Saturday, June 28, 2008




After a three-month futile courtship with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan, the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) headed by Maulana Fazlullah of the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and other jihadi organisations, the Pakistani Government headed by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has ordered a clean-up operation in the Khyber Agency and South Waziristan of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and in the Swat Valley. The operation started on June 28,2008, in the Khyber Agency.

2. While the resumed clean-up operation in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley is meant to put down recrudescence of jihadi terrorism by the TTP and the TNSM, which is a member of the TTP, the new clean-up operation in the Khyber Agency is designed to put down inter-sectarian, inter-tribal and inter-Mullah clashes, which have already caused a large number of deaths in the Khyber Agency and are threatening to spread to Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP. The Khyber Agency, which is adjoining Peshawar, has been seeing increasing attacks by local tribal jihadi groups on convoys carrying oil and other essential supplies for the NATO forces in Afghanistan from the Karachi port.

3. The courtship with the TTP, which was accompanied by a suspension of operations by the security forces and the TTP against each other and peace talks , has reportedly seen a 40 per cent increase in the infiltration of Taliban terrorists from the FATA and other areas into Eastern Afghanistan, thereby enabling the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar, to step up its attacks on the NATO forces. A wave of panic in Peshawar in the wake of forays by Khyber-based jihadis into the city for intimidating sections of the local population, including some Christians working in a local hospital, growing resentment in the Shia community of Pakistan over continuing attacks on Shias in the Kurram Agency of the FATA allegedly by Khyber-based Sunni terrorists and repeated expressions of serious concern by US commanders in Afghanistan over the casualties inflicted on NATO forces and members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) by infiltrators from Pakistani territory made the Government sit up and take notice of the deterioration in the situation right across the tribal belt and order action by the security forces even at the risk of a collapse of the peace talks, which could lead to a revival of acts of suicide terrorism in the non-tribal areas, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other cantonment towns and even in Punjab. While the courtship and the peace talks did not lead to real peace in the tribal belt, they did lead to a steep fall in acts of suicide terrorism in the non-tribal areas.

4. The decision to order the clean-up operation was taken after a meeting of some members of the Cabinet on June 25,2008, which was briefed on the deteriorating situation by Gen.Pervez Ashfaq Kiyani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). Normally, the alarming situation should have been discussed by the National Security Council (NSC), which is chaired by President Pervez Musharraf. The Gilani Government avoided requesting for a meeting of the NSC. Nor did it brief Musharraf about the decision to order a clean-up operation. However, Gen.Kiyani, at his own initiative, called on Musharraf on June 27,2008, briefed him on the proposed course of action and took his clearance before implementing the decision of the Cabinet.

5. Well-informed sources say that he has been finding himself in a difficult situation with the Cabinet giving instructions in national security matters without consulting Musharraf or even keeping him in the picture. However, Gen.Kiyani has been trying to be correct by frequently meeting Musharraf, who continues to be his direct boss as the President and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The decision to relax restrictions on the movements of Dr.A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist, and on his interactions with the media also appears to have been taken by the Cabinet despite cautionary advice by Musharraf not to do so lest it add to US concerns over Pakistan.

6. The entire decision-making process in national security matters is in a mess, with too many cooks adding to the potency of the jihadi broth. While Gilani is the de jure Prime Minister, in matters relating to action against terrorism it is Rehman Malick, a close confidante of Asif Ali Zardari,the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), who has been issuing confusing and contradictory instructions----sometimes to the Army, sometimes to the para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps (FC), sometimes to the Police and sometimes to the provincial Government of the NWFP. He is designated as the Adviser on Internal Security with the status of a Cabinet Minister. It is alleged by well-informed police sources that he takes his orders directly from Zardari without keeping Gilani in the picture. Thus, one has a strange situation with Gilani giving instructions without consulting Musharraf and with Malick issuing instructions at the instance of Zardari without consulting Gilani.

7.The NWFP Government was extremely unhappy over the manner in which Malick----on his own without consulting either Gilani or the provincial Government of the NWFP headed by the Awami National Party (ANP)--- announced the suspension of the peace deal negotiated by the provincial Government with the TNSM. When this caused friction in the ruling coalition at Islamabad of which the ANP is a member, he denied having issued any such order.

8. This growing confusion in the action against terrorism has resulted in a situation in which the Cabinet has reportedly ordered Gen.Kiyani to undertake the clean-op operation, but at the same time, instructed that he should use only the Frontier Corps (FC), which is increasingly infiltrated by pro-Taliban tribals, for this operation and should not use regular army troops. One does not know whether Musharraf approved of this or whether he instructed the COAS not to hesitate to use the Army if he considered it necessary to do so.

9. During his negotiations with the Government, Baitullah was demanding that the Army should be withdrawn from the FATA and that the responsibility for maintaining internal security should be re-entrusted to the FC. Even while ordering the clean-up operation, the Gilani Government has taken care not to hurt the sensitivities of Baitullah by ordering that the FC should be in the forefront of the clean-up operations and not the Army.

10. Last year,Musharraf inducted the Army in large numbers into South Waziristan and ordered it to act against the TTP because of reports of collusion between FC personnel and the TTP and the surrender of a large number of FC personnel including officers with their arms and ammunition to the TTP without putting up a fight. US commanders in Afghanistan make no secret of their doubts about the dependability of the FC, which they look upon as the secret protector of the Talibans of various hues, which have come up in the tribal belt.

11. There are Talibans and Talibans in the tribal belt-----some accepting the leadership of Baitullah and others not; some claiming to fight against the Americans and not against the Pakistan Army and others fighting against both; some consisting largely of Punjabis such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which is active in parts of the Swat Valley, and known locally as the Punjabi Taliban and others consisting largely of Pashtuns and hence locally known as the Pashtun Taliban; some such as the Pashtun Taliban claiming to be waging a jihad purely for local objectives such as the enforcement of the Sharia in the tribal belt and others such as the Punabi Taliban claiming to be fighting for the pan-Islamic objectives of Al Qaeda; some virulently anti-Shia and others not.

12. Whenever they are not operating against the Pakistani security forces and the Americans, they keep operating against each other, dubbing and killing each other as American agents. The tribal belt on the Pakistani side of the border is ablaze with inter-sectarian, inter-tribal and inter-Mullah clashes over who is a better Muslim and who is closer to Allah. Disputes over the distribution of the growing narcotics money from Afghanistan among themselves are adding to the gravity of the situation. It is jihadi anarchy of the worst kind, the like of which the history of Pakistan has not seen. Every Mullah, who is some Mullah, has his own FM Radio station through which he keeps instigating his followers to attack rivals and the security forces. To keep the FC inactive, these Mullahs allegedly give its officers a share of the narcotics money.

13. These radio stations have been instigating the Pakistani Taliban---Punjabi as well as Pashtun--- to attack American military and intelligence officers and NATO supply convoys in Pakistani territory. They have been calling for attacks on ships bringing NATO supplies to the Karachi port and on the Karachi offices of truck companies whose trucks are used by the NATO. They have been calling upon the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) and the Chechens to step up their jihad in Russian and Central Asian territories to disrupt the movement of NATO supplies through this route.

14.The Khyber Agency, better developed than the other Agencies of the FATA,is inhabited mainly by the Afridi and Shinwari tribes. Like the Swat Valley, it used to attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists. The Agency was relatively peaceful till 2003. Trouble broke out in 2003, when a a local tribesman by name Haji Namdar returned from Saudi Arabia after performing Haj and set up an organization called Amr bil maroof wa nahi anil munkir, meaning the organisation for the “Suppression of Vice and Promotion of Virtue” . He started a campaign against music, dance, films and the TV and started punishing Muslims who did not regularly attend prayers in the mosques He started an FM radio station on which Mufti Munir Shakir, a virulently anti-Shia Mullah from the Kurram Tribal Agency, used to make anti-Shia broadcasts.

15.Mufti Shakir formed an organisation of his own called the Lashkar-e-Islam (LI) with its headquarters in the Bara town of the Khyber Agency. To counter the activities of the Wahabi-Deobandi LI, Pir Saif-ur-Rahman, a Mullah from Afghanistan who had settled down in the Agency and who belonged to the more tolerant Barelvi sect with its advocacy of Sufi traditions, started his own organisation called the Ansar-ul-Islam (AI). The AI also started making FM broadcasts against the LI and its Wahabi-Deobandi followers. In 2006, the two organisations came to frequent clashes. Following this, a jirga of the local Afridi tribes was held and the two were forced to leave the Agency by the local tribesmen in February 2006.

16.Following their expulsion, one Mangal Bagh Afridi, a 35-year-old local tribal, who had fought in Afghanistan with the Mujahideen against the Soviet troops, took over the leadership of the LI, which established its control over the whole of the Bara sub-division of the Agency.In April 2008, the LI extended its control to the Jamrud region of the Bara sub-division after a series of bloody clashes with the local Kukikhel sub-tribes of the Afridi tribe.The main artery connecting Peshawar to Kabul goes via the Khyber Pass. The Agency has two sib-divisions called Bara and Landikotal. Bara borders Peshawar.

17. The leadership of the Ansar-ul-Islam was taken over by one Maulana Mehboobul Haq. It is not known whether he too is a Barelvi or a Deobandi. However, under his leadership, the AI continued with its policy of resisting the activities of the LI. This resulted in many clashes with a large number of fatalities in the Teerah Valley of the Agency. The Pakistani security forces, which were preoccupied with their operations against the Taliban in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley, did not intervene in the Khyber Agency. Taking advantage of this, the LI consolidated its hold in the Khyber Agency and started enforcing its ban on music etc and punishing Muslims not attending prayers in the neighbouring areas of Peshawar too. It kidnapped 16 Christians, but released them later without harming them. It claimed that it mistook them for Muslims indulging in unislamic way of life, but released them on coming to know that they were Christians.

