flashpoint with Pakistan. Some say increased violence recently along India's heavily militarised border with Pakistan proves that shift is already underway.


As a result, India is increasing use of drones, thermal sensors and foot patrols as it tries to catch out any battle-hardened militants moving through the forested mountains near the frontier. At the same time, India's troops have increasingly been engaging in skirmishes with Pakistan's military.
The United States' 60,000 troops will be halved by February 2014 in Afghanistan and troops from the UK (7,900), Germany (4,400), Italy (2,800), Poland (1,550) and Georgia (1,550) will all pull out by the end of 2014.
Rebels "are testing us. They're making their presence felt by launching audacious attacks," an Indian army commander in Kashmir said on condition of anonymity in line with army policy. "They have started recruiting young people into their folds. They are training some of these boys locally."
US officials and experts acknowledge there are valid concerns. Though the US government has not discussed such a risk publicly, the chief of its forces in the Pacific says the US is increasingly discussing terrorist movements with countries in the region.

"We are thinking about it more and more each day, and this includes dialogue with our partners in India and Pakistan," admiral Samuel Locklear told reporters in Washington this week.
Some Pakistani analysts believe the country's army leaders have little interest in rocking the boat now, raising the worrying possibility that the recent violence was sparked by militants who have gone rogue or are operating in cooperation with lower-level officials sympathetic to their cause.

File photo: Indian army soldiers take position during a shooting near a military convoy on the outskirts of Srinagar. (AP Photo)

"We need to be vigilant, we need to be prepared and we need to be alert for any such eventuality," the Indian Army's Northern Commander Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra said in a TV interview recently. "I think the drawdown (of US forces in the region) will definitely have effect. As a professional army we are keeping a tag of it."
Within India "there is widespread anticipation that Pakistan will divert elements of Jihadi forces (in Afghanistan) to this side," GK Pillai, a former Indian home secretary, said.
In the past, some rebels in Kashmir were either trained in Afghanistan or were Afghan nationals, India says.
"Our worry is not the number of militants," the Indian army commander said on condition of anonymity. "The worry is the quality of the people who are likely to come. They're battle-hardened, aggressive and smart. They know the warfare."
This year's fighting between India and Pakistan has unusually extended southward from the Line of Control to border areas that are not disputed by India. And while Pakistani troops in the past would fire across the border to provide cover for infiltrating militants, such fire is now coming regardless of any rebels being present, according to police chief Ashok Prasad in Kashmir.
 "Even if we are mad, why should we be creating trouble at this point of time when we are in so much trouble ourselves?" said retired Pakistani diplomat Riaz Hussain Khokhar, who served as ambassador to India and as foreign secretary helped negotiate the 2003 cease-fire. Pakistan is dealing with its own domestic insurgencies, a moribund economy and fears that Afghanistan will implode when the US combat mission ends. "There is no effort on the part of Pakistan to send in militants at this point of time."

Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif and India's Manmohan Singh agreed in September to work on reducing border hostilities.

But even as they spoke, their armies were lobbing mortar shells at each other. The next month, the fighting spread to southern border areas that had been largely peaceful for a decade, prompting officials on both sides to call it the most serious fighting in a decade

November 08, 2013

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U.S.-Iran Thaw Grew From Years of Behind-the-Scenes Talks


Secret Efforts Planted Seeds for Obama Call with Rouhani

WASHINGTON—The White House heralded President Barack Obama's phone call with Iranian counterpart Hasan Rouhani earlier this fall as a foreign-policy milestone born of a rush of last-minute diplomacy. But the historic conversation was more intricately choreographed than previously disclosed.
 
Top National Security Council officials began planting the seeds for such an exchange months earlier—holding a series of secret meetings and telephone calls and convening an assortment of Arab monarchs, Iranian exiles and former U.S. diplomats to clandestinely ferry messages between Washington and Tehran, according to current and former U.S., Middle Eastern and European officials briefed on the effort.
Initial Nuclear Deal with Tehran Takes Shape
 
Mr. Obama had empowered the administration's top Iran specialist, Punit Talwar, for some time to have direct meetings and phone conversations with Iranian Foreign Ministry officials, those people say. Some of the contacts took place in Oman's ancient capital, Muscat, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say which sits less than 200 miles across the Gulf's azure waters from the Iranian coastline.
Mr. Talwar, an Indian-American steeped in Iran policy, has at times conveyed a succinct message for his Iranian interlocutors: The U.S. wants to peacefully resolve the dispute over Tehran's nuclear program, according to these officials.
 
