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China blocks India’s bid to sanction Masood Azhar again

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s decision to once again block the proposal to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist under the “1267 regime” has triggered a sharp reaction from India.China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move with a six-month technical hold followed by a three- month extension. Officials here say that India may have to apply again to the 1267 Committee with charge sheet details to press for its case as its present application will lapse following Beijing’s two technical holds.Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup termed Beijing’s decision as an “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.India had approached the UN in February to include Azhar (for his link with al Qaeda) in the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list in the aftermath of the January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot air base by JeM terrorists. The resolution will now go into cold storage, till a fresh listing is demanded by a UN Security Council member.He said that the international community is aware that JeM, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India, including the one on Pathankot air base. “The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism,” he said.Swarup further said that China’s decision is surprising as it has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism. “As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation,” he added. India had expected China to be more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism.Earlier also, India had expressed anger at the working methods at the UNSC, which is based on the principles of unanimity. Following the attack on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other associated groups in 1999, the Security Council passed a resolution known as “Resolution 1267” or “1267 Regime” under Article 41 of the UN, which established a sanction regime to cover individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda, Laden and/or the Taliban.The 1267 Resolution reads as follows: “The Security Council may decide what measures, not involving armed forces, are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”The resolution requires countries to immediately freeze funds, financial assets or economic resources of individuals and entities designated by the UNSC with terrorism and terrorist financing.China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application.

China blocks proposal at UN to list Masood Azhar as terrorist; India dismayed at ‘double standards’

New Delhi: China on Friday finally blocked India’s proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief and Pathankot mastermind Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist by the UN, triggering a sharp reaction from New Delhi which termed it as “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.

With China blocking India’s proposal, which was submitted in February to the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, New Delhi has to make a fresh listing request for Azhar to be banned by the global body, officials said.

After its submission, China twice imposed “technical” hold on the Indian proposal.

File photo of Azhar Masood. Reuters

File photo of Masood Azhar. Reuters

However, India said it will continue to push forward with resolute determination “through the use of all options available with us to bring perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice”.

Asserting that its submission received the strong backing of all other members of the 15-member Sanctions Committee, External Affairs Ministry said, “We note with concern China’s decision to block the proposal to list Masood Azhar…”

The international community is aware that the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed which is proscribed by the United Nations, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India including the Pathankot Air Base attack.

“The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.”

MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said the decision by Beijing is surprising as China itself has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism.

“As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation. We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and would join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:10 IST

From setback in Kashmir to finalising Rafale deal: Mixed year for armed forces in 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Signing of long-pending deals including one for Rafale fighters, a logistics agreement with the US, new blacklisting and defence procurement policies besides induction of indigenous nuclear submarine were some of the achievements of the defence ministry in 2016, which was a mixed year for the armed forces.The high point for the military was the daring surgical strike carried out by the special forces on terror launch pads across the LoC it lost a number of soldiers during the year. Jammu and Kashmir alone saw over 80 security personnel being killed while countering Pakistan’s proxy war. The army managed to eliminate about 160 militants in the state including the poster boy of militancy Burhan Wani.Many security personnel were also killed fighting armed insurgency. Deadly attacks on the Pathankot air base, and army camps in Uri and Nagrota were a setback that led to the loss of several lives.The armed forces also had a mixed year when it came to administration and compensation issues. While the government drastically increased the ex-gratia for the armed forces, the 7th Pay Commission recommendations and a controversial letter on parity with their civilian counterparts for administrative duties left a bad taste.The decision of the government to bypass the long-followed principle of seniority when it came to selecting an army also led to lot of heartburns in the military especially the Armoured Corps. But one thing that the armed forces seemed to be most happy with was Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s push for modernisation. Even as the government brought in a new defence procurement policy emphasising on ‘Make in India’ and a blacklisting policy offering a mixture of heavy fines and graded punishment rather than blanket blacklisting, the Ministry moved fast on procurements.A lot many deals pending for years were cleared by the Defence Ministry besides giving nod to many other proposals. The biggest deal to be struck during 2016 was the one for 36 Rafale fighter jets for 7.8 billion Euros. The file for a medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) was first moved in 2000. The Narendra Modi-led government had in 2015 agreed to go in for 36 Rafales in a direct deal with France while terminating the original tender for 126 MMRCA. The aircraft, equipped with latest weapons including the 150 KM range beyond visual range missile ‘Meteor’, can even carry nuclear bombs, will add to the strategic assets of the country. Another big move was the induction of the indigenously developed nuclear submarine Arihant. The government has still not officially announced the induction.The understanding between India and Russia to lease a second nuclear submarine was another important strategic move. The terms and conditions are still being worked out. The Inter-Governmental Agreement on the purchase of S400 Triumf air defence system is also a big development even though the nitty gritty are yet to be worked out. The decision to finally induct the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas was also a big move. India and Russia restarted talks on the fifth generation fighter aircraft programme after a hiatus of about a year.The contract for the purchase of M777 light weight howitzers was also welcomed by the army which will deploy most of them along the borders with China. The M777 was the first artillery deal cleared by the Indian government since the Bofors scandal of late 1980s. To ensure better deployment of these guns, the ministry also struck a deal for 15 heavy lift Chinook helicopters.Giving the IAF yet another fillip to its strength, 2016 saw signing of a deal with the US for 22 Apache attack helicopters. The signing of the much-debated logistics agreement with the US was also an important development. The UPA government had refused to sign it but Parrikar went along after the US rewrote the agreement as per India’s conditions. Even though the Defence Ministry was not directly involved, investigating agencies carried out raids against a number of defence middlemen while cases were registered against some staying abroad in connection with alleged corruption.Another big development that came towards the end of 2016 was the successful fourth test of the indigenously developed inter-continental nuclear capable missile Agni V that has a range to cover entire China. The missile is now ready for user trials and eventual induction into the Strategic Forces Command.

Islamic State, Pakistan-sponsored terrorism keep NIA on its toes

New Delhi: Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the Islamic State trying to weave its terror network in India kept the National Investigation Agency (NIA) busy throughout 2016.

The year began with one of the most audacious terror attacks on India when four Pakistani terrorists stormed the India Air Force (IAF) base in Pathankot on 2 January and killed seven soldiers.

The NIA, formed in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, quickly sprang into action and traced links of the attack to Pakistan, blaming Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar for masterminding the strike that brought the improving New Delhi-Islamabad ties back to square-one.

Within months, the anti-terror probe agency filed a detailed charge sheet nailing Azhar and three of his accomplices for their detailed and meticulous planning of the attack.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

But the agency drew flak when the government allowed a Joint Investigation Team (JIT), which included an ISI officer, from Pakistan to visit the sensitive Pathankot military base to probe the incident.

Days after it took over the Pathankot probe, the NIA laid its hands on evidence of the Islamic State trying to expand its presence in India by radicalising youth as potential terrorists.

On 22 and 23 January, over two dozen raids were conducted across the country. Eighteen Islamic State suspects were arrested. Nine more, including a foreigner, were later held in separate raids in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The agency filed a charge sheet in June alleging that Islamic State sympathisers were seeking to establish an Islamist caliphate in India — Junoodul-Khilafa-Fil-Hind — and recruit Muslim youth to terrorism at the behest of Syria-based Shafi Armar alias Yusuf-Al-Hindi.

According to the NIA, Armar, a resident of Karnataka’s Bhatkal district and a senior Islamic State leader managing India recruitment, was in touch with the accused through social media networks.

He trained them how to prepare IEDs, identify training venues and provide logistics support for terror strikes.

However, the agency found itself in the midst of a controversy for going soft on alleged right-wing Hindu terror. On 13 May, it submitted the second and final report in the 29 September 2008, Malegaon bomb blast that killed six persons. The bombing was earlier blamed on the Abhinav Bharat group led by Sadhvi Pragya Thakur and Lt. Col. Srikant Purohit.

The Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, which was earlier probing the bombing, had filed charges against the two main accused in the attack. The NIA took over the case in 2011. And its chargesheet this year gave a clean chit to Thakur and watered down the case against Purohit.

The agency got one of its major successes when a Bengaluru court convicted 13 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in a 2012 conspiracy to kill prominent leaders, journalists and police officers in Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Another success came when a special court awarded the death sentence to five Indian Mujahideen operatives for their role in the 21 February 21 2013, Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad, twin-blast case that claimed 18 lives.

In all, the NIA registered 33 cases in 2016. Twelve of them were related to Islamic State sympathisers, three against JeM, two of regarding counterfeit currency notes, two of Maoists and two more on terror incidents in northeastern India.

The agency also registered a case against controversial preacher and Islamic Research Foundation founder Zakir Naik on charges of misusing donations to radicalise youth.

The year also witnessed an unprecedented second extension given to NIA chief Sharad Kumar, making him the first Director General of the agency to be re-employed twice after his superannuation in 2015.

First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 09:21 IST

India needs about 200-250 fighter aircrafts to maintain combat edge: IAF chief Arup Raha

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Outgoing IAF chief Arup Raha on Wednesday made it clear that just 36 Rafale fighter jets would not suffice as India needs about 200-250 more fighters to maintain its combat edge over adversaries.The Air Chief Marshal, who is set to retire on December 31, also rued that the tender for the much needed “force multiplier” mid air refuellers had to be withdrawn. He said a fresh tender is in the offing and the procurement will be speeded up. Underlining that the teeth of any air force is the combat fleet, Raha said that the country needs another production line besides the Tejas. He explained that the strength sanctioned by the government is 42 squadrons “which was a numerical value. He said what is needed “is also a capability mix”.Raha said India has enough of heavy weight fighters – the Su30 MKI – which will last for another 30-40 years. He said the light weight spectrum would be served by the 123 Tejas light combat aircraft ordered by the IAF.Terming Rafale as an excellent aircraft, Raha said it comes in the medium weight spectrum. “It is tremendously capable in all its role. It is a multi-role aircraft and can be used very effectively. It can prove its worth in any situation,” Raha said. “But we have just ordered 36 aircraft and we require more aircraft in this middle weight category to give entire spectrum of capability,” he said. Raha said a void has been created in the past because of obsolescence and many of the squadrons will be past their use-by date. “We have already used them for four decades plus. It is time to retire them and get new aircraft,” he said adding this void has to be filled up quickly and 36 Rafale aircraft “will not do as we require much more”. “Over the next 10 years, we must have 200-250 aircraft. It has to be balanced out. In the heavy weight spectrum, we have enough. But in the medium weight category, we need to have more. Yes, about 200 will be very good,” he said. India and France finally signed the Rafale deal on September 23 this year, over a year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the deal during his Paris visit in April 2015. The planes, equipped with latest weapons and tailored for Indian needs, will be delivered to the IAF between September 2019 and April 2022. The IAF currently has 33 fighter squadrons, against the sanctioned 42.Raha also rued that IAF’s Russian-origin Ilyushin-78 tanker fleet was plagued by maintenance problems and more midair refuellers were a “strategic requirement” to extend the range of fighter planes. IL-78 fleet had served the IAF well but its availability for missions has been less due to maintenance problems. India floated a global tender for six midair refuellers in 2007 but it has been scrapped twice in the final stages. “Sadly, there have been some problem areas in the acquisition. A new tender will be out soon,” Raha said.The air chief said the terrorist attack on the Pathankot air base and the An-32 crash in which 29 people were killed were “the worst memories of my career”. “We have flown in the fighter fleet 40,000 hrs, more than last 10 years due to better serviceability. We have done an average night flying of 27 per cent which was less earlier,” he said speaking about the achievements under his tenure.

2016: Pathankot, Kashmir unrest, president rule in Uttarakhand, Arunachal kept home ministry busy

New Delhi: Cross-border firing incidents, crackdown on “erring” NGOs and activities of Pakistan-based terror groups kept the Home Ministry busy in 2016 which saw the audacious attack on Pathankot airbase. Imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and subsequent revocation by the Supreme Court in both the states, over 120 days of unrest in Jammu and Kashmir following killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani were some other issues that the ministry had to deal with.

The year saw prolonged tension along the India-Pakistan border due to fierce firing from Pakistani forces on Indian security posts and civilian areas forcing Home Minister Rajnath Singh to tell BSF not to count bullets if fired upon by Pakistan and give a “befitting” reply. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists carried out the strike at the Pathankot airbase, killing seven personnel and injuring 37 others. In its charge sheet, the NIA said JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others hatched the conspiracy.

The terror case saw an unusual move from India and Pakistan as Islamabad sent its probe team to Pathankot. However, the Pakistani team, upon its return, claimed India did not cooperate with them. Islamabad reciprocated by refusing to allow an Indian investigating team to visit Pakistan in connection with the Pathankot attack probe.

Union Home MInister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Union Home MInister Rajnath Singh. PTI

Not taking it lightly, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his visit to Pakistan for a Saarc meeting, delivered a blunt message to Islamabad asking it to stop encouraging terror groups and “glorification” of terrorists and also called for “strongest action” against nations supporting terrorism and their isolation.

The Home Ministry was also engaged in the fire-fight to control the unrest in Kashmir Valley arising after the killing of Wani on 8 July. For next four months, Kashmir Valley saw large-scale protests against Wani’s killing, complete shutdown of educational institutions, market and offices, thus badly affecting normal life.

The home minister himself led two all-party delegations and met cross sections of people, in an effort to bring peace in the restive Kashmir Valley. The Home Ministry, on behalf of the central government, was busy with handling the situation following imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

However, the central rule in both the states was set aside by the Supreme Court, leading to the Home Ministry receiving flak from various quarters.

The year also saw massive crackdown on NGOs, including on Greenpeace India, Islamic Research Foundation, founded by controversial preacher Zakir Naik, activist Teesta Setalvad’s two NGOs and one run by noted lawyer Indira Jaising, by the Ministry for their alleged violation of various provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.

Notwithstanding the crackdown on NGOs, a total of Rs 1,452 crore foreign funds was received by various voluntary organisations during 2014-15. As many as 11,319 NGOs were derecognised by the Home Ministry in October after they failed to renew their registration under the FCRA.

In addition, the Centre also denied renewal of FCRA registration to 25 NGOs after they were allegedly found to be involved in anti-national activities. Later, during a review of the Foreigners Division of the Home Ministry, it was conveyed to Singh that licences of around 20,000 of 33,000 NGOs were cancelled by the government after they were found to be allegedly violating various provisions of the FCRA, thus barring them from receiving foreign funds.