18. Mangal Bagh denies any links with Al Qaeda or the TTP. He does not accept the leadership of Baitullah. He says his fight is not against the Pakistani authorities, but against Muslims who are not living the life of true Muslims. While supporting the Taliban's jihad against the NATO forces in Afghanistan, he denies that his men are involved in the jihad against the NATO forces. Following a scare in Peshawar that the LI was about to attack Peshawar and capture it, he said in an interview on June 26,2008: “I am not about to attack Hayatabad or any other part of Peshawar.Ours is a reformist organization trying to promote virtue and prevent vice. We have rid Bara of drug-traffickers, gamblers, kidnappers, car-snatchers and other criminals and we want to cleanse Jamrud as well of those selling drugs and liquor and running gambling dens. That was the reason for us to send our mujahideen to Jamrud to accomplish the job. Lashkar-e-Islam is now able to enforce its code of conduct in almost the whole of Khyber Agency except parts of Jamrud inhabited by Kukikhels and a two-kilometre stretch of territory in Maidan area of Tirah valley. We have 120,000 men under arms who at a short notice would be able to assemble in case of need. All I have to do is to make an announcement on our FM radio channel and my mujahideen volunteers would be ready to fight for the Lashkar-e-Islam. I have no links with Al Qaeda or Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. I didn’t send my fighters to fight on the side of Taliban in Waziristan, Swat and Darra Adamkhel. The Taliban (of Mullah Mohammad Omar) are waging a jihad in Afghanistan for a just cause against foreign forces in their homeland. However, there are so many Taliban groups (in Pakistan) that it is difficult to tell as to which one is genuine."

19. Peshawar has on three sides areas over which the Pakistani security forces have no effective control. The Khyber Agency is under the effective control of the LI, which does not form part of the TTP. The Darra Adamkhel and Mohmand areas are largely under the control of the TTP. This situation has caused alarm not only to the non-religious political parties and the administration, but also to the traditional religious parties of the pre-9/11 vintage, who find a new generation of Mullahs of different hues supplanting them and making them increasingly irrelevant. Compared to the newly-emerging Mullahs of today, the pre-9/11 vintage appears rather moderate.The Reuters has quoted the Jamiat -ul-Ulema-Islam chief Fazlur Rehman, a member of the ruling coalition, who used to support Al Qaeda and the Neo Taliban in the past, as warning as follows: " “It’s just a matter of months before news comes that the entire NWFP has slipped out of control.”

20. Nobody seems to be in effective control in the free-for-all tribal belt of Pakistan---- neither Musharraf nor Gilani nor Zardari nor Gen.Kiyani nor the provincial Government of the NWFP. It has to be seen to what extent, under these circumstances, the clean-up operation succeeds. ( 29-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )

Thursday, June 26, 2008



Is China doing a Myanmar in Sri Lanka by capitalising on the policy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa of diversifying Sri Lanka's geo-political options even while professing close friendship with India?

2.That seems to have been one of the concerns of the Government of India, which prompted a two-day visit to Sri Lanka by a team of senior advisers of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh consisting of Shri M.K.Narayanan, the National Security Adviser, Shri Shivsankar Menon, the Foreign Secretary, and Shri Vijay Singh, the Defence Secretary, on June 20 and 21,2008, for talks with Mr.Rajapaksa and senior Sri Lankan officials and important Tamil leaders.

3. Officially, the visit was projected as a return visit to reciprocate a similar high-level visit to New Delhi in September last by a Sri Lankan delegation headed by Mr.Gothbaya Rajapaksa, the Defence Secretary, and as a preparatory visit before the forthcoming 15th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) to be held at Colombo from July 27 to August 3,2008.

4. Originally, the summit was to have been held at Kandy where the security-related problems would have been less than in Colombo. In March last, the Sri Lankan Government decided to have it in Colombo since, in its view, the infrastructure at Kandy would have been inadequate to host the summit.The shifting of the venue to Colombo has enhanced the security concerns of India.

5. Sri Lanka had successfully hosted the 6th SAARC summit at Colombo in 1991 and the 10th in 1998 and had provided effective security to the leaders of the participating countries. The 15th summit will be held at a time when a large number of the Sri Lankan security forces are engaged in an operation to re-capture the control of the Northern Province from the LTTE. Facing increasing pressure from the security forces, the LTTE has stepped up attacks with explosives on soft targets in areas in and around Colombo. Moreover, its bringing into action its planes for air strikes since March last year and the inability of the Sri Lankan security forces to identify where these planes are kept and wherefrom the air attacks are being launched and to intercept them have made the pre-summit security scenario in Colombo worrisome.

6. While the LTTE is unlikely to target the summit or its participants, the summit could provide it with an opportunity to create drama in order to prove its prowess and disprove the claims of the Government that the LTTE has been weakened beyond recovery. Will the Sri Lankan security forces be in a position to provide effective security to all the participants in general and to the Indian Prime Minister in particular? One of the purposes of the visit of the Indian team seems to have been to make an assessment in answer to this question.

7. Another purpose seems to have been to assess the implications to India of Mr.Rajapaksa's policy of bringing in other external state actors into Sri Lanka in order to give Sri Lanka a more geo-political wriggle room. In the past, India had to worry only about China, Pakistan and the US. Now, Mr.Rajapaksa has started courting Iran, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. Iran has started playing an important role in the oil refining sector and it is only a question of time before it starts demanding a role in the retail sale of oil, a sector in which the Indian Oil Corporation presently has a pre-eminent role. To counter the fears of the US and the Sunni Arab states over his flirting with Iran, he has also been trying to bring in Saudi Arabia in the oil sector. Malaysia emerged last year as the largest foreign investor in Sri Lanka.As a result of his moves, India is likely to find its political and economic influence in Sri Lanka gradually shrinking.

8. In view of India's improving relations with the US, it is not concerned as it would have been in the past over the increasing US activities in Sri Lanka and the increasing interest of the US Pacific Command in Sri Lanka. The US Navy is eyeing Colombo as a fall-back option in case the continuing use of the Karachi port for logistics and other purposes becomes difficult in view of the anti-US feelings in Pakistan. Presently, India is not highly concerned with the growing economic ties between Sri Lanka and Malaysia either. It can live with it.

9. What India is concerned is over the increasing activities of China and Pakistan, the entry of Iran and the expected entry of Saudi Arabia into Sri Lanka. While Pakistan's relations with Sri Lanka are largely focussed on military supplies and training, China's relations have greater strategic implications for India----covering military supplies and training, the construction of a modern port at Hambantota in the South and oil exploration in the Mannar area. The expected semi-permanent stationing of an increasing number of Chinese experts in these areas for carrying out these projects will add to the concerns of the Indian security bureaucracy.

10. The action of the Government of Myanmar in allowing the Chinese to have a semi-permanent presence in the Coco Islands brought the Chinese within monitoring distance of India's space establishments on the Eastern coast. The semi-permanent presence, which the Chinese are now getting in Sri Lanka, will bring them within monitoring distance of India's fast-breeder reactor complex at Kalpakam near Chennai, the Russian-aided Koodankulam nuclear power reactor complex in southern Tamil Nadu and India's space establishments in Kerala.

11. Reporting on the visit of the senior Indian officials to Colombo, the "Times of India" of June 23,2008, quoted an unnamed senior Indian official in New Delhi as stating as follows: " The story of Myanmar is being repeated in Sri Lanka. China is already all over the island nation, with a flurry of arms deals, oil exploration and construction projects like the Hambantota port."

12. The "Times of India" also reported as follows: " Colombo has signed a US $ 37.6 million deal with the Beijing-based Poly Technologies for a wide variety of arms,ammunition, mortars and bombs. Sri Lanka is also getting some Chinese Jian-7 fighters, JY 11-3D air surveillance radars, armoured personnel carriers, T-56 assault rifles ( a copy of AK-47), machine guns and anti-aircraft guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and missiles."

13. The work on the Hambantota port is progressing fast with typical Chinese efficiency. Sri Lankan sources assert that it will be only a commercial port and not a potential naval base. One has to wait and see.

14.The Hambantota port construction is estimated to cost US $ one billion to be lent by the Exim Bank of China. The entire project is expected to be completed in 15 years in four phases. The first phase of construction, , which was started in October,2007, is estimated to cost US $450 million.The entire project, inter alia, provides for the construction of a gas-fired power plant project,a ship repair unit, a container repair unit, an oil refinery and a bunkering terminal. The bunkering terminal, which is expected to be completed in 39 months, provides for the terminal to handle up to 500,000 metric tonnes (mt) of oil products a year.

15.The "Daily News" of Sri Lanka reported on June 19,2008, as follows: ' A project proposal sent by the China Huanqiu Contracting and Engineering Corporation for building the bunkering facility and tank farm at the Hambantota harbour has been approved by the project committee and the cabinet-appointed negotiations committee."The total value of the project would be $76.5 million and it would be completed by 2010.A set of fuel tanks, bunkering facilities, aviation fuel storage facilities and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage facilities will be built under the project at Hambantota, about 230 km south of Colombo. The media has also reported that although the Hambantota port was initially planned as a service and industrial port, it is expected to be developed as a trans-shipment port at a later stage to handle 20 million containers per year.

16.Neither India nor China has so far started oil/gas exploration work in the one block each in the Mannar area awarded to them by the Rajapaksa Government without bidding as a gesture of goodwill. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which was offered the block allotted to India without bidding, said in September last that it was not interested in the assigned block, due to low prospectivity and the fact that Sri Lanka was asking for a big bonus in return for this gesture.The Sri Lankan Government said it would negotiate with the ONGC for a new oil block with greater prospectivity. It is not known whether the Chinese are satisfied with the block offered to them without bidding and , if so, when they would start the exploration.

17.Foreign oil companies have not so far been enthusiastic over the prospects of finding oil/gas in exploitable quantities in the Mannar area. Earlier this year, the Sri Lankan Government invited bids for three blocks. Of these, block No 1, which extends over an area of 3,338.10 square kilometers and is nearest to India, received bids from ONGC Videsh, Cairn India, and Niko Resources of Cyprus. ONGC Videsh is a subsidiary of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India.Cairn India, is 69 per cent owned by Cairn Energy of London, which has been active in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.Canada-based Niko Resources is active in Canada, India and Bangladesh. Block No. 2 received bids from both Cairn India and Niko Resources while Block 3, the largest being 4,126.51 sq. km in size, received a bid only from Niko. None of these blocks received any bid from China. The Sri Lankan Government announced on June 6,2008, that after evaluation it has decided to accept the bid of Cairn India for block No. 1 and invited it to send its representatives to Colombo for negotiations. Fresh bids are to be invited for the other two blocks. The rules stipulate that for each block there should be a minimum of three bids before evaluation.