Mr. Talwar declined to comment on his role in Iran diplomacy.
 
The White House also reached out to Tehran through other senior Obama aides, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, according to Iranian and U.S. officials briefed on the exchanges. At Mr. Obama's direction, Ms. Rice had nurtured ties with her Iranian counterpart while serving from 2009-2013 as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, according to U.S. and Iranian officials, rekindling those connections for the September phone call between the Iranian and American
 
 
 
 
 
 
leaders. cat
The intricate communications network helped propel the recent steps toward U.S.-Iran rapprochement. Since late September, senior American and Iranian officials have held three sets of direct talks on the nuclear issue. A fourth is expected Nov. 7 and 8 in Geneva, part of wider negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, plus Germany, a group known as P5+1.
A spokesman at Iran's mission to the United Nations didn't respond to requests for comment on the diplomacy efforts.
A senior U.S. official said Wednesday it was possible that an initial agreement to curb Iran's nuclear program could be reached this week. The negotiations are focused on freezing the most advanced parts of Iran's nuclear program, particularly its production of near-weapons grade fuel, in return for sanctions relief.
The secrecy of the diplomatic run-up reflects both the risks to the White House and the delicacy with which the administration is pursuing Mr. Obama's goal. Already, what little the administration has disclosed of its overtures to Tehran has alienated several Mideast allies, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia, who fear being cut out of decisions with a bearing on their future security.
"On a good day, we're paranoid about Iran," said a senior Arab official who regularly discusses Iran policy with the U.S. "But in the current environment, our fears have only been exacerbated."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meeting Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, reiterated his opposition to any "partial deals" that could leave Iran capable of one day developing atomic weapons.
 
Thus far on his whirlwind tour through the Middle East and elsewhere, John Kerry has been placating egos and smoothing rifts. Here's a quick-fire look at his agenda. Via The Foreign Bureau. (Photo: Getty)
U.S. officials believe Iran's nuclear program, barring successful negotiations or military strikes, could be advanced enough by next summer that Tehran emerges as a de facto nuclear-weapons state. Tehran has repeatedly denied it is seeking nuclear weapons.
Mr. Talwar, whose title is special assistant to the president and National Security Council senior director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf States, was a logical choice for the secret White House outreach to Tehran, say diplomats and academics who have worked with him. "In an administration where the White House dominates Iran policy, it makes sense that Puneet played this role," says a former Western diplomat who discussed the secret diplomacy with Mr. Talwar.
 
Previously Mr. Talwar was a senior staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by then-Sen. Joe Biden, a Delaware Democrat who is now vice president. While working for the Senate, Mr. Talwar was part of a small group of American academics, congressional officials and retired diplomats who met with Iranian officials during George W. Bush's two terms as president.
Other prominent Americans who took part in the Bush-era talks included former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry ; Thomas Pickering, an undersecretary of State in the Clinton administration; and Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt.
 
The meetings were held in Europe, primarily the Swedish capital of Stockholm. They were organized by international groups that included the Asia Society, which focuses on cultural exchange and conflict resolution; the United Nations Association, an independent organization that supports the U.N.'s mandate; and Pugwash, an international disarmament organization.
 
" The secrecy of the diplomatic run-up reflects both the risks to the White House and the delicacy used in pursuing Mr. Obama's goal. "
The American and Iranian sides gathered in hotels and conference halls, seeking formulas to defuse the crisis over Iran's nuclear program and avert a war. Participants said in interviews that the key would be solutions recognizing Tehran's desire for nuclear technologies while addressing the West's fears that Iran was secretly developing atomic weapons.
 
The U.S. attendees were encouraged by the high level of Iranian participation, those who attended say. Javad Zarif, now Iran's foreign minister, helped organize some of the conferences. Aides to then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended, as did Ali Akbar Salehi, the current head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, according to conference organizers and an Iranian diplomat.
 
