US turns down Pak’s request for drone technology

Islamabad, May 13 (ANI): The United States has reportedly rejected Pakistan’s fresh demands of handing over unmanned drone technology to it, highly placed sources in the Pakistan military have revealed, adding that Washington’s refusal could see Islamabad further delay its decision to launch a new war front against militants in North Waziristan.

“Apart from other issues, the issue pertaining to transfer of requisite drone technology could cause delay in Pakistan’s launching of military operation in North Waziristan”, The Nation quoted the sources, as saying.

Pakistan has already developed drones capable of reconnaissance missions, but it still lacks the technology to attach weapons to the indigenous drones so that it can carry out attacks against extremists in the country’s semi-autonomous tribal regions by it self.

The well-placed military sources said that it was imperative for the Obama Administration to provide the drone technology to enable it take action against extremists flourishing on the terror hot beds situated along the Afghan border.

“Drones with weapon systems are imperative to meet Pakistan’s pressing needs in tackling low intensity conflict such as terrorism especially with back up intelligence support from US satellite network on Pak- Afghan border” they said.

Islamabad has long been opposing the Central Investigation Agency (CIA) operated drone strikes in the restive tribal areas, saying they violate its sovereignty and fuel anti-American sentiments amongst the population, however, it is believed that Pakistan is privately sharing intelligence with the US about the insurgents and their hide-outs. (ANI)

Militants kill nine Pak troops as intense clashes continue in FATA

London, May 11 (ANI): At least nine Pakistan army soldiers were butchered by militants as severe clashes between the troops and militants continued in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas’ (FATA) volatile Orakzai Agency.

The BBC quoted some Pakistani military officials as confirming the death of the security personnel.

Military officials described the battle between the insurgents and the army as “fierce” and said that two officers were among the dead.

The officials, however, added that 30 militants were also killed in intense clashes across the region.

The death toll was hard to be verified independently as the media is barred from visiting the war-zone.

Earlier, media reports said that over 43 extremists were killed in separate operations conducted by Pakistan security forces across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas over the last couple of days.

Ground troops assisted by fighter jets killed at least 33 militants in Orakzai Agency, officials said.

Pakistan Air Force jets pounded suspected Taliban hideouts in Kasha, Teerangra , Khawri and other regions killing over 10 militants.

Security forces also claimed to have killed two Taliban. (ANI)

Pak security forces kill over 43 Taliban in separate clashes in FATA

Islamabad, May 10 (ANI): Over 43 extremists have been killed in separate operations conducted by Pakistan security forces across the Federally Administered Tribal Areas over the last 24 hours.

Ground troops assisted by fighter jets killed at least 33 militants in Orakzai Agency, officials said.

Pakistan Air Force jets pounded suspected Taliban hideouts in Kasha, Teerangra , Khawri and other regions killing over 10 militants, The Daily Times reports.

Security forces also claimed to have killed two Taliban commanders in Swat.

On Sunday, at least 10 suspected extremists were killed and several others wounded in a US drone strike in North Waziristan

Security officials said unmanned aircrafts targeted a suspected militant hideout in Inzarkas village, situated some 50 kilometres west of Miranshah, the main town in the volatile North Waziristan region killing 10 extremists on the spot.

“The missiles struck a militant compound in the village, killing at least 10 rebels,” a local security official said.

“It was, however, not immediately known if any high-value target was present in the area at the time of attack,” the official added.

The missile hit came amidst reports that the United States is planning to greatly expand the use of drones against militants in Pakistan’s troubled tribal regions along the Afghanistan border following the failed Times Square bombing plot, which was masterminded by an American citizen of Pakistan origin, Faisal Shahzad. (ANI)

U.S. says wants more from Pakistan, could boost aid

The United States wants and expects more from Pakistan in the fight against insurgents and is ready to offer additional assistance if Islamabad asks, two senior Obama administration officials said on Friday.

