Sunday, November 24, 2013

Afghanistan seeks tanks, field artillery and attack helicopters from India


150 battle tanks, 120 (105 mm) field guns, a large number of 82 mm mortars, one medium lift transport aircraft (AN-32), two squadrons of medium lift (24) and attack helicopters (24) and a large number of trucks and jeeps form a part of the wish list that Afghanistan has handed over to New Delhi to arm itself ahead of the 2014 NATO draw down. Afghanistan has also sought allied paraphernalia for training, maintenance and upkeep of the equipment.

Highly placed sources in the government have told Headlines Today that Afghanistan army also wants New Delhi to set up a military training facility for its officers and soldiers in Afghanistan and provide a training team immediately. The training is for English language, counter insurgency operations, ordnance-weapons & stores management and also vehicle repairs.

This is assistance apart from the 2 billion dollar aid India is providing to rebuild Afghanistan. India is providing a 2 billion US dollar line of credit to Afghanistan for infrastructure development projects including construction of dams, roads, bridges, Parliament, Schools, hospitals and training facilities. "India is working very closely with the US, Russia and several other countries on Afghanistan-post 2014 draw down and all like minded powers have one goal. Afghanistan cannot be permitted to slide back into the tumultuous days of Taliban at any cost. An effort is being made to synchronize the rebuilding effort,'' sources said.

And in a powerful signal to India, Afghanistan has turned down Pakistan's request for both training their service personnel and a generous line of credit to take "what they want'' from Pakistan ordnance factories. "Pakistan's all powerful Army Chief General Ashfq Pervez Kayani had visited Afghanistan and offered to train the Afghanistan army - both officers and men and also equip the Afghanistan army. One officer even attended the Command and Staff College in Quetta but in his assessment report after the course said officers in future should be sent to Staff College, Wellington (India),'' sources added.

More than 400 Afghan army officers have trained at National Defence Academy (NDA) Khadakvasla, Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun and Officers Training Academy (OTA) Chennai in the past three years alone. A total of 1200 Afghan National Army officers have been trained by India. "And back in Afghanistan they proudly wear the NDA, IMA & OTA insignia on their uniform. Though the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has set up a training base for Afghan officers and enlisted men in Afghanistan itself - communication remains an issue. Therefore they prefer to undergo training in India. We give pre-commission training to 50 officers every year - but call for 150 applications and the cadets undergo an examination similar to services selection board (SSB) in Kabul itself,'' sources added. India does not weed out applicants based on their ethnic background. India is training Afghan cadets and officers from diverse ethno-religious backgrounds including Pashtun, Tajik and Uzbeks.

Afghanistan has also sought Indian assistance is setting up Base Repair Workshops for equipment. "A lot of equipment has been provided to them by different countries. They have so far been adopting a use and throw policy. That is very expensive and cannot be sustained. They have made an urgent request to help set up repair workshops and train their personnel in workshop operations and inventory management. Given the fact they have equipment from roughly 30 countries their inventories are also vast and almost unmanageable. This is one area where we are actively helping them,'' sources added.

Top level government sources have told Headlines Today that the prime minister's office is not very inclined to give lethal military hardware to the current Afghan army. "While India is focusing on capacity building, training and infrastructure, the NATO forces have so far been providing arms and ammunition to the Afghan army. 80 per cent of Afghan army equipment comes from NATO forces. The Afghan army is well provided for - when it comes to small arms, ammunition and infantry support weapons. However, there are real fears that area destruction weapons and tanks, artillery etc. could end up in wrong hands post 2014 US army drawdown. Therefore we prefer to adopt a wait and watch policy,'' sources added. India hopes ISAF will train and adequately arm the ANA before the 'final draw down' not just with infantry weapons but also Artillery, Tanks and other area domination weapons.

There is a small group that believes India should share weapons with the Afghan army and build their capacity to withstand a Taliban onslaught post 2014 drawdown. A defeatist mentality will only weaken the young Afghan army further. For now both the US and India appear to be adopting a wait and watch policy to see Afghan election results.

Speaking to Headlines Today Ambassador Jayant Prasad, India's former Ambassador to Afghanistan said: "India has always been a reliable partner of Afghanistan and there are three features that will define India-Afghan partnership for all times to come, perseverance, balance and adaptability. We will see the circumstances and do what ever is required to make Afghanistan stable and prosperous and that holds true of the defence sector too.''