"Much of what we discussed is still very relevant now," says William Luers, who served as president of the United Nations Association and organized some of the meetings Mr. Talwar attended in 2002 through 2006. "The elements of a deal are well understood."
 
Mr. Talwar joined the Obama-Biden team in 2008, as Mr. Obama campaigned for the presidency partly on a pledge of direct talks with Iranian leaders over Tehran's nuclear program. Many U.S. officials still fear Iran's nuclear ambitions could lead to a Mideast war, particularly given repeated threats of an Israeli attack.
 
Shortly after entering the Oval Office in 2009, Mr. Obama sent two personal letters to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressing that the U.S. wasn't seeking regime change in Iran and wanted to resolve the nuclear dispute peacefully, according to American and Iranian officials briefed on the correspondence. The Obama administration at the time saw Mr. Khamenei, who is the ultimate arbiter on Iran's foreign policy, as the only leader in Tehran powerful enough to deliver a compromise on the nuclear issue.
Mr. Khamenei was initially "seduced" by Mr. Obama's overtures, according to one Western official who discussed the issue with the Iranian cleric. But Iran's 2009 presidential election, marred by charges of fraud, returned Mr. Ahmadinejad to office. His hard-line stance—among other things, he threatened to destroy Israel—doused hopes for a U.S.-Iranian detente.
 
U.S. diplomacy with Iran picked up pace after Mr. Rouhani's surprise June election. Mr. Rouhani had campaigned to improve ties with the West. Mr. Obama quickly sought to capitalize on what he saw as an opening.
 
Just days after Mr. Rouhani's August inauguration, Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, a frequent mediator, traveled to Tehran and emphasized to Iran's leadership the White House's desire for direct talks, according to a senior Iranian official. The same week, a former top State Department official under Mr. Obama, Jeffrey Feltman, visited Iran as part of a U.N. mission and was struck by the "dramatically different tone" as Iranian diplomats espoused their willingness to engage with Washington.
 
Mr. Rouhani's election also re-energized contacts between the Americans and Iranians who met years earlier, along with Mr. Talwar, in Europe. U.S. and European officials briefed on Mr. Talwar's current diplomacy say they believe Mr. Obama has sought to build on the contacts Mr. Talwar established in Stockholm and the discussions he held there.
 
Mr. Zarif, now Iran's foreign minister, used these same contacts, particularly through New York's Asia Society, to communicate to the White House and State Department the steps Tehran's new government would be willing to take to address U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear program, according to Iranian officials and American participants.
 
The Asia Society and the nongovernmental Council on Foreign Relations hosted roundtables for Messrs. Rouhani and Zarif on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September. The two men used them to explain Tehran's plans to American businessmen, former government officials, academics and journalists.
 
"For the first time in 34 years, the leaderships of both governments appear to be in sync and want a deal," says Suzanne DiMaggio, a vice president at the Asia Society, who says she helped facilitate communications between Messrs. Rouhani and Zarif and the Obama administration in September.
The White House has accelerated its discussions with Tehran on the nuclear program since then, with Mr. Talwar in the center of the diplomacy. He has represented the White House at all of the formal negotiations conducted between Iran and the global P5+1 powers, since 2009.
Mr. Obama personally reached out to Mr. Rouhani last summer. The U.S. president penned a letter to the new Iranian leader, stressing Washington's desire to end the nuclear dispute peacefully. Mr. Rouhani responded with similar sentiments.
 
Mr. Zarif, meanwhile, reconnected with prominent American foreign-policy officials he met while serving as Iran's ambassador to the U.N. in the 2000s. Mr. Ahmadinejad's government demoted Mr. Zarif, once seen as a star in Tehran's Foreign Ministry, and briefly forced him to live under a form of house arrest at a government think tank, according to Iranian and European officials. His re-emergence in August as foreign minister raised hopes in the West that Iran was serious about engagement.
Ms. DiMaggio of the Asia Society says she was among those in New York who contacted Mr. Zarif shortly after he was brought in to the Rouhani government. A veteran facilitator of informal contacts between Iranian and American officials, she held numerous meetings over the past decade with the U.S.-educated diplomat on ways to end the nuclear impasse.
 