“We’ve gotten more cooperation and it’s been a real sea change in the commitment we’ve seen from the Pakistan government. (But) we want more. We expect more,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview, excerpts of which were released on Friday.

She added that Washington had also warned of “severe consequences” if a successful attack in America were traced back to Pakistan. She did not elaborate.

Investigations into the Pakistani-American suspect in last Saturday’s failed bombing attempt in New York’s Times Square have uncovered possible links to the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group.

That has prompted speculation the United States, Pakistan’s top provider of aid, could press Islamabad to open risky new fronts against Islamic militants.

But Defence Secretary Robert Gates, speaking to reporters on a trip to Kansas, appeared to play down the chances of an expanded Pakistani crackdown on insurgents.

He pointed to the strain on security forces already battling militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

“With their military operations in the west, they’ve started to be pretty thinly stretched themselves, as well as taking a substantial number of casualties,” Gates said.

The United States was ready to step up assistance to Pakistan, he said.

“We’re willing to do as much … as they are willing to accept,” Gates said. “We are prepared to do training, and exercise with them. How big that operation becomes is really up to them.”


Citing anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, Gates added, “They (Pakistani leaders) are also very interested in keeping our footprints as small as possible, at least for now.”

President Barack Obama’s administration has repeatedly praised Pakistani military operations over the past year, including the recent capture in Pakistan of the Afghan Taliban’s No. 2, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Clinton said it marked an improvement from the “double game going on in the previous years, where we got a lot of lip service but very little produced.”

“We have seen the killing or capturing of a great number of the leadership of significant terrorist groups and we’re going (to) continue that,” she said.

The United States, which sees Pakistan’s effort against militants as crucial to its fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, has about 200 military personnel in Pakistan, including Special Operations forces on a training mission.

The CIA is also waging a covert war using pilotless drone aircraft to target insurgents in Pakistan.

“I think cooperation has continued to (improve), the relationship is continuing to improve, and I think we just keep moving in that direction,” Gates said.

A White House official said the United States had been working with Pakistan and would keep assisting a Pakistani offensive to root out the Taliban.

“We’ve been working on the other side of the border, of course, with Pakistan in developing a strong partnership in which they have gone on the offensive — the largest offensive they’ve undertaken in some years — in order to root out extremists within their borders, including the Taliban,” deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters.

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Writing by Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney)

US piles on pressure on Pak to pound terror training camps

Washington, May 7 (ANI): Amidst the wide scale outburst against Pakistan that it has to act against terror breeding groups flourishing on its soil especially after the failed New York bombing, the United States has stressed that Islamabad must not hesitate to take on the extremists threatening it and the world.

Addressing a regular press briefing here, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell romped up pressure on Pakistan to take stiff measures against terror training camps operating in the country.

Referring to the Times Square bombing plot, Morrell said the incident underlines the need for “all to continue aggressive operations in going after terrorists wherever they reside”.

He parried questions over the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operated drone strikes in Pakistan, but added that the incident would ‘reinvigorate’ both Washington and Islamabad to confront these threats more effectively.

Separately, Michele Flournoy, Under-secretary of Defence for Policy, also denied to comment on reports that US is contemplating expanding drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal regions, but admitted that the Obama Administration is concerned over the presence of militant training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

“Afghanistan-Pakistan, that border region, has been the sort of locus of the sort of heartland, if you will, of Al Qaeda for many years,” Flourney said while testifying before the House Armed Services Committee.

“And so I think denying them sanctuary and safe haven there, disrupting them there has a powerful impact on the global network,” The Dawn quoted her, as adding.

Meanwhile, media reports quoting some ‘unidentified’ US officials said that the Obama administration had quietly allowed the CIA to expand drone strikes in Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal regions along the country’s border with Afghanistan. (ANI)

Failed Times Square bomber was 26/11 mastermind’s childhood friend: Officials

Washington, May 7 (ANI): Sources close to the investigations concerning confessed Times Square bomb plotter Faisal Shahzad have revealed that he has claimed that he was childhood friends with one of the masterminds of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, in which 166 people were killed by Pakistani terrorists.

