The Peshawar Attack - Deconstructed


The fastest cruise missile in the world launching underwater

The Indo-Russian supersonic aircraft carrier killer BRAHMOS was tested from an underwater pontoon on the Bay of Bengal on March 20, 2013, but it can be launched from any platform imaginable: Military ships, trucks, aircraft, and submarines. BrahMos is the world's fastest cruise missile in operation capable of flying at Mach 3.0. India is now working on a Mach 7 hypersonic BrahMos-II. It is expected to be ready for testing by 2017.


GSLV Mark-III - India Breaks in to Elite Space Club

The first experimental flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III registered success as it lifted off from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on the dot at 9.30 a.m. on Thursday, taking India much closer to realising the dream of manned space flight.
The mission control centre erupted in smiles and claps and the scientists hugged each other, as the GSLV Mark III moved a step closer to its first development flight with the functional C25 cryogenic stage.
Also known as LVM3/CARE, the suborbital experimental mission was intended to test the vehicle’s performance during the critical atmospheric phase of its flight and this carried a passive (non-functional) cryogenic upper stage.
The vehicle, exactly five-and-a-half minutes after take-off, carried its payload — the 3,775-kg crew-module atmospheric re-entry experiment (CARE) — to the intended height of 126 km. Two massive S-200 solid strap-on boosters, each carrying 207 tonnes of solid propellants, ignited at lift-off and separated 153.5 seconds later. The L110 liquid stage ignited 120 seconds after lift-off.
“This new launch vehicle performed very well and was a great success. We had an unmanned crew module to understand re-entry characteristics. That went off successfully and the crew module splashed as expected in the Bay of Bengal,” said Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman K. Radhakrishnan from the mission control centre.
With the module gently landing in the Andaman Sea, about 1,600 km from Sriharikota, the GSLV Mk-III X/CARE mission concluded successfully. “As it made its way back into our atmosphere, the parachutes performed as per the speed that we expected,” said S. Unnikrishnan Nair, Project Director, Human Spaceflight Programme.
The former ISRO Chairman K. Kasturirangan, who was present, said, “ Every GSLV should go higher not only physically, but mentally too.”
It has been a glorious year for the Indian Space Research Organisation. The successful launch of Mangalyaan into Mars orbit on September 24 on its maiden attempt was the crowning glory. On December 18, the space organisation followed it up with another stupendous success with the first experimental launch of a GSLV Mark III vehicle and the safe splashdown of an unmanned crew module in the Bay of Bengal off the Andaman and Nicobar Islands after re-entry into the atmosphere. These two achievements best exemplify the maturing of the Indian space programme and its capability to take the country’s space missions to greater heights. The experimental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III carrying a Crew module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment (CARE) as its payload is remarkable for a few reasons. Unlike Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launches, GSLV launch history has been trouble-prone. Making it all the more challenging is the fact that the GSLV Mark III vehicle is heavier, taller and more advanced than others. The rocket has the capability to put into orbit communication satellites that are as heavy as 4 tonnes — twice as heavy as the ones that are currently carried by GSLV rockets. Once the new vehicle becomes fully operational, India may well stop relying on other countries to launch satellites weighing up to 4 tonnes. The space organisation is confident of launching in two years a developmental flight of this vehicle with a fully operational cryogenic engine.
Thirty long years after Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to travel into space aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, India has now come a step closer to realising its long-held dream of sending humans into space, with the successful test flight of GSLV Mark III and the safe splashdown of the unmanned crew module. The capsule performed as expected after re-entry into the atmosphere and, remarkably, decelerated to 7 metres a second before splashing into the Bay of Bengal. This is the first time India had ever tested the deployment of parachutes for deceleration. But more than understanding the re-entry characteristics of the crew module, the primary objective of the current mission was to test the new design of the rocket, particularly at the time of lift-off and passage through the atmosphere. The fact that there was little deviation from the flight path during its entire course till it reached an altitude of 126 km, was proof that the two large solid boosters fired simultaneously at take-off. Also, the vehicle withstood the atmospheric loading as it travelled through the atmosphere. Tall and heavy rockets encounter greater atmospheric loading than smaller vehicles.
Researchers at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will analyze the data recorded by nearly 200 sensors in the dummy crew module of Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mark-III), which reached Tamil Nadu's Kamarajar Port on Sunday, said a senior ISRO official.
S Somanath, project director, GSLV-Mark III told a leading news agency, "The crew module has around 200 sensors to record various aspects of the flight. Our team at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvanthapuram will study the data."