Former Director General Military Intelligence (DGMI) Lt Gen Ravi Sawhney concurs. "Afghan National army needs an artillery Brigade and Armoured Brigade for protection against Taliban. India has stood by Afghanistan in its darkest days when they were practically abandoned by the world. We have a long term commitment to stabilize Afghanistan and India will not let them down.''
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Thursday, October 31, 2013


Good afternoon ladies and Gentlemen,

My name is Gaurav Sawant and I am your punching bag for the session.

I want to begin by playing out a one minute long clip of a question I posed to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on board his special flight, when he was returning, after a 5 day two nation tour of Russia and China on 24th of October.


Question (Gaurav C Sawant, Editor Headlines Today/Aaj Tak): Its been over three weeks since you met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in New York. Firing, Prime Minister, has not only increased at the LoC but also along the international border, are you disappointed with Nawaz Sharif and if Pakistan continues to fire, how should we respond Prime Minister?

Answer (Prime Minister): Let me say that I am disappointed, because in the New York meeting there was a general agreement on both the sides that peace and tranquillity should be maintained on the border, on the Line of Control as well as on the international border and this has not happened. It has come to me as a big disappointment. We had agreed at that meeting that the ceasefire which was made effective in 2003, if it has held ground for 10 years, it could be made to hold ground later on also. The fact that this is not happening, is something which is really a matter of disappointment. I sincerely hope that at this late hour Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will recognize that this is a development which is not good for either of the two countries.


Dr Manmohan Singh as you all acknowledge has invested a lot in peace with Pakistan. And he is a disappointed man. So is the nation. And we in the media, only reflect public opinion in general.

I want to ask a couple of questions -

By reporting Ceasefire violations along the LoC and IB and its impact on soldiers and civilians are we, the media, escalating India-Pak tensions? Or are those who violate the CFA (ceasefire agreement) escalating tensions?

By reporting that in August 2013 Hafiz Mohammed Saeed was leading the Eid prayers at Gaddafi stadium in Lahore and that he is the mastermind of a series of terror attacks across India, are we escalating India-Pakistan tensions? Or are those who turn Nelson’s Eye and are seen to be encouraging Saeed’s anti India activities escalating tensions?

It is Pakistan’s worst kept secret that Dawood Ibrahim wanted in India for 1993 blasts that killed 257 innocent Indians lives like a king in Karachi. Are we escalating tension by exposing Dawood and Pak double speak or are those who harbour terrorists like Dawood and Indian Mujahideen’s Bhatkal brothers escalating tension?

Ladies and gentlemen in my 19 years as a journalist I have covered almost all major terror attacks in India. Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore….the smell of burnt flesh, the sight of charred remains and wailing families are something I have seen and reported on.

I reflect public resentment at Pakistan’s double cross and our government’s unnecessary accommodation of Pakistani sensitivities and engagement with Pakistan at all costs.


If you think TV is bad, twitter and face book are a good barometer to gauge public opinion. While some may be fringe elements, not all on twitter represent the fringe. From prominent voices in the country to the aam admi, just search India-Pakistan and you will see media is just telling you what the nation feels.

My information is not based on documents leaked by the deep state – propaganda against Pakistan - but on solid evidence that has been processed through courts of law in India and abroad.

I was in the Chicago federal court day in and day out covering the Tahawwur Hussein Rana trial and David Coleman Headley confessions. The FBI exposed the role of Pakistani state in the activities of Rana and Headley – not just in terror activities in India but also in Denmark.

It is in Pakistan’s interest to investigate those who dealt with Headley. Did Pakistan do so?

26/11 probe was a text book investigation. From Kasab’s confessions, to intercepting telephone conversations, to the Yamaha engine being sold by Japan to Pakistan to interrogation of Abu Jundal, deported from a friendly Arab country.

Ladies and gentlemen, Pakistan recently tried to stop the extradition of a terrorist from a friendly gulf country – going to the extent of producing a Pakistani passport and family in court. The Indian government then had to produce DNA samples to prove he was an Indian. 

That is how much Pakistan cooperates in the war on terror.

Ladies and gentlemen I want to ask one question:-

When your house is on fire what do you do?

Do you politely, with a glass of wine and caviar in your hand mumble apologetically terror should stop or do you scream from the roof top?

Ladies and gentlemen that is exactly what we in the media are doing. Screaming from the roof top – wake up. Stop this Pakistan sponsored terror.

Tell us are we wrong on FACTS?

