Tuesday, July 29, 2008


B. Raman

On July 26,2008, the Pakistan Government placed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the direct control of the Interior Division.

2.A notification issued before the departure of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani for Washington for talks with President George Bush,said: “In terms of Rule 3(3) of the Rules of Business of 1973, the Prime Minister has approved the placement of the Intelligence Bureau and the Inter-Services Intelligence under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division with immediate effect.”

3.de jure, the ISI and the IB were working y under the Prime Minister, while the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was being overseen by the Interior Minister, but de facto, they were reporting to President Pervez Musharraf till the elected Government under Gilani came to office in the last week of March,2008.

4. Since then, the Gilani Government was under pressure from the US to act against what had come to be known as “the ISI within the ISI”----- that is, a group of military officers in the ISI who were allegedly helping the Taliban in Afghanistan and the anti-India jihadi terrorist organizations.

5. In December,2003, Musharraf escaped two attempts to assassinate him at Rawalpindi allegedly mounted by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements with the complicity of some junior officers of the Army and the Air Force. The failure of the ISI to detect this conspiracy led to fears that there are elements in the ISI, which are opposed to co-operation with the US even against Al Qaeda.

6.Dr.Aamir Liaqat Hussain, the then Minister of State for Religious Affairs, gave expression to these fears in an interview to the "Daily Times" of Lahore on May 5, 2005. He warned that Musharraf had a lot of enemies ‘within’ who could make an attempt on his life again at any time. He said that there were certain elements within the forces who could attack the General. He added: “No common people could attack President Musharraf, but certainly there are elements in the forces who can launch yet another attack against him. There is an ISI within the ISI, which is more powerful than the original and still orchestrating many eventualities in the country.” He added that he feared a threat to his own life because he supported Musharraf's call for an enlightened and moderate Islam and had been given the task of preparing the texts of sermons advocating enlightened and moderate Islam to be used at all mosques of the Armed Forces.

7. Fears that this “ISI within the ISI” had become even stronger since then increased after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in the last week of December,2007. Many police officers suspected that it had got her killed with the help of Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), but Baitullah has strongly denied that he had any role in her assassination.

8. According to Pakistani Police sources, they had strong reasons to suspect that this “ISI within the ISI” had organized the unsuccessful attempt to have President Hamid Karzai assassinated in Kabul in the last week of April,2008, and to have the Indian Embassy in Kabul blown up in July,2008.

9. While there has been talk of this ‘ISI within the ISI” since May,2005, nobody has so far been able to identify the officers constituting it. Senior Pakistani Army officers deny its existence and describe the allegations of Dr.Aamir Liaqat Hussain as a figment of his fertile imagination.

10. The transfer of the ISI and the IB to the Interior Ministry was seen by senior Army officers as an attempt by Asif Zardari to make Rehman Malik, his close confidante, who is designated as the Adviser to the Interior Ministry with the status of a Cabinet Minister, the Czar of all intelligence agencies directly reporting to him.

11. The proposed transfer met with a storm of protests from the ISI itself and from the General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Army due to the following reasons:

Senior Army officers were outraged that the Director-General of the ISI, who is a Lt.Gen, should be asked to work under Malik, a retired police officer, who held a post equivalent to the rank of a Major-General when he was in service.

All the papers regarding Pakistan’s clandestine procurement of nuclear and missile technologies from China and missile technology from North Korea are in the ISI. The interrogation of A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, in 2004 under US pressure was done by Lt.Gen.Ehsan-ul-Haq, the former DG of the ISI. All the papers relating to L’Affaire A.Q.Khan are in the ISI. In the wake of the recent allegations by A.Q.Khan about Musharraf’s prior knowledge and approval of his dealings with North Korea, the attempt to remove the ISI from the control of the Army was viewed by Musharraf and other senior Army officers as an attempt by the US to get access to these papers through Malik.

Similarly, the proposed transfer of the ISI, which is responsible for covert operations against India and Afghanistan, was viewed by them as an attempt by the US to have access to details of these operations.

12. Following these protests, the Government reversed the notification within 24 hours and restored the status quo ante. The Government issued another notification which said that the earlier notification had been ‘misunderstood’ and that the ISI would “continue to function under the Prime Minister”.“The previous notification only “re-emphasised the need for more coordination between Ministry of Interior and the ISI in relation to the war on terror and internal security.” It said a detailed notification would be issued later to clarify the situation.

13. Annexed is an updated version of article on the ISI, which I had written for an Italian journal in the last week of January,2008. (30-7-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretriat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director,Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com



The Intelligence Bureau (IB) of undivided India, which was created by the British colonial rulers, to collect domestic political intelligence was largely a police organization. It had no responsibility for the collection of foreign intelligence.

At the time of the partition of India in 1947, its personnel, assets and records were divided between India and Pakistan. Most of the Muslim police officers serving in the IB of undivided India chose to join the IB of Pakistan. Others stayed behind in the IB of India.