18.In response to an invitation issued by President Rajapaksa during his visit to Teheran in November, 2007. President Mahmud Ahmadinejad of Iran paid a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka on April 28 and 29, 2008.Since last year, Sri Lanka has been facing economic difficulties due to the drying-up of economic assistance from countries of the European Union (EU) such as Germany because of what they perceive as the indifferent attitude of the Rajapaksa Government to complaints regarding the violation of the human rights of the Tamils and its refusal to seek a political solution to the problem. Instead of succumbing to the EU pressure on the subject, the Rajapaksa Government turned for increased assistance to other countries such as China and Iran, which did not raise human rights issues as a condition for such assistance. Assistance from Iran was of crucial importance to Sri Lanka because of the Government's inability to pay for its increasingly costly oil imports.The Goverenment of Ahmadinejad readily agreed to provide oil at concessional rates to Sri Lanka and to train a small team of officers of the Sri Lankan Army and intelligence in Iran. It also agreed to provide a low-interest loan to Sri Lanka to enable it to purchase defence-related equipment from China and Pakistan. In addition, it agreed to invest US $ 1.5 billion in energy-related projects in Sri Lanka. One of these projects is for the production of hydel power and the other to double the capacity of an existing oil refinery in Sri Lanka. Work on the construction of the hydel project started during Mr. Ahmadinejad's visit. Iranian engineers have already been preparing the project report for doubling the capacity of the refinery and for modifying it to enable it to refine in future Iranian crude to be supplied at concessional rates. The existing capacity is 50,000 barrels a day.

19.Mr.Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie, Sri Lanka's Minister for Petroleum and Petroleum Resources Development, visited Riyadh in Saudi Arabia towards the end of March,2008. He announced at Riyadh on March 23,2008, that Saudi Arabia had agreed to train Sri Lankans in the field of exploration and refining of oil in the island. He told the media at Riyadh: “We had fruitful discussions with my counterpart here and we are happy that the Kingdom has agreed to cooperate with Sri Lanka in areas of mutual interests in the field of oil supply, exploration and investments.We have plans to improve our refining capacity from 50,000 to 100,000 barrels a day and getting Saudi expertise for the proposed expansion will facilitate the successful implementation of the project. Sri Lanka needs a cracker to convert crude into diesel and petrol which would cost the government some $400 million. I have requested my counterpart to recommend that the OPEC Fund assist us in the purchase of this plant."

20.Sri Lanka presently gets 70 per cent of its oil from Iran, 10 per cent from Saudi Arabia and 20 per cent from Malaysia and other countries.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retired), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Saturday, June 21, 2008



AS REPORTED BY JAMES REYNOLDS OF THE BRITISH BROADCASTING CORPORATION: " The Olympic torch has been carried through the Tibetan provincial capital of Lhasa amid heavy security on Saturday (June 21,2008). The 11km (seven mile) parade passed off smoothly, with the flame carried past apparently hand-picked spectators. There is a staggering security presence in the city, three months after violent protests broke out. Reporters representing about 30 international news organisations have been allowed into the city in a closely monitored group to cover the torch relay - widely considered the most sensitive leg of the flame's journey around the world and through China. Torch bearers in white-and-red track suits carried the Olympic flame through Lhasa's streets, beginning at Norbulingka, the former summer palace of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader now living in exile in India. We saw very clearly several dozen soldiers wearing riot gear - a reminder that Lhasa is not a normal city."

FROM A BBC COMMENTARY: "Our correspondent says he passed through at least six checkpoints as he was driven in an official convoy to the start of the relay. Each member of the crowd has a badge, suggesting that spectators were specially chosen or vetted for the ceremony, he says. "

AS REPORTED BY CHRIS BUCKLEY OF REUTERS FROM LHASA:"Chinese-appointed Tibetan leaders used the passing of the Olympic torch relay through the capital Lhasa on Saturday to defend Communist Party control of the remote Buddhist region and denounce the exiled Dalai Lama. The torch procession ended under tight security below the towering Potala Palace after having been run for just over two hours before a carefully-selected crowd, some three months after the region was convulsed by bloody anti-Chinese protests."Tibet's sky will never change and the red flag with five stars will forever flutter high above it," Tibet's hardline Communist Party boss Zhang Qingli said at a ceremony at the end of the relay."We will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique," he added. Police and troops lined the streets, closely watching the groups of residents chosen to cheer on the torch. Groups of students from Lhasa University waved Olympic banners, the Chinese national flag, as well as the hammer and sickle banner of the ruling Communist Party."

AS REPORTED BY THE AGENCE FRANCE PRESS (AFP):"The latest leg of the Olympic torch relay was held in the Tibetan capital Saturday, amid tight security after deadly riots against Chinese rule three months ago, as rights groups condemned the event. Hand-picked spectators cheered runners as they carried the torch through Lhasa for the relay, which ended in front of the Potala Palace, exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama's former chief residence.Paramilitary police watched the event closely from the ground and surrounding buildings, an AFP photographer witnessed, while the area was closed off to all but those given special passes for the relay. Tibetan singer Caidan Zhuoma ran the flame to the palace before it was combined with the special flame that was carried up the Tibetan side of Mount Everest during an earlier leg of the relay. The carefully-staged event ended apparently without incident after less than two hours, instead of the scheduled three, with no immediate reason given for the shortened period. Many locals were told to stay at home, and shops along the relay route in the remote, Himalayan city were closed to the public. "We are not supposed to leave the hotel to watch the relay, so we are staying inside," an employee at the Tibet International Hotel told AFP. Starting from Norbulingka, the former summer palace of the Dalai Lama, the torch was carried first by 75-year-old Tibetan mountaineering hero Gonpo. The Chinese Government shortened the original route in Tibet to just one day instead of three.It later cut the event from eight hours to three, citing last month's massive earthquake."

AS REPORTED BY THE US-FUNDED RADIO FREE ASIA: "Chinese authorities in Tibet and the northwestern region of Xinjiang, two of the most politically sensitive ethnic minority regions in the country, are tightly controlling who will be allowed to watch the Olympic flame pass on its way to start the Games in Beijing. The torch relay was originally scheduled to start from Lhoka (in Chinese, Shannan) prefecture on Friday and then enter Lhasa, which saw violent rioting and protests against Chinese rule in mid-March, but the initial leg of the torch's progress through the Himalayan region was canceled in favor of a single day event Saturday in Lhasa, sources said."All who are to participate in the relay of the Olympic torch will be placed in a hotel," a Tibetan source in Lhasa said."Most of the Tibetans selected hold some kind of leadership position. The authorities seem to be very worried about protests," he said, adding that restrictions on Tibetans in Lhasa were very intense. Tibetans had been threatened with the loss of their jobs and even pensions if they performed the usual offerings during the torch relay, he added. Travel agencies in Lhasa said thousands of armed police were patrolling the streets of Lhasa ahead of the rally, and that arrangements had been made for people from all work units and schools to travel to show their support.Detailed routes haven't been publicized in advance."

AS REPORTED BY THE STATE-OWNED XINHUA NEWS AGENCY OF CHINA:"The relay in Lhasa began at 9 am on Saturday morning at the square in front of the city's famous garden, the Norbu Lingka. A minute of silence was observed to remember the victims of the Wenchuan earthquake a month ago. Local authorities say the arrival of the flame is a great boost to the solidarity of the different ethnic groups in the autonomous region.Qin Yizhi, vice chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region, said, "The passage of the flame across Lhasa will further enhance the patriotism of all ethnic groups and stimulate their enthusiasm to make greater contribution to the social progress in Tibet. Let's stick to the Olympic spirit of peace, friendship and progress and hold high the Olympic torch symbolizing harmony and glory. Wish all the best to our country, and a great success to the Beijing Olympic Games."The first torch bearer was 72-year-old Gongbo, a noted Tibetan mountaineer. This run featured 156 torchbearers, 75 of them Tibetan. The route covered 9.3 kilometers and ended at Potala Square. During the two-hour relay, the flame kindled on the top of Mount Qomolangma (Everest) on May 8th reunited with the main torch."

AS REPORTED BY "THE HINDU" OF CHENNAI: "The Olympic flame passed through Lhasa in a joyful and peaceful atmosphere on Saturday." It then goes on to give details of the "joyful and peaceful atmosphere" as disseminated by Xinhua.


1. Even according to the official account as disseminated by Xinhua, there were156 torchbearers, of whom only 75 were Tibetans. The remaining 81 were not Tibetans.

2. It does not give the details of all the 75 Tibetans.

3.The Tibetan authorities had originally announced that the torch would be in Lhasa and the surrounding region of Tibet for three days. They cut it to one day lasting eight hours. Even these eight hours were cut short on June 21,2008, to less than three hours. The authorities seemed anxious to take the torch out of Lhasa as quickly as possible.

4. Originally, it had been indicated that the flame would be received at the Potala Palace by the communist party-appointed Panchen Lama. Instead, it was received by Zhang Qingli, the head of the Communist Party in Tibet. He was reported to have told protesting Tibetans in March last that the Communist Party was their Dalai Lama. No explanation has been forthcoming as to why the Panchan Lama was not present and why he was not given any role in the Lhasa functions for the torch relay.(22-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



Quoting US officials, the "New York Times" reported as follows on June 20,2008: " U.S. officials say Israel carried out a large militaryexercise this month that appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. More than 100 Israeli F-16and F-15 fighters took part in the maneuvers over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in the first week of June. The exercise appeared tobe an effort to focus on long-range strikes and illustrates the seriousness with which Israel views Iran's nuclear program. Israeli officialswould not discuss the exercise. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces would say only that the country's air force "regularly trains forvarious missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel." . A Pentagon official, who was briefed onthe exercise, said one goal was to practice flight tactics, aerial refueling and other details of a possible strike against Iran's nuclearinstallations and long-range conventional missiles. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a second goal was to send aclear message that Israel was prepared to act militarily if other efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium fail. "They wantedus to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know," the Pentagon official said. "There's a lot ofsignaling going on at different levels." Several U.S. officials said they did not believe Israel had decided to attack Iran or think such a strikewas imminent."