I completely reject the theory it is a TRP game. This is far more serious than TRPs. 167 dead in Mumbai, over 100 ceasefire violations in two months alone, we just lost a lieutenant colonel in Samba, a JCO in Uri yesterday. This is not TRPs – at least not for me or the group I work for.

We demand accountability from our own government and as citizens of the world – from the Pakistani government. And we are glad our counterparts in Pakistan are doing the same. Asking tough questions. It was after all a Pakistani channel, Geo News, that first reached Kasab’s village and proved it to the world that he was a Pakistani terrorist.

India has changed. Something snapped during 26/11. Now we want answers. We don’t want war. Nobody is war mongering but it cannot be business as usual without the real perpetrators of 26/1 being punished and terror machinery aimed at India being shut down.

There will be no war. But the media will continue to expose you..and embarrass you…there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.

And it is happening already. The recent arrest of Yasin Bhatkal has given even more information on the role that Pakistani deep state has played in sponsoring terror.

We must remain engaged is good. But is the media wrong when we ask what’s the goal?

Pak says TALK Kashmir. Ok so what on Kashmir? Can Pak take Kashmir by force? 1947, 65, 71, Kargil, terror – it is not happening by force and as you now realize, each time it hurts Pakistan even more.

Hot pursuit, surgical strikes, covert action – when media talks about options on the table – even our own government is critical of our debates. But it is good there is awareness in the masses and that brings more accountability from the system. Ours for sure, yours hopefully.

But at the same time nobody should have that Asha that ads in newspapers will bring aman. Even if you have full page aman ki asha ads, they ring hollow when the the front page is all about innocent Indian civilians or soldiers killed in Pak sponsored terror attacks.


1.   Accept the fact every time there is a terror attack, media will ask tough questions.

2.   Such is the nature of the beast that the questions will be biting and will hurt.

3.   Media is not war mongering. Media does not want war at the same time media also does not want perpetrators go unpunished.

4.   All options on the table, surgical strikes, drone attacks, covert operations are being discussed – at media level not government level. We have war gamed a surgical strike in Pakistan in our studio and told our viewers it will not bring a long lasting solution.

5.   If you dismiss evidence that convicted Kasab & Headley as hear say and literature – you expose yourself – your own lack of will or inability to deal with the real issue.

6.   There is total transparency in India – from LoC to Samba to beheading – we ask our government tough questions. I hope one day you in Pakistan will also ask your army and government the same tough questions. Why is Pak aiding, abeting and spreading terror across India, and Indian interests in Afghanistan.






5.   Terror & talks cannot happen simultaneously. Go after elements that spread terror. Like Dr Singh told the Chinese premier Li Keiqiang – the friendship will grow but has to be built on the foundation of peace and tranquility along the Sino-Indian border.

We have to have peace at the borders and ensure Jihad tap is turned off. Then ladies and gentlemen sky is the limit.

And we could actually be reporting on a cricket match or an Indian movie being shot in Lahore and there’d be no resentment to Pakistani artists in Mumbai.

Thank you!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Terrorists planning another Samba-style attack, warn intelligence agencies

Terrorists planning another Samba-style attack, warn intelligence agencies

Two suicide squads responding to wireless call sign "88" and "Hotel 4" are learnt to have sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir to carry out another Samba-style terror attack, warns a secret intelligence note accessed by Headlines Today.

Intelligence agencies have cautioned the J&K Police and also issued an alert to military installations in Srinagar, Udhampur, Jammu, Samba and Pathankot.

While agencies were able to intercept the conversation till about 72 hours ago, the total absence of “chatter” has been a cause of serious concern.

The past three major incidents – Samba infiltration and attack and Keran and Mendher infiltration attempts -- were marked by total wireless silence.

And this makes the task of intelligence agencies more difficult.

"In the past, wireless chatter would give us a fair idea of what was being planned and executed. But with Pakistan Army regulars playing a more direct role in training and handling terrorists – instead of the retired fraternity – there is more discipline in the activities of terrorists. We are dealing with a new bunch of battle-hardened and better-trained terrorists," said an intelligence source.

Pakistan’s strategy is two-fold.

Its army is pushing in its Border Action Team (BAT) to carry out killings on the LoC and return while hoping to push in infiltrators with heavy firing and shelling in Poonch-Mendher sectors south of Pir Panjal and in Keran sectors in north Kashmir.

"One jawan was killed in fresh incidents of firing along the LoC in the Keran sector late yesterday (Thursday). The army retaliated, inflicting casualties on the other side too," the source said.

"We have learnt that during a recent meeting of some of the Tanzeem commanders in Lahore, an ISI brigadier codenamed Mustafa told them to carry out high-profile targeted attacks before the onset of winters. That is why there appears to be a sudden desperation to push in infiltrators despite a multi-tiered cordon being in place," the source said.

In fact, terrorists are being forced to either find gaps in the higher reaches of Shamshabari ranges in inhospitable altitudes of almost 13,000 feet to infiltrate or try to push through firing in the Poonch-Mendher sectors.

"This goes on to show the desperation of the terrorists and their handlers across the LoC. The intercepts indicate the terrorists are being tasked to hit schools, hospitals, temples and market places around Dussehra and Diwali. The terrorists are also being told to target the minorities in Doda, Kishtwar and revive terror in Poonch and Rajouri districts that have by and large been peaceful," the source said.

Headlines Today has accessed a list of 10 terrorist training camps with the number of terrorists undergoing training in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

1.     Jangal Mangal/Attar Sisa: 150-175 Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) terrorists

2.     Abdullah Bin Maqsood, Kotli, PoK: 75-100 LeT/HM terrorists

3.     Barali: 175-200 terrorists

4.     Fagosh 75: 100 LeT, HM terrorists

5.     Nikial: 80-90 LeT, HM and Al Badr terrorists

6.     Gulpur: 75-100 LeT and HuJI terrorists

7.     Muzaffarabad: 15-175 LeT and HM terrorists

8.     Bimber: 50-75 LeT terrorists

9.     Manshera: 130-140 LeT terrorists

10. Hot Spring: 25-30 JEM terrorists

According to sources, local villagers close to the LoC are being forced to house terrorists just before they are launched across and this has led to considerable tension between the local villagers and the terrorist handlers.

"The available intelligence seems to indicate Pakistan will try and push across as many terrorists as it can before the onset of winters for a summer of unrest in 2014," the source said.

Friday, March 8, 2013


There is a heated debate raging in India, a country that believes in the motto `Atithi Devo Bhav' (Guest is like God). The debate sparked off in Rajasthan, a state that enjoys a rich tradition of hospitality and swears by its tourism motto `Padharo Mhare Desh' (Welcome to my country).

Today, in this country, there are voices that say, Pakistan's Prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is unwelcome, even though he is on a personal visit and that too on a pilgrimage.

The chief Diwan of the Dargarh Ajmer Sharif issued a statement Friday afternoon saying he will not receive the Pak PM as a mark of protest against the beheading of an Indian soldier at the Line of Control. He struck a chord in the hearts and minds of several citizens across the nation.

India is still recovering from the recent twin blasts in Hyderabad. Even though the government isnt officially admitting it, sources say they suspect Pakistan based Indian Mujahideen and Lashkar e Taiba are responsible for the terror attack that killed 17 people.

The prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh thankfully did not roll out the red carpet and invite Raja Pervez Ashraf to New Delhi, but external affairs minister Salman Khurshid decided to host a lunch for the Pak PM and his retinue at the RamBagh Palace in Jaipur. No senior government officer or minister is to accompany the Pak PM to Ajmer. This is a subtle signal to Pakistan that it is not business as usual till India's core concerns of terror are addressed.

But the sledgehammer blow was delivered by the chief diwan of Dargah Ajmer Sharif. Though his role in the Ziyarat, apparently is limited to welcoming the guests and escorting them to the gates of the shrine from where Khadims take over, he said he will not welcome the Pak PM. His views were echoed by the parents and relatives of soldiers killed in combat with Pakistan and those beheaded by Pak army regulars.

``Pakistan PM's hands are soaked in blood of innocent Indians,'' the chief Diwan told me on Headlines Today. As the news spread like wildfire, lawyers in Ajmer decided to show blackflags to the Pak PM. By late evening, the Dargah market decided to down its shutters as a mark of protest.

The external affairs minister Salman Khurshid tried to downplay the incident, saying he will not react to personal views of any individual and that Pak PM comes with a message of peace. Is the minister out of sync with the thinking of the nation? Why roll out the red carpet for Pakistan? Their hands are soaked in blood of innocent Indians.

the writing clearly is on the wall. The nation does not want to be friends with Pakistan, as long as the jihad factories continue to flourish and enjoy state patronage across the line of control.

Pakistan needs to mend its ways. Today the prime minister is unwelcome, tomorrow it could be worse..