This time, she says, it was immediately clear Mr. Rouhani's government was significantly altering Tehran's negotiating framework and might be willing to accept some of the nuclear limits the West was demanding in exchange for sanctions relief.
 
Ms. DiMaggio, just days before Mr. Rouhani's delegation was scheduled to arrive at the U.N., traveled to Washington and met with U.S. officials and advised high-level meetings in New York. "It was clear to me that the Iranians were describing an endgame to the crisis," she says. "I thought it was well worth testing."
 
The U.S. diplomacy has also been aided by Hossein Mousavian, a former top Iranian diplomat and now a visiting scholar at Princeton University. He was charged with treason by President Ahmadinejad and briefly jailed. Mr. Mousavian arrived in the U.S. in 2010, writing and commenting for American audiences on the outlines of a possible nuclear deal and rapprochement between Iran and the West.
 
U.S. and European officials said his presence has aided the West's understanding of Iran's position, as he previously worked closely with Messrs. Rouhani and Zarif. "Hossein has emerged as an unexpected asset," said George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Despite the bad blood between Washington and Tehran, Ms. Rice and Mohammad Khazaee, her Iranian counterpart during her time at the U.N., had sought to calm tensions over regional hot spots and avert miscalculations between American and Iranian naval ships in the Persian Gulf.
In September, the two diplomats closely coordinated by phone to try to arrange a direct meeting between Messrs. Obama and Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering, according to a senior Iranian official briefed on the conversations. Ms. Rice and Mr. Khazaee first tried to find a room at the U.N. headquarters for a brief meeting between their two leaders. The meeting never happened. Instead the two sides eventually agreed to a phone call shortly before Mr. Rouhani flew back to Tehran on Sept. 27.
 
Mr. Talwar led a team of American sanctions and nuclear experts who took part in meetings with Iranians in late October in Vienna. And he arrived in Geneva on Wednesday to take part in talks between the P5+1 and Iran.
 
Officials involved in the diplomacy say major differences still need to be bridged before an agreement can be reached on curbing Iran's nuclear program. Still, U.S. officials said the tone of discussions have changed dramatically over the year, since Mr. Talwar's secret outreach.
"I wouldn't say I'm blas√© about" the talks, said one senior U.S. official who traveled to Geneva. "But I would say after the president of the United States has spoken to the president of Iran…it's no longer the Rubicon that it once was."
 
Write to Jay Solomon at jay.solomon@wsj.com and Carol E. Lee at carol.lee@wsj.com

Pakistan officially printing fake Indian currency notes



KARTIKEYA SHARMA


NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 6, 2013 | UPDATED 11:19 IST

Inline image 1
Indian security agencies have known it for long. Several arrested underworld and terror operatives have confirmed it repeatedly. Now the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has nailed the Pakistan government's imprint on fake Indian currency notes (FICN) pumped into the country. This proof of counterfeit war can't be denied or erased.

A detailed forensic analysis by the NIA has revealed that the paper used to print the counterfeit rupee notes is an excellent match with the legal tender of Pakistan. The NIA's explosive conclusion was recently revealed to Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance by the country's top intelligence agencies-the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

That FICN is an undesirable import from Pakistan is known, but NIA has belled the cat in its lair. Thesecurity features imitated to print fake notes can be duplicated by highly sophisticated machines that only the Pakistan government owns, the committee was told.

Pak imprint

A written compilation of the oral submissions by the intelligence agencies stated: "Forensic opinion has revealed that the notes have been printed on highly sophisticated machines involving huge capital investment. The pulp found to be 100 per cent rag in the FICN which is normally used in making currency papers. The perfection of window and watermark formulation indicates the manufacture of FICN paper on regular currency making machines which can only be owned by a country or state.

"Most of the pivotal parameters of the paper like GSM (paper density measured in grammes per square metre), Wax Pick Quotient, and Poly Vinyl Alcohol and PH Values were found matching with the legal tender of Pakistan."

The papers also reveal that the involvement of any country other than Pakistan in printing FICN has not been found so far.

Intelligence agencies are worried that despite some traditional routes of FICN smuggling being neutralised, the flow of counterfeit currency has not slowed down.