Situation in northeastern states was by-and-large peaceful except in Manipur where blockade on two national highways by a Naga group against creation of seven new districts disrupted normal life, and led to rise in prices of essential commodities and violence in some parts of the state.

Violence perpetrated by Naxals were contained considerably and there were fewer incidents in some of the worst-hit areas of the 10 states affected by the menace. There were some incidents of online radicalisation by dreaded terror group Islamic State and reports of some youths desiring to join its network.

The Home Ministry feels that though Islamic State has not taken roots in India, it is influencing youths through Internet and social media. According to an estimate prepared by the intelligence agencies, at least 30 Indians have gone to Islamic State-held areas in Iraq-Syria to fight for the terrorist group after they were radicalised online, forcing security forces to keep a close eye on social media outlets and some radical websites.

At least six of them were killed in the conflict zone and 30 other Indians, who were radicalised by Islamic State elements, were prevented from travelling to West Asia.

First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 12:07 IST

Won’t prejudge Chinese action on UN resolution on Masood Azhar: India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Amidst stiff Chinese opposition to banning of Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar by the UN, India on Friday said it does not want to “prejudge” the outcome at the expiry of the current “hold” by Beijing next weekend.External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also reiterated that India’s case against Azhar was very strong and there was no logic in not designating him a terrorist while his outfit- JeM- is proscribed by the United Nations since 2001. Asked what will India do if China sticks to its position and continue with its “hold” beyond the expiry of current extension, he said, “Let’s not prejudge the outcome of what happens…We will of course plan our strategy based on the outcome on that particular day.”Last week, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang in Beijing had said, “As for India’s application for Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and listing issue pursuant to resolution of 1267 (to list Masood as terrorist), China’s position remains unchanged.” China had in October extended its “technical hold” on India’s move to get Azhar banned by the UN. The current extension will expire this month-end and if China does not raise further objection, the resolution designating Azhar a terrorist could stand passed automatically.On NIA charge sheeting Azhar and others in the Pathankot attack and how India can get him from Pakistan in the absence of an extradition treaty between the two countries, Swarup said there are certain channels which were available but refused to give any further details.

Some forces trying to create disturbances in Punjab: Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday said some forces are trying to fulfill their “nefarious designs” of creating disturbance in Punjab and that the intelligence agencies are fully alert.”Our intelligence agencies are fully alert and keeping a close eye on activities of some anti-national forces. We would not allow the peace of the state to be disturbed,” he said.The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs was addressing media after laying foundation of the complex of the 7th Battalion of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Ludhiana.The Punjab government has provided 51 acres of land free of cost at the outskirts of the city at Ladhowal for the project. An amount of Rs 200 crore would be spent on the complex and its infrastructure, Rijiju said. He said that the NDRF was one of the best forces in the world.Commenting on the Centre’s demonetization move, Rijiju said that the policy had broken the backbone of terrorist fundings.Asked about terrorist attacks on the Army and paramilitary forces, he said the vigilance and security on the international borders has been made very tight. “The incidents of attack on the Army in Kashmir is a desperate attempt by insurgents,” he said.The border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have come under a series of terror attacks this year.On the NIA filing chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase attack, the MoS said the Centre would pressurise Pakistan to extradite the perpetrators of terror to India. “India will seek the help and support of other countries for the purpose because all the countries are facing heat of terrorism,” he said.Wrapping up investigations in the Pathankot airbase attack case, NIA had on Monday filed a charge sheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January 2 audacious terror strike in the state that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.

India renews efforts to seek UN action against LeT, JeM, their ‘shadowy supporters’

United Nations: India has renewed its demand for international action against Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror groups and “their shadowy supporters”.

Denouncing the two organisations, whose leadership is based in Pakistan, as affiliates of Al Qaeda, India’s Permanent Representative Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council that it was imperative to take action against the support they get from outside.

File image of Syed Akbaruddin. IBNliveFile image of Syed Akbaruddin. IBNlive

File image of Syed Akbaruddin. IBNlive

In an implied criticism of China, he blamed the “split” in the UN bodies that mete out sanctions on terrorist organisations for the world body’s inability to deal with the terrorism.

China has blocked India’s efforts to have international sanctions imposed on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar by a committee that takes action against Al Qaeda and its affiliates. Azhar was behind the attack on the Pathankot air force base this year that left seven Indian soldiers dead.

As a member of the Security Council, China has also provided cover for Pakistan releasing on bail Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the LeT commander who masterminded the 2008 attack on Mumbai which killed more than 160 people. He was already on the UN list of those facing sanctions as terrorists.

“We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organizations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, AI Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” Akbaruddin said.

“While the Taliban sanctions regime remains split for more than five years, the designated terrorist group makes concerted effort to capture and hold territory,” he said.

“Therefore, for numerous Afghan women, men and children there is no respite from the plague of terrorism.”

The international community has to make “it clear that we will neither roll over in the face of terror, nor will we of allow the roll back of the achievements of the resolute people and government of Afghanistan in the last decade and a half,” Akbaruddin said.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 14:46 IST

India warns Pakistan at UN, says ‘what you sow will bear fruit’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) filled a charge sheet against against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in the Pathankot attack, India took on Pakistan at the United Nations and called on the hostile neighbour to leave behind its ways of terrorism, with the warning saying that, ‘what you sow will bear fruit’.Speaking at the United Nations Security Council, India’s permanent envoy to the UN Syed Akbaruddin in a veiled attack on Pakistan, said that safe havens being provided to terrorists must be dealt with in order to bring sustainable peace. “We need to address, as an imperative, the support that terrorist organisations like the Taliban, Haqqani Network, Daesh, Al-Qaeda and its designated affiliates such as Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed which operate entirely outside the fabric of international law draw from their shadowy supporters outside Afghanistan,” he said.Quoting poet Rumi, Akbaruddin said “what you sow will bear fruit. If you’ve any sense my friend, don’t plant anything but peace,” which seemed to be a clear message to Islamabad to refrain from stooping to terrorism.The NIA on Monday filed a chargesheet in the NIA special court against senior commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammed including its Chief Maulana Masood Azhar, for their involvement in the terrorist attack at Pathankot Airbase on 2nd January, 2016.The NIA has filed charge sheet against four accused persons namely:1. Maulana Masood Azhar: Chief of the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), resident of Bahawalpur, Pakistan.2. Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar: Deputy Chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad and brother of Maulana Masood Azhar, resident of Bahawalpur, Pakistan.3. Shahid Latif: launching commander, resident of Mor Aminabad, Gujranwala, Pakistan.4. Kashif Jan: main handler of Pathankot attackers, resident of Charsada, Pakistan.They have been charged for commission of offences under sections 120B, 121, 121A, 302, 307, 364, 365, 367, 368, 397 of the Indian Penal Code, sections 16, 18, 20, 23, 38 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, section 25, 27 of the Arms Act, 1959, Sections 3(b) of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and section 4 of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, in the chargesheet.It was established during investigation that the terrorists entered into a criminal conspiracy to infiltrate into the territory of India and to commit terrorist attack and wage war against the Government of India.In pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy, the accused persons, their leaders, handlers and co-conspirators including but not limited to Maulana Masood Azhar, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar, Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif, set up training camps in Pakistan and the PoK area, for recruitment and training of terrorists, in order to carry out terror attacks on the Indian soil.

NIA chargesheet details how Pathankot Air Base attack unfolded

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed a chargesheet in connection with the January 2nd Pathankot airbase attack, naming Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and three others of the proscribed outfit as accused. The development comes in the midst of a diplomatic rift between India and China after the latter stonewalled Indian efforts to get UN sanctions against Azhar and JeM.The agency has showcased evidences against the JeM that include DNA samples collected from the four slain Pakistani nationals, footprints of one of the terrorists obtained from Bamiyal, packages of food and drinks consumed by the slain men from the sites, and cars which they used before entering the Air Base. Among other evidences is a note which the NIA says was from Mahindra XUV vehicle recovered which read, “Jaish E Muhamad Zindabad Tanghdar se le kar Samba Kathua Rajbagh Aur delhi tak Afzal Guru Shadeed Kay Jan nisar Tum ko meltay rahege. Insha Allah. A.G.S. 25- 12-15” which translates to ‘Long live Jaish-e-Mohammad. From Samba, Kathua, Rajbagh (areas in Jammu and Kashmir) to Delhi, you will find men willing to lay their lives for Martyr Afzal Guru.’The slip was signed off on December 25,2015 as AGS shot for Afzal Guru Squad.The NIA-led probe has established that four Pakistani Nationals who attacked the air base belonged to the recently formed Afzal Guru Squad which works under the JeM command based in Pakistan.While the chargesheet could likely be used by Indian diplomats to highlight the role of Azhar in the Pathankot attack at international forums, the probe has revealed startling details about the attack that claimed lives of seven security personnel during an 80-hour long stand-off inside the Indian Air Force station located in Punjab’s Pathankot area.The chargesheet states that the four Pakistani nationals identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) of Pakistan respectively.All the men had infiltrated into India through the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost on 30th December at 2 am which means almost two days before the attack. According to NIA, the terrorists, were not only successful in avoiding getting traced from 2am on December 30 till January 1 early morning (when they entered into the air base), but also avoided detection for almost a day after hiding themselves in a ‘nallah’ inside the base. In fact, one of the men named Nasir made calls from inside the base waiting to launch the attack.The first call was made at 8.40 am to a man named Khayam Bhatti who, according to NIA, runs a local merchandise shop shop in Rum area of Sialkot in Pakistan. The conversation did not take place so Nasir called again on a different Pakistani number an hour later and requested to speak to his mother.”While speaking to the lady addressed as his mother, Nasir asked her to record his conversation on the mobile set. During his conversation with her, Nasir mentioned about one “Ustad” who was supposed to come to her with his “Wasihat” after his death. Nasir also asked her to host a “dawat” (feast) for his “derawala friends” after his death. The terrorist, Nasir also took the names of some of the members in his family / relatives, viz, Mudassir, Mariyam and Altamash, in the conversation. Nasir also disclosed that they were hiding inside the Air Force Station (referred to as Camp in conversation) and waiting to carry out the terror attack,”NIA said.NIA findings are however yet to find coherence with that of the NSG, which has maintained that not four but six militants had attacked the Air Force station.Moreover, Salwinder Singh, the Gurdaspur superintendent of police (SP), who, on December 31, was allegedly abducted by the same group of JeM militants, has been given a clean chit in the NIA probe after being on the scanner of the agency for several months. The agency has established that the claims made by Singh were founded and suggested that the JeM were not aware of the fact that Salwinder wasa a cop. It was only after his associate Rajesh Verma told them that they came to know about his profession

After Pathankot, JeM chief Masood Azhar owns up Nagrota attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as India names Jaish-e-Mohammad chief in the charge sheet for master-minding attack on an Indian Airforce base in Pathankot earlier this year, Maulana Masood Azhar continues to freely run the terror group’s online publication and brazenly claim responsibility for last month’s attack on another military camp in Nagrota from Pakistan.Following an 11-month investigation, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has named Azhar and his brother JeM’s deputy chief Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar both resident of Bahawalpur, Pakistan along with six other members of the terrorist group for planning and carrying an attack in Pathankot on January 2. This is the first time India has charge-sheeted Azhar on terror offence, following his release in exchange of victims of Kandahar hijack.Since the Pathankot attack, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz claimed that Azhar was under ‘protective custody’ since January 2014. But this has not restricted the head of the proscribed terror group to propagate jihad against India or own credit for the attacks by its cadres. Earlier this month, writing in the December 6 issue of al Qalam weekly—an online media arm of the JeM— Azhar talks about significance of Babri Masjid demolition and hanging of Afzal Guru in the continuance of jihad, demonetization not impacting funding of militancy and the Nagrota attack.”This week’s publication was delayed as the attack in Nagrota was still in action at the time of writing and communication failure (on details of the attack) from Kashmir,” Azhar wrote under his pen name Saadi. On November 29, three militants entered the army camp in Nagrota killing seven personnel. The militants left behind posters claiming the attack as a revenge for hanging of Afzal Guru.Elaborating on the attack in the ‘heart of the Northern Command of the Indian Army’, Azhar says the attack was carried by the Afzal Guru squad involving five militants and two of them managed to escape to safety. “There were three security cordons around the camp… it is not easy and inexpensive to gain entry and set the stage for the attack.” He indicates that the squad was helped by people with close knowledge on the geography of the camp and who are its frequent visitors, as any strange man walking a few steps could be caught and killed by the Army.Addressing an important aspect, on where did the money to buy equipment or prepare for the attack come from, Azhar says the demonetization of high currency denomination has not deterred the Kashmiri mujaheeds nor has impacted the funding for militancy. The money changers and industrialists, Azhar says were aware of demonetization before its public announcement by PM Narendra Modi. “The Kashmiri Mujahideen, Maoists and Khalistan fighters will not suffer any financial hardship. We are able to get the small currency by exchanging dollars, pounds and euro easily. The Nagrota attack is an evidence for this.”Invoking the demolition of Babri Masjid and Afzal Guru’s death, Azhar says these two events have shaped the narrative of `Ghazwa-e-Hind’ or the jihad against India. “India could’ve stopped the demolition of Babri Masjid, but it did not. It could have stopped the hanging of Guru, but it did not. There is now no power in India that can stop their revenge.”The Indian government is desperately trying to include Azhar on the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list and subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban. JeM is already proscribed by the UNSC in 2001 for its terror activities and links to the al-Qaeda. China has so far vetoed India’s appeal to that would declare him as an international terrorist.THE JAISH HAND IN 2016January 2: 4 JeM militants attack Pathankot Air Force baseMay 20: 5 JeM militants killed in an encounter, KupwaraMay 23: 2 JeM cadres killed in Lal Chowk, SrinagarAugust 17: Three JeM militants ambush an Army convoy in Baramulla killing 2 army menSeptember 18: DGMO announces JeM militants attack Army camp in Uri (though NIA and other agencies claim Lashar-e-Taiba for the attack)November 29: Three militants entered Army camp in Nagrota dressed in Army fatigues.Posters claiming revenge for Afzal Guru recovered. Five army personnel killed.