The Government of independent India placed its IB under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs and expanded its charter to make it responsible for the collection of internal as well as foreign intelligence. This position continued till September 21,1968, when the Government of India bifurcated the IB and converted its foreign intelligence division into an independent organization called the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). The R&AW was placed directly under the Prime Minister and was made part of the Cabinet Secretariat, which functions under the Prime Minister.

Like the IB, the R&AW too was initially a largely police organization with a small number of military officers taken on deputation to handle military intelligence. Since then, the predominance of police officers has been reduced and more officers unconnected with the police have been inducted into the R&AW. It is a largely civilian organization with a small number of military officers.

The evolution in Pakistan took a different path. The IB of Pakistan, which is part of the Ministry of the Interior, was initially a largely police organization and was given the responsibility for the collection of internal and external intelligence. However, following complaints from the Army about the poor performance of the IB and its police officers during the first Indo-Pakistan war of 1947-48 over Kashmir, the Government of Pakistan created a new organization called the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate and made it responsible for the collection of foreign intelligence.

The ISI was placed under the control of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and its personnel were taken from the three wings of the armed forces. It became a military-dominated intelligence agency.

Initially, the ISI had no responsibility for the collection of internal intelligence, which continued to be collected by the police officers of the IB. This position started changing after the Army started meddling in politics in the late 1950s. Field Marshal Ayub Khan ( President during 1958-69), who distrusted the police officers of the IB, made the ISI responsible for the collection of internal intelligence too having a bearing on national security. He also created in the ISI a Covert Action Division to provide assistance to the tribal insurgents in India’s North-East.

The internal intelligence role of the ISI was further strengthened under the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto (1971-77) and then under the late Gen.Zia ul Haq (1977-88), who overthrew Bhutto and seized power in 1977. Both Bhutto and Zia used the Political Division of the ISI for the collection of intelligence about their political opponents and the ethnic and linguistic minorities. While the police officers of the IB continued to perform their internal intelligence collection role, the reports of the ISI were given greater credence than those of the IB.

Under Z.A.Bhutto and Zia, the role of the Covert Action Division of the ISI was expanded and strengthened in order to enable it to assist Sikh and Kashmiri separatists in India and radical elements in the Indian Muslim community. The assistance was in the form of funds, training and supply of arms, ammunition and explosives.

Z.A.Bhutto also ordered the creation of a new Division in the ISI to assist the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in the clandestine procurement of nuclear technology and equipment from abroad. This Division played an active role in helping Pakistan acquire a military nuclear capability.

Thus, when Zia overthrew Bhutto and seized power in 1977, the ISI had three important roles---collection of internal and external intelligence, covert action in India and clandestine procurement of nuclear technology and equipment.

The internal political intelligence Division of the ISI came under considerable criticism after the death of Zia in a plane crash in August,1988. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto won the elections held thereafter. The ISI, then headed by Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul, strongly opposed her taking over as the Prime Minister. It alleged that she was in touch with India when she was living in political exile in the UK and hence projected her as a security risk.

Under US pressure, the Army and the ISI agreed to her becoming the Prime Minister on condition that she would not have anything to do with the nuclear programme. Even after she had assumed office, the ISI kept disseminating reports alleging that she was an Indian agent. The ISI’s animosity to her increased when she abolished the internal political intelligence Division and ordered the Covert Action Division to stop supporting the Sikh separatists of India. However, she gave it a free hand in J&K.

The ISI’s animosity to her resulted in her dismissal by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August,1990, and fresh elections. During the elections, the ISI, with money allegedly donated by a private bank, assisted the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) in their election campaign and worked against the candidates of the PPP.

The PML and the JEI won the majority of seats. After taking over as the Prime Minister, Nawaz ordered the re-establishment of the internal political intelligence Division of the ISI. He also made Brig.Imtiaz, who used to head the Political Division of the ISI before 1988, the Director of the IB. Thus started the process of the militarization of the IB. This has continued since then and acquired momentum under President Pervez Musharraf.

Since 1990, there have been allegations that the Political Division of the ISI has been interfering in the conduct of the general elections in order to get candidates critical of the Army defeated through rigging and other means. These allegations gained force under Musharraf. In 2002, he was accused of misusing the ISI for ensuring the victory of the Pakistan Muslim League faction headed by Mr.Shujjat Hussain, which supported him. In the run-up to the elections on February 18,2008, there were similar allegations of the misuse of the ISI by him to influence the results.

De jure, the ISI is supposed to report to the Prime Minister, but de facto it generally reports to the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) and keeps the Prime Minister in the dark about its activities. There were, however, three instances when the heads of the ISI were more loyal to the Prime Minister than to the COAS and this created tensions in the relations between the Prime Minister and the COAS.

The first instance was during the first tenure of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto as Prime Minister (1988 to 1990). To reduce the powers of the ISI, to re-organise the intelligence community and to enhance the powers of the police officers in the IB, she discontinued the practice of appointing a serving Lt.Gen, recommended by the COAS, as the DG, ISI, and, instead appointed Maj.Gen. (retd) Shamsur Rahman Kallue, a retired officer close to her father, as the DG in replacement of Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul in 1989 and entrusted him with the task of winding up the internal intelligence collection role of the ISI and
civilianising the IB and the ISI.