New routes

The parliamentary panel was informed that the volume of FICN smuggled into India in 2010 was between Rs.1,500 and Rs.1,700 crore which went up to Rs.2,500 crore in 2012 - a rise of 55 per cent. This year, fake currency worth Rs.1,200 crore has already infected the Indian economy till July. The paper also identifies Pakistan-based syndicates involved in pushing counterfeit currency notes into India.

Prominent among them are Iqbal Kana, Subha Bhai, Aslam Choudhary, Sheikh Safi and Sikander. These syndicates operate from the UAE, Bangladesh, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China.

D-Company role

"Gangsters of D-Company like Aftab Batki and Haji Abdullah have also come to notice for being actively involved in FICN trade," the note reads. The parliamentarians were told that the involvement of Pakistan in the manufacture and supply of FICN has confirmed its use in terror financing activity in India.

It's no secret that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) pushes in counterfeit currency notes into India to destabilize the country's economy as well as to finance terror operations.

The document says that several terrorists owing allegiance to groups such the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), al Badr, HuJI and Dawood Ibrahim's D-Company were found carrying fake rupee notes at the time of their arrest. Mumbai terror attack accused David Headley was also believed to have used counterfeit rupees worth about Rs.2 lakh on one of his trips to India. Earlier this year, arrested LeT operative Abdul Karim Tunda had told the Delhi Police that the ISI runs the entire network of FICN being smuggled into India.


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Tunda told his interrogators that Iqbal Kana, the biggest dealer of FICN who is still active in Pakistan, got the notes through an ISI Brigadier and then pushed them into India via Bangladesh and Nepal.

Tunda, who was arrested in August, told the interrogators that his work was to collect, disburse and push FICN through his network into India and that each consignment contained counterfeits worth crores of rupees. He also revealed that FICN is supplied not only to Bangladesh and India but also countries such as Holland, Singapore and the UAE.

MAIL TODAY had reported in April that alarmed over a massive seizure of FICN and explosives in Bangladesh, the home ministry had decided to send an NIA team there to gather more information.

Authorities in Bangladesh had busted a terror module with the arrest of 16 people, including four Pakistanis, on March 30 and had confiscated counterfeit currency notes worth Rs.1.3 crore. 

Indian agencies were startled because the amount was much more than what was recovered from either the Bangladesh or the Pakistan border in the last few years.


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A file photo of Uttar Pradesh police officers with seized fake currency notes.


In their submission to the Parliament committee, the security officials also informed the members about their counter intelligence operations in this area. The members were informed that R&AW had disrupted 16 modules in the past three years and made a large seizure of FICN in the neighbouring country. In fact, R&AW was able to seize FICN worth Rs.62 crore from abroad between 2006 and 2013 with close cooperation from the IB and DRI.

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According to government estimates, counterfeit banknotes in circulation in the country constitute about 0.21 per cent of the total currency notes in circulation.

On paper, it might look negligible but such volumes are enough to finance almost all terror and sabotage operations in India.

For more news from India Today, follow us on Twitter @indiatoday and on Facebook atfacebook.com/IndiaToday

India shouldn’t get into Pak-Taliban-US huddle



Saturday, 09 November 2013 | Swarn Kumar Anand | in Oped
 
 
While the Pakistan Army and the Nawaz Sharif government seem to be on the same page pursuing the illusive peace with TTP, we need to be more careful as this 'peace' pursuit will only aid to our 'imported' terror woes
The assassination of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike at a time when both the government and the military leadership showed rare consensus to pursue peace with the TTP has thrown a new challenge for the region. The incident is vital on three counts — first, its impact on the pace and direction of the Pakistan-Taliban peace talks; second, increasing pressure on Nawaz Sharif to perform a balancing act between anti-Americanism and improving the US-Pakistan relations; and third, implications for India, which is already struggling to make a workable strategy for the post-Nato Afghanistan. The first two have generated lots of opinions around the world, but the Indian perspective has been generally ignored, as indeed, there is no immediate impact on India.