2. This could be part of a Psywar tactics jointly mounted by Israel and the US to make Iran co-operate with the efforts of the internationalcommunity to denuclearise its military capability without damaging its capability for civilian nuclear development.

3. Iran has been playing its own psychological game by sticking to its refusal to suspend the enrichment of uranium at its facility in Natanzwhile at the same time giving the impression of being willing to continue its talks on the subject with its Western interlocutors.

4. In this game, time is important in different senses for Israel and Iran. Understandably, Israel is getting impatient because, in its view,much time has already been wasted in pointless negotiations with Iran. This has enabled Iran to commission its uranium enrichment facility.It is now trying to expand the capacity of Natanz by installing more centrifuges for enrichment. The more the centrifuges and the richer thelevel and quantity of enrichment, the greater the danger of environmental damage if the Israeli Air Force strikes at it. If the environmentaldamage affects the health of the people of neighbouring Arab countries, local public opinion could further turn against the US and Israel.

5. In Iraq in the early 1980s and in Syria last year, Israel struck at nuclear facilities under construction. There was no such danger. Israelimilitary and intelligence experts must be telling their policy-makers that they have already delayed action too long and that they should atleast now strike at Iranian sites when they might still be able to prevent adverse effects on Iran's neighbours.

6. There is another reason why Israel cannot afford to waste more time. If they strike when Mr.George Bush is still in office---particularlybefore the Presidential elections in November--- Mr.Bush might hold the ring for them and see that the international community does not fallupon Israel. If they wait till next year, they may not be able to count on similar support from the next President---whether it is Mr.BarrackObama or Mr.John McCain. The next President will take at least six months from his inauguration in January to work out a coherent policyon Iran.

7. Apart from the risk of environmental damage, Israel will face another danger the like of which it did not face from Iraq or Syria. Iran is astrong military power with a capability to strike back at Israel through its Air Force and missiles. Moreover, Iran is a more ruthless powerthan Iraq or Syria. It may not hesitate to itself carry out or to have carried out through a surrogate an attack on the Strait of Hormuz in orderto block the flow of oil at a time when the economies of many countries, including India, are facing serious difficulties due to thesky-rocketing oil prices caused partly by normal market speculation and partly by nervousness over the possibility of an Israeli strike onIran. Israel would also face the danger of a retaliation by Hizbollah from its bases in the Lebanon.

8. Israel will have the following options:one, strike only at the nuclear sites and wait to see what is Iran's response in the hope of being ableto counter that response. Second, neutralise initially Iran's air and missile capabilities and then hit at its nuclear sites. Third, neutralisesimulataneously Iran's nuclear, air and missile capabilities.

9. The ideal time for an Israeli strike, if it decides to strike, will be between now and before the presidential election campaign picks upmomentum in the US. Once the US is in the midst of the campaign, the flexibility of response now available to the Bush administrationmight be reduced. An ideal time could be in August when the world attention will be on the Beijing Olympics with little attention paid to Iran.

10.Time is equally important for Iran because if it succeeds in preventing action by the US or Israel or both till January, the possibility of action might get reduced once a new President is in position----particularly if that President happens to be Mr.Obama. He is a very engagingand electrifying personality, but does not appear to have a stomach for strong action either against Iran or Pakistan or Al Qaeda or theTaliban or the Hizbollah. He may turn out to be another Jimmy Carter---lovable, but nothing more.

11. The two potential candidates are now working out their policy options before the campaign starts officially. One notices that both thecamps are talking in terms of policy responses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and against Al Qaeda and the its associates as if each couldbe dealt with separately. They don't see a connecting thread. Instead, the debate should be on policy options available in response to twothreats which would confront the international community in the short and medium terms. These are, firstly, Iran's use of Hizbollah and theShia militant groups in Iraq to achieve its strategic purposes in the region and the dangers arising from its nuclear capability and thepossibility of the transfer of this capability to the Hizbollah. Secondly, Pakistan's use of Al Qaeda and the Pashtun Taliban to achieve itsstrategic objectives in Afghanistan and the Punjabi Taliban to achieve its strategic objective relating to Kashmir against India and thedangers arising from the possibility of these terrorist groups gaining access to Pakistan's nuclear expertise.

12. Everybody talks only of the dangers of Al Qaeda and its Pashtun and Punjabi associates getting hold of Pakistan's nuclear expertise.Nobody talks of the danger of the Hizbollah and the Shia terrorist groups of Iraq getting hold of Iran's nuclear expertise.

13. Whether what is going on presently is only a Psywar or whether there is a real possibility of an Israeli pre-emptive action, the effect onthe oil market will be the same---push up prices further. Oil prices are unlikely to come down till the present crisis over Iran's nuclearintentions is resolved in a manner, which reduces the concerns of Israel. India will suffer more from the surging oil prices than Chinabecause after 9/11, China has built up its strategic oil reserves. India has done very little in this direction. Our economy, which is alreadyconsiderably behind the Chinese economy, will lag further behind. (21-6-08)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and , presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Friday, June 20, 2008



I found the following reviews in the web site of the library of the US Central Intelligence Agency at

Intelligence Services AbroadB. Raman, The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 2007), 294 pp., index.
———, Intelligence: Past, Present and Future (New Delhi: Lancer Publishers, 2002), 416 pp., bibliography, index.
K. Sankaran Nair, Inside IB and RAW: The Rolling Stone that Gathered Moss (New Delhi, Manus Publications, 2008), index.

History has always been important to retired Indian intelligence officer B. Raman. In Kaoboys of R&AW, citing the CIA “historical division”precedent, (27) he reveals that in 1983 Rameshwar Nath Kao, the first chief of India’s foreign intelligence service—the Research & AnalysisWing—established a historical section. Unfortunately, it was abolished in 1984 when Kao left office. Raman was not surprised; he knew thatin India organizational change often followed new leadership. Raman had joined the Indian Police Service in 1961 and was transferred in1967 to the External Division of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), then India’s foreign intelligence element. He became a Kaoboy when R&AW wasestablished as an independent entity in 1968. After assignments in Paris and Geneva, he headed the Counter-Terrorism Division from 1988to 1994 and then retired to accept a cabinet secretariat position, where he served on various antiterrorism commissions and testified twicebefore the US Congress. After his permanent retirement, citing the precedents set by retired CIA officers, he decided to write thesememoirs.

Kaoboys of R&AW tells about India’s struggle to develop a full range of intelligence service capabilities while at war with Pakistan and Chinaand while managing conflicts among religious factions and dealing with tribal disputes on its borders. Raman also examines charges of CIAdisinformation campaigns and covert action operations against India, R&AW efforts to counter domestic and foreign terrorist acts, and theconstant turf battles with the Indian domestic intelligence service, the IB.

The book has two central themes. The first is the relationship of R&AW to the prime ministers under which it served, and the problemscreated when two of them were assassinated. Those unfamiliar with India get a sense of its political history. The second theme is thepervasive threat to national security from Pakistan and separatist groups as well as the actions taken to deal with provocations andincidents. Raman does not provide operational detail in terms of tradecraft or case studies. There is a chapter on R&AW relations withforeign intelligence agencies that concentrates on high-level contacts with the CIA and French services. An example of the latter is a visitto the CIA by Kao where he is received positively by DCI George Bush. He views the relationship with the CIA as a mix of cooperation wheninterests coincide and the reality of the operational imperative. As an example of the latter, he mentions instances in which the CIArecruited two R&AW officers. He does not mention the reverse possibility.
Kaoboys of R&AW gives a good high-level overview of the formation, evolution, and current status of the Indian intelligence services.

In his earlier book, Intelligence, Raman presents a survey of Indian intelligence from colonial times, when the IB was created (he calls it the“world’s second oldest internal security agency”—the French being the first) (1)—to the present eight intelligence agencies that form India’sintelligence community. His approach is topical, covering all elements of modern intelligence—military, political, technical, collection,analysis, covert action, counterintelligence, oversight, and management of the intelligence process. For comparison, he often refers to theexperience of US intelligence agencies and the commissions formed to investigate them. For example, as a basis for establishing India’smilitary intelligence element, he cites in great detail the precedents of DIA’s formation and its evolution. (31–36) Similarly, the NSA, NRO,NGA and related agencies provide the rationale for counterparts in India. When discussing the requirement for good counterintelligence,examples from the UK are cited and the Aldrich Ames case is analyzed as an exemplar of what should and should not be done.

In short, Raman’s Intelligence is a text book by an experienced intelligence officer who certainly understands the fundamental elements ofthe profession and provides a framework for successful operations, not only in India, but in any democratic society.

K. Sankaran Nair’s Inside IB & RAW does not deserve the professional attention Raman’s books have received. Although the dust jacketclaims Nair served as a head of R&AW, in fact, he held the post for less than 3 months in the 1970s.(174) He spent more time in the IB, andthe book has some interesting stories about his attempts in the 1960s to advise recently formed African nations about security services.Overall, though, he provides little beyond anecdotal “scribblings”(95) focusing on personal episodes and dealings with his superiors that areof no great intelligence value. It is a memoir covering his entire life, and while it no doubt recounts some impressive politicalaccomplishments, it is primarily of local interest and a minor contribution to the intelligence literature.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008



Shri N.Ram, the well-known Editor-in-Chief of "The Hindu" of Chennai, has been the toast of China for an article purported to have beenwritten by him refuting the allegations levelled by the Dalai Lama and his supporters regarding the events of March in Lhasa . The Chineseauthorities have been gratified by what they see as his vigorous articulation of the version of the events as put out by them.

2. A report on Shri Ram's article disseminated by the State-owned Hsinhua news agency of China is annexed. It is learnt that this has beentranslated into the Tibetan and Uighur languages and copies distributed in all the monasteries and educational institutions in theTibetan-inhabited areas of China. It has also been made required reading in the patriotic re-education classess for Tibetans being organisedby the Chinese authorities.In the meanwhile, the Chinese authorities have reduced the duration of the stay of the Olympic Torch in Tibetfrom three to one day. The torch will be in Lhasa on June 21 instead of June 19.