Pathankot attack: Process to extradite Masood Azhar will begin soon, says Kiren Rijiju

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The process of extradition of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others will begin soon with the filing of a charge sheet by the NIA in connection with terror attack at Pathankot airbase, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Monday. “A total of eight people were involved in the terror attack at Pathankot. Four are dead and four are alive and living in Pakistan. Since the charge sheet has been filed, the process of extraditing them from Pakistan will begin with the issuance of Interpol Red Corner Notice,” he told reporters here. Rijiju termed the filing of the charge sheet at the NIA court at Panchkula as a “huge break through”.The Minister of State for Home said since Pakistan is “incorrigible”, India has to put pressure on the neighbouring country to extradite the four persons living in Pakistan on the basis of the evidence gathered by the NIA. “Pakistan is already under pressure. The World knows that these two brothers are living in Pakistan and doing all kinds of terror acts,” he said. NIA today filed a charge sheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January two audacious terror strike that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.The charge sheet was filed in the NIA court at Panchkula in which all the four have been slapped with charges under Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Besides Azhar, his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar and two handlers — Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan — have been named in the exhaustive charge sheet. While Interpol Red Corner Notice against three has been issued, the same was pending against Jan, the NIA said.

FBI, US Dept of Justice officials named witness in NIA’s Pathankot charge sheet

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six protected persons, a jailed terrorist and officials of Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Department of Justice figure as witnesses in the charge sheet filed by NIA in the January 2 Pathankot air base attack.The NIA, which named Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar and three others as accused, submitted scientific, oral and technical evidences before the special NIA court at Panchkula in Chandigarh. Among the list of witnesses is Mohammed Sadeek alias Muviya, a resident of Ghalotiakalan in Pakistan’s Sialkot district and Abdul Rahman Mogul, a resident of Polas village of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir’s Poonch district. These two witnesses had helped in identifying voices and a couple of bodies of the Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who had carried out attack at the strategic IAF base in which seven personnel were killed and 37 others injured.NIA has submitted statement of six witnesses in a sealed cover before the court and prayed before the court that the names of these people should be kept secret under section 44(3) of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Section 17 of National Investigation Agency Act (Protection of witnesses). The list of witnesses also names a Special Agent of FBI and an official of US Department of Justice who had executed the Indian request sent under Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty for getting the details from Facebook and other websites on which Jaish had uploaded an audio file claiming responsibility for the attack.
ALSO READ Pathankot airbase attack: NIA files chargesheet, names Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood AzharBesides Azhar, the NIA has named his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asgar and two handlers of four terrorists — Kashif Jaan and Shahid Latif in the charge sheet. There is no mention of Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, his cook Madan Gopal and his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma in the list of witnesses. Their vehicle was hijacked by four terrorists. While Singh and Gopal were released in a jungle, the terrorists had slit the throat of Verma, who managed to get immediate medical aid after the four terrorists abandoned him.

Pathankot terror attack: NIA names JeM chief Masood Azhar and brother Rauf Asghar in chargesheet

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed a chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase terror attack, naming Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and three others of his organisation as accused.

In a comprehensive chargesheet filed at Panchkula Special Court about a year after attack, NIA has highlighted the role of terror group JeM in spreading mayhem in India and referred to the nefarious plans of the outfit, sources said.

The chargesheet which also named Azhar’s brother Rauf Asghar as accused, alleged that immediately after the Pathankot incident, he had hosted a video message claiming responsibility for the terror strike and glorified the role of Azhar, who was released in exchange for passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999.

The chargesheet is likely to be used by India at various international fora to highlight the role of Masood Azhar in Pathankot terror strike carried out on 2 January this year.

Launching of a diplomatic offensive against the JeM and its chief Masood Azhar has become imperative after China continued to stonewall efforts of India to get UN sanctions against the terrorist and his group.

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

The Home Ministry had given sanction to NIA to file the chargesheet against Azhar, his brother and the two handlers — Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif – of the four terrorists, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention)Act (UAPA).

The four terrorists, after entering India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike at Pathankot IAF base killing eight people including seven personnel of IAF and National Security Guard (NSG).

The chargesheet named four terrorists involved in the attack.

According to NIA, the terrorists, who were killed after two days of gunfight, were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum and they were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) of Pakistan respectively.

The chargesheet includes evidence of linking the footprints of one of the terrorists obtained from Bamiyal besides matching of DNA sample found from a soft drink can in the hijacked car of Punjab Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh, the sources said.

The Pathankot terror strike had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan also arriving in India for carrying out a probe.

However, the Pakistani team, upon their return, claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved in dealing with the attack.

First Published On : Dec 19, 2016 12:38 IST

Pathankot airbase attack: NIA files chargesheet, names Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed a chargesheet in connection with the Pathankot airbase terror attack, and named Pakistan-based jihadi group​ Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.Three other JeM terrorists have also been named in the chargesheet filed in Panchkula special court, reported PTI.In a pre-dawn attack on January 2, a group of heavily- armed Pakistani terrorists, suspected to be belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit, struck at the Air Force base in Pathankot.The evidence is said to include some voice recordings and the cellular phone numbers of the attackers’ handlers which were traced to Pakistan.The attack occurred just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a ‘surprise’ visit to Sharif on his birthday on December 25 and the occasion of his granddaughter’s wedding — a move that appeared to bring the promise of better ties between the two countries in the future.However, despite the Pathankot visit of the five-member JIT team of Pak Punjab government headed by CTD Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tahir Rai, no progress has been made in the investigation so far.

India using ‘flimsiest of reasons to avoid talks, sabotaging efforts’: Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has accused India of “sabotaging” efforts to normalise relations and using “flimsiest of reasons” to avoid talks, as it called on New Delhi to show “seriousness” in resolving the Kashmir issue. “The trajectory (of ties) has been down the slope. India has tried to do everything to sabotage every goodwill gesture that we made towards normalising relations,” Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said.Asked about why the two countries could not resume talks in 2016, Zakaria alleged that India was using “flimsiest of reasons to avoid talks”. “Every time there is prospect for talks, they come up with a new excuse. They want to suppress Kashmiris and use Pakistan card and border tension to hide their crimes against humanity” in Kashmir and also for “playing domestic politics”, he claimed.Asked if 2017 will be better for bilateral ties, the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman said it depends on the “Indian attitude, Indian intransigence and Indian behaviour to improve the security situation in the region”. “Most importantly, they should also immediately stop the bloodshed in Kashmir,” he said. “India should show that it is ready for talks. It should show seriousness to resolve Kashmir,” Zakaria said.Noting that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said on the sidelines of Heart of Asia summit in Pakistan last year that peace process would continue and no incident would be able to derail the talks, Zakaria said since the Pathankot attack, India has been using it as a pretext to “run away from talks”. “Though, they have no proof against Pakistan,” he added.Zakaria said Pakistan is not using issues like the arrest of “RAW operative” Kulbhushan Jadhav, who has allegedly confessed involvement of India in “perpetrating and financing” terrorism, to avoid dialogue with India because it believes that all contentious issues can be resolved through dialogue.Responding to a question about calm at LoC following Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s India visit this month, Zakaria said, “the LoC calm was temporary. It was due to the international pressure after the UN, the US and several other countries urged for lowering tension.”Zakaria claimed that Pakistan has done everything to create a conducive atmosphere for revival of talks. “On the contrary, India remained busy in vitiating the atmosphere and always scuttled the efforts. It did so in November by sabotaging the SAARC summit. The summit was not about politics but about improving the socio-economic condition of the entire region. Then it showed same attitude during the Heart of Asia conference,” he alleged.

Pathankot terror attack: NIA to file charges against JeM chief Masood Azhar as accused in case

New Delhi: NIA is likely to file a comprehensive chargesheet in the Pathankot airbase terror attack next week, naming Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, along with his brother Rauf Asghar, as accused.

The charge sheet is likely to highlight the role of Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group in spreading mayhem in India and refer to the nefarious plans of the outfit, sources said.

Immediately after the Pathankot incident, Rauf had hosted a video message claiming the responsibility for the terror strike and glorified the role of his brother Azhar, who was released in exchange for passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999.

India will be using the charge sheet of NIA at various international fora to highlight the role of Masood Azhar in the case relating to the Pathankot terror strike carried out on 2 January this year.

File photo of Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

File photo of Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Maulana Masood Azhar. Reuters

Launch of a diplomatic offensive against the Jaish and its chief Masood Azhar became an imperative after China continued to spurn efforts of India in getting UN sanctions against the terrorist and his group.

The Home Ministry had given sanction to NIA to file the charge sheet against Azhar, his brother and two handlers of four terrorists — Qashif Jan and Shaid Latif, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The four terrorists, after entering into India from Bamiyal area of Gurdaspur, had carried out the strike at the Pathankot IAF base killing eight people including seven personnel of IAF and NSG.

The charge sheet will name four terrorists involved in the attack as against six claimed by NSG.

According to NIA, the terrorists, who were killed after two days of gunfight, were identified as Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayum and they were residents of Vehari (Punjab), Gujranwala (Punjab), Sanghar (Sindh) and Sukkur (Sindh) of Pakistan respectively.

The charge sheet will also include evidence of linking the footprints of one of the terrorists obtained from Bamiyal besides matching of DNA sample found from a soft- drink can in the hijacked car of Punjab Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh.

The Pathankot terror strike had seen a joint investigation team from Pakistan also arriving in India for carrying out a thorough probe.

However, the Pakistani team, upon their return, claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved in dealing with the attack.

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 18:06 IST

Delhi HC seeks MoD’s reply on PIL on private sale of military apparel

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Expressing concern over private sale of army apparel and gear that have been used by terrorists to strike at military bases, the Delhi High Court today sought the Defence Ministry’s response on what it has done to address the issue. A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), saying that “we want to know your response” and listed the matter for hearing on February 3 next year.”Yes, we know it is a serious issue. Otherwise we would not take it up,” the court told the lawyer, appearing for the petitioner NGO, who said the private sale of military apparel and gear was a cause for concern. The Pathankot Air Force base was attacked in January this year by terrorists dressed in Indian Army fatigues, leading to the death of seven security personnel including a Lieutenant Colonel, and a civilian.Last month, terrorists dressed in police uniform had attacked the army’s XVI Corps headquarters at Nagrota in Jammu district, killing seven security personnel including two officers.Advocate K R Chitra, who filed the PIL by NGO Fight for Human Rights, said the court on July 20 this year had asked the ministry to treat the issue raised as a representation and to take a decision within three months. She said that subsequent to the July 20 order, she had again made a representation to the government. However, no response was received and therefore, she has now again moved the court. She contended that the government has not taken any action to stop private sale of military apparel and gear. Chitra has claimed that as per a January 8, 2016 notification issued by the Indian Army, civilians and private shopkeepers have been directed not to wear or sell military apparel and gear. The NGO has sought steps to curb private sale and manufacture of military apparel, like uniforms, shoes, badges and other gear used by the armed forces which were being made by private industries in Ludhiana and Amritsar in Punjab and sold all over the country.One place where such articles are sold is at the Railway Market at Pathankot, the NGO has claimed.The PIL has also sought that MoD be directed to handle with immediate effect the responsibility of manufacturing, stocking and sale of military apparel and gear used by the armed forces, saying private shops do not check to whom they sell such articles.

There was no meeting: India rejects Pak claims about Doval-Aziz interaction

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had a brief interaction here last night, amid intense strain in Indo-Pak ties in the wake of Nagrota terror strike and intensified cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir.Aziz and Doval had a short informal chat after Foreign Ministers of five countries called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night in a group. The call on by the foreign ministers preceded an official dinner attended by representatives of almost all countries participating in the Heart of Asia (HoA) conference here. While Indian sources said Aziz and Doval “had a stroll for about 100 feet” at the venue of the dinner ‘Sada Pind’, a heritage village, Pakistani officials maintained that they had a “meeting”. However, it is not known what transpired during their conversation. When asked, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup only said, “There was no meeting”.Aziz arrived here last night to attend HoA conference amid speculation on whether the two sides will have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conclave to break the ice in ties. During the dinner, Aziz exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier, in a goodwill gesture, Aziz sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday, extending his “sincere good wishes for her full and speedy recovery” from illness.Sawaraj and Aziz had held a meeting during last year’s HoA meet in Islamabad during which both countries had agreed to start ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ that was to cover all outstanding issues.The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year and subsequent terror strike involving Pakistan-based terrorists. Earlier this week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said Pakistan was willing for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India was ready.India had already made it clear that it will never accept continuing cross border terrorism as the ‘new normal’ in bilateral ties with Pakistan while asserting that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”.Tensions between the two countries escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota in Jammu.

Heart of Asia: Pak PM’s foreign advisor exchanges pleasantries with PM Modi, no clarity over bilateral meeting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the midst of heightened Indo-Pak tensions, Pakistani Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz arrived this evening to attend the Heart of Asia conference amid speculation about whether the two sides will have bilateral talks on the sidelines of the conclave to break the ice in ties. Hours after his arrival, Aziz attended a dinner where he exchanged pleasantries with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Aziz was earlier scheduled to arrive here tomorrow but came a day early due to prevailing weather condition. Almost the entire northern India has been affected by thick fog for the last two days, delaying flights and train operations. Aziz advanced his visit after he was informed about the weather condition, sources said. There was no clarity on whether there will be a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference. Interestingly, in a goodwill gesture, Aziz sent a bouquet to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, extending his “sincere good wishes for her full and speedy recovery” from illness. Swaraj, undergoing treatment for renal failure, is not attending the Heart of Asia conference and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will head the Indian delegation at the Ministerial deliberations.Aziz, who arrived here on a special flight, was received at the airport by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit. Pakistan and India had held a meeting during last year’s Heart of Asia Summit in Islamabad during which both countries had agreed to start a ‘Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue’ which was to cover all outstanding issues. The resumption of the dialogue could, however, not take place due to the Pathankot terror attack in January this year.Earlier this week, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit had said Pakistan was ready for unconditional resumption of dialogue if India was ready.India has made it clear it will never accept continued cross border terrorism as the ‘new normal’ in bilateral ties with Pakistan and that talks cannot take place in an atmosphere of “continued terror”. Tension between the two countries escalated after the cross border terror attack on an army base in Nagrota. During tomorrow’s proceedings at the conference, India is likely to step up its efforts to corner Pakistan diplomatically by mobilising support for concrete action against state-sponsored terrorism. Afghanistan, which has also been witnessing increased attacks from terror groups operating from Pakistani soil, is set to push hard for a regional counter-terror framework with binding commitment at the annual HoA conference, a platform set up in 2011 to assist the war-ravaged country in its transition.