But if we visualise a situation in the west of India in 2014, when the US-led Nato forces are planning to make an exit from Afghanistan, the ramifications for India will be enormous. As the Obama Administration looks to be in a tearing hurry to throw Afghanistan to the proverbial wolves, Pakistan, and pushing for negotiations with Taliban, which gave safe havens to 9/11 masterminds Al-Qaeda, there must a grave concerns for New Delhi about Islamabad cashing in on the reconciliation process in way that jeopardises our interests in the region. Moreover, Pakistan's cosying up to Taliban will result in consolidation of the latter's position and export of terrorism to India.
(Non)-State actors

Pakistan has never been well disposed towards its eastern neighbour since its inception, particularly after India's successful effort in the creation of Bangladesh. Coming to terms with the bitter truth after their successive loss of face in three wars, the Pakistan Army and the ISI are now waging a proxy war against India, as it not only gives them excuses to hide behind the so-called non-state actors, it is also cost effective.

It has a long history of creating disturbances in India. And sadly they have able to influence some Indian youths to wage war against their own country. For example, Pakistan treated their Sikh citizens badly but managed to egg on the Indian Panjabi youth to rise against India for Khalistan. In Pakistani writings, Sikhs were termed barbaric, and their venerated gurus were ridiculed. But it goes to ISI credit that they could attract some members of Sikh community fight against their own country.

Similarly in Kashmir, the militancy and resultant ethnic cleansing could not have been possible without the concerted effort of the Pakistan Army and the ISI. In fact, non-state actors do not come from heaven; they thrive in Pakistan with the clandestine financial, military support from the State agencies.

It's not only Kashmir where Pakistan's state actors have been trying to let loose religious fanatics. Almost all terror attacks, whether it is the Parliament attack, 26/11, or the latest one in Patna, point the finger at Pakistan. Unimaginably, the Pakistani terror agencies have been able to penetrate in North-east as well. The chief of Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), a militant outfit in Meghalaya, R Sangma in 2010 had claimed that the ISI and jehadi groups in Pakistan had offered it help to fight the Indian state.

The omnipotent Pakistan Army and the ISI are the products of Pakistan's systemic flaws, whose another casualty is democracy. Moreover, the army needs to wage war against India to keep itself relevant in the politics which is hogged by anti-India sentiments. Nothing can happen in Pakistan without the prior approval of the army. Therefore, it is an open secret that the US is fed strategic information regarding its drone targets.

Can India trust America vis-à-vis Pakistan?

It will be great folly to believe that the selfish America will help India against Pakistan's sinister design without extracting its pound of flesh. As for the US drone strikes in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the policy is narrow-minded as it targets only terror leaders not organisations. Moreover, these drones have not done India any good on purpose. The mastermind of 26/11, Hafiz Saeed, is roaming free. The US bounty of $10 million on Hafiz Saeed has proved a joke.
In fact, America's connivance with the ISI was widely circulated in the US media. ISI allowed drones to attack anti-American militants on condition that their nuclear installations and terror camps targeting India will be spared from drone strikes. Now, if the US is worried about its diminishing influence in the Af-Pak region as Taliban is rearing its head, only America is to be blamed for the creation of the monster.

The biggest challenge India faces in the region has been thrown by Obama's "peace talks with Taliban at any cost". In a video message, available on social media sites, Al-Qaeda clerics have been seen spewing venom against India. While Al-Qaeda leader Ahmad Farooq vowed "to hasten our advance towards Delhi", another cleric Asim Umar called on Indian Muslims to battle for Sharia rule. Yet another influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is kept in high esteem by Taliban, has called on the jihadist to spread terror in Kashmir to create an Islamic state. But America does not listen, as these do not pose threat to their interests directly.

What should India do?

The Nation-State is an entity whose existence demands a realistic approach, which may not be considered ideal in other's framework. We should pay Pakistan back in the same coin. Conventional wars grab attention of the global media; therefore proxy war is a better option. Until Pakistan pays through the nose, it can't realise how non-state actors are controlled and directed by the state actors.

Second, India should use its diplomacy to ensure Pakistan-Taliban talks fail. We Indians are surprised why the government is taking U-turn on its policy towards Taliban, which represent a barbaric, radical version of Islam which is antithetical to the very idea of secular India. Taliban may not be concentrating on India as they are busy in consolidating their position, but they are not trustworthy. Indians have been witness to their behaviour in Kandahar during the negotiation to free the hijacked IC 814 aircraft.