The crew module consists of a static recorder, which inspects the various aspects: thermal, acoustics, velocity, electronics performance, and more such.

On December 18, ISRO successfully launched its heaviest rocket ever—GSLV Mark-III—with an experimental crew module. With this, the Indian space agency will now be able to send astronauts to explore the deep dark web of outer space.

The 630-tonne rocket and human crew module of ISRO were lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota exactly at 9:30 am (IST). Few minutes after this, the crew module separated from the rocket at an altitude of 126 km and re-entered Earth's atmosphere (about 80 km from sea level). And then, it descended in a ballistic mode and splashed down into the Bay of Bengal, some 180 km from Indira Point, which is the southern tip of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, reported PTI.

The total budget of the experimental mission carried out by the Indian space agency was Rs 155 crore, and this includes the cost of crew module as well.

Mangalyaan - India's Journey to Mars

Mangalyaan cost $74 million, making it the world's cheapest interplanetary mission
Everyone sat glued to their seats, anxious and tense at the Mission Operations Complex-2 (MOX-2), the nerve entre of India’s Mars mission on Wednesday morning. There was just one question on everybody’s mind: will it happen?
The answer came through Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan’s intercom. Mission Director V. Kesava Raju had given the thumbs up. The Chairman nodded calmly, went up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and spoke a few words. A jubilant Mr. Modi hugged him, raised a fist and patted him on the back.
The gesture made it official. At 7.59 a.m., India had accomplished a gigantic feat of putting a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in its first attempt.
Around 150 ISRO engineers at MOX-2 and the neighbouring Mission Analysis Centre (MOX-1), where the media waited, broke into applause. “MOM successfully enters Martian orbit,” ISRO flashed on its monitors.
Dr. Radhakrishnan said, “We have done our best. India is great.”
The tryst with the Red Planet came 10 months after the ISRO launched its first orbiter to Mars on November 5 last year. But the final critical moment was at 7.17 a.m., when the main Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) and the eight small thrusters on the orbiter ignited simultaneously and enabled the crucial manoeuvre.
All the engines fired flawlessly for 24 minutes and reduced the spacecraft’s velocity by 1.09 km per second; this contained the spacecraft in an orbit around Mars.
Praise for feat
Mr. Modi commended the ISRO scientists on “their incredible” feat. “MOM has met Mars. India has successfully reached Mars. History has been created today. We have reached the unknown and achieved the impossible,” he exulted.
“I am living my dream,” said MOM Project Director S. Arunan. Mr. Kesavara Raju called it “a great achievement for the country.”
The former Soviet Union and the U.S, who began their Mars pursuits in the 1960s, as well as Japan and China, failed in their first attempt to put their spacecraft into Martian orbit. The US Mariner-3 failed in 1964 and the Japanese Nozomi did not make it in 1998. Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission, with a Chinese payload, failed in 2011.
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has kicked off its science phase and its five payloads are gathering data in full swing, said director of Isro's Space Application Centre, Kiran Kumar. 

The MOM entered the Martian orbit on September 24 and made history by achieving success on its maiden flight. Google celebrated the first month the orbiter's entry to Mars with a doodle on October 24. 

Speaking  on Wednesday, which marked the first anniversary of the MOM launch on November 5, 2013, Kumar said the data downloaded from the spacecraft at the Indian Deep Space Network in Byalalu, off the BangaloreMysore highway, is being transmitted to the principal investigators for analysis. 

Kurian Mathew, principal investigator of the Methane Sensor For Mars, said: "We are analyzing data from both from Mars and comet Siding Spring. We will highlight them at an appropriate moment." 

The Methane Sensor For Mars has been described as the "bridegroom" of all the payloads as its findings are expected to have huge ramifications. Indian Space Science Data Centre's general manager J D Rao could not hide his excitement. "We are anxiously waiting for the results," he told on Wednesday. 

The quality of the pictures taken by the Mars Colour Camera in the last one-and-half month has attracted considerable praise from across the world. 
It's 3.2 Earth days. That's how much time Isro's Mars Orbiter Mission takes to go around Mars, the planet she'll orbit for at least six months even as there are plans to extend her life.

By late Wednesday, MOM would have completed two revolutions around the Red Planet and all the five payloads have been activated. The Mars Colour Camera (MCC) has already sent two sets of pictures.