According to ABC News, intelligence sources privy to investigations into the botched bombing plot, Shahzad has claimed that he had contacts with many top notch extremist leaders, such as killed Pakistan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, radical American-born Muslim cleric Anwar Awlaki and others.

However, the name of the Mumbai attacks mastermind with whom Shahzad is said to have close relations were not revealed.

Shahzad is also said to be linked to a man named Muhammed Rehan, who is believed to be a Jaish-e-Muhamed (JeM) operative and is in the custody of Pakistani authorities at present.

According to sources briefed on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) probe, Shahzad, during his interrogation has revealed that he was angry over the continuous US drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas, and that he had suffered a personal crisis in his life.

Shahzad has reportedly said he carried out the attempted bombing because he was under duress and that he feared for his family’s safety if he didn’t fulfill the mission, sources added. (ANI)

Zardari, Musharraf helped each other through secret deal: PML-Q

Karachi, May 6 (ANI): Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s ‘safe’ exit and incumbent President Asif Ali Zardari’s return to the country was part of a deal inked between both leaders, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) General Secretary Mushahid Hussain Syed has said.

Interacting with media persons during a press conference here, Syed also revealed that the deal was also backed by international powers.

“This deal was not a usual one as it had the support of international powers,” The News quoted Syed, as saying.

He, however, did not disclose the names of those ‘international powers.’

Syed also claimed that Zardari had entered into a secret deal with former US President George Bush, according to which the US would continue the drone strikes in the country’s tribal areas, and Islamabad would go on criticising Washington for the missile hits. (ANI)

Barabaric Taliban chops of hands of three alleged thieves in FATA

Islamabad, May 6 (ANI): Pakistan Taliban’s barbaric characteristics were once again witnessed after it chopped off the hands of three alleged thieves in the Orakzai Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

According to sources, three men Khaista Jan, Azam Shah and Razeem Shah were detained about 20 days ago on charges of theft.

Later, the extremists declared them guilty and amputated their right hands, The Daily Times reports.

All the three men were taken to a hospital in Kohat, where their condition is stated to be critical. (ANI)

Evidence of Pak Taliban role in Times Square foiled plot mounting: US

Washington, May 6 (ANI): After two days of intense questioning of Times Square bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad, American officials are more or less convinced about the Pakistani Taliban inspiring and training the latter prior to the Saturday night incident.

Officials have confirmed that Shahzad has discussed his contacts with the group, and added that more evidence has been accumulated, but won’t be disclosed for the time being.

According to the New York Times, Department of Homeland Security officials have directed airlines to speed up their checks of new names added to the no-fly list.

The failed attack has produced a flurry of other proposals to tighten security procedures, including calls by members of Congress to more closely scrutinize passengers who buy tickets with cash.

American officials said their understanding of the plot would evolve as a dragnet spanning two continents gathered more evidence.

One issue that the investigators are vigorously pursuing is who provided Shahzad cash to buy the S.U.V. and his plane ticket to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

They also said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the operations of the militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas. There is no doubt among intelligence officials that the barrage of attacks by C.I.A. drones over the past year has made Pakistan’s Taliban, which goes by the name Tehrik-i-Taliban, increasingly determined to seek revenge by finding any way possible to strike at the United States.

If the Pakistani Taliban was involved in the Times Square bombing plot, the organization is only the latest militant group to expand beyond a local political agenda and strike the United States.

A successful attack on American soil could have significant payoffs, said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert at Georgetown University.

The message may be, “ ‘The U.S. is pounding us with drone attacks, but we’re powerful enough to strike back’; it’s certainly enough to attract ever more recruits to replace those they’re losing,” Hoffman said. (ANI)

US may lean harder on Pak to fight Islamist extremists

Islamabad, May 5 (ANI): The arrest of a Pakistani American in connection with the failed Times Square bombing has again put the spotlight on Pakistan as a global terrorist training hub.