Third, New Delhi should try to become a dependable, including militarily, ally of Karzai, so that Pakistan does not fill the vacuum created after the Post-Nato Afghanistan.

Lastly, India must deal with the Pakistan Army directly. Military rule in Pakistan makes the all-powerful Army more accountable in the eyes of the global media. Also it is impossible for it to indulge in covert operations and blame the government. Therefore, it's imperative for Indian spy agencies to ensure that the military, particularly the Pakistan Army, regains power in the country.

(The writer is News Editor, The Pioneer)

November 05, 2013

Obama secretly offered Pak to nudge India on Kashmir: Book



Washington, Nov 5, 2013 (PTI):
 
 
 
 President Barack Obama waves after speaking at the 'SelectUSA Investment Summit,' Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 in Washington.. AP photo
US President Barack Obama secretly offered Pakistan in 2009 that he would nudge India towards negotiations on Kashmir in lieu of it ending support to terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Taliban, but much to his disappointment Islamabad rejected the offer.

"Since the 1950s Pakistan had wanted an American role in South Asia. Now it was being offered one. In the end Pakistan would have to negotiate the Kashmir issue directly with India. But at least now the American president was saying that he would nudge the Indians toward those negotiations," Pakistan's former Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani writes in his book 'Magnificent Delusions', which hit the stores today.

This is Haqqani's interpretation of the secret letter written by President Obama to the then President Asif Ali Zardari, which was personally hand delivered by his then National Security Advisor Gen (rtd) James Jones.

The letter's content is for the first time being disclosed by Haqqani, the then Pakistan's envoy to the US.

In his book, spread over 300 pages, Haqqani writes that in November 2009, Jones travelled to Islamabad to hand deliver a letter written by Obama to Zardari.

Dated November 11, 2009, through the letter Obama offered Pakistan to become America's "long-term strategic" partner. The letter "even hinted at addressing Pakistan's oft-stated desire for a settlement of the Kashmir dispute," he writes.

"Obama wrote that the United States would tell countries of the region that 'the old ways of doing business are no longer acceptable'. He acknowledged that some countries — a reference to India — had used 'unresolved disputes to leave open bilateral wounds for years or decades. They must find ways to come together'," Haqqani writes.

"But in an allusion to Pakistan, he (Obama) said, 'Some countries have turned to proxy groups to do their fighting instead of choosing a path of peace and security. The tolerance or support of such proxies cannot continue'," the former diplomat writes quoting from the letter.

"I am committed to working with your government to ensure the security of the Pakistani state and to address threats to your security in a constructive way," the book says, citing Obama's letter to Zardari.

"He (Obama) asked for cooperation in defeating Al-Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network, the Afghan Taliban and the assorted other militant groups that threaten security. Obama then wrote of his 'vision for South Asia', which involved 'new patterns of cooperation between and among India, Afghanistan and Pakistan to counter those who seek to create permanent tension and conflict on the subcontinent'," Haqqani wrote. 

Haqqani, who now teaches at the University of Boston, said that in a meeting with him, Jones stressed that he had wanted to reassure Pakistanis that any perception that the US was leaving the region was simply wrong.

"Pakistan's success is to America's success in the region," Jones had said.

Jones said that if Pakistan was ready to make "a strategic commitment to common objectives," the United States was ready to be 'a partner for the twenty-first century'," Haqqani quoted James from that conversation as saying.

"The Obama administration had asked for 'fundamental readjustment' before the two countries could be 'partners for a long time to come'. But Islamabad was not ready for them. When Zardari's reply arrived, it had clearly been drafted by a committee of Foreign and ISI bureaucrats, repeating old cliches about Afghanistan threat to Pakistan from India," Haqqani writes.

"Kayani had given Jones his own more-than-fifty-page-long thesis on Pakistan's strategic threats and interests. I was allowed to read it in Islamabad, but no Pakistani civilian was provided a copy to keep. As I read it, it felt familiar; I wondered where I had read it before realised that its contents were remarkably similar to the paper President Ayub Khan had given to then President Eisenhower in 1959.

"Obviously Pakistan's permanent institutions of state, nothing had changed in half a century. Pakistan had missed the opening for defining its partnership with the world's sole superpower on more favorable terms than before," he wrote.