3. The dissemination of Shri Ram's article is unlikely to have any impact on the Tibetans and Uighurs. Nor will it have much of an impact oninternational opinion on the recent events in Tibet because Shri Ram's policy of "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil" with regard toChina is well known right across the world.His popularity in China is confined to the Chinese ruling circles.

4.After writing this article, I showed this to a number of Indian friends. While a majority agreed that this deserved to be written anddisseminated, some asked why do this since it could reflect on the credibility of a great institution of Chennai.

5. After carefully considering their advice, I concluded that this needed to be written in the interest of the Indian people and the lovablepeople of Tibet. It will be moral cowardice to remain silent when the Editor of a highly respected paper of Chennai uses his access to itscolumns to demonise the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans just as Beijing is in the habit of doing.

6. As you move around Chennai, you see thousands of advertisements inviting you to buy "The Hindu". When you see those advertisements,think of Shri Ram and his writings in support of the Chinese and in demonisation of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans and ask yourself thequestion:" Does such a newspaper deserve my continued support?". The choice is yours. Fortunately, despite Shri Ram and his ilk, India isnot China. We have a wide choice and we are not captive readers of Hsinhua. We don't have to worry that if we stop buying and reading"The Hindu", we may end in patriotic re-education classes.(18-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi . E-mail: )


(The report disseminated by Hsinhua on June 18,2008)

Senior Indian journalist unmasks separatist Dalai clique

June 18, 2008

Reports in western media on the March 14 riots in China's Tibet autonomous region were "false" and "manipulated," and the Dalai Lama is a"consummate politician" and "separatist political figure," says N. Ram, editor-in-chief of Indian daily The Hindu, in a recently publishedarticle.

A notable feature of recent Western media coverage of Tibet is "the way journalism feeds off the disinformation campaign" unleashed by theDalai clique and the supporters of "Tibet independence," Ram says in the article.

Under the guise of responsible news reporting, those media published "the most exaggerated and fanciful accounts of events by pleadinglack of onsite access," Ram say, terming it "news-speak for 'anything goes' for journalists on the other side of the ideological-politicalfence."

These practices are free from all rules of responsible and transparent sourcing and verification prescribed by codes of good journalisticpractice, and innumerable books on journalistic ethics.

Under the banner of "human rights" and "freedom," various Western newspapers, news websites, news agencies, and television stations glorified the riots and disturbances, he says.

The reality is that the riots that broke out in Lhasa on March 14 and claimed the lives of 18 innocent civilians and a police officer, and left382 people injured, including 241 police officers, were the handiwork of violent mobs, Ram points out.

"As the evidence on the nature of the riots has piled up, the realization has dawned that it was too much to expect any legitimategovernment of a major country to turn the other cheek to such savagery and such a breakdown of public order," he says.

Ground reality contradicts the Dalai Lama's charge of "cultural genocide" against China, says Ram.

Tibet has 1,700 monasteries and other Buddhist religious sites housing 46,000 monks and nuns, four mosques for 3,000 Muslims, and aCatholic church for its 700 Christians.

Further, the entire world has been witness to the efforts made by the Chinese government to protect the Potala Palace and other pricelessheritage sites in the autonomous region.

The Tibetan language is flourishing, traditional Tibetan medicine is undergoing a renaissance and enjoys international cultstatus, and thestrength and vitality of age-old tradition are observed in the daily lives of the Tibetan people, the senior journalist says.

A fair, objective, and balanced assessment, according to Ram, makes it absolutely clear that many developing and developed nations havedone far worse by their ethnic minorities than China has done by the Tibetans.

The author found that a major focus of the propaganda campaign by the Dalai Lama, the remnants of his theocratic establishment, and hissupporters abroad is the "democratic" character of "Tibet in exile."

"This is a bit rich coming from the spiritual and temporal head of feudal serfdom," says Ram.

"In fact, the 14th Dalai Lama is a consummate politician leading a movement that seeks to take 'Greater Tibet' away from the motherland -an anti-communist and separatist political figure, with external links," he says. "The Dalai Lama's track record bears out this assessment."

The author also mentions that in his major pronouncements, the Dalai Lama has proclaimed that "Tibet has been an independent nationfrom ancient times," that it has been a strategic "buffer state" in the heart of Asia guaranteeing the region's stability, and that it has never"conceded" its "sovereignty" to China.

His demand for the reconstitution of a "Greater Tibet" is indeed "a revival of the infamous British attempt in the early 20th century toconstitute two zones, 'Outer Tibet' and 'Inner Tibet'," which aims to weaken China's sovereignty over both zones, Ram says in his article.

However, the kind of autonomy that the Dalai Lama demands "cannot possibly be accommodated within the Chinese Constitution," he notes.

"Acceptance of the demand for 'Greater Tibet' means breaking up the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, and Yunnan, doing ethnicre-engineering, if not 'cleansing', and causing enormous destabilization and damage to China's development and human rights," Ram pointsout.
Source: Xinhua

Monday, June 16, 2008



Unless the Chinese authorities have modified the route of the Olympic torch, which is being taken across China, it should be in the Tibetan inhabited areas of China later this week. According to the original programme, it is to reach Lhasa around June 19,2008.

2. As a mark of respect to the memory of the nearly 70,000 people who were killed in the huge earthquake in the Sichuan province on May12,2008, the passage of the torch has been marked by solemnity to underline the unity of China without any gaiety.

3. There has been a realisation by the international community that because of the huge tragedy caused by the quake, it would beinappropriate for the Tibetans to organise another flare-up similar to what had taken place in the Tibetan-inhabited areas in March,2008.The Dalai Lama's recent visits to Germany and the UK after the March uprising and his current visit to Australia have been marked by adowngrading of the importance accorded to his visit by the host governments.

4. In Germany, no meeting with any important leader of the Government was organised. In the UK, he did meet Prime Minister Mr.GordonBrown, but in the house of the Archbishop of Canterbury and not in the Prime Minister's office in No. 10, Downing Street. Mr.Brown met him inhis capacity as an important Buddhist leader to discuss the human rights of the Buddhists in Tibet and not as an important political leader ofTibet to discuss the future of Tibet. Mr.Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, has been on a visit to Japan and, in his absence, HisHoliness reportedly met his No.2 in the Cabinet.

5. Through well-organised public protests all over China against the disturbances by Tibetans and their supporters during the passage ofthe Olympic torch though London,Paris and San Francisco and also in other countries such as Australia and Japan, and calls for theboycott of Western---particularly French ---goods, Bejing was able to subtly convey to the West that it is likely to be economically hurt if theBeijing Olympics were sought to be exploited for humiliating China.

6.Western corporate houses, which have invested heavily in China and in the Olympics too as sponsors, mounted pressure on theirGovernments to cool it and refrain from humiliating China. The French climb-down after the largely-attended demonstrations against theCarrefour, the French supermarket chain, was particularly striking. The French leaders are no longer calling for a boycott of the Games.They have even admitted that the conditions imposed by Beijing for a resumption of the dialogue with the Dalai Lama on the future of Tibetare reasonable.

7. The flare-up in the Tibetan areas came at a time when US exports to China have started going up and China has emerged as the thirdlargest destination for American exports after Canada and Mexico. This week, a bi-annual Sino-US conference is being held in the US onstrengthening the strategic economic partnership with China. At a time, when India has been focussing on strengthening its strategicpolitical and military relationship with the US, China has been concentrating on strengthening its strategic economic relationship with theUS and the economic inter-dependence between the two countries. This idea finds much support in the community of the US corporatehouses.

8. By using its economic muscle skillfully, Beijing has succeeded in having the human rights campaign on the eve of the Olympics toneddown. The support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans has not been as vociferous as it was before March. The US-funded Radio Free Asia,which had stepped up its broadcasts in the Tibetan and Uighur languages after March, has since toned them down---particularly after thequake. The campaign against China on the Darfur issue is also on a low key now.

9. The Dalai Lama himself seems to understand that any major violent uprising in the Tibetan-inhabited areas during the passage of theOlympic Torch could prove counter-productive. He has reportedly urged his supporters to avoid any violent protests.

10. As a sop to His Holiness, the Chinese have kept open the possibility of another round of talks with the representatives of His Holiness inJuly if there are no disturbances during the passage of the torch. They have also toned down their campaign of demonisation of HisHoliness.

11. At the same time, the preoccupation of the Chinese Army with quake relief in the Sichuan Province has not come in the way of its driveto identify, arrest and jail all those who are suspected to be sympathisers of the Dalai Lama. While the rhetoric has been toned down, theaction against Tibetans suspected of supporting the Dalai Lama continues as vigorously as before. Sixteen Tibetan monks have beenarrested and prosecuted on charges of attempting to cause explosions in March in an apparent attempt to project them as terrorists.

12. Such actions are once again showing signs of added anger against Beijing. After a near lull of about two months, reports of freshincidents have again started coming in. In the latest incidents, it is Tibetan women and nuns who have been in the forefront. Five Tibetanwomen staged a public protest in the Ganzi area of the Sichuan province on June 11,2008. They were arrested and allegedly beaten up. This led to a protest march by about 300 nuns on June 14,2008. The situation in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China is again becoming sensitive.(16-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Sunday, June 8, 2008



The after-shocks after the earth quake, which struck the Wenchuan area of the Sichuan province of China on May 12,2008, and killed an estimated 70,000 people, have decreased in frequency, but the area still faces another major disaster in the form of massive floods if some of the so-called quake lakes formed as a result of the quake burst under the pressure of the accumulated water. The biggest of these quake lakes is the one at Tangjiashan, which has been causing concern to the Chinese authorities.

2. If it bursts, it could put in jeopardy the lives and livelihood of nearly a million Chinese living in the direction in which floods will flow and further damage the economy of a strategically important province of China. Sichuan is not only the granary of China, but is also rich in minerals. Many of China's nuclear and space establishments and defence industries are located in the province.

3.The Information Office of the State Council stated on June 8,2008, that China's industrial and mining sectors have lost an estimated $29.5 billion because of the quake. If there are floods now, the loss will increase further. According to figures released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, 4,003 big companies have resumed production since the quake, but 1,482 enterprises are yet to do so. In case of floods, industrial production may receive a further set-back.