According to the Washington Post, the close call in Times Square, is likely to prompt U.S. officials to lean on Pakistan to deepen its fight against Islamist extremists, particularly in the militant hotbed of North Waziristan.

The paper further reveals that Pakistan has chafed at past American exhortations to hit harder against militants on its soil, saying that it has paid a heavy price for its efforts against extremist groups — in terms of lives and money.

U.S. officials, seeking to improve relations, have more recently lavished praise on Pakistan for its military offensives in the tribal areas and arrests of top Afghan Taliban leaders.

Over the past year, Pakistan”s military has challenged its homegrown militants with unprecedented force, and it has boosted its image by pushing the Taliban out of the Swat Valley and South Waziristan.

However, it has resisted U.S. pressure to take on insurgents in North Waziristan or in Punjab province, an area that is at the heart of Pakistan but is also the base of militant groups such as Lashkar-i-Taiba, suspected in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai.

“Somehow or another, there is always a Pakistani connection,” an intelligence official said. (ANI)

US to continue reassuring Pak that it faces no threat from India

Washington, Apr.30 (ANI): A top US official has said that Pakistan must recognise the fact that by taking on the Taliban and other extremist groups threatening its very existence, it is not exposing itself to any risk from India.

Michele Flournoy, the Under Secretary for Policy in the Department of Defence, told a Congressional hearing that Pakistan has moved 100,000 troops from its eastern border to bolster the anti-Taliban operation in the restive tribal areas, and that it must be reassured that it does not face any threat from India.

“We must continue to reassure Pakistan that as it combats the terrorist threat, it is not exposing itself to increased risk along its eastern border,” Flournoy told US lawmakers.

Just a day ago the Pentagon confirmed that Islamabad has shifted 100,000 troops from the Indian border to its western border, which marked a clear shift in its strategy.

The Pentagon told the Congress that the massive shift of troops is an acknowledgement of the fact that now terrorism and internal insurgency were posing the greatest threat to Pakistan.

“More than 100,000 troops were moved from the eastern border with India. This unprecedented deployment and thinning of the lines against India indicates that Islamabad has acknowledged its domestic insurgent threat. The Nation quoted the Pentagon, as saying in its latest periodic report to the Congress on Afghanistan.

Earlier, testifying before the House Armed Services Committee, Flournoy said Pakistan has also raised concerns over the increasing India-US relationship.

“A final hurdle, frankly, relates to the legacy of mistrust between the United States and Pakistan. Past US sanctions, past Pakistani concerns about the growing US-India relationship, its scepticism about US staying power in the region have made it a weary partner,” Flournoy said.

“Similarly, reports of Pakistan’s tolerance and support for some violent extremist groups have created scepticism on the US side,” she added. (ANI)

Four policemen killed, six injured in suicide attack on check post in NWFP

Peshawar, Apr.28 (ANI): The Taliban continues to target security forces in the restive tribal areas of Pakistan, as four policemen were killed and six wounded in a suicide attack near the Pir Bala police checkpost in the North West Frontier Province’s (NWFP) Bannu District on Wednesday.

The attackers rammed their explosive laden vehicle into the police checkpost resulting in the death of four security officials, a senior police official in Peshawar, Liaquat Ali, said.

The injured policemen have been admitted to a local hospital. The death toll may rise as the condition of some of those injured is stated to be critical, hospital sources said.

The explosion was so powerful that is destroyed the check post completely. Several nearby buildings were also damaged in the blast, The News reports.

Last week, militants targeted an Army convoy in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan killing seven soldiers and injuring 25 others.

Six vehicles were destroyed in the attack, which was said to have been carried out by supporters of a powerful Taliban commander Maulvi Saddiq Noor.