The latest pictures released on Tuesday covered the regional dust storm activities over the northern hemisphere from an altitude of 7,450km above its surface.

Meanwhile, the committee under former Isro chairman UR Rao met earlier this week to work out the possibilities of MOM studying Comet Siding Spring, which is expected to go past Mars on October 19. "Now that MOM has completed one revolution around Mars, we know its position vis-a-vis the comet," Rao told.

Scientists are calibrating the various payloads. Rao said the final decision on what type of study should be conducted will be taken in October. Studies have shown that the comet has a lot of methane and water and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the comet has got even Nasa excited.

"Nasa is continuously monitoring the comet and their MAVEN spacecraft around Mars will also capture Siding Spring just like us. We're in touch with them," Rao said.

"The important payload to study the comet will be the methane sensor. But we'll have to work out the plan and what results we may expect with different options," another scientist said, adding, "A final decision will be taken around October 15 depending on MOM's position."

Studying the comet was not originally part of Isro's plan whose objective was to reach a Martian orbit and study the planet but scientists are now gearing up to send commands to study the comet.
                                                    MOM Completes 100 Days 
As the world rings in the New Year on January 1 Indian space scientists will have another reason to uncork the champagne: The day will mark 100 days of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) in the red planet's orbit. 

What's more, MOM which was given a life span of 180 days may well continue to study Martian details for up to 15 years. 

This is because the spacecraft has saved so much during the journey to Mars that it still has 37kg of fuel. It takes only two kg of fuel a year to keep MOM in orbit. The electronic systems which are tested for a life of more than 15 years will hold the key to MOM's longevity as they could get damaged in solar flares and unexpected incidents in space. 

"We are so excited about the 100th day of MOM in orbit. So far the spacecraft has been in the pink of health. And it looks like it will live on for several years," MOM project director S Arunan told. Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan said scientists were looking forward to June — well past the spacecraft's assigned life of mid-March — when it will go through a phase of no communication with earth.


"This would last two weeks when the sun comes in between MOM and Earth cutting off the signal," said Radhakrishnan. "This will be an ultimate test for the spacecraft's autonomy (the ability to gauge its own health, remain in orbit and carry out experiments without orders from Earth)." 

The Isro chairman said fuel was only one of the limiting factors of any spacecraft. "The life of a spacecraft depends also on the longevity of its batteries and electronic systems which we had subjected to endurance tests," he said. 

The systems pass through what scientists call an 'infant mortality test,' were they undergo 168 hours of burn-in (under high temperatures). This is to ensure they withstand the extremities of space weather. "Our systems have passed all these tests, so hopefully MOM will have a long life," said Radhakrishnan. 

That would mean a higher probability of spotting something interesting on and around Mars. MOM is fitted with five instruments, including a methane sensor that looks for methane — the definite indicator of past life — and an absorption cell photometer to pick up traces of deuterium and hydrogen which could suggest early existence of water on the red planet. The other instruments are a colour camera, an infrared spectrometer and a composition analyser.

Life in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

The first western journalist in the world to be allowed extensive access to Isis territories in Syria and Iraq has returned from the region with a warning: the group is "much stronger and much more dangerous" than anyone in the west realises.

Jurgen Todenhofer, 74, is a renowned German journalist and publicist who travelled through Turkey to Mosul, the largest city occupied by Isis, after months of negotiations with the group's leaders.

He plans to publish a summary of his "10 days in the Islamic State" on Monday, but in interviews with German-language media outlets has revealed his first impressions of what life is like under Isis.

Speaking to the website Der tz, Todenhofer revealed that he actually stayed in the same hotel in Benghazi as James Foley, the US journalist who was beheaded on camera by Isis in August.

"Of course, I've seen the terrible, brutal video and it was one of my main concerns during the negotiations as to how I can avoid (the same fate)," he said.

Once within Isis territory, Todenhofer said his strongest impression was "that Isis is much stronger than we think here". He said it now has "dimensions larger than the UK", and is supported by "an almost ecstatic enthusiasm that I have never encountered in any other warzone".

"Each day, hundreds of willing fighters arrive from all over the world," he told tz. "For me it is incomprehensible."

Todenhofer claims to have been able to move among Isis fighters, observing their living conditions and equipment. On his Facebook page, he has posted images which he said show German Heckler & Koch MG3 machine guns in the hands of Isis. "Someday this German MG could be directed to us," he said.

Isis's fighters themselves sleep, he said, in barracks formed from "the shells of bombed-out houses". They number around 5,000 in Mosul, and are spread so widely that were the US to bomb them all "they would have to reduce the whole of Mosul to ruins", he said.

Todenhofer says that this ultimately means Isis cannot be beaten by Western intervention or air strikes - despite US claims last week that they have proven effective. "With every bomb that is dropped and hits a civilian, the number of terrorists increases," he said.

Speaking in a TV interview with RTL's Nachtjournal programme two days after his return to Germany last week, Todenhofer said Isis has worked hard to establish itself as a functioning state. He said it has "social welfare", a "school system", and that he was even surprised to see it has plans to provide education to girls.

Most concerning of all, he said, was Isis fighters' belief that "all religions who agree with democracy have to die".

He said the view that kept being repeated was that Isis want to "conquer the world" and all who do not believe in the group's interpretation of the Quran will be killed. The only other religions to be spared, Todenhofer said, were the "people of the book" — Jews and Christians.

"This is the largest religious cleansing strategy that has ever been planned in human history", he told RTL.

Charlie Winter, a researcher for the anti-extremism thinktank Quilliam, said such comments about Isis being "a group that is formidable militarily and politically" were quoted by pro-Isis accounts because it is "a bitter pill for policymakers to swallow".

"That said, Todenhofer's comments on the massacre of the Yazidis and displacement of hundreds of thousands in Mosul have been routinely ignored by Isis supporters," Mr Winter said. "The facts are being cherry-picked to give a very narrow view of the situation that Todenhofer was met with in Syria and Iraq."

Todenhofer plans to use his first-hand experience of Isis in a book he is writing about the group. He says on Facebook that he has always "spoken to both sides" in his 50 years reporting from war zones, including interviews with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and al-Qaida, with Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai and with leaders of the Taliban.

In his view, Isis will soon come to the west to negotiate a level of co-existence. "The only ones who could stop this now are the moderate Iraqi Sunnis," he said, adding: "If you want to defeat an opponent, you must know him."

Isis has executed at least 150 women for refusing to marry militants in Iraq, Turkish media has reported.

A statement released by the country's Ministry of Human Rights on Tuesday said the militants had attacked women in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar before burying them in mass graves in Fallujah.

Some of the women killed were pregnant at the time, according to the Anadolu Agency.

"At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah by a militant named Abu Anas Al-Libi after they refused to accept jihad marriage," the statement said.

"Many families were also forced to migrate from the province's northern town of Al-Wafa after hundreds of residents received death threats."

Isis has overrun a large part of the western Anbar province in its push to expand its territory across swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The executions come after the militant group shot dead at least 50 men, women and children in a tribe massacre in the province last month.

The attack against the Al Bu Nimr tribe took place in the village of Ras al-Maa, north of Ramadi, the provincial capital. There, the militant group killed at least 40 men, six women and four children.

A senior tribesman said they were lined up and publicly killed one by one. An official within the Anbar governor's office corroborated the tribesman's account, according to The Associated Press.

Isis also recently published what appeared to be an "abhorrent" pamphlet providing its followers with guidelines on how to capture, keep and sexually abuse female slaves.

A Yazidi girl captured by ISIS has revealed the extreme abuse she suffers as a sex slave at the hands of Islamic State (IS) extremists.

Only 17 years old, Mayat, (not her real name) was kidnapped by members of ISIS on 3rd August during an offensive against Sinjar. She remains with her captors.

These men allowed Mayat, who speaks some English as she wanted to study in Europe, to talk because, "to hurt us even more, they told us to describe in detail to our parents what they are doing."

Her parents, refugees in Kurdistan, gave their daughter's number to a journalist from Italian paper La Repubblica.

The teenage girl begs her interviewer not to name her because: "I am ashamed of what they have done to me.

"Part of me would like to die immediately, to sink beneath the ground and say there. But another part that still hopes to be saved, and to be able to hug my parents once more."

One of around 40 women and young girls held by the extremists in an unknown city, Mayat estimates their ages as anything from 12 to 30.

"What are they doing to me?" She says, "I am too ashamed to say, and I don't even know how to describe my torture."

In the interview Mayat describes how the women and girls are kept in a house under armed guards.

There are, she says, three "rooms of horror" where the women are raped, often by different men and throughout the day.