Intruder shot dead by BSF in Pathankot

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSF has foiled a cross-border intrusion bid after its troopers shot down a suspect at Dhinda post in Pathankot district of Punjab.BSF personnel shot the intruder dead on Friday night after he came close to the border fencing in Bamiyal area, a police official posted in Pathankot said today.Meanwhile, a massive search operation was launched yesterday by Punjab police, Himachal Pradesh police and army in Pathankot after a local resident claimed to have spotted four to five armed men roaming around suspiciously.As many as 250 security personnel, including SWAT commandos, were deployed in the search operation in the hilly areas located on the border of Punjab and HP.Pathankot had seen a major terror attack in January this year when heavily-armed terrorists who had sneaked in from across the border attacked an air base.On July 27 last year, Dinanagar in Punjab’s Gurdaspur was also targeted by terrorists.

Why have terror strikes increased after November 8, asks Shiv Sena

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Hitting out at the Centre over killing of Indian soldiers on the border, the ruling BJP’s ally Shiv Sena on Friday sought to know why there was a ‘spurt’ in such attacks after the November 8 announcement of demonetization.”While scrapping Rs 500 and 1,000 notes, the government had said the move will break the backbone of terrorists as they are heavily dependent on high value notes for funding and carrying out terror activities. If this is true, why have terror strikes increased after November 8?” an editorial in Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana said.The Sena demanded that the Defence Ministry clarify the number of soldiers martyred since November 8. “While the national anthem will be respected in cinema halls, the question is whether there is any respect left for the lives of our soldiers. Our jawans at the border are dying everyday. If this does not stop, a question mark will emerge on the country’s defence preparedness,” the Sena said.Taking on Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar over his remarks that his ministry got a call from Pakistan “pleading” with India to stop firing, the Sena said the minister had created an impression that the neighbouring country had bowed down and there would be no more terror threats from its side. “But, even before Parrikar completed his words, Pakistan attacked Indian camps and all peace had been lost. How do we stop the losses being suffered by our Army? First, it was Pathankot, then Uri and now Nagrota. Terrorists are blatantly spilling the blood of our soldiers,” the Sena said. It said that there were several Army posts in the country which do not even have CCTV cameras, let alone sophisticated machinery.On Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir was rocked by two terror attacks in which seven Army personnel, including two Major-rank officers were killed. Eight security men including a BSF DIG, were injured before six heavily-armed terrorists were eliminated in a fierce encounter at Samba sector in the state.

Pakistan should introspect on why relations with India are tense, says Arun Jaitley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Blaming Pakistan for having an uneasy relationship with India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said it is for Islamabad to introspect as to why there are tensions between the two neighbours.”It is a serious situation. Right from the day this government had been formed and even prior to that, India has taken one step after another honestly trying to improve relations with Pakistan,” he said at HT Leadership Summit here.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a lot of initiatives including unconventional ones but then the response was Pathankot or Uri attack, prompted by Pakistan. This cannot be normal as far as Indo-Pak relationships are concerned. If there are tensions, its for the Pakistan to introspect really why there are tensions,” he said.Asked about impact of change in regime in the US, Jaitley said the relationship between the two country is expected to strengthen further. “I have not the least doubt that India’s relations with the United States would continue to be on the same plank as it was, probably growing and maturing almost by the day,” he said. Further adding “This was unusual election as far as the US was concerned.When one world’s most powerful democracies through a fair electoral process takes a decision, we have to accept the decision.”

Nagrota attack: Police probing JeM links

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Police is probing if Jasih-e-Mohammed (JeM) was responsible for Tuesday’s terror attack on an army camp in Nagrota, that left 7 officers and jawans dead, after a note written in Urdu bearing the name of JeM’s Afzal Guru Squad (AGS) recovered from three slain terrorists, a senior official said on Wednesday. “We are working on these links. We are going into all details, and investigation has started (into the links of JeM with Nagrota terror attack after recovery of notes in Urdu)”, Director General Of Police (DGP) K Rajendra Kumar told PTI tonight. “Let us first complete the probe then we will able to say anything on it,” he added. According to reports, a note, along with three AK-47 rifles, magazines and UBGL grenades, was recovered from the site of attack, points to the involvement of JeM’s Afzal Guru Squad.The note, written in Urdu with name bearing at the end of AGS of JeM, says that they have avenged the death of Guru. The recovered explosives were being disposed off by controlled explosions.JeM have named a squad after Afzal Guru to target security forces in India last year. It was first exposed in November last year, when Indian Army repulsed a major fidayeen (suicidal) attack on its Gorkha Rifles (GR) camp near the Line of Control (LoC) in Tangdhar and recovered bags with Afzal Guru Squad markings.Guru’s name also cropped up in Pathankot when Rajesh Verma, who was abducted along with Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police told reporters that the militants had told him that they wanted to avenge the death of 2001 Parliament attack convict. The DGP further said that security agencies were probing if the group came from International Border (IB) and was part of a group of three militants killed at the border in Ramgarh sector in Samba yesterday.”We have visited Ramgarh in this direction,” Kumar said. Jammu was rocked by two terror attacks yesterday in which seven army personnel, including two Major-rank officers, were killed and eight other security-men, including a BSF DIG, were injured before six heavily-armed terrorists were killed in separate encounters.

Nagrota attack: Stop meaningless debate on surgical strikes and focus on security lapses

The Nagrota attack has expectedly given rise to questions on the efficacy of India’s surgical strikes. The Indian Army, which took another major hit with two of its officers and five soldiers falling to fidayeen bullets, is yet to complete its combing operation, but critics and some political parties have already started suggesting that the operation carried out by India’s elite commandos across the LoC was much hype and little substance.

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at Army camp at Nagrota. PTI

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at Army camp at Nagrota. PTI

The death of 26 Indian soldiers since 29 September is a clear indication, goes the argument, that instead of restraining Pakistan, the strikes seem to have emboldened our neighbour to carry out more terrorist attacks. The contention is that the surgical strikes were more a political confabulation for the Narendra Modi government rather than an effective anti-terror tool.

There is a lot of room for criticism in Modi’s blow hot-blow cold Pakistan policy. Like many of his predecessors, the incumbent prime minister was also driven by an initial urge to author a new chapter in India-Pakistan history. Subsequent developments have perhaps taught him that one cannot rationalise a relationship with a revisionist nation — one that continues to be driven by Ghazwa-e-Hind dreams.

Be that as it may, the haste to label surgical strikes a failure for another terrorist attack on an army base is more than a little problematic. Such an argument is guilty of oversimplification. It is more an exercise of our confirmation bias and strikes at our ideological fault lines than focus energies on a hard-nosed, rational analysis.

Aversion or affinity towards current political dispensation must not cloud our judgement on the efficacy of the strikes, which were carried out by a professional army unit and was the culmination of an extraordinary synchronisation of efforts. It was also a welcome departure from India’s reflexive stoicism towards Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attacks. The rush to call it “ineffective” stems from a lack of understanding of the operation’s objectives.

As this columnist has argued in the past, the surgical strikes were not meant to prevent Pakistan from abandoning its decades-old terror policy. Nobody in their right minds would assume that one covert operation is enough to persuade Pakistan to dismantle its terror infrastructure and reverse its policy of using terrorism as a foreign policy tool — one that has brought it rich dividends.

The Pakistani Army would be a fool to let go of terrorism — its one strategic lever against a much more powerful and prosperous neighbour. What, then, was the point of those surgical strikes? There was never a doubt that the covert op, which was subsequently publicised, was an effort by India to raise the bar for retaliatory attacks while staying below Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. For a country that drops the nuclear threat at every possible opportunity, the cross-LoC attacks exposed Pakistan’s nuclear bluff.

It proved to the rest of the world, and also to some in India, that Islamabad’s frequent nuclear threats were meant more as a strategic deterrence against India’s response to terror attacks. Surgical strikes annihilated that deterrence.

But while deriding surgical strikes is pointless, it is important to highlight the grave and repeated security lapses that have contributed towards yet another attack on an Army base. Alarmingly, since 29 September, there have been at least a dozen attacks as terrorist infiltrated the border and launched attacks in different areas of Jammu and Kashmir including Nagrota, Baramulla, Bandipore, Sopore, Shopian and Pampore, among others. Altogether, 26 Indian soldiers including BSF personnel, and army jawans and officers have been killed.

While at one level, it reflects Pakistan’s outgoing chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif’s desperate attempts to save face after getting bruised in the surgical strikes, at another level it also points to crucial lacunae in India’s security apparatus. Apprehending suicide attackers is tougher since their motivation levels are high but the repeated breaches of heavily-guarded army bases send a worrying signal about our preparedness or lack of it.

As disturbing details emerge of the fidayeen strike on Nagrota where a hostage-like situation involving civilians have luckily been averted, questions must be raised on an apparent lack of standard operating procedure when it comes to blocking or preventing such attacks. Heads must roll if it is found that our security intelligence network isn’t up to scratch or fatigue and complacency played its part.

The 16 Corps headquarters in Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu is 55 kilometres away from the border. It must be asked how heavily armed terrorists — albeit dressed in police attire — managed to remain undetected before launching the attack.

A report in The Huffington Post claims that the terrorists had infiltrated the border at least a week ago and had done a thorough recce of the camp before launching their mission. Quoting a Ministry of Defence official, the report states that the police uniforms that the terrorists were wearing were stitched in India and couldn’t have been “done in a day, indicating that the terrorists were already in India for some time”. They had also purchased medicines from local pharmacy, added the report.

This, if true, raises several more uncomfortable questions on our intelligence and monitoring system and whether our military bases and security installations are “soft targets”.

A Times of India report points out, quoting defence sources, that there was “very little follow-up action” to the comprehensive recommendations of the tri-service committee, led by former army chief Lieutenant-General Philip Campose (retd), which was constituted after the 2 January terror strike on the Pathankot airbase.

These are damning indications. Discussions must be centred around these loopholes instead of meaningless, politicised debates of one-upmanship over surgical strikes.

First Published On : Nov 30, 2016 15:27 IST

DNA Exclusive: India sceptic at Pak terror alert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid rising tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB), the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has informed the Delhi Police and other Central intelligence agencies that “Hindu radicals” could attack the Delhi-Lahore bus service, the Samjhauta rail service that operates between India and Pakistan, and the luxury bus service from Delhi to Nepal.This information, the MEA said, had been provided to them by the Pakistan High Commission.Following directives from the MEA, the Delhi Police have increased security at Old Delhi Railway Station and the Ambedkar Stadium Bus terminal and intensified checking.The communication, which was shared by the Pakistan High Commission to the MEA, and accessed by DNA, stated: “A message has been conveyed from the Pakistan High Commission, New Delhi that Hindu radical organisations can attack rail and bus services operating between Pakistan and India in the aftermath of Pathankot attack.”The alert has triggered serious concern among India’s security agencies. Decoding the alert by Pakistan High Commission, a review done by India’s intelligence agencies claim that the alert could be a “smokescreen” for Pakistan’s ISI to aid in terror activities across India. Intelligence officials also believe that the ISI is planning terror strikes in India by activating sleeper cells of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Indian Mujahideen.”The ISI could carry out terror strikes in India’s heartland and blame it on saffron terror. It is amply clear from the Pakistan High Commission’s input that the ISI has already activated its sleeper cells and the so-called alert it has shared with the Ministry of External Affairs is nothing but preparing the ground for outright denial after the attack.”Intelligence agency officials also believe that the Pakistani communication may be playing on the fact that Hindu radicals have been accused of being behind previous blasts on Indo-Pak rail service.On February 18, 2007, twin blasts on the Samjhauta Express connecting Delhi and Lahore – near Diwana station at Panipat killed 68 people. During investigation, eight Hindu radicals were charge-sheeted in connection with the Samjhauta blasts. The accused include Naba Kumar Sarkar alias Swami Asimanand, late Sunil Joshi alias Sunilji, Ramchandra Kalsangra, Sandeep Dange (both absconding), Lokesh Sharma, Kamal Chauhan, Amit and Rajender Choudhary.Meanwhile, the Pakistani communication also advises Indian agencies to keep sharp vigil. “Keeping a view on the sensitivity and international matter, sharp vigil, tactful handling and adequate police arrangements by local police, PCR and Traffic are suggested. Besides, a close watch may be kept over activities of such radical groups and organisations,” the communication to the MEA further stated.

Punjab polls: Arvind Kejriwal to address 21 rallies in state starting from today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will address 21 rallies from November 20 to November 30 in Punjab to spruce up his party’s campaign in the poll-bound state.He will start his campaign from Jalalabad, the constituency represented by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and end his tour of Punjab at Gurdaspur on November 30.Rallies have also been planned in Sangrur, Moga, Barnala, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ropar, Kapurthala, Pathankot and Bathinda. Kejriwal is expected to base his campaign on the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna-Link (SYL) canal issue, the drug menace, law and order and procurement of crops in the state.The AAP is eyeing to wrest its power in Punjab after the 2017 Assembly elections in the state.

Kejriwal to address 21 rallies in Punjab till November 30

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will address 21 rallies from November 20 to November 30 in Punjab to spruce up the party’s campaign in the poll-bound state.”Kejriwal will be in Punjab from November 20 to November 30 to address 21 rallies in different parts of the state,” a party spokesman said here today. He will start his campaign from Jalalabad, the constituency represented by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, and end his tour of Punjab at Gurdaspur on November 30, he said.The places to be covered by Kejriwal include Bathinda, Moga, Muktsar, Sangrur, Rupnagar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Amritsar and Tarn Taran, the spokesman informed.AAP is eyeing to wrest power in the Punjab after the 2017 Assembly elections in the state. Kejriwal is expected to base his campaign on the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna-Link (SYL) canal issue, the drug menace, law and order and procurement of crops in the state.

No confirmation yet on Aziz’s participation in Heart of Asia summit: MEA

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India on Thursday said it is yet to receive confirmation from Pakistan about its participation in the Heart of Asia (HoA) Conference to be held in Amritsar on December 3 and 4 which a top aide to its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had maintained he would attend.”We have not yet received any confirmation of Pakistan’s participation in the HoA conference,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said. He was asked about reported comments of Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz that he would travel to India to attend the conference on Afghanistan, asserting that the trip could be a “good opportunity” to “defuse” Indo-Pak tension.”Unlike India, that had sabotaged SAARC summit in Pakistan by pulling out, Pakistan will respond by participating in the Heart of Asia being held in India. It’s a good opportunity to defuse the tension,” PTV quoted Aziz as saying.Last year in December, the meeting of the HoA process was hosted by Pakistan and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended it after which she had bilateral talks with Aziz. The two sides had also announced resumption of Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue (CBD), which never took-off due to terror strikes, including the Pathankot attack by Pakistan-based elements.India had recently boycotted the SAARC summit which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad. Citing continuous cross-border terrorism from Pakistan following the Uri attack, India had said, “In the present circumstances” it was unable to take part in the SAARC summit.