4.If the Tangjiashan quake lake bursts, two of Western China's strategically important railway line and oil pipeline may be washed away. The "People's Daily" reported on June 9,2008: "The lake is also posing a threat to the Fujiang river bridge on the Baoji-Chengdu Railway, a critical part of the railway network in west China. The swollen quake lake has put China's longest oil pipeline at risk. The pipeline, winding from Lanzhou via Chengdu to Chongqing, was 60 kilometers downstream from the lake. With a capacity of transferring six million tons of oil each year, the pipeline provides 70 per cent of product oil to Sichuan and neighboring Chongqing Municipality. If the line was cut, refined oil in storage could only supply Sichuan for three days, whereas repair work would take 30 days."

5. A large number of civilian and military engineers, under the personal supervision of Mr.Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister, have been camping in the area and trying to drain off water from the Tangjiashan lake through a sluice canal created by the engineers. Water in controlled measure has already started flowing out through the canal, but it has started raining in the area. As a result, it is reported that the inflow of water into the lake is more than the outflow.

6.Under the heading "Quake lake still poses big threat", the "China Daily News" carried the following warning on the morning of June 9,2008: " Water in the Tangjiashan quake lake in Sichuan province was rising Monday despite the increased outflow through a channel.Increasing the outflow of water is critical for the dam's safety.If the water flows too slowly, the inflow will increase the pressure on the dam. But again, too voluminous an outflow can erode the diversion channel and cause the dam to collapse.A moderate rainfall around 6:50 pm was followed by a 4.8 magnitude aftershock a minute later yesterday (June 8). The tremors that lasted 20 seconds caused massive landslides on the surrounding mountains."

7.Since the quake occurred, Prime Minister Wen, who has won high praise not only from the Chinese but also from international disaster relief experts for the way he has organised the disaster relief, has spent more time in the quake-hit areas than in Bejing---occasionally returning to Beijing for a few hours now and then to attend to other work. His decision to fly back to Sichuan to preside over an emergency meeting at the time of the visit (June 4 to 7) of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, the Indian Foreign Minister, to Beijing, is, therefore, totally understandable. It will be incorrect to interpret his cancellation of the proposed courtesy call by Shri Mukherjee on him as meant to be a snub to him for his strong statements before leaving for China reiterating that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.

8. India has been sending relief material to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, by aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF). One of the aircraft reached Chengdu when Shri Mukherjee was in Beijing. He decided to fly to Chengdu, receive the material and personally hand it over to the Chinese authorities. This was a gesture not only to the Chinese people, but also to the Tibetans who live in large numbers in the quake-hit areas and have been affected by the quake. It is not known how many of the 70,000 people affected by the quake are Tibetans. The Tibetan-inhabited areas of Sichuan are claimed by the Dalai Lama as part of his so-called Greater Tibet, a claim strongly rejected by the Chinese. Before the quake, there were violent anti-Beijing incidents in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of Sichuan, but these have since stopped.

9. Sichuan has the largest concentration of Indian students----most of them studying medicine in the Sichuan University. They live mostly in Chengdu, which has not been affected by the quake. (9-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

Friday, June 6, 2008



Did President Pervez Musharraf, who was the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) under Mr.Nawaz Sharif when he was the Prime Minister before October 12,1999, inform Mr.Sharif about his plans to send the Army to occupy the Kargil heights? If not, why not? If so, when did he inform him? What was the reaction of Mr.Sharif? Did he concur with Musharraf's action or did he disaprove of his action? What is the truth?

2. These questions have assumed importance in the light of two interviews given by Lt.Gen.(retd)Jamshed Gulzar Kiani on June 2,2008, to the Geo TV and the "Dawn" of Karachi. Jamshed Gulzar Kiani was a Major-General in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the time of the Kargil conflict and the subsequent coup against Mr.Sharif. The ISI was then headed by Lt.Gen.Ziauddin, a Kashmiri of Punjabi origin from the Engineer Corps. The differences between Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif initially developed shortly after the appointment of Musharraf by Nawaz Sharif as the COAS in October,1998.

3. These differences were due to Nawaz Sharif's over-ruling Musharraf's objections to the appointment of Ziauddin as the Director-General of the ISI. Ziauddin was a close confidante of Nawaz Sharif and kept him informed of all actions of Musharraf, who stopped inviting him to some of his meetings with the Corps Commanders.

4. Jamshed Gulzar Kiani ingratiated himself with Musharraf by keeping him informed of the activities of Ziauddin. A small coterie of Army officers headed by Lt.Gen.Mohammad Aziz, the then Chief of the General Staff (CGS), staged a coup when Musharraf was returning to Karachi from Colombo on October 12,1999, and had Nawaz Sharif arrested because he dismissed Musharraf and appointed Ziauddin as the COAS. They prevented Ziauddin from entering the office of the COAS. He was arrested subsequently.

5. A question often debated in senior circles of the Pakistan Army is whether this coterie would have behaved in this manner if Nawaz Sharif had appointed a Punjabi Lt.Gen.from a fighting formation instead of an engineer as the COAS. Those, who held this view, used to argue that the objection of this coterie was not to the dismissal of Musharraf, a Mohajir, who was disliked by many of the Punjabi officers, but to his appointment of Ziauddin as the COAS. It is difficult to know the truth.

6. A month after taking over power as the Chief Executive, Musharraf promoted Jamshed Gulzar Kiani as a Lt.Gen and appointed him a Corps Commander. The two were very close to each other. Musharraf greatly appreciated his action before October 12,1999, in keeping him informed of the activities of Ziauddin and his links with Nawaz Sharif.

7. When Jamshed Gulzar Kiani reached the age of superannuation in 2003, Musharraf rewarded his loyalty by appointing him as the Chairman of the Federal Public Services Commission, which post had a fixed tenure of five years under the law. Serious differences developed between the two when Kiani as the Chairman of the Commission did not do the bidding of Musharraf and Mr.Shaukat Aziz, the former Prime Minister,in respect of some apointments and postings of officers. Musharraf asked him to resign. He declined. Musharraf had a bill passed by the National Assembly in September 2006 reducing the tenure from five to three years. He was replaced at the end of three years.

8. A bitter Jamshed Gulzar Kiani, who felt humiliated by the treatment meted out to him by Musharraf despite his loyalty to him when he was Maj.Gen. and Lt.Gen., joined the group of anti-Musharraf officers such as Gen.Mirza Aslam Beg, former COAS who succeeded Zia-ul-Haq, after he died in a plane crash, Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul, former DG of the ISI etc and has been keeping on a campaign against Musharraf.

9.In his interview to the Geo TV, he made various allegations against Musharraf regarding the Kargil episode, Musharraf's post-9/11 co-operation with the US in the so-called war against terrorism and the commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July last year. He stated on follows on the Kargil episode:According to his information, Nawaz Sharif did not know anything about the Kargil episode. He was never thoroughly briefed on the same. He (Kiani) supported the holding of a probe into the Kargil fiasco. He had briefed Nawaz Sharif and told him that it was a very sensitive issue and he could not unveil all the details to him. In a meeting of May 17, 1999, Nawaz gave a green signal to the operation. He assured conditional support to General Musharraf that the Government would back the operation when he successfully moved forward. If unfortunately the same failed, he would not be in a position to support him (Musharraf).

10. In his interview to the "Dawn"on June 2,2008,, Kiani said: Nawaz Sharif, the majority of corps commanders and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were kept in the dark about the Kargil operation in 1999.Although Nawaz was briefed on the Kargil issue, it was fairly late and the conflict had started by then.“It was not a comprehensive briefing that the chief executive should have been given.”

11.Talking to the media on June 3,2008, Nawaz Sharif demanded the trial of Musharraf on treason charges for his illegal Nov 3, 2007, steps in imposing a State of Emergency, the Lal Masjid carnage and keeping the nation, military officials and the then political leadership in the dark on the Kargil issue. Nawaz termed Musharraf’s account on the Kargil issue in his book, “In the Line of Fire,” a pack of lies and said the interview of Lt-Gen (retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiani to Geo TV upheld his stance that he was not informed about the Kargil operation.

12.Nawaz was being clever. Kiani did not tell either Geo TV or the "Dawn" that Nawaz was not informed. He only said that Nawaz was informed later and that too not in a comprehensive manner. At the same time, he added that Nawaz approved the already on-going operation provided it would be successful.

13. Who is telling the truth---- Musharraf in his book in which he claimed that Nawaz was on board or Kiani, who claims that Nawaz was informed in passing after the Pakistan Army had moved into the Kargil heights and that he had not objected to it provided it would succeed or Nawaz, who claims that he like many Corps Commanders was not informed at all?

14. The definitive answer to this question is to be found in the archives of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). In the last week of May,1999, Musharraf had been to Beijing. He was in daily telephonic contact with Lt.Gen.Mohammad Aziz, the CGS, in Rawalpindi from his hotel room in Beijing. All these conversations were intercepted by the R&AW. The Government of Atal Behari Vajpayee decided to release to the media the transcripts of two of these tapes for three reasons. Firstly, the tapes showed that it was the Pakistani Army which had occupied the Kargil heights violating the Line of Control (LOC) and not the Kashmiri Mujahideen as claimed by Musharraf. Secondly, it was the Pakistan Army which had shot down an Indian Air Force plane and asked the Hizbul Mujahideen to claim the responsibility for it. Third, the tapes showed that Musharraf had launched his operation without the knowledge of Nawaz, many of his Corps Commanders, the ISI, the chiefs of the Air Force and Navy and his Foreign Office. He got nervous after the IAF went into action and there were reports of the Indian naval ships moving from the East to the West coast.

15.Worried over the possibility of the conflict spreading outside Kashmir, Musharraf authorised Lt.Gen.Aziz from Beijing to brief other officers about the operation at an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Nawaz on May 29,1999. At this meeting, as reported by Aziz to Musharraf, there were objections to Musharraf's keeping others in the dark. According to the account of the meeting as given by Aziz to Musharraf in Beijing over telephone, Nawaz defended Musharraf's action in not informing others as due to the demands of operational secrecy. Nawaz claimed that he himself and other Corps Commanders were informed only a week earlier. He made it appear that Musharraf's action was understandable.