Noor belongs to the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, which had attacked a military convoy in Wecha Bibi area last year and killed 23 soldiers. (ANI)

Swat Taliban chief Fazlullah alive, living with impunity in Pak, claims spokesman

Peshawar, Apr.27 (ANI): Swat Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah has long been eluding Pakistani security forces, who apparently have no idea about his whereabouts, however, the extremist leader’s spokesperson has claimed that he is alive and in Pakistan itself.

Late last year, reports said that Fazlullah has crossed over to Afghanistan. Pakistani officials also claimed that he was wounded and was unlikely to survive.

However, Fazlullah’s spokesperson Omar Hasan Ahrabi has claimed that the militant leader was never injured and is in fine health.

Ahrabi said though Fazlullah was currently in Pakistan, he could cross over to Afghanistan whenever he wishes.

“I am in touch with him through handwritten letters. He is in our ‘watan’ (our homeland) and is able to cross over to Afghanistan whenever he wishes,” The News quoted Ahrabi, as saying.

The spokesman said that a new video of Fazlullah would be released soon to put to rest all speculations about his health.

Fazlullah, who is said to be in his early 30s, is the most wanted Taliban leader in Swat with a bounty 50 million rupees on his head.

Fazlullah’s whereabouts have long been a matter of speculation, but it is believed that he has taken refuge tribal areas, such as Mohmand or Orakzai in the restive Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). (ANI)

North East welcomes Right to Education policy

Guwahati, Apr 26 (ANI): The Union Government’s decision to make education a basic right for each child has been widely welcomed by people in the north-east.

Padumai Paishya (60) of Assam’s Jugashree Nagar village who has three children said she was happy that her grandchildren would be able to go to school, thanks to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.

“We are happy about the implementation of the New Act (Right To Education). We are poor people, how can we afford education for our children? There are financial constraints. Somehow, we manage to buy rice. How can we even think about education? So I am very happy about it,” Paishya said.

In India, about crore children under the age group of 6-14 do not go to school.

The Centre and States will to share the fiscal load in the ratio of 55:45 and the Finance Commission has provided Rs. 25,000 crore to the States.

For the Year 2010-11, the Centre has given an outlay of Rs. 15,000 crore.

The people in rural and tribal areas will get the maximum benefit.

“Due to poverty we could not study or send children to schools earlier, but now they go to schools and get free meals there. However, for sometime the quality of the food has not been good or it has not been available,” said Dipan Saha, a parent, Tripura

“Still what the government has decided is a great help for poor parents like us as under the Act our children are getting free education, text books and food,” he added.

“We are poor people but we have been encouraged to send our children to school as the centre has made many things free for student’s education,” said Pratima Biswas, a Parent, Tripura

In the northeast, the average literacy rate is between 60-70 per cent and, with the introduction of the Act, this will go up, especially in the rural areas.

“This is a very bright new chapter. Definitely, we are very much hopeful. Children of every family will get free education. We are happy with this. It’s like an eye opener to the country to improve the quality of education,” said Asa Khate, a teacher, Nagaland

Militancy has badly affected development and education in the northeast region in the past and with gradual decline, the thrust is on development of the region and providing employment to the youth, besides educating them. (ANI)

CIA turns to smaller drone missiles to minimize Pak civilian casualties: Report

Washington, Apr 26(ANI): The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is reportedly using new, smaller missiles and advanced surveillance techniques to minimize civilian casualties in its targeted killings of suspected insurgents in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

According to current and former officials in the United States and Pakistan, the technological improvements have resulted in more accurate operations, as the organisation seeks to minimize any political backlash from Pakistan and international human rights groups.

The officials believe that the new measures are being introduced to keep a strong alliance with the Pakistan Government, which has tolerated the air strikes killing hundreds of suspected insurgents since early 2009.

They also point to the relative absence of complaints from local and regional leaders, as evidence of the success of CIA’s efforts.