"They treat us like slaves. We are always 'given' to different men. Some arrive straight from Syria," she says.

ISIS has made huge territorial gains across northern Iraq and parts of Syria, capturing thousands of women and children according to an Amnesty International report last month.

"They threaten us and beat us if we try to resist. Often I wish they would beat me so hard I will die. But they are cowards even in this. None of them have the courage to end our suffering."

Mayat says some of the youngest girls have stopped talking because of the abuse and were taken away by their captors. Many of the women have attempted to end their lives.

"Sometimes I feel as though it will never end. And if it did, my life would remain forever scarred by the torture I have suffered the past few weeks," Mayat says. "Even if I survive, I don't think I'll be able to remove this horror from my mind."

Mayat's story contradicts previous claims from ISIS which purport to show life under the Islamic State, highlighting their care of widows and children.

Earlier today the British government promised to donate guns and ammunition to Iraq to fight the insurgency.

Amid concerns of terrorism president Barack Obama has promised to address the American people tomorrow on efforts to "degrade and destroy" ISIS.

Mayat finished by saying: "They have already killed my body. They are now killing my soul."

ISIS have beheaded four Christian children in Iraq for refusing to convert to Islam, a British vicar based in the country has claimed.

Canon Andrew White, who is known as the 'vicar of Baghdad', told Orthodox Christian Network that the killings happened in a Christian enclave close to Baghdad which has been taken over by ISIS (formerly known as Islamic State).

He spoke of how ISIS has "hounded" the Christians out of Iraq, and how "they killed in huge numbers, they chopped their children in half, they chopped their heads off, and they moved north and it was so terrible what happened".

He told the network that militants "came to one of our people the other day, one of the Christians".

"They said to one man, an adult, 'Either you say the words of conversion to Islam or we kill all your children'.

"He was desperate, he said the words. And then he phoned me, and said, 'Abouna [Father], I said the words, does that mean that Yeshua doesn't' love me anymore?' I said, 'Yeshua still loves you, he will always love you".

Canon White claimed that the children who were beheaded had refused to "follow Mohammed".

"ISIS turned up and said to the children, 'You say the words that you will follow Mohammed'."

"The children, all under 15, four of them, said no, we love Yeshua, we have always loved we have always followed Yeshua, Yeshua has always been with us.

"They said: 'Say the words.' They said 'No, we can't.' They chopped all their heads off. How do you respond to that? You just cry."

Canon White said that ISIS were threatening to kill him, and that he is now living in Israel, following orders from the Archbishop of Canterbury to leave Iraq. He said that most of his staff are still in the north of Iraq trying to look after displaced Christians.

The ISIS extremist group has executed 100 of its own foreign fighters who tried to flee their headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the Financial Times reported on Saturday. 

An activist opposed to ISIS and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said he had "verified 100 executions" of foreign ISIS fighters trying to leave the jihadi group's de facto capital. ISIS fighters in Raqqa said the group has a military police to clamp down on foreign fighters who miss duty. Dozens of homes have been raided and many jihadis have been arrested, the FT reported. The British press reported in October that 12 Europeans wanted to return home complaining they did not end up fighting Assad's regime.

Homeland - The US Pakistan saga

The United States has broken off diplomatic ties with Pakistan following a terrorist attack by the ISI-backed Haqqani group on the American Embassy in Islamabad in which some 40 American diplomats and personnel were killed. All American diplomatic personnel have been evacuated from Islamabad and the US President has ordered the nuclear-armed Fifth Fleet towards Karachi.

If you sat bolt upright and spilled coffee on reading the para above, you haven't been watching the television drama Homeland's Season 4, now into its 11th episode. After spending three seasons in the middle-east, Homeland, featuring a psychotic female CIA operative in the lead, has moved into Pakistan, often portraying the frayed US-Pakistan ties with startling accuracy, and as evident from this lead, with some hyperbole.

Pakistan's worthless, paranoid existence, its dalliance with terrorists groups, including its coddling of the Haqqani Group (who attack the US Embassy after inside information leaked by the compromised husband of the US ambassador), its spy agency ISI's treachery and double-dealing, Washington's own bumbling inter-agency fights, all feature in the action drama that has even spookdom — among nearly two million first time US viewers — in thrall.

But the constant feeling that courses through the hit series is the utter contempt and revulsion for Pakistan in Washington. "It's not even a real country. It's a fucking acronym!" sneers the CIA chief, calling Pakistan a "shithole" when Carrie Mathison, his principal agent, asks to be posted to Islamabad as station chief "They hate us. All they want is to stab us in the back," he spits out another time. In another episode, when a colleague tells Carrie the information came from the ISI, she snaps, "I don't trust the fuckers."

Incidentally, the two-faced, double-dealing ISI officer in the drama is played by the Indian actress Nimrat Kaur, who acted as a homemaker in The Lunchbox. In fact, most Pakistani principals in the serial are played by Indians or Brit-Asians. The serial was shot in South Africa.

So how close to reality is Homeland? The broad themes are all well-known and oft-recited in Washington: Pakistan's fostering of terrorism, ISI's double-dealing, the centrality of the army and intelligence in Pakistan, the ineffectualness of its democracy, etc. Where the series gets it right is the nitty-gritty, including drone attacks, suicide bombings, and a street shooting escapade that is redolent of the Raymond Davis episode.

Developed by the Israeli writer-director Gideon Raff, Homeland's screenplay is crafted by a team of experienced American writers. The serial's maker, Showtime, ostensibly hired former CIA operatives as consultants. Two former CIA agents, who between them boast of 60 years of operational experience and served as station chiefs in seven countries, reviewed the Season 4 finale in the Daily Beast last week and concluded that it has been able to "accurately present the mission, intensity, pace, contradictions and complexity of a CIA station."

Maintaining that the CIA protagonists portrayed in the serial "rings true to those us who have been there," the agents, Chuck Cogan and John MacGaffin, also underlined the difficulties in the fictional Islamabad station chief Carrie Mathison's attempts at dealing "a duplicitous host government and liaison service whose real interests and intent differs from hers."

"In reality, there is no such thing as a 'friendly' intelligence service. ISI, however, is the poster child for 'duplicitous,'" they added.

While Pakistan gets trashed in Homeland, in reality, the US approach to Pakistan and its intelligence agency, far from being castigatory or punitive, is feckless to the point of embarrassing. Despite repeatedly and even publicly admonishing Pakistan for supporting terror groups, and even citing ISI hand in the Mumbai attacks and for funneling money into the US political system (through the Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai), Washington has done little to reign in the terror-backing spy outfit and its proteges. This is evident given the ease with which Hafiz Saeed and now Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi have been protected by the Pakistani establishment.

In fact, according to ProPublica, former Pakistani army chief Ashfaq Kayani bluntly rejected the request of his American interlocutors to divest Lakhvi of his cellphone in prison. As if to rub it in, they even allowed him conjugal visits in jail through which he fathered a child, say Indian sources familiar with the developments, adding, with a degree of envy, that the "Pakistanis run rings around Americans." The Indian side also believes that successive Pakistani Army chiefs have made fools of Americans by alternately adopting an attitude of complete submission or threatening a reckless suicide scenario.

Every Pakistani general is greeted by Washington as a liberal, westernized, professional soldier, just because he plays golf or smokes or has pet dogs, one Indian official said in a recent conversation, recalling the glowing, credulous profiles in the US media that accompanied the ascension of Musharraf and Kayani. Every Pakistani general is a jihadi because it is written into their DNA and their motto Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi Sabilillah, the official added bleakly.

It was against this background that the Indian side closely watched the visit last month of Pakistan's new army chief Gen Raheel Sharif, once again hailed by Pakistani apologists as a man who would take on terrorists. It was an unusual visit by any standard, lasting more than two weeks. Prefaced by ratcheted up coverage in the Pakistan media of an imminent ISIS (Islamic State) takeover of the country (and "scarily," its nukes), the trip was aimed ostensibly at repairing damaged relations with the US, and more importantly to extract money from Uncle Sam, long time patron of its informally designated terrorist client state on whom it has already splurged $ 28 billion sine 9/11.

The visit, which lasted the entire second half of November, got even more mysterious when after a few pro-forma meetings in Washington, a Pentagon ceremony to receive one of those feel-good medals the US hangs on its favored third world generals, a visit to the Central Command in Miami, and an engagement in the Bay Area, Sharif disappeared from view. He didn't go back home, and he dispensed with official protocol in America. The scuttlebutt was he was visiting a sibling or son in the Chicago area.

When he surfaced again at the end of the month, it was for an unusual weekend meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, a long time patron saint of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In an engagement that effectively recognized the military as the de facto power in the country, Kerry, without a trace of irony, praised the Pakistani army as a "truly binding force," forgetting, perhaps in a senior moment, that the force actually lost half the country in 1971.

Co-author of a legislation that lavished billions of dollars on Pakistan throughout the years the country fostered terrorist groups, often killing US soldiers in Afghanistan, Kerry evokes mixed feelings among Indian interlocutors. On surface, he is affable and charming with Indian officials and speaks highly of India (he's headed for the Vibrant Gujarat summit in January). But his inexplicable support for Pakistan even when it is brazenly using terrorism as a policy instrument according to the administration's own insiders is something that baffles Indian officials, none of whom would speak on record.

In fact, Kerry's reputation as an apologist for Pakistan is vividly chronicled even in the opening title sequence of Homeland. Whereas Hillary Clinton is shown with her famous "You can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them to only bite your neighbors," admonition of Pakistan, Kerry is shown defending the country, saying "there are things that Pakistan has done, as complicated as this relationship is."

In the days following the Kerry-Raheel meeting, it became evident that there are still things that Kerry and his ilk in Washington hope Pakistan will do, as complicated as this relationship is, in return of course for more life-giving aid, sustenance, and military hardware. Within days of Sharif's return to Pakistan, its military took out two prominent terrorists, including al-Qaida fugitive Adnan el-Shukrijumah (who had been on the lam for more than a decade) and Umar Farooq. In return, the US ordered the release of Latif Mehsud, the Pakistan Taliban's No 2 from a military prison in Afghanistan. Intelligence circles suspect the attack in the Army School in Peshawar is linked to this.

As far as the Indian side is concerned, all this is part of a continuing faustian bargain between US and Pakistan that will have no winners, only losers. The Pakistani DNA cannot be changed, even though the current situation offers a golden opportunity to change course. "External and internal shocks are often pivotal turning points encouraging countries to reorient their national security strategies," says Prof. T.V.Paul, an international relations scholar at McGill University and author of The Warrior State: Pakistan in the contemporary world. "But) it is hard to predict where this will lead, for an elite known for missing opportunities for change due to their narrow tactical as opposed to progressive vision on the future of the country."

Most US analysts too hold out bleak prospects of Pakistan revisiting its "good-terrorists-bad terrorists" policy. One exception: CNN's Peter Bergen, who described the Peshawar school attack as Pakistan's 9/11, recited the entire Pakistani military narrative of fighting terrorism, and wrote that "Today the Pakistani military understands that the Frankenstein that it helped to create must now be killed."

But Pakistan's own analysts were scoffing at the idea this would happen. "Pakistan's greatest enemy is denial," cautioned the country's former ambassador to US Hussain Haqqani, maintaining that the establishment, set in its ways, will not change easily. That became evident soon enough when it sprang 26/11 planner Zaki-ur Rehman from prison (ostensibly on bail), prompting Christine Fair, a Pakistan expert at Georgetown University, to note that even seasoned analyst such as Peter Bergen ''embrace rhetoric as fact.''

"Alas, the (Peshawar) attack — no matter how heinous — will not motivate Pakistan to abandon its long-held reliance upon Islamist militant groups," wrote Fair, reckoning that, "many tens of thousands of Pakistanis will die long before the army gives up its jihad habit." Under the headline "Crucible of terror threatening the world: How the future of Pakistan is getting darker," Michael Burleigh had this to note in the Daily Mail: "The venal political class in Pakistan has united in its revulsion at this latest atrocity, but by next week they'll be back to their old ways." It didn't take so long. Less than 48 hours elapsed between the Peshawar bombing, Lakhvi's release, and his temporary re-incarceration after a mostly Indian outcry.
Malik Ishaq, dreaded chief of banned LeJ that has carried out attacks on minority Shias and the mastermind of the assault on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, has been released after three years in jail with the Pakistan government not seeking an extension of his detention.

Ishaq has been under detention for the last three years under a public security order for making "provocative" speeches.

The government had detained Ishaq under Maintenance of Public Order (16 MPO), the same law under which key planner of 2008 Mumbai attacks Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi is being held after being granted bail by an anti-terrorism court.

The supreme court had granted Ishaq bail in July 2011 after which he was held under 16 MPO.

Ishaq's release comes even as the government considers "radical changes" to tackle militancy after the Taliban school massacre in which 148 people, mostly children, were killed in Peshawar.

Ishaq's release comes despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's pledge to eradicate the "cancer" of sectarianism.