16.A careful examination of the tapes as released by the Vajpayee Government would indicate the following:

Musharraf launched the operation without taking the clearance of Nawaz and without the knowledge of most of the senior officers.

When the Indian Army hit back and the IAF went into action, he lost his nerve and informed firstly Nawaz and then other senior officers and the Foreign Office.

Instead of rebuking Musharraf for launching the operation without his clearance and asking him to stop it, Nawaz went along with it hoping that the operation would succeed.

When it did not, he flew to the US and sought the US assistance in bringing the fighting to a halt.

17. It is clear that neither Musharraf nor Nawaz nor Kiani is telling the whole truth. Each is telling only a part of the truth which, they think, would serve their purpose.

18. On June 14,1999, I had done a detailed analysis of the tapes as released to the media by Shri Jaswant Singh, the then Foreign Minister, and written an article titled "PAK ARMY CHIEF CAUGHT YAPPING". This article is available at . Relevant extracts are appended below. ( 6-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: )


(Extract from my article of June 14,1999)

At what stage did Mr.Sharif become aware of the Pakistani Army's proxy invasion plans? The CGS, while reporting on May 29 to the COAS on a meeting held by Mr. Sharif says: "He said I (Sharif) came to know seven days back, when Corps Commanders were told. The entire reason for the success of this operation was this total secrecy. Our experience was that our earlier efforts failed because of lack of secrecy. So, the top priority is to accord confidentiality, to ensure success. We should respect this and the advantage we have from this would give us a handle."

There are two ways of interpreting this. First, as claimed by Mr.George Fernandes, our Defence Minister, the Army secretly planned and started the execution of this operation and informed Mr.Sharif thereafter.

The second interpretation is that at the inter-departmental meeting convened by Mr.Sharif, the Foreign Office representative expressed their unhappiness over the Army not keeping them in the picture since they had to handle the diplomatic fall-out. Mr.Sharif tried to soothe their ruffled feathers by claiming that he himself was informed only seven days earlier in the interest of operational secrecy. This does not necessarily mean that Mr. Sharif was not in the picture from the very beginning.

While the Pakistani Press and public are expressing their solidarity with their Army, one could discern in the comments of some independent analysts gnawing fears that Gen. Musharraf is becoming over-assertive at the expense of the credibility of the elected political leadership and that this operation could ultimately boomerang on Pakistan.

Thus, the "News" said in an article on May 29: "It is undeniable that armed men have crossed the Line in large numbers, if only because they themselves have admitted their presence and given Press statements by satellite telephone. They were not stopped by Pakistan Army patrols."

Mr.Azhar Abbas said in an article in the May issue of the "Herald", the monthly journal of the "Dawn" group:" The assumption here (in Pakistan) is that India cannot respond to this kind of (covert) warfare with a conventional attack on Pakistan....

"The Army appears convinced of the wisdom of keeping India bleeding in Kashmir and in the presence of an effective deterrent (in the form of nuclear weapons in the hands of Pakistan), the temptation to do so would be even greater.....

"Several retired Army officers believe that the new Army Chief is far more assertive than his predecessor (Gen. Jehangir Karamat) and, in the event of the Nawaz Government taking issue with the new doctrine, is unlikely to bow out as easily as Karamat. This points to troubled civil-military relations in the future...."

The article concludes: " Skeptics are already warning that in the guise of changing threat perceptions and bailing out the (internal) system, the Army may only be searching for a new power-sharing formula after the dissolution of the infamous Troika. If the Army's new doctrine is, indeed, little more than the quest for a new power-sharing arrangement, it is time for the Nawaz Government to disillusion the Army....If the Government fails to do that, in the words of Dr. Eqbal Ahmad (a highly-respected Pakistani analyst), this change of threat perception can cost us, in the long run, our entire future."

The article was analysing not only Gen. Musharraf's perception of India, but also his vigorous justification of the Army agreeing to take over purely civilian responsibilities such as running the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). Mr.Sharif asked the Army to run the WAPDA to end corruption and to improve its efficiency. After taking over, Gen. Musharraf, to the discomfiture of Mr.Sharif, is reported to have issued orders that the Army would not only be responsible for the day-to-day running, but would also conduct all future negotiations with the independent power producers, thereby denying any role in this matter to the political leadership and civilian bureaucrats.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Dear Lt.Gen.Michael Hayden,

"On May 1, 2003, President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln aboard an S-3B Viking jet, emerged from the aircraft in full flight gear, and proceeded to "press flesh," as The Washington Post put it, as he shook hands and hugged crew members in front of the cameras. Later that day, Bush delivered a nationally televised speech from the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in which he declared that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended," all the while standing under a banner reading: "Mission Accomplished." Despite lingering questions over the continued violence in Iraq, the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction, and the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, as well as evidence that Bush may have shirked his responsibilities in the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) during the Vietnam War, the print and televised media fawned over Bush's "grand entrance" and the image of Bush as the "jet pilot" and the "Fighter".

2.So wrote on April 27,2006, a US website called "Media Matters For America"( .Mr.Bush's premature bragging that the US had accomplished its mission in Iraq and had emerged victorious in the war has haunted him and his advisers till now. So did the earlier claim of Vice-President Dick Cheney before the start of the war that the invading US troops would be welcomed by the people of Iraq as "liberators". Thousands of American troops have already died and more are dying. Thousands of Iraqi civilians have died and more are dying. Some "welcome", this!

3. On October 7,2001, the US launched its "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan.By the middle of 2002, we were told that the US troops had defeated the Taliban and badly disrupted the command and control of Al Qaeda. In 2004, the Taliban came back as if it had risen from its proclaimed grave and started hitting back at the US-led coalition troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan. The NATO forces are still struggling to prevail over the Taliban.

4. Till 2000, there was no suicide terrorism in Afghanistan. There was one in 2001 which killed Ahmed Shah Masood. Since 2004, instances of suicide terrorism in Afghanistan started going up. There were 137 last year. The Taliban's capability to hit at the NATO forces now extends to even Kabul. President Hamid Karzai owes it to the grace of Allah that he survived the attempt to kill him during a national parade at Kabul on April 27,2008. Neither the Afghan intelligence nor the CIA had any inkling of its plans to kill him. If Allah had not gone to his rescue, there might have been total instability in Afghanistan now.

5. Till 2006, Pakistan had an average of six acts of suicide terrorism per annum.It had 56 last year. It has already had 18 till now this year. In 2007, there were 193 acts of suicide terrorism in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region in which 195 suicide volunteers killed themselves. One act of suicide terrorism in Afghanistan was jointly staged by three volunteers.

6.Against this background, one read with some amazement your claim in your interview to the *Washington Post" (May 30,2008) that Al Qaeda has been strategically defeated and that the "war" against Al Qaeda is more or less over. The "Washington Post" has quoted you as saying: "On balance, we are doing pretty well.Near strategic defeat of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for Al Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam.The ability to kill and capture key members of Al Qaeda continues, and keeps them off balance -- even in their best safe haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

7. The "Washington Post" wrote: "Since the start of the year, he said, Al -Qaeda's global leadership has lost three senior officers, including two who succumbed "to violence," an apparent reference to Predator strikes that killed terrorist leaders Abu Laith al-Libi and Abu Sulayman al-Jazairi in Pakistan. He also cited a successful blow against "training activity" in the region but offered no details. "Those are the kinds of things that delay and disrupt Al Qaeda's planning," Hayden said."

8.Even as you were giving the interview to the "Washington Post" to mark the completion of your two years as the Director of the CIA, a suicide bomber----believed to be from Al Qaeda or one of its associates--- was taking up position in Islamabad to stage an act of suicide terrorism against the Danish Embassy on June 2,2008. Neither the CIA nor the Pakistani or Afghan intelligence had any inkling of their plans.

9. You claim that your Predator aircraft have killed two important operatives of Al Qaeda in Pakistan's tribal region. Yes, true. But you don't mention that your Predator aircraft have also killed over 200 young children in the tribal region due to wrong intelligence and targeting. Even as you were giving your "Mission Accomplished" interview to the "Washington Post", Lt.Gen. Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani, of the Pakistan Army, who had served in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was telling the Geo TV of Pakistan in an interview as follows: "Today, everybody believed that Gen Musharraf was fighting the American war on the soil of Pakistan and we are paying for that today. Musharraf's departure from power was close at hand. The President should not have given in to US threat in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. The ISI was used to commit wrong acts. I was in the ISI and advised against such acts but my advice fell on deaf ears. As a result today, Musharraf is the most unpopular President. Suicide attacks that were beyond imagination before 9/11 are difficult to control now. I am not a supporter ofsuicide attacks, but these reflect an easy reaction that cannot be stopped by anyone. It was as a reaction to his policies that suicide attacks started in the country. Force was used in South and North Waziristan and 80 students were killed in a Bajaur Madrassa in an American operation. What was the crime of these students?"

10. For every innocent child and woman killed by your Predator aircraft, two or more suicide bombers are born. Musharraf, whom you projected as your frontline ally in the "war" against terrorism, is the most despised man in Pakistan today. One does not know how long he will lost in power.Mr.Asif Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan People's Party, recently described him as a relic of the past. The people of Pakistan look upon him as an American stooge who let himself be used by the CIA to kill Muslims and to pick up Pakistanis in dozens, if not hundreds, and hand them over to the CIA without following the due process of law.Nobody knows what happened to many of them.

11. President Karzai hardly knows Afghanistan outside Kabul. He spends his time globe-trotting and is rarely able to travel in his country. There is more anti-US anger in the Islamic world today than in the past. "Publicity is the oxygen of terrorism," said Mrs.Margaret Thatcher, when she was the British Prime Minister and banned any reference to the Irish Republican Army in the British radio and television. More than publicity, anger is the oxygen of any terrorism--- jihadi or non-jihadi.

12. It is this anger, which drove about 200 young Pakistani and Afghan Muslims to take to suicide terrorism last year. It is this anger which is behind jihadi terrorism---be it in Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia or Algeria or elsewhere. It is this anger which has been behind the acts of jihadi terrorism which we have been having in India from time to time.