SC to hear NDTV India’s plea against government ban today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court will hear NDTV’s appeal against the government’s one-day ban of its Hindi channel NDTV India on Tuesday​. NDTV India has been ordered off-air on Wednesday with the government accusing it of broadcasting sensitive details of January’s terror attack on the air force base in Pathankot. NDTV has refuted the allegations and pointed out that other channels and newspapers reported the same information.The ban has been widely condemned by journalists and editors with all press councils drawing parallels to the Emergency of the 1970s when basic constitutional rights including the freedom of the press were blatantly violated. After a large protest held by journalists from every major media organisation in Delhi, the Press Council of India said the government’s action amounts to “uncalled for censorship” at a time when “press freedom is already under increasing threat in the country.” Last week, when the ban was announced, The Editors’ Guild of India said the order was unprecedented and that the centre appears to have given itself the power “to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage.” The organisation, a grouping of the editors of all major newspapers and magazines in the country, said if the government finds any media coverage objectionable, it can approach the courts.Defending the ban, Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu has said that it is “in the interest of the country’s security” and that the barrage of criticism confronted by the government appears “politically inspired.”

Oder to take NDTV India off air for a day put ‘on hold’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has decided to “put on hold” the order to impose a one day ban on the Hindi channel NDTV India, after the broadcaster requested that the decision be reviewed.Officials said that the decision has been put on hold till the time the appeal is disposed of. According to officials sources, NDTV co-chairman Prannoy Roy on Monday met Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu and discussed the issue related to the order. Sources said that Roy, while referring to the decision of the Inter-Ministerial committee imposing the penalty, contended that the perspective of NDTV in this regard “was perhaps not fully and adequately appreciated”.”Roy sought a review of the decision and said that till such time the order should be put on hold,” a senior official said. Officials said that Naidu agreed to the request and the ministry will review the decision and till that time the order has been put on hold. It is learnt that Naidu said that rule 6(1)(p) related to media coverage of anti-terror operations was incorporated last year after a series of advisories were issued to media organisations by the previous UPA government.He said that violations of norms related to coverage of anti-terror operations had been noticed. The I&B ministry had on November 2 ordered that hindi channel NDTV India be taken off air for a day concluding that it had violated the guidelines in its coverage of the Pathankot terror attack.

NDTV India ban: Freedom of Speech can’t be exploited to jeopardise national security

Flying abroad recently on an international flight, an erudite Indian journalist, well established in high-end social circuits at home and abroad, especially in our immediate neighbourhood in general and our western neighbour in particular, wondered aloud how the term ‘presstitutes’ came about in India, whether it was coined by a military veteran-turned-politician and why this term?

She had probably never heard of John Swinton, the former chief of staff of The New York Times, who addressed New York Press Club in 1953, saying:

“There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinions out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job.”

Swinton went on to say:

“If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright; to pervert; to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country for his daily bread. You know it and I know it and what folly is this toasting an independent press. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”

Representational image. Twitter @ndtv

Representational image. Twitter @ndtv

Whether ‘intellectual prostitutes’ is better than ‘presstitutes’ or vice-versa may be debated but speaking of the aforementioned reporter (who was part of an Indian delegation,) she announced in a bilateral discussion with a friendly country, “I do not agree with any of my delegation members that Pakistan should be called a terrorist state”. This was more shocking since no other country including Pakistan was present — this being a bilateral dialogue between India and the friendly country. When told later that she should have spoken this way, she shot back reasons A, B, C, D, and E why she cannot be faulted — the sum total of which was ‘Freedom of Speech’. When asked whether she saw any difference between a debate on TV in India versus projecting one’s own country’s viewpoint as part of an Indian delegation especially when Pakistan has upped its proxy war on India, she gave a blank look as if some gibberish was being thrown her way.

Not to mention that when told our response to Pakistan must include the sub-conventional, her query after years of journalism was, “What is sub-conventional?”. Of course she took umbrage when another delegation member (a former IAS official) told her that she appeared to be the elder version of a Indian television journalist and columnist who works as a consulting editor with a New Delhi-based TV channel.

Now let us look at the commotion over NDTV India being blocked for 24 hours for broadcasting sensitive information during the terrorist attack on the IAF airbase at Pathankot. The Opposition is delighted with added ammunition to disrupt the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament, in addition to the OROP-related suicide by Subedar Ram Kishan Grewal, the disappearance of JNU student Najeeb Ahmad (could he have left the country?), surgical strikes, civilian casualties due Pakistani ceasefire violations and what-have-you — official work, including GST, be damned. NDTV India’s day-long ban is being equated with the years of Emergency. According to others, India is going the Pakistan way, with Islamabad having imposed restrictions on Pakistani journalist Cyril Almeida, putting him on the Exit Control List for breaking a story on the tiff between Pakistan’s civil and military leadership.

The intriguing part is that while Pakistan acted against Almeida almost instantaneously, the action against NDTV India comes almost 10 months after the event. Besides, what does the single-day ban convey? What type of token for having broadcast “sensitive information”? The decision reportedly was taken by an inter-ministerial committee (IMC) comprising joint secretaries from the ministries of Home, Defence, External Affairs, I&B, Health and Family, Women and Child Development, plus representative of the Advertising Standards Council of India — all in all, a diverse and august group. According to the grapevine, the IMC found the TV channel to have violated the provisions of the Program Code, specifically Clause 6 (1) (p) of the code, in its coverage of the Pathankot terrorist attack.

The Program and Advertising Code of the Cable TV Network Rules, 1994 has been incorporated in the Cable Act and is taken from the content code governing All India Radio. But when Clause 6 (1) (p) of the code was added in June 2015, doesn’t the action against NDTV after almost 10 months after the broadcast show the lackadaisical and callous manner in which we deal with what has been referred to as a leak of “sensitive information”? After the elapse of so many months, it is difficult to remember what the broadcast really was considering every channel was broadcasting continuous coverage of the terror attack. But what exactly did NDTV India broadcast that was not being broadcast by some of the other channels, if not all? If the information endangered national security, did the IMC inform the NSA? And, isn’t a one-day ban akin to the knee-jerk reaction of arresting Hurriyat leader SAS Geelani and then sending a delegation to meet him next day?

The Editors Guild of India is up in arms:

“The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India, and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency. This first-of-its-kind order to impose a blackout has seen the Central government entrust itself with the power to intervene in the functioning of the media and take arbitrary punitive action as and when it does not agree with the coverage.”

The case of a token ban on NDTV India and its justification can be argued by concerned parties, even the highest — at the Supreme Court-level, and one cannot argue whether it was right or wrong. However, as a nation we must acknowledge that our reporting is devoid of any sense of national security when needed most.

Some of the prominent examples include:

– Entire layout of Parliament shown post the terrorist attack, including who sits where and routes of entry and exit.
– Continuous coverage during terrorist attacks especially the 26 November, 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai giving location and movement of own troops, giving advantage to Pakistani terrorists.
– Pincers and arrows of Strike Corps objectives in enemy territory being shown after corps-level exercises.
– Options for future operations being openly discussed by TV channels with maps and models post the recent surgical strikes.
– Visuals and broadcasts that incite racial and communal violence.

Forget China and Pakistan, but name one other country where broadcasts like the above are made. They all are careful not to jeopardise national security. Where, and if, national security is involved, forget token bans, there should be prosecution — Freedom of Speech can’t be exploited to jeopardise national security.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

(Firstpost is from the same stable as IBN7 which competes with NDTV India)

Modi govt wears a mask of nationalism, dubs those showing mirror as anti-nationals: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress accused the Modi government on Sunday of trampling the three pillars of democracy – executive, judiciary and media, and said there was no place for dissent in it as it dubs as “anti-nationals” all those showing it the mirror of truth. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said the attitude of the Modi government does not match with India’s pluralist character and the freedom of expression of an individual and that is why it was imposing ban on the media.The Congress also stood out in support of NDTV, on which a day-long ban has been imposed over coverage of the Pathankot terror attack, and said the entire country was now strongly opposing this “death-knell” imposed on the channel. “The Modi government is trampling upon the three pillars of democracy – the executive, the judiciary and the media. Criticism or dissent is not acceptable to this Modi government which is gripped with the disease of self-praise and wants media to toe its line.”Whenever someone shows it the mirror of truth, this government wears the mask of nationalism and dubs those showing it the mirror as anti-nationals. The attitude of Modi government does not match with the pluralist thought and freedom of expression of an individual,” he said.In a statement, Surjewala said the entire intellectual class and journalists were now standing out against this ban which was a bid to throttle the independent voice and anyone who raised their voice against the Modi government. The Congress leader said that doubts were now being raised over the patriotism of those who had questioned the Modi government for allowing Pakistan’s ISI to enter the Pathankot air base in the name of investigations into the terror attack. “We have to awaken the Modi government which is in deep slumber due to intoxication of power,” he said.

People of country broadly happy with decision: Naidu on NDTV India ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Information and Broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu attacked those criticising the one-day ban on NDTV India over its Pathankot coverage, saying the “belated criticism” is clearly “ill informed and politically inspired” to create a controversy. The belated criticism of the action proposed to be taken against NDTV India for violating the norms of live coverage of anti-terrorist operations by security personnel in Pathankot in January this year is clearly ill informed and politically inspired, he told reporters here. “Such reactions that came a day after the Government’s decision was in public domain on November 3, 2016 was clearly an afterthought, suggesting a motivated design to create a controversy where none existed,” the senior minister said. He asserted that people of the country should know that the UPA Governments, during 2005-14, ordered several TV channels to go off air in 21 instances, for a period ranging from one day to two months for showing obscene visuals including 13 cases of telecasting ‘Adult’ rated certified films.One channel was taken off air for 30 days for telecasting a sting operation, he said. “People of the country are also wise enough to appreciate which of the two violations showing obscene visuals at the stroke of midnight and risking the lives of defence personnel and civilians through a live telecast of anti-terrorist operations in broad daylight- is a serious threat to the interests of the nation including its sovereignty, integrity and security,” Naidu said. The Minister said the decision against NDTV India was not based on any newly invented rule and principle. “The ground on which action has been proposed against NDTV India was only a logical conclusion of concerns clearly articulated by the UPA Government in various advisories issued after 26/11 terror attacks on multiple targets in Mumbai in 2008,” he said. Rejecting criticism that compared the present case to Emergency, Naidu said many BJP leaders and a large number of activists were at the “worst receiving end of Emergency and would shudder to even think of doing the same to others and particularly, in respect of freedom of media.” Responding to criticism by Editors Guild of India, Naidu said, “The Editors Guild of India, a responsible organisation that took a full day to come out with its response should realise that under Sub-section (2) of Section 20 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, Central Government is required to regulate or prohibit the transmission of any channel or programme in the interest of sovereignty, integrity and security of India and as per Para 8.1 of Uplinking Guidelines, is empowered to take action for transmitting any objectionable content inconsistent with public interest. Therefore, the Government is not required to approach the Courts in such cases, as suggested by the Guild, he added. “I leave it to the wisdom of the Editors Guild to ponder if the decision against NDTV India for the reasons explained, is really reminiscent of the dark days of Emergency,” he said. Naidu said that very recently in an interaction, he had stressed that effective self-regulation by media is the best way of protecting its freedom and we are committed to it.”I also said that freedom is best upheld when its value is fully appreciated. In this case, that much valued freedom was not put to best use by NDTV India. I am happy to note that the people of the country are broadly with the decision in the matter of NDTV India,” he said.Always, there will be a minority who are critical of whatever the Government does in the best interest of the country, Naidu added. The minister also said that in several advisories issued by the previous UPA Government, all news and current affairs TV channels were clearly asked to exercise restraint, maturity and sensitivity while reporting on anti-terrorist operations in the larger interest of safety and security of security forces involved in such operations and civilians. Expressing concern over continued violations, the then UPA Government concluded that any coverage violating such norms amount to coverage against the interests of the nation, he added. Naidu said the NDA Government too issued a couple of such advisories and like the then UPA Government, noticed continued violations as in the case of Gurdaspur terrorist attack. As the Government is deeply committed to upholding the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country, particularly, in the context of cross border terrorism, the government issued a Gazette Notification in March this year requiring TV channels to limit live coverage of anti-terrorist operations to the briefings of designated officers, in the larger security interests involved, he said. NDTV India, in this case has been found to have violated this provision and was found to be unrepentant about what they have done. This channel was also found to have resorted to similar violations earlier, he said. This decision, accordingly, was only a culmination of the larger security concerns being expressed since 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) that recommended action against the channel did so after duly acknowledging the instant reach and power of television unlike other media and only recommended suspension of telecast just for one day as a token, so that the said channel cannot get away completely for being even unrepentant in the matter.

Govt orders Assam-based news channel be taken off air for a day over multiple violations

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After NDTV India, the Government has also ordered that an Assam-based news channel be taken off air for a day, following the recommendations of a high level panel which felt it had “violated” programming guidelines on more than one occasion. An I&B ministry order dated November 2, has sought that the channel ‘News Time Assam’, be taken off air on November 9, for a day.One of the allegations against the channel relates to telecasting a programme which revealed the identity of a minor who had been brutally tortured while working as a domestic servant. Observing that the visuals telecast by the channel appeared to compromise the privacy and dignity of the child while also exposing him to harm and stigma, a showcause notice was issued to the channel in October 2013. Having listened to the channel’s version, the Inter Ministerial Committee which looked into the matter felt that the channel may be taken off air for a day.According to the order, the matter was reconsidered as some other channels had also shown similar content for which they had been issued warnings, but the IMC looked at all the circumstances and again recommended taking it off air for a day. The same order also lists two other cases of alleged violations by the channel which were considered by the IMC. One of them related to telecast of gory visuals of dead bodies for which a recommendation was made to take off the channel for a day.In another case the channel telecast a programme which allegedly appeared to defamatory towards to women and in bad taste. The IMC had asked the channel to run an apology scroll but since it did not comply, in this regard, taking it off air for a day was recommended.The I&B ministry order, dated November 2, mentions all the three cases and says that the “IMC clarified that the TV channel can be allowed to carry out the three awards of one day off air concurrently.”Quoting rules under the Cable TV Networks (Regulation) Act, the ministry order said that the government “orders to prohibit the transmission or retransmission of News Time Assam TV channel for one day on any platform throughout India with effect from 00:01 hours on 9th November, 2016 till 00:01 hours on 10th November, 2016.”NDTV India has also been ordered off air for the same date over its coverage of the Pathankot attack, which has resulted in a massive controversy.

From Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi: How politicians reacted to NDTV India’s one-day ban

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The one-day ban on a leading Hindi TV channel ‘NDTV India’ by the Centre over its coverage of Pathankot attack drew sharp condemnation today from opposition parties and media bodies which called it “shocking and authoritarian” and reminiscent of Emergency days. The leaders of the non-BJP parties and the media bodies also demanded immediate withdrawal of the order imposing the blackout on November 9.There was also a suggestion by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh that all newspapers and channels “show courage” and “go off air and not publish” on that day to register their protest.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the order of the inter-ministerial panel of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry showed that an emergency-like situation prevailed in the country while Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi slammed it as “shocking and unprecedented”.The Editors Guild of India condemned the order as a “direct violation” of the freedom of the press and similar sentiments were echoed by the Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA).NDTV while terming the order as “shocking” has alleged that it has been “singled out” and said it is examining all options in the matter. “The Editors Guild of India strongly condemns the unprecedented decision of the inter-ministerial committee of the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to take NDTV India off the air for a day and demands that the order be immediately rescinded,” the Guild said in a statement.”The decision to take the channel off the air for a day is a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency.” The BEA while expressing deep concern at the government’s decision said imposing a ban is a violation of freedom of expression.Alleging that the government action smacked of “authoritarianism and intimidation”, Rahul and other Congress leaders hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”Detaining opposition leaders, blacking out tv channels- all in a day’s work in Modiji’s India.”NDTVBanned-shocking and unprecedented (sic),” the Congress Vice President said on twitter. Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel, who is also political secretary to party president Sonia Gandhi, said, “Government’s decision to ban NDTV India smacks of authoritarianism and intimidation.” Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah lashed out at the Centre, asking if these were the promised “achhe din (good days)”.”NDTV ban is shocking. If Government had issues with Pathankot coverage, there are provisions available. But ban shows an Emergency-like attitude.,” Banerjee said in a statement in Kolkata. “I hope the whole media goes off air for a day in solidarity wid NDTV. Congratulations to Editors Guild for showing courage to stand up against Modi Govt’s dictatorship,” Kejriwal tweeted.

Mumbai Press Club condemns one-day ban on NDTV India

An Inter-ministerial committee of the Information and Broadcasting ministry had recommended on Thursday that a leading Hindi news channel be taken off air for a day after it concluded that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.

Representational image. Twitter @ndtv

Representational image. Twitter @ndtv

The ministry has asked the channel NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on 9 November. The Committee felt that such srucial information, which was revealed by the channel, could have been picked up by terrorist handlers.

The committee, in its order, observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.

The channel, while confirming the receipt of the order, said that its “coverage was particularly balanced”.

The Editors Guild of India condemned the government’s move and said that the I&B Ministry’s decision is “a direct violation of the freedom of the media and therefore the citizens of India and amounts to harsh censorship imposed by the government reminiscent of the Emergency.”

Now, even the Mumbai Press Club has condemned the ban and demanded that the ban be withdrawn.

Here is the full statement by the Mumbai Press Club:

The Mumbai Press club which represents over 2,500 journalists, strongly and unequivocally condemns the ban by the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) on the Hindi news channel NDTV India for purportedly airing “sensitive information” in respect of the Pathankot attack by terror groups near the border. The Club also demands that the ban, imposed for one day on 9 November, should be withdrawn forthwith.

NDTV India in its response to a show cause by the government has said that channel did not report anything which other channels and newspapers had not covered simultaneously. It is therefore mischievous to singles out a particular channel for such penal action.

Though there are various legal options available for the government in the Indian Court of Law for any irresponsible media coverage, the I&B ministry action of banning against a specific TV channel that has been critical of the government, and has done serious ground reporting on the views of the common man, does not augur well for freedom of expression of the country.

The I&B ministry’s order imposing the ban is vague and also does not disclose what specific clips or information can be termed ‘sensitive’ and ‘useful to the enemy’.

Any penal actions like the ban of NDTV India that infringes on media operating and reporting freely will be stoutly resisted by media persons everywhere.

Dharmendra Jore
Secretary
Mumbai Press Club

Pathankot attack: I&B Ministry recommends Hindi news channel to be taken off air for a day

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>An Inter-ministerial committee of the I and B ministry has recommended that a leading Hindi news channel be taken off air for a day after it concluded that the broadcaster had revealed “strategically-sensitive” details while covering the Pathankot terrorist attack.The ministry may now ask the channel NDTV India to be taken off air for a day on November 9, according to sources, in what would be the first order against a broadcaster over its coverage of terrorist attacks.Efforts to reach the channel for its comments could not fructify.The matter pertains to the coverage of the Pathankot terror attack by the channel where the committee felt that “such crucial information” could have been readily picked by terrorist handlers and had the potential to “cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel.”When the operation was on in January this year, it allegedly revealed information on the ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, MIGs, fighter-planes, rocket-launchers, mortars, helicopters, fuel-tanks etc. “which was likely to be used by the terrorists or their handlers to cause massive harm, the sources said. Official sources said that as the content appeared to be violative of the programming norms, a show cause notice was issued to the channel.In its reply, the channel replied that it was a case of “subjective interpretation” and the most of the information they had put out was already in public domain in print, electronic and social media. The committee, in its order, however observed that the channel “appeared to give out the exact location of the remaining terrorists with regard to the sensitive assets in their vicinity” when they telecast in real time.The panel expressed “grave concern” that this was a matter of national security and that the channel had revealed sensitive details like location of ammunition depot viz-a-viz the space where the terrorists were holed up, location of school and residential areas. “Such crucial information could have been readily picked by their handlers, which had the potential to cause massive harm not only to the national security, but also to lives of civilians and defence personnel,” the committee said disagreeing with the channel’s contention that similar content was carried by newspapers.

Recipient of President’s Police medals, NIA chief Sharad Kumar re-employed

Fri, 28 Oct 2016-09:47pm , New Delhi , PTI

Sharad Kumar is involved in various important cases which includes Pathankot terror case, terror strikes in Kashmir, Burdwan blast case and Samjhauta blast cases. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a rare move, the Government gave second extension of one year to senior IPS officer Sharad Kumar on Friday by re-employing him as Director General of National Investigation Agency (NIA) for a period of one year. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal for re-appointment of Kumar on the post of DG, NIA on “re-employment” for a period of one year beyond end of previous one year an official statement said.Kumar, an IPS officer of 1979 batch of Haryana cadre, was appointed as Chief of NIA on July 30, 2013. His continuance was approved apparently to help the agency in completing some of the important cases which includes Pathankot terror case, terror strikes in Kashmir, Burdwan blast case and Samjhauta blast cases. Having got numerous outstanding reports during service, Kumar is also a recipient of President’s Police medals for meritorious and distinguished services in the year 1996 and 2004, respectively.

Quetta strike: Recent attacks in Pakistan and India follow an eerily similar blueprint

A group of fedayeen militants dressed in military fatigues storms an army facility, catching the targets by surprise and inflicting heavy casualties.

This seems to be the recurring theme of recent times of terror operations spawning out of Pakistan, the latest being the attack on a police training academy in the southwestern city of Quetta.

At least 59 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a Pakistani police training academy took hostages, government officials said on Tuesday.

Pakistani volunteers and police officers rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta. APPakistani volunteers and police officers rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta. AP

Pakistani volunteers and police officers rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta. AP

More than 200 police trainees were stationed at the facility when the attack occurred late on Monday, officials said. Some cadets were taken hostage during the attack, which lasted five hours. Most of the dead were police cadets.

Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, said the gunmen attacked a dormitory inside the training facility while cadets rested and slept.

Most of the deaths were caused when two of the attackers blew themselves up. The third was shot dead by Frontier Corps (FC) troops. At least 120 people were injured, Dawn reported.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but one of the top military commanders in Baluchistan, General Sher Afgun, told media that calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the sectarian Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

In August, a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital claimed by the Islamic State group and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed 73 people, including many of the city’s lawyer community who had gone there to mourn the fatal shooting of a colleague.

Back in December 2014, in a similar fashion, Taliban insurgents storm an army-run school in Peshawar, killing 154 people, most of them children.

The massacre started when armed members of the TTP stormed the Army Public School in Peshawar killing over 140 people including more than 130 students. It was a seven-hour long siege that finally ended with the killing of all the terrorists by security forces.

In January this year, Pathankot Air Base in Punjab, India, was hit by five terrorists believed to be from Pakistan.

The militants stormed the base in the wee hours and the confrontation with the Indian army lasted for 15 hours after they breached a high-security security perimeter.The siege ended with the gunning down of the five terrorists.

The terrorists were reportedly members of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad. The militants had hijacked a police officer’s car and driven it to the heavily guarded base — tactics used in earlier attacks by Pakistani-trained militants, reports the Business Standard.

An editorial in Pakistan’s Daily Times, quoted by IANS said, “On present trends at least, the post-Pathankot scenario has a chilling resemblance to post-Mumbai,” referring to the 2008 attack in Mumbai that left 166 people, including many foreigners, dead.

Punjab itself, in recent times, has become the new target of militant attacks in India. In late 2015, a police station in Gurdaspur was attacked in a similar manner.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), in May, had said that wireless systems of the same kind were used in terror attacks which took place in Kathua, Samba and Pathankot.

Besides, modus operandi of the three attacks was same, convincing the NIA not to probe the three cases separately, reported Zee News.

In September this year, 19 soldiers and four militants were killed during an attack on an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri town.

The militants broke into the base near the de facto border with Pakistan before dawn and lobbed grenades at tents and barracks housing soldiers, before opening fire with automatic weapons, the army said.

As militants adapt to these tactics with increasing efficiency, the defense establishments of the countries need to step up measures to counter the same.

With inputs from agencies

Rajnath in Bahrain: Pakistan’s assurances cannot be taken on face value due to approach

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India told Bahrain on Monday that terrorism emanating from Pakistan remains its most important concern and support from across the border has incited the current unrest in Jammu and Kashmir. This was conveyed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Bahraini Interior Minister Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa during a bilateral meeting in Manama.Bahrain is a key member of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in which Pakistan is also a member. Singh, who is on a three-day visit to the Gulf country, apprised Khalifa about Islamabad’s open support and participation to glorify slain Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in Pakistan, saying it indicates continued free movement that terrorists and their supporters enjoy there.Wani was killed in an encounter on July 8 and since then the unrest has been continuing in Kashmir Valley. Pakistan is a country which refuses to give up use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy, he said. The Home Minister raised the issue of the arrest in July of Pakistani terrorist Bahadur Ali, who was armed and trained in LeT camps and then exfiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir with instructions to mingle in crowds for throwing grenades at security forces.”Since there is no change in Pakistan’s approach of sponsoring terrorism we cannot take at face value any of the assurances that Pakistan provides in regard to stopping terrorism,” Singh is said to have conveyed to his Bahraini counterpart.Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an internal matter of India and no interference is acceptable, Singh said the central government as well as the Jammu and Kashmir government and other relevant authorities in India are involved in addressing the situation in the state and various efforts have been undertaken to redress the grievances of the local population.The Home Minister conveyed that there is complete political consensus in India on reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and substantial progress has been made in this regard. Singh also told Khalifa about the lack of progress in the investigation into the Pathankot airbase terrorist attack and on the Mumbai terror attack trials in Pakistan. “It betrays Pakistan’s selective approach to terrorism. We have conveyed to Pakistan that we are ready to discuss various aspects of the challenge of terrorism that is directed from Pakistan against us, which has been our core concern and is at the centre of the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” he is believed to have said. The Home Minister also met Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa at Gudaibiya Palace and discussed various bilateral issues. Singh will meet Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa. Addressing the Indian community last night, the Home Minister said terrorism is a global problem and the international community must join hands to root out the menace. Singh had also said the Narendra Modi government has made several structural and procedural changes and that resulted in successfully reducing the “wholesale corruption” in the country.

Pakistan has made a ‘great contribution’ to fight against terrorism: Former Chinese envoy to India

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reiterating China’s support to its all-weather ally Pakistan and rebutting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘mothership of terrorism’ barb, former Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi on Tuesday said its ally has made ‘great contribution’ in the fight against terrorism. Speaking to ANI, Yuxi downplayed the claim that Pakistan is being isolated at the international arena, saying its strategic ally has never sponsored any terrorist forces and activities.’I saw Pakistan’s contribution in fighting against terror. They are helping China fighting against the group called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and they have made sacrifice,’ Yuxi said.’But I have never heard of Pakistan sponsoring terrorism,’ he added.When he was asked about Pakistan’s involvement in the 26/11 and Pathankot terror attacks, Yuxi said, ‘I have not seen it. I need to see in order to believe.’ When asked about China blocking India’s attempt to put Jaish-e-Mohammed leader Masood Azhar on the UN-designated terrorist list, Yuxi evaded the question. Prime Minister Modi, while addressing the BRICS Summit on Sunday, launched a veiled attack at Pakistan saying, “Tragically, the mother-ship of terrorism is a country in India’s neighbourhood.”However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, on Monday, said that though Beijing is committed to fight against terrorism it opposes the idea of linking terrorism to any specific country, ethnic group or religion.When asked if Modi fairly characterized Pakistan, the spokeswoman said, “We oppose terrorism of all forms and maintain that terrorist threats tackled through enhanced international cooperation in order to uphold peace, security and development of various countries and the region. We are also against linking terrorism to any specific country, ethnic group or religion.”

BRICS: China refuses to budge on India’s NSG bid, Masood Azhar’s banning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the eve of President Xi Jinping’s India visit, China on Friday stuck to its guns saying that there was no change in its stand on India’s NSG membership bid and New Delhi’s attempts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN.As Xi is due to arrive in Goa on Saturday to take part in the BRICS Summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said the relations between India and China made “great headway” despite some “disputes” but there was no change in in Beijing’s stand on the issues of NSG and Azhar.”I have stated China’s position. I would like to reiterate that the UN committee dealing with the listing does it according to provisions of the UN charter,” he said while replying to a question on India’s application to ban Azhar following the Pathankot terrorist attack.Geng, at a briefing, said China maintains that 1267 Committee of the UN designated to ban terrorist outfits should work on true facts and make a decision according to consensus of its members. All parties are divided in listing of the relevant people. And this is why China has put on hold banning Azhar, he said.The second technical hold put by China will give enough time to make the listing decision, Geng said, adding that this also shows the responsible and professional attitude of the Chinese side.”China’s position has not changed regarding the joining of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by India,” Geng said.Speaking on the same issue earlier this month, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong had harped on the need to build consensus over the admission of new members in the 48-member NSG. Geng said today that he wants to “underscore” that in recent years China and India relations had been making “great headway” despite some “disputes”. He said that the “mainstream of bilateral relations have been positive” and “cooperation far outweighs competition”.Geng expressed hope that the two countries can continue with dialogue and cooperation to exchange views on some disputes, seek solutions and properly manage relevant disputes.Meanwhile, a Chinese scholar, Hu Shisheng, Director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations affiliated to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China may speed up the construction of the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir if Pakistan is isolated and cornered by India.”China has to discuss with Pakistan about the current situation on how to handle and how to come out it,” Hu said speaking about Pakistan’s isolation in the region leading to the postponement of the SAARC summit after the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

Masood Azhar asks Pak to open path for mujahideen against India; show courage to resolve Kashmir issue

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid ongoing tensions between Indian and Pakistan, Pathankot terror attack mastermind and Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar has asked Pakistan government to open the path for mujahideen, saying the Kashmir problem can be resolved once and for all right now. According to a report in the Indian Express, in his appeal, published in the current issue of the Jaish weekly magazine al-Qalam, Masood Azhar has called for jihadist groups to be allowed to ramp up their operations against India . Masood has also asked the Pakistan government to show courage in resolving the disputes regarding Kashmir and water sharing, adding, “All the bitter memories of 1971 will be dissolved into the triumphant emotions of 2016.”
ALSO READ Don’t lecture media, take action against Hafiz Saeed, Masood Azhar: Pak daily to govtAccording to the report, Azhar directly addressed Pakistan’s policy establishment and talked about how beneficial the jihadist policies backed by it in the 1990s had been for the country.“Consider India before and after the jihad in Kashmir, you will see a dramatic difference. In the course of this journey, which I have been an eyewitness to, I have seen India reduced from a serpent to an earthworm,” Azhar appealed.
ALSO READ China once again blocks UN ban on Masood Azhar citing ‘different views’Masood’s appeal comes after the civilian government informed the military about the growing international isolation of Islamabad and has sought consensus on several key actions by the state.Meanwhile, a prominent journalist Cyril Almeida has been barred from leaving Pakistan after he reported on a suspected rift between civilian and military leaderships. The Foreign Office vehemently rejected the report and termed it “speculative”. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered authorities to take “stern action” against those responsible for publishing the “fabricated” story.

Why the National Security Guard (NSG) commandos took over the Red Fort

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was another quiet evening at Delhi’s Red Fort on Monday till 8.45 in the night. That is when Gypsies and buses carrying National Security Guard (NSG) commandos reached the iconic monument.This was no mock drill. The elite force trained for anti-terror operations took over the Red Fort in the wake of intelligence inputs about a possible terror strike during festive season. Top Delhi Police officers told DNA that this was not a usual exercise and this was the first instance when the NSG will be camping at the Red Fort, which was attacked in 2000.Paragliding prohibitedThe Delhi Police on Monday night issued an order under Section 144 of the CrPc, prohibiting sub-conventional aerial platforms like paragliders, paramotors, hang gliders, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), microlight aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft, hot-air balloons, small size powered aircraft, quadcopters and even parajumping from aircraft. The order comes will be valid from October 11, 2016 to November 6, 2016.This correspondent was present at the Red Fort as the commandos set up their barracks by 1 am. They went about their job under minimum lights. All they had were the headlights of their vehicles.In the last few days, there were two instances of security breach at the Red Fort. An officer from the Special Cell, the Delhi Police’s anti-terror unit, was sent to do a ground check in view of the heightened threat. He walked passed the security check with his weapon. In the second incident, two BSF officers were detained for carrying revolvers while entering the Red Fort.Sources say that the NSG will camp at the fort for a few days. The NSG’s arrival has also left the local police and other security agencies alarmed.The cracks1. On October 8, 2016, a Special Cell officer sneaked into the Red Fort from gate number 1 with his service Glock pistol. He was detected by a police officer and his pistol recovered only after some time. It was gross negligence on the part of the two officers manning the DFMD (Door Frame metal Detector), when the city was on high alert. The officers were transferred to district lines with immediate effect. 2. On October 9, 2016, two Border Security Force (BSF) personnel were detained while they were entering through gate number 1. Loaded service revolvers were found in their possession as well. They were later let off after a warning.The Red Fort houses around three Ramlilas and sees a gathering of over 10,000 people per day. Though dignitaries including the President, Vice-President and senior leaders of various political parties visit the fort at this time of the season, the NSG has never been positioned there before. The footfall of visitors who come to see the monument is very large and Chandni Chowk next to it is an add-on.The Special Cell received an alert on October 3 about the possibility of a terror strike at crowded places during the festive season as it would be an easy target and the attack would get maximum publicity. The advisory specifically mentioned about the tight vigil on the border areas and highways. The Red Fort is situated close to the National Highway. The advisory further said that the recent surgical strikes by the Indian Army at terrorist launch pads across borders may encourage terrorists to orchestrate indiscriminate acts of terror on iconic targets and civilians. The recent terror attacks in Uri and the Pathankot Air Force base may also encourage the terrorists to carry out another possible strike in the Capital.Another input said that two fidayeens (suicide bombers) are headed towards Delhi from Kashmir and a high alert was sounded on October 7

UP polls 2017: Modi’s Lucknow event for Dussehra politically motivated, says Mayawati

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP president Mayawati on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Lucknow to attend Dussehra celebrations is “politically motivated” and the event should have been toned down taking into account the loss suffered by the families of soldiers killed in the deadly Uri terror attack.”The pyre of jawans who lost their lives in the Uri attack has not yet died down, but the Prime Minister is coming to Lucknow to celebrate Dussehra for his political motives,” Mayawati said at a rally in Lucknow on the occasion of party founder Kanshi Ram’s 10th death anniversary..”It is likely that for the same purpose, he (Modi) might come to UP for Diwali as well. Taking the loss of the Uri martyrs’ families into account, BJP should have celebrated Dussehra and Diwali with sobriety and simplicity,” she said.”The BJP has been forced to bring Modi to Lucknow to Dussehra mela so that he can put forth his views at a religious congregation…It has been forced to indulge in politics of religion,” she said.Mocking the saffron party, she said BJP might be forced to bring in film actors to garner crowds in future. Crowds alone do not translate into votes, she added. Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to visit Lucknow and attend Dussehra festivities at the historic Aishbagh Ramlila ground on October 11. Apprehensive of possible efforts to “cash in” on cross-border terrorism in the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Punjab, Mayawati said hysteria of war between India and Pakistan may be churned up to “divert attention from failures” of the central government. On the Army’s surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC), she said that it was the right move, but one that came too late. “There is a feeling among people that this could have been delayed for taking political and electoral mileage.” Had the military action been carried out after the Pathankot attack in January, lives of 19 soldiers in Uri might have been saved, she said.On the calls for making evidence of the strikes in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) public, the BSP leader said the decision should rest with the Army alone. She also hit out at the Centre for trying to gain “political mileage” by taking credit for the Army’s operation She equated the present “hype” with the mood in the US after its forces eliminated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.Lashing out at the Prime Minister for “failing” to fulfil promises made during the Lok Sabha polls, Mayawati said that all sections of society were today feeling “cheated”. “The politics being played in the garb of strikes has never be seen earlier,” she said, adding that the speech delivered by PM Modi on August 15 indicated that anything can be done for gaining political mileage.The BSP chief also alleged that central agencies like CBI are being “misused” by the ruling party of the day to “harass” political adversaries, as was done with her during the previous Congress government.As Chief Minister, she said she took action even against her own ministers on corruption charges, unlike the present dispensation “which let Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya flee” from the country. PTI SABBSA10091731NNNNPTI

Mayawati accuses Centre of politicising surgical strikes; war of words erupts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>BSP supremo Mayawati’s remark that the Centre could have delayed the surgical strikes to reap political mileage in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls triggered a sharp exchange on Sunday between the ruling BJP and opposition parties which chose to side with the Dalit leader.While BJP accused Mayawati of communalising the UP poll campaign and using caste to gain electoral mileage, Congress said the ruling party at the Centre was trying to use the army’s surgical strikes on terrorist launch pads across the LoC for its political gain in the poll-bound state. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi might have thought of taking political ownership of surgical strikes but doing politics over the action harms the country and such politics is not a matter of honour for the army. Indian army is separate from politics. It will be unfortunate that decisions and actions of army are being used for political mileage,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said. JD(U) leader KC Tyagi said the valour of Indian Army is pride of the nation and it cannot become the programme of a political party. “Those who are doing it are hurting Indian Army,” he said.
ALSO READ ‘Khoon ka dalali’ | Kejriwal criticises Rahul Gandhi’s remark, Amit Shah slams them bothBJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said that by raising suspicion on the strikes, the opposition leaders are giving fodder to Pakistan and ISI to run propaganda against India. “The country will not forgive them for this,” he said. Another BJP spokesperson, Meenakshi Lekhi, said Mayawati does politics of casteism that comes within communal politics. “BJP does politics of communal harmony, not the politics of communalism or casteism. The people doing such casteist or communal politics should correct themselves rather than raising questions about us,” she said.Addressing a rally in Lucknow on the occasion of party founder Kanshi Ram’s 10th death anniversary, Mayawati said a “war hysteria” was being sought to be created by the BJP over the surgical assault, which she said was the right move, but one that came too late. “There is a feeling among people that this (the strikes) could have been delayed for taking political and electoral mileage,” she said, adding had the military action been conducted after the Pathankot attack in January, the lives of 19 soldiers in Uri could have been saved.
ALSO READ Congress is making ISI happy: RS Prasad hits out over Kapil Sibal’s ‘BJP made JeM’ commentRashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Jha asked whether such brave actions by Indian soldiers should be turned into “cheap Bollywood” style posters by BJP? Is this the way they look at surgical strikes? Is this the way they look at covert operation? Where we are heading to? (BJP President) Amit Shah does not realise that he is demeaning the morale of India army and Indian army is not a political army. It has stood upright in difficult circumstances. I would request the Prime Minister that surgical strikes should not be used for narrow, parochial, right wing gains in the manner of surgical propaganda,” Jha said.Amid demands by opposition parties for proof to back the claim of surgical strikes, Mayawati said and the army alone and not the government should take a decision on this. She also hit out at the Centre for trying to gain “political mileage” by taking credit for the Army’s operation.
ALSO READ Battle royale as political parties spar furiously over surgical strikesShe equated the present “hype” over the strikes with the mood in the US after its forces eliminated Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Lashing out at the Prime Minister for “failing” to fulfil promises made during the Lok Sabha polls, Mayawati said that all sections of society were today feeling “cheated”. “The politics being played in the garb of strikes has never be seen earlier,” she said, adding that the speech delivered by PM Modi on August 15 indicated that anything can be done for gaining political mileage.

No middle path for China on Masood Azhar, says BJP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Sunday that terrorism and bilateral relations cannot go hand in hand, and thus, China will have to choose between India and Pakistan. The BJP made this comment after Beijing tried to defend its second technical hold to prevent a United Nations ban on Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.”There is no middle path in the fight against terrorism and China will have to decide which side it is on. It will have to make up its mind whether it is going to side with terrorism just because they want to strengthen their relations with a particular country, and, how far is that going to serve humanity, and, how far is that going to serve Indo-China relations,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.On October 1, China had extended its veto on India’s move in the United Nations to blacklist Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar and with this, Beijing for the second time prevented India’s efforts. China defending its move yesterday said that there were “different views” on India’s application and that its move will allow more time for the “relevant parties” to have consultations even when China is the lone member among the 15-member UNSC to oppose the ban on Azhar.

Modi insulted Army when he was in Opposition: Congress

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under attack over Rahul Gandhi’s “dalali” barb, Congress on Saturdday hit back at Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing him of “insulting” the Army when BJP was in opposition.”The Govt, which is taking credit for the bravery of our Armed Forces, is headed by the same man who insulted the Army when in Opposition,” the party tweeted.It posted a purported tweet by Modi when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister on its twitter handle which read, “We are facing many a crisis. Is all this happening due to weakness of our Army:Narendra Modi (sic).” In the picture containing the tweet, Congress alleged that Modi even targeted the Army to grab power.”In 2008, Modi ji touched a new low – instead of showing solidarity with forces, he held a press conference at attack site & cursed the Govt (sic),” it said in another tweet. The tweet accompanied a picture that showed Modi addressing media in Mumbai in the wake of the 26/11 terror strikes.Congress said the Modi government “insulted the sacrifices” of martyrs “by inviting the ISI to probe the Pathankot terror attack”. BJP chief Amit Shah had yesterday launched a blistering attack on Rahul for his ‘dalali’ remarks, saying he “crossed all limits” and “insulted” the army’s valour.The Congress Vice President had on Thursday accused the Prime Minister of “hiding behind the blood of soldiers” and politically exploiting their sacrifices.

China once again blocks UN ban on Masood Azhar citing ‘different views’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China on Saturday defended its second technical hold to prevent a UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar saying there were “different views” on India’s application and that Beijing’s move will allow more time for the “relevant parties” to have consultations. Reacting to India’s criticism that its second hold on attempts to ban Azhar sends a dangerous message, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the listing application member states submitted to the 1267 Committee of UN “must comply” with specific requirements of relevant resolutions of UN Security Council (UNSC). Though China is the lone member among the 15-member UNSC to oppose the ban on Azhar, Beijing claims that “different views” existed about India’s application against Azhar.”There are still different views on India’s listing application made this March. The technical hold on it will allow more time for the Committee to deliberate on the matter and for relevant parties to have further consultations,” the ministry said in a written reply to PTI to a question seeking its response to India’s strong criticism. The reference to “further consultations” apparently referred to direct consultations between India and Pakistan over the issue.China had put the first technical hold six months ago on India’s application following Azhar’s alleged involvement in the Pathankot terrorist attack. China had extended the second technical hold valid for three months during this week despite several consultations between New Delhi and Beijing at various levels. It is expected to figure again during the expected meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit to be held in Goa from October 15-16.While opposing the ban against Azhar, the Chinese Foreign Ministry however said “China firmly supports combating all forms of terrorism, stronger international cooperation against terrorism, and supports the central and coordinating role of the UN in international counter-terrorism cooperation”. It said, China always maintains that on the listing matter, the 1267 Committee should stick to the principles of objectivity, impartiality and professionalism, base its judgments on solid evidence and decide upon consensus among the members of the Security Council.Without naming China, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on October 6 that only one country had put the technical hold, blocking the ban by another three months, and criticised the completely “non-transparent and anonymous” manner of designating individuals by the UN Sanctions Committee.India has been highlighting the cross-border terror threat emanating from Pakistan and tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad are on the rise since last month’s Uri attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 19 Indian soldiers.

False dawn? Here’s why we should be very skeptical of Nawaz Sharif’s epiphany

In times of confusion, old adages offer prescience. And this one will be particularly useful when it comes to Pakistan — ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t’.

Before we rush in to rejoice over the apparent discord between Pakistan’s civil and military administration over its terror operatives, it would be useful to remember that when it comes to Pakistan, nothing is at it seems.

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

File image of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

The present conjecture has arisen out of a single source, a report from Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper that leaks details of an “extraordinary meeting” where Pakistan’s civil administration purportedly told the military chiefs that they should either rein their terror puppets or the country faces “diplomatic isolation”.

According to Dawn, the meeting between Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a small but powerful coterie of government and military officials including ISI chief Rizwan Akhtar resulted in two decisions. One, military-led intelligence agencies won’t interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups and two, fresh attempts will be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi anti-terrorism court.

This sounds, to put it mildly, improbable.

To assume that Pakistan’s civil administration has asked the Rawalpindi khakis to act against militants requires major suspension of disbelief. It would mean that going against Pakistan’s historical subversion of power and the civil administration’s total irrelevance, Nawaz Sharif has miraculously found a spine.

We are talking about a country where the balance of power between elected government members and the army is so heavily skewed that nobody even in Pakistan believes that the Prime Minister enjoys any autonomy of power. There have been umpteen reports and even social media memes on how the speech read out by Nawaz Sharif at the UN General Assembly, where he praised a terrorist as a martyr and immeasurably weakened Pakistan’s case, was vetted by Rawalpindi GHQ.

Also, professor C Christine Fair of the Georgetown University, author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War and a noted south Asia analyst, was quick to point out that the clever differentiation being attempted between Pakistan’s civil and military dispensation is false, because when it comes to rearing, nurturing and exporting terror, the Nawaz Sharif government is as culpable as the army or ISI.

Even if we play the Devil’s Advocate and grant that Nawaz is sincere in his latest effort, it stretches credulity to think that he’d suddenly find the courage to confront the Army, knowing well that his seat is secure as long as it is allowed to be from Rawalpindi.

Besides, there is history.

On the Pathankot attack, Professor Fair writes in Huffington Post how Masood Azhar’s Jaish-e-Mohammad was rejuvenated and used by Islamabad to manage “its own internal security challenges as well as a cornerstone of its policy of nuclear blackmail to achieve ideological objectives in Kashmir…Pakistan does so not merely to ‘disrupt peace’ with India; rather, to prosecute the Pakistan army’s endless war on India within its borders and across South Asia.”

Considering the posture that Nawaz Sharif has consistently aired vis-à-vis Kashmir and the steadfast effort he has put in — dispatching 22 envoys in different parts of the world to highlight the issue in different parts of the world — it is surprising that Indian media believes Pakistan’s civil administration is not on the same page as the military.

Bear in mind that when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was on a Saarc visit to Islamabad, he had to take a chopper to his hotel because 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed was holding a rally in Lahore against Rajnath’s visit while Hizbul Mujaheedin chief Syed Salahuddin was lighting the embers elsewhere in Pakistan. It would be presumptuous to think that these terror masterminds were roaming free and holding rallies without active collusion and backing from the civil administration.

A more likely explanation of the charade is the concerted international pressure that Pakistan is under, following a string of terrorist attacks on Indian soil and New Delhi’s diplomatic offensive. Sharif’s “courtroom drama” with calculated leaks in media seems to be aimed at sending a message to the global powers that Pakistan is “serious about battling terror”, a posture that has served Pakistan well and ensured a line of unending credit from Washington.

Interestingly, the Dawn report tantalizingly hints at such a manouvre. It says: “According to several government officials, Monday’s confrontation was part of a high-stakes gamble by Prime Minister Sharif to try and forestall further diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.”

As Tanvi Madan, Fellow and director of India Project at Brookings Institution pointed out on Twitter, this message could be aimed at Washington, who in recent times have indicated that its patience with Pakistan’s war games is wearing thin and Beijing, which can never be taken for granted.

Whatever be the case, for policymakers in India, it would be better to wait and watch what Pakistan does. The proof of the pudding is in eating.

Pak PMO denies report claiming Nawaz Sharif talked tough with Pak Army

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After Pakistan’s English Daily the Dawn reported that the civilian government in Islamabad has informed the military leadership of a growing international isolation of Pakistan and sought consensus on several key actions by the state, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement rejecting the report as ‘misleading and factually incorrect’.Earlier in the day, under the headline, ‘Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military’, the Dawn reported that the Pakistan Government said that military-led intelligence agencies are not to interfere if law enforcement acts against militant groups that are banned or until now considered off-limits for civilian action. The report said Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI ) DG Gen Rizwan Akhtar, accompanied by National Security Adviser Nasser Janjua, is to travel to each of the four provinces with a message for provincial apex committees and ISI sector commanders.However, disowning the report the spokesman of the PM Office has strongly rejected the story published in the Daily Dawn of 6 Oct 16, regarding purported deliberations in a meeting on the security issues. The spokesman has termed contents of the story not only speculative but misleading and factually incorrect. It is an amalgamation of fiction and fabrication.’The statement said that the fact that the report itself states that none of the attributed statements were confirmed by the individuals mentioned in the story clearly makes it an example of irresponsible reporting.Dispelling the impression created by the newspaper, the spokesman said, ‘The intelligence agencies particularly ISI are working in line with the state policy in the best interest of the nation both at the federal and provincial levels to act against terrorists of all hue and colour without any discrimination Indeed the Army’s and ISI’s role and contributions towards implementation of NAP have been proactive and unwavering.’It is imperative that those demanding the right to information at par with the international best practices also act in a manner which is compatible with international reporting standards.’The report by Dawn also said that Prime Minister Sharif has directed that fresh attempts be made to conclude the Pathankot investigation and restart the stalled Mumbai attacks-related trials in a Rawalpindi antiterrorism court.

India to review Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan: Vikas Swarup

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India on Thursday said it will review the Most Favoured Nation status granted to Pakistan by it based on the security and trade interests, asserting that terror cannot be the commodity exported. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said that the speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in Parliament shows Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism directed against India and was “self implicating”. Sharif had hailed Wani as “son of the Kashmiri soil” while addressing the joint session on Wednesday.”Promoting shared prosperity with neighbours has been government’s priority but terror cannot be the commodity exported. We will undertake a review based on our security and trade interests,” he said when asked if India will review the MFN status given to Pakistan by India, unilaterally.Asked about the recent conversation between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, he said the Prime Ministers of the two countries had in January agreed that their NSAs will remain in touch and the details should not be made public. “India remains committed not to make it public.”Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that India has agreed to reduce tensions after their NSAs spoke over phone. This was first such contact after the Uri attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC.Swarup also refused to react to the reports in Pakistani media that Sharif has asked the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials.On the reports that Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), a umbrella group of jihadi and Islamist outfits as Hafiz Saeed’s JeM, organising a rally in Pakistan on October 28, he said India has always voiced its concerns at the freedom available to such internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti India activities openly.”It is up to the government of Pakistan to abide by its assurances that it will deny the use of its territory for such purposes,” he added. Swarup also described as “inflection point” the recent cancelling of SAARC Summit after several countries of the eight-nation grouping pulled out over the cross-border terrorism as till now some were only doing “lip-service” and not doing anything concrete. Asserting that Indian forces have carried out 20 successful interdictions along the LoC to foil infiltration attempts, Swarup said captured terrorists have confessed that a large number of terrorists are trained and ready to be launched in terrorists camps in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He added that since July 8, close to a dozen major terrorist attacks have taken place in J&K, supported and launched from across LOC or border, including today in Handwara.”I would also remind you of what DGMO said on September 29 that it is India’s intention to maintain peace and tranquillity in the region, but we can certainly not allow the terrorists to operate across the Line of Control with impunity and attack the citizens of our country,” he added.The Spokesperson also asserted that India has clearly conveyed to Pakistan High Commissioner to India when he was summoned after Uri attack that the government expects Pakistan to fulfill its assurances of 2004, reiterated at highest levels, not to allow territory under its control for terrorism against any country.

India to review most favoured nation status granted to Pakistan: Vikas Swarup

New Delhi: India on Thursday said it will review the Most Favoured Nation status granted to Pakistan by it based on the security and trade interests, asserting that terror cannot be the commodity exported. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said that the speech by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif hailing Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in Parliament shows Pakistan’s complicity in terrorism directed against India and was “self implicating”. Sharif had hailed Wani as “son of the Kashmiri soil” while addressing the joint session on Wednesday.

File image of MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. CNN-News18

File image of MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. CNN-News18

“Promoting shared prosperity with neighbours has been government’s priority but terror cannot be the commodity exported. We will undertake a review based on our security and trade interests,” he said when asked if India will review the MFN status given to Pakistan by India, unilaterally.

Asked about the recent conversation between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan, he said the Prime Ministers of the two countries had in January agreed that their NSAs will remain in touch and the details should not be made public. “India remains committed not to make it public.” Earlier this week, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz was quoted as saying by Pakistani media that India has agreed to reduce tensions after their NSAs spoke over phone.

This was first such contact after the Uri attack and India’s retaliatory surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the LoC. Swarup also refused to react to the reports in Pakistani media that Sharif has asked the powerful military not to shield banned militant groups and directed authorities to conclude the Pathankot terror attack probe and the 2008 Mumbai attack trials.

On the reports that Difa-e-Pakistan Council (DPC), an umbrella group of jihadi and Islamist outfits as Hafiz Saeed’s JeM, organising a rally in Pakistan on 28 October, he said India has always voiced its concerns at the freedom available to such internationally designated terrorists in Pakistan to conduct and promote anti India activities openly. “It is up to the government of Pakistan to abide by its assurances that it will deny the use of its territory for such purposes,” he added.

Pathankot attack: Pakistan govt still in the dark about Islamabad’s involvement in terror attack

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Pakistan government has admitted on the floor of the Senate that it is still in dark about Islamabad’s involvement in the terror attack on the Pathankot airbase in India.According to Dawn, Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed, who was responding to questions on behalf of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, failed to give satisfactory replies to the questions put by the members on the issue and later admitted that the government had no information at all since the ‘sensitive’ issue was being dealt by the intelligence agencies and secrecy was also involved in it.Uproar followed his remarks as Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani asked the minister whether the intelligence agencies were ‘above the federal government’.”Do you know what you are saying? Can there be anything secret even for the federal government? You have left me speechless,” Rabbani said.In response, the minister said the agencies were not above the government, but so far the government had not received any report from the intelligence agencies on the matter.Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq alleged that India was in the habit of levelling false allegations against Pakistan whenever some militant attack took place in the country. However, he did not categorically state if the government had received any report about the attack.

India’s operation against terrorists in PoK should be supported: European Parliament official

London: India’s “proactive operation” against terrorists in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir should be “commended” and supported by the international community, a top European Parliament official has said, underlining that New Delhi deserves global support in its fight against terror.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

European Parliament vice-president Ryszard Czarnecki praised India for their approach to the situation.

“India’s cross-border action against terrorists on its borders with Pakistan should be commended and supported by the international community. India has clearly indicated that these attacks were not against the Pakistani state, but focussed against terror groups that threatened peace and stability in the region,” Czarnecki said.

“India deserves global support in its fight against terror emanating from Pakistan, for if left unchecked, these individuals and groups would be attacking Europe and the West, soon. It is also important for the European Union to maintain pressure on Pakistan to eliminate the terror networks that operate within its borders,” the British-born Polish politician said in an article in EP Today, the monthly news magazine for the European Parliament.

The “proactive operation” carried out on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir was “probably a first by India” and was in response to the two attacks on Indian defence establishments — the Pathankot airbase in January and the Uri army camp in September, he said.

“The time has come for the world to act decisively against terrorism and ensure that no terror group is assured of a secure haven in any part of the world,” he added.

The close relationship between the Pakistan defence establishment, the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network was well known, he added.

“We have witnessed the alarming growth of Pak-linked terror modules in Europe and other parts of the world. The close proximity between the Pak security establishment and terror groups has also given rise to a situation where organisations propagating Islamic militancy in Pakistan enjoy de facto state patronage,” Czarnecki said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan are growing after militants stormed an Indian Army base in Uri on 18 September, killing 19 soldiers.

The terror launch pads across the border were targeted by the Indian Army last week, inflicting “significant casualties” on terrorists preparing to infiltrate from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Punjab: Search operations conducted after man with weapon spotted in Gurdaspur

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> An extensive search operation was conducted by Punjab Police in the Dera Baba Nanak area after a woman claimed to have spotted a man moving suspiciously with a weapon. “A search operation was carried out by the police near Shikar Machhian (in Dera Baba Nanak) village here,” Batala SSP Daljinder Singh Dhillon said today. He said a woman had yesterday claimed to have seen a “man wearing black clothes and carrying a weapon moving in a suspicious manner”. “We immediately launched the search operation which went on during the night as well as today,” Dhillon said. The police used hand-held thermal imaging devices to trace any suspicious movement in the civil areas, the SSP added. “However, we have not found anything suspicious so far,” he said, adding that the police were acting “immediately” on any information regarding any suspicious movement. “We are considering information on suspicious persons very seriously,” the SSP said, adding that the security personnel were on “high alert” in the backdrop of escalating tension between India and Pakistan. Yesterday, the BSF personnel at Chakkri Border Out Post (BOP) in Gurdaspur sector had opened fire after spotting a suspicious movement along the International Border (IB). A couple of days ago, an extensive two-day search operation was carried out at Pathankot following inputs about suspicious movement of armed men in army fatigues.