The CIA declines to publicly discuss its operations in Pakistan, but the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the drone campaign is both classified and controversial, The Washington Post reports.

According to CIA statistics, just over 20 civilians were killed in missile strikes since January 2009, in a 15-month period that witnessed over 70 drone attacks that killed 400 suspected terrorists and insurgents.

However, the New America Foundation puts the civilian death toll at 181 and reports a far higher number of alleged terrorists and insurgents killed – 690. (ANI)

Manmohan Singh calls for effective functioning of village councils to help tackle Maoist menace

New Delhi, Apr 24 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the effective functioning of Panchayati Raj Institutions or the village councils can help tackle the Maoist menace in remote and backward areas.

Dr Singh said that participation of panchayats in various development programmes was essential, as they understand the local needs.

“Panchayats not only make direct participation possible for the marginalised section of society in governance, but also play an important role in ensuring transparency and accountability in the functioning of government institutions and officials. Panchayats play a vital role in the development of a region through various schemes, as it better understands the local needs of the people,” said Dr Singh after inaugurating the national conference to celebrate the National Panchayati Raj Day.

“That is why in the 11th Five Year Plan, Panchayati Raj Institutions have been given important role. We have to give special attention to the country”s remote and most backward areas including the tribal areas where Panchayati Raj Institutions can play an effective role. This will help us in tackling the challenges such as the Maoist menace, he added.

Dr Singh appeared positive as he said the share to the Panchayats in tax collections given to them under the 13th Finance commission in the last budget, would give panchayats the status of local administrative units in real sense.

“Our government is fully aware of the challenges faced by panchayats. We always try to provide basic facilities to the Panchayati Raj Institutions and ensure funds, functions and functionaries for them, so that it can give a new shape to the services provided through the panchayats,” said Dr Singh.

“We also want to increase the capacity of the Panchayati Raj Institutions. One main thing in the facilities given by the 13th Finance commission as announced in the last budget is that the panchayats were given a share in taxes. This will give panchayats the status of local administrative units in real sense,” he added.

The Prime Minister also presented awards for Effective Implementation of Panchayats Empowerment and Accountability Incentive Scheme to the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Sikkim.

He also released a two-volume report for 2010 on the status of Panchayati Raj on the occasion that also witnessed the presence of Panchayati Raj Minister C P Joshi and A N P Sinha, the Secretary of Ministry of Pachayati Raj. (ANI)

ANALYSIS – No early Pakistan action seen on Lashkar-e-Taiba

Pakistan is unlikely to take on Lashkar-e-Taiba any time soon, since this could drive it into a dangerous alliance with the Pakistani Taliban and other al-Qaeda linked groups, security officials say.

That is a problem for India, which believes LeT not only runs its own sophisticated operations like the 2008 attack on Mumbai but is now encouraging disaffected Indian Muslims in the “Indian Mujahideen” to launch small-scale bomb attacks in Indian cities.

Security officials in Pakistan say the country needs to focus first on defeating Pakistani Taliban fighters in its tribal areas on the Afghan border rather than opening up a new front in its heartland Punjab province where Lashkar-e-Taiba is based.

“If you are so up to your neck in the tribal areas, would you like to open another front?” asked one security official.

Unlike other militant groups, LeT has been careful to avoid attacks within Pakistan itself, focusing on India and Indian Kashmir, and as a result has been left largely alone.

“LeT continues to operate almost with impunity in Pakistan,” said Rifaat Hussain, who heads the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

LeT — once nurtured by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fight India in Kashmir — is estimated to have between 2,000-3,000 gunmen and another 20,000 followers, many trained to fight and who could be mobilised against a crackdown.

The group could ultimately become a major risk for the West — LeT’s charitable wing has wide support and funding from the Pakistani diaspora — and even threaten Pakistan itself if it decided to try to impose its Islamist views across the country.

Yet Pakistani security officials argue success in its battle against militants depends on its ability to isolate the enemy.

“Do not do anything where all the threat comes together,” said one security official. “If we open a front against LeT in central Punjab what would happen? What political support would be there? What is your capability? If you do it, would you overcome the militants or would the militants take over?”

Instead, as with other Punjab-based militant organisations, Pakistan prefers to monitor their activities closely rather than take action which could drive them further underground and create splinter groups which could prove even more dangerous.

“We know who they are, and we try to keep an eye on them,” said another security official. “There is no official support.”


Others, however, say its suits Pakistan to retain an organisation which could be used against India in the event of war, or, some say, to repay in kind what it sees as Indian support for separatists in its Baluchistan province.

Indian security officials and analysts question whether Pakistan would really go after the LeT, regardless of timing, given what they see as close ties to the Pakistani security establishment.

After a lull following the Mumbai attack, analysts say LeT is again using the Indian Mujahideen — an organisation they say it has nurtured for years — in a fresh wave of small-scale urban bombings in India in recent months.

“The recent bombings in Bangalore and before that in Pune appear to have borne out fears that the Lashkar was facilitating the regrouping of the Indian Mujahideen,” said Praveen Swami, an Indian journalist who has extensively researched both groups.

This could prove an obstacle to a resumption of talks between India and Pakistan, broken off after the Mumbai attack.

“If we’re going to see a heightened bombing offensive leading into the Commonwealth Games (in Delhi in October), there’s obviously going to be a problem, even if the scale of the attacks do not precipitate an India-Pakistan crisis per se,” he said.

Some analysts have dubbed the new campaign the “Karachi project”, named after the Pakistani city where they say disaffected Indian Muslims are brought for training.

“The purpose of the project is to deploy Indian Muslims to carry out attacks in India using locally available bomb material so that the attacks are not traced back to Pakistan,” wrote Indian analyst Animesh Roul this month in the CTC Sentinel, published by the Combating Terrorism Center at U.S. military academy West Point.

Pakistani officials say India is blaming Pakistan for “home-grown terrorism” fueled by anger over communal violence in which the majority of victims have been Indian Muslims. For example, several thousand Indian Muslims died in 2002 in riots in the state of Gujarat.

Analysts in both countries also see it as part of a propaganda campaign — mostly aimed at Washington — in which India and Pakistan try to prove the other is the main cause of problems in the region.


Along with its alleged support for the Indian Mujahideen, LeT is believed to have fighters in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces, where U.S. forces have taken a beating from a scrum of different militant groups working together.

LeT has a history of involvement in Kunar and ran Kashmir training camps there for years, said Stephen Tankel, a U.S. researcher who is writing a book on the group.

“It’s questionable whether LeT is running its own operations there,” he said. “Its people are, however, taking part in training, recruiting, logistical support and fighting alongside other insurgent operations in and around Kunar.”

The group has also been linked to al Qaeda and, by Indian analysts, to February’s attack on Indian interests in Kabul.

Pakistani officials dismiss such talk as Indian propaganda and say any former LeT fighters involved in Afghanistan, or linked to al Qaeda, belong to splinter groups.

This argument about splintering is often offered by Pakistani security officials, and is commonly used to explain the Mumbai attack which they say was not endorsed by LeT founder Hafez Saeed.

It is an argument, however, that can cut both ways.

“You don’t get splintering in small organisations,” said Hussain at Quaid-i-Azam University. “You begin to splinter only when you are sprawling, when you are trying to become too big.”

(Editing by Chris Allbritton and Sanjeev Miglani)

(For more coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see:

US working with India on Af-Pak: Petraeus

The US is trying to reverse the momentum of the Taiban in Afghanistan and has been working actively with India with regard to the situation in the Af-Pak region, a top American General has said.

“It (India) is not in the title (of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke), but he has certainly had a lot of activity with our Indian partners,” General David Petraeus, Commander of the US Central Command, told Charlie Rose Show on the PBS.

Appreciative of the recent Pakistani military operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda along the Pak-Afghan border, Petraeus said the US forces in Afghanistan are trying to regain the momentum in the country.

“It (Taliban) has been resurgent. It did indeed have the momentum. And what we’re trying to do now is reverse that moment and take back areas they have been able to take control of,” Petraeus said.

The American General said that defeat of the Taliban in Kandahar is very important for victory in the war against terrorism.

“It really is the birthplace of the Taliban. It is also where the 9/11 attacks were originally conceived. That’s where they were planned. So it has enormous importance to the Taliban,” he said.

“It will not be a hub-to-hub offensive. This is not going to be something like the clearance of Ramadi or, say, southwestern Baghdad. This in fact is as much political as it is military,” he said.

Responding to a question on Pakistan, Petraeus said there has indeed been considerable progress by the Pakistani army and frontier corps against the Pakistani Taliban in the country’s northwest, including Swat and tribal areas, but clearly it is a very tough work.

“And again, the extremists there, the Pakistani Taliban and their confederates, have sought to fight back by doing what they do, which is carry out acts of indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians as they did before, as well, as they assassinated Benazir Bhutto and blew up visiting cricket teams and thousands and thousands of innocent Pakistani civilians and security force members,” he said.

Pak can play ‘pivotal’ role in war-torn Afghanistan: Gilani

Islamabad, Apr.20 (ANI): Pushing for playing a ‘greater’ role in Afghanistan, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that Islamabad can play a pivotal role in stabilising the war torn neighbouring country.

In an interview with French daily Le Figaro, Gilani stressed that a stable and peaceful Afghanistan was in Pakistan’s own interest.

He said Pakistan cannot be sidelined while charting out a solution for the Afghan issue, and underlined that the leadership of both countries wanted a ‘homemade’ solution to the impending issues.

Gilani also clarified that Islamabad doesn’t want to interfere in Kabul’s internal issues, rather it wants to help its troubled neighbour.

“Pakistan did not interfere in President Karzai’s elections,” he said.

Responding to a question over the notion regarding the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban, Gilani made it clear that no such gradations can be made.

“The terrorists have no religion, they are enemies of the humanity and we are against them,” Gilani said.

He also denounced reports that said Pakistan was not doing enough to crush militants flourishing on its soil, and claimed that the military operations in Swat, Malakand and South Waziristan were a huge success.

When asked about Pakistan-US’ objectives in the war against terrorism,Gilani said: “We have common objectives, terrorism and extremism, and we want to work together with the US.”

Commenting on Pakistan’s long-standing demand of unmanned armed aircraft and concerns regarding drone strikes in country’s ungoverned tribal areas, he said Pakistan had conveyed its concerns to the US, and the latter was looking into the issue.

“Our discussion is still going on but at the moment we are just discussing it and there is nothing concrete,” Gilani said while responding to a question over Islamabad’s consistent demand of a civil nuclear deal with Washington. (ANI)

NATO unsure of effectiveness of Pak Army’s Afghan counter-insurgency measures

London, Apr.17 (ANI): The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is unsure over the impact of Pakistan Army’s offensive in country’s restive tribal regions over its own counter-insurgency measures within Afghanistan.

Interacting with reporters ahead of the two-day NATO foreign ministers conference, which will take place in Estonian capital Tallin next week, NATO spokesperson James Appathurai admitted that operations against the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are ‘difficult’.

When asked whether the Pakistan Army’s offensive against extremists in the lawless tribal areas have been of any help to the NATO’s own anti-terror operation in Afghanistan, Appathurai said : “I have not seen an answer to that question.”

Responding to a question regarding Islamabad’s proposal to train Afghan forces, he said it was upto both countries to decide.

Appathurai also pointed out that the NATO was facing a shortage of trainers for the Afghan security forces.

“The organisation needs at least 500 trainers,” The Daily Times quoted Appathurai, as saying. (ANI)