13. Whereas in India, the anger is largely due to domestic reasons, in the Islamic world the anger is due to the manner in which the US has been waging its so-called war against terrorism in general and Al Qaeda in particular. It is this anger which has been driving more and more young Muslim boys to take to suicide terrorism. As I have repeatedly pointed out in my articles, Al Qaeda is not recruiting volunteers. Young Muslims, angered by the manner in which the US has been waging its so-called war, have been going to Al Qaeda and its associates and volunteering themselves for suicide missions.

14. The Madrid bombers of March 2004 and the London bombers of July 2005 were not recruited by Al Qaeda or Osama bin Laden. They volunteered their services angered by the US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan. The London and Glasgow bombers of June,2007---one of them an Indian Muslim--- were not recruited by Al Qaeda or bin Laden. They volunteered their services due to anti-US anger. Adam Gadahan, the American convert to Islam, who used to head As-Sahab, Al Qaeda's psywar and propaganda division, was not recruited by Al Qaeda. He went to Afghanistan and volunterered his services. The German converts to Islam who were trained by the Islamic Jihad Group (ISG) in the Federally-Administetred Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, were not recruited by Al Qaeda. They went to FATA and volunteered their services.

15. The media has reported that you feel that Al Qaeda is on the retreat because there has been no repeat of 9/11 in the US homeland, there has been no repeat of July,2005, in the UK and because it could not capture power in Saudi Arabia. You had a major act of jihadi terrorism in the US homeland in February,1993, when some jihadis tried to blow up the New York World Centre. You did not tighten up physical security thereafter in the US homeland till 9/11. Despite this, it took Al Qaeda more than eight years to stage the 9/11 strikes. It takes a long time for a jihadi group from the Islamic world to carry out a successful strike in the US because it is thousands of kms away from the Islamic world and it has immense human and material resources. Moreover, Al Qaeda will strike in the US once again only when it feels that it has the potential and capability for another spectacular strike in the US. It is not interested in carrying out not so spectacular strikes in the US just as the jihadis have been carrying out in India.

16. You overlook that the jihadis totally took the British intelligence by surprise when they tried to stage a terrorist strike in June in London and Glasgow. Their attempts failed not because the British intelligence was alert but because the mobile telephones, which they had planned to use as triggers malfunctioned. If they had functioned properly, there might have been another July,2005.

17. As regards their failure to capture power in Saudi Arabia , insurgents seek territorial control and go after political power. Terrorists don't. Bringing about the exit of US troops from Saudi Arabia was one of the aims of Al Qaeda. Damaging its oil production was another in order to cause serious damage to Western economy. Capture of power was not. Your troops have left Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda was hoping to cause huge increases in oil prices in the world by attacking the Saudi oil production facilities.When oil prices are racing towards US $ 140 per barrel, threatening to create an economic chaos in the world, where is the need for an Al Qaeda operation to achieve this? They are not going to sacrifice their precious suicide bombers to achieve something which the US has already achieved for them.

18. There is no such thing as victory or defeat over a terrorist organisation. Terrorist organisations---jihadi or non-jihadi-- are not militarily defeated. They are made to wither away by weakening their motivation, damaging their capability and denying them popular support. To achieve this, two things are essential--- firm, but balanced---not disproportionate--- counter-terrorism operations and measures for the containment and reduction of anger.

19. In my view, the US is not yet in sight of achieving either of this objective.
With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,

B.Raman.Additional Secretary (retd),Cabinet Secretariat,Govt. of India.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008



In a statement disseminated by a Pakistani TV channel on May 31,2008, Pakistan's Minister for Ports and Shipping, Mr. Qamar Zaman Kaira, has been quoted as saying that he had serious reservations over the operational contract of the Gwadar Port, which was awarded to a Singapore company by the Government of Mr.Shaukat Aziz, former Prime Minister, under President Pervez Musharraf. He added that he would try to conduct an indepth study in this regard.

2. The TV channel further quoted him as saying that the operational contract of the port was very surprising as the Government would get only nine per cent of the gross revenue under it.In return, he said, the Government would provide the entire linkage infrastructure and would also pay the price of land for the free-processing industrial zone. At present, there is no road- or railway-linkage infrastructure to connect the port with other parts of the country, he said, and added that the port could not operate in the air.

3. According to him, since the completion of the construction work by the Chinese, only one ship carrying wheat has so far used the port.Some portion of the wheat was unloaded at Gwadar while the rest of the stock was unloaded at Port Qasim.He said that the wheat unloaded at Gwadar had to be shifted to Karachi for onward distribution in the country. The Minister said that while the Chinese had invested above $250 million in the project and completed it efficiently,, the port could not operate in the absence of the linkage and operational facilities.

4.After a Cabinet meeting on June 3,2008, chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr.Yousaf Raza Gillani, the Federal Minister for Information, Ms.Sherry Rehman, told the media that the Cabinet referred the Gwader Port Authority Bill without approving to a special committee for review. According to her, the Cabinet was informed of the decision of the deposed Chief Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhury, through which he had cancelled several allotments of land in the port city of Gwadar. The Cabinet also referred all allotments of land and, sale and purchase decisions made by the Gwadar Port Authority for review by the same special committee.

5. It may be recalled that the original decision of Musharraf to suspend Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhury in March,2007, was caused by his unhappiness over the following three actions of the Chief Justice:

His holding the procedure followed by the Shaukat Aziz Government for privatising the State-owned Pakistan Steel Mills as mala fide.

His admitting for enquiry a number of public interest petitions from the relatives of a large number of Pakistanis, who alleged that their relatives, who were suspected by the US intelligence agencies of being supporters of Al Qaeda, had been informally picked up by the Pakistani intelligence agencies and handed over to the FBI without following the due process of law for being taken out of the country to places such as Afghanistan, the US naval base at Diego Garcia, Morocco and the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for interrogation.

His admitting for enquiry petitions relating to the award of plots of land to various persons by the Gwadar port authorities and a contract to the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) for running the port. The petitioners alleged that undue favours had been shown to the PSA.

6.A petition against the award of the Gwadar lease to the PSA was filed by the Watan Party (Party of the Nation) through lawyer Zafarullah Khan. It was the same party, which had filed a petition in 2006 against the manner in which Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz had privatised the Pakistan Steel Mills. After holding an enquiry into that petition, the suspended Chief Justice had passed severe strictures against the Musharraf regime.

7. The petition against the award of the Gwadar lease to the PSA made the following allegations:

The lease was awarded to the PSA without examining the national security implications of awarding the lease to a company of a country, which had close relations with the US. It drew attention to the debate in the US Congress in 2006 on the national security implications of awarding a contract to a Dubai-controlled company for the management of certain ports in the US.

Senior officials, who expressed their reservations over the award of the lease to the PSA, were removed from their posts by Musharraf. The former Director-General of Port and Shipping was transferred out of his post by Musharraf because he opposed the award of the lease to the PSA.

The lease was awarded to the PSA under pressure from some Chinese banks, which had lent money to the Government of Pakistan for the construction of the commercial port.

The PSA was exempted from the payment of all taxes for 20 years. This was an extraordinary exemption, the like of which had never been given to any other company----Pakistani or foreign.

The whole bidding was carried out secretly with no transparency.

8.The petition appealed to the court to order the Government to make public all documents relating to the lease and to stay the operationalisation of this lease till the court completed its enquiries. Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz asked the suspended Chief Justice not to admit this petition. He rejected their request and called for relevant documents from the Government and the Gwadar port authorities to enable him to look into the allegations. This was one of the factors, which led to his suspension by Musharraf.In this connection, attention is invited to my article of March 11,2007, at

9. The Chief Justice was subsequently reinstated following a public agitation led by the lawyers, but dismissed along with many other judges when Musharraf imposed a State of Emergency in November,2007. The Chief Justice and other judges had refused to take a new oath of office as prescribed by Musharraf. It was widely believed in Pakistan that Musharraf imposed the emergency and sacked the Chief Justice because he apprehended that the Chief Justice was about to deliver a judgement declaring Musharraf's re-election as the President as null and void.

10.Mr.Asif Zardari, the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), has been under considerable pressure to have the Chief Justice and other sacked judges reinstated through a resolution of the Parliament. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif and the lawyers' community have made this a prestige issue and are threatening to re-launch the public agitation if this is not done by the Government.

11. Mr.Zardari finds himself in a difficult situation. Neither he nor his wife the late Benazir Bhutto liked the dismissed Chief Justice because he (the sacked Chief Justice) reportedly wanted the trial of the accused in the case relating to the murder of Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, at Karachi in September,1996, to be expedited. Mr.Zardari was one of the accused in the case, but the new Government of Mr.Gilani has withdrawn the charges against him.

12. Moreover, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhury had also wanted to enquire into the legality of the reconciliation ordinance issued by Musharraf under which all the corruption charges against Benazir and Mr.Zardari were withdrawn. Mr.Zardari is, therefore, disinclined to have him reinstated. Musharraf too is strongly opposed to his reinstatement, but he is reportedly willing to have the other sacked judges reinstated. Well-informed sources in Pakistan say that the US too does not want him to be reinstated because of his enquiries into the missing persons cases.

13.At the same time, the question of the reinstatement of the sacked Chief Justice is a very popular issue in Pakistan and Mr.Zardari might damage himself politically if he does not do it. He has been trying to buy time by saying that the reinstatement can be brought about only by amending the Constitution and not by a simple resolution of the Parliament. The present Government does not have the required two-thirds majority to have the Constitution amended. It remains to be seen whether Mr.Zardari's evasive stand on the issue drives the PML (N) into the streets and into the ranks of the opposition in the Parliament.

14.Mr.Zardari is anxious to remove any impression that he has been colluding with Musharraf in hushing up any enquiry into the allegations relating to Gwadar and with Musharraf and the US to prevent any enquiry into the fate of the missing persons, who were allegedly taken out of Pakistan by the US intelligence agencies.

15. It is for this purpose that the Government has asked a parliamentary committee to look into allegations relating to Gwadar. It remains to be seen whether the enquiry would be thorough-going or a mere eyewash. (5-6-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies.