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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Praying for Peace and Prosperity of Nation; Herat attack foiled - Narendra Modi to be sworn in

There have been sweeping changes and all citizens of India hope and pray for the peace and prosperity of the Nation even as Narendra Modi is about to be sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of this Great Nation. 

Massive and unprecedented arrangements are being made for the swearing in of Narendra Modiji on the evening of May 26 at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Around 4,000 guests are expected to attend the ceremony. The last two occasions when swearing in of a PM was organised at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan was in 1990 when Chandrashekar was sworn in, and later in 1996 and 1998, when AB Vajpayee took oath as the PM.  Newspaper reports suggest that  75 foreign dignitaries are  to attend Modi's swearing-in  which would include dignitaries from Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Kenya, Taiwan, Guyana, Denmark, Israel, Australia, and Hong Kong, among others. Eight foreign leaders from India’s near-abroad are attending ~ while the focus will inevitably be on Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the other guests, six from Saarc countries and Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, have their own relevance and importance for India. The others are: outgoing Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, Maldives President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, and Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury who is the Speaker of Bangladesh parliament.  Besides there will thousands of guests which include : outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, leaders of various other parties and chief ministers of a number of States.  

Herāt is the third largest city of Afghanistan;  situated in the valley of the Hari River, which flows from the mountains of central Afghanistan to the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The city is linked with Kandahar. Situated in a fertile area, Herāt dates back to the Avestan times and was traditionally known for its wine.  It was earlier ruled by  Nadir Shah.  Herat was in news for wrong reasons due to terror attack on the Indian consulate here and Modi even before becoming PM had a role to play. Sri Modi spoke to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai on the phone and also directly called up the Indian ambassador in Kabul, Amar Sinha. Senior officials said the PM-designate spoke to Sinha before 11am. By then, the attack had been foiled and the four suicide attackers killed. The gunmen had used rocket-propelled grenades to attack the mission, narrowly missing the bedroom of Indian consul general Amit Mishra.

Top South Block officials said Karzai's office first sought to speak to Singh, via the ministry of external affairs, in the morning but the call had to be rescheduled for 6pm as the caretaker PM was indisposed. Instead, at around noon, the prime minister's office released a statement condemning the attack on Singh's behalf. Officials in the MEA were instructed to prepare talking points for Singh's scheduled conversation with Karzai in the evening. However, Karzai decided not to wait and called up Modi at around 1.30pm, assuring him of protection to all Indian missions in his country. He later spoke to Singh for five minutes at the scheduled 6pm, briefing him in detail on the attack and assuring him of the safety of Indian assets in Afghanistan. Modi later tweeted his praise of the staff at the consulate and the efforts of Indian and Afghan security personnel in foiling the attack.

Daily Mail reports that brave Indo-Tibetan officers and Afghan forces foiled Taliban scheme to take staff hostage as they fight off attack on Indian consulate.  Here are some excerpts from that article : Terrorists in South Asia are terrified ~ and it's all because of one man: Narendra Modi. The imminent takeover of reins by India's Prime Minister-designate and his effort for good relations with Pakistan have forced the creatures of darkness to press the panic button. So, the terrorists responded with blood and gore on Friday in Afghanistan's Herat province when the Indian Consulate came under a pre-dawn attack. All the four fidayeen terrorists were killed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Afghan security forces. Hours later, troops in Jammu and Kashmir seized a sizeable cache of assault rifles and explosives in Pattan town.

It all indicated that the terror pot is simmering again, with anti-India elements in Pakistan unleashing their sinister plot to thwart any effort to normalise relations between India and Pakistan. Modi's invitation to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to join the oath-taking ceremony in Delhi has got the terror masterminds unnerved. So, their reaction was swift, aiming to put Modi to test. The attack in Herat - the eighth one on Indian missions in Afghanistan since 2007- triggered speculation in New Delhi that the powerful Pakistani military establishment could be behind the efforts to scuttle Sharif's visit to India. Though no one claimed responsibility for Friday's assault, a majority of similar attacks have been blamed on the Haqqani Network, which has close ties to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence.  Without naming Pakistan, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the attack in Herat "once again underscores that the main threat to Afghanistan and its peace, stability and security stems from terrorism beyond its borders."

The handful of Indian staff in the consulate, believed to number less than 10, remained safe though the attackers used rocket-propelled grenades in the assault.  Intelligence sources said the terrorists had clearly planned for a hostage situation and came with adequate stocks of ammunition, grenades and dry fruits-all indications that they intended to prolong the assault and keep the staff pinned down in the Consulate. ITBP chief Subhas Goswami said security for all Indian missions in Afghanistan was increased last month by deploying additional commandos following intelligence alerts about possible attacks.

The invitation to Pak and other SAARC leaders is seen as a new beginning in the Indo- Pak relations, according to observers. It is clear that the terrorists will do everything to test India's patience. The recovery made from the terrorist killed by the ITBP commandos indicate that the attackers were prepared for a long haul as they were not only lethally armed, but were carrying sizeable quantity of dry fruits, sources said.

The attempt has been thwarted thanks to the brave Indian forces assisted well by the Afghan forces.  It is time, we pray and do all that is required for strengthening the Nation and partner towards growth and prosperity.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th May 2014.

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