Writing in the "Nation" of July 31,1997, Brig.A.R.Siddiqui, who had served as the Press Relations Officer in the
army headquarters in the 1970s, said that this action of hers marked the beginning of her trouble with Gen.Mirza Aslam Beg, the then COAS, which ultimately led to her dismissal in August,1990. Gen.Beg stopped inviting Kallue to the Corps Commanders conferences and transferred the responsibility for covert action in India from the ISI to the Army intelligence directorate working under the Chief of the General Staff (CGS).

The second instance was during the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif (1990-93) as the Prime Minister. He appointed as the DG,ISI, Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, a fundamentalist Kashmiri officer, though he was not recommended by Gen.Asif Nawaz Janjua, the then COAS, for the post. This created friction in the relations between Nawaz Sharif and his COAS, who excluded the ISI chief from all important Army conferences.

The third instance was during the second tenure of Nawaz Sharif (1997-99) when his action in appointing Lt.Gen. Ziauddin, an engineer, as the DG,ISI, over-riding the objection of Musharraf led to friction between the two. These instances would show that whenever an elected leadership was in power, the COAS saw to it that the elected Prime Minister did not have effective control over the ISI and that the ISI was marginalised if its head showed any loyalty to the elected Prime Minister.

In the 1990s, there was a controversy in Pakistan as to who really controlled the ISI and when was its internal Political Division set up. Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan, former chief of the Pakistan Air Force, filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the legality of the ISI's Political Division accepting a donation of Rs.140 million from a bank for use against PPP candidates during the 1990 elections. Testifying before the Supreme Court on June 16,1997, Gen. (retd) Mirza Aslam Beg claimed that though the ISI was manned by serving military officers and was part of the Ministry of Defence, it reported to the Prime Minister and not to the COAS and that its internal Political Division was actually set up by the late Z.A.Bhutto in 1975.

Many Pakistani analysts challenged this and said that the ISI, though de jure under the Prime Minister, had always been controlled de facto by the COAS and that its internal Political Division had been in existence at least since the days of Ayub Khan, if not earlier.

After the elections of 2002, Musharraf kept the ISI directly under his control and did not allow the elected Prime Minister to have any responsibility for supervising its work.

During the 1980s, the Covert Action Division of the ISI was used by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US for recruiting, training and arming not only Afghan Mujahideen, but also fundamentalist elements of Pakistan for fighting against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. The Saudi intelligence agency recruited over 6,000 Arabs in West Asia and North Africa and sent them to the ISI for being trained, armed and infiltrated into Afghanistan. All the funds and arms and ammunition from the CIA and all the funds from the Saudi intelligence for use against the Soviet troops were channelled through the ISI. Among the Arabs brought in and trained were Osama bin Laden and his supporters. The ISI’s links with bin Laden and his operatives thus started from the 1980s with the knowledge and approval of the CIA.

The withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988-89, which was due to the jihad waged by the Afghan Mujahideen, Pakistani jihadis and the Arabs under bin Laden, strengthened the reputation of the ISI. During the same period, the ISI helped DR.A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, in the clandestine procurement and transport of nuclear equipment for the Kahuta Uranium Enrichment plant, which enabled Pakistan to acquire a military nuclear capability with the technology given by China and the equipment procured by the ISI. The US closed its eyes to the nuclear procurement activities of the ISI because of the CIA’s dependence on it for the jihad against the Soviet troops.

Differences started appearing between the CIA and the ISI in 1990. These were due to the CIA’s unhappiness over the non-co-operation of the ISI in its efforts to buy back from the Afghan Mujahideen the unused shoulder-fired Stinger missiles supplied to them for use against Soviet aircraft. The CIA’s concerns over the ISI were enhanced by reports of Pakistani assistance to Iran in the nuclear field starting from 1988 and Pakistani contacts with China and North Korea in the nuclear and missile fields.

In 1993, the Clinton Administration forced Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister, to remove from the ISI Lt.Gen. Javed Nasir, the then Director-General, and some of his officers because they were seen as non-cooperative in its efforts to buy back the Stingers. Nasir was a Deobandi fundamentalist, who belonged to the Tablighi Jamaat, a Pakistani organization to preach Islam, which was assisting the jihadi organizations in their recruitment drive in Pakistan and abroad.

In 1994, during the second tenure of Benazir as the Prime Minister, the ISI and Maj.Gen.Naseerullah Babar, her Interior Minister, acted jointly in encouraging the formation of the Taliban in order to restore law and order in Afghanistan, which had collapsed after the Afghan Mujahideen came to power in April,1992. By September,1996, the Taliban, with the ISI’s help, succeeded in capturing power in Kabul and extending its control over all the Pashtun areas.

Initially, the CIA closed its eyes to it because UNOCAL , the US oil company, was interested in the construction of a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan through Afghanistan and was facing difficulty in going ahead with this project due to the break-down of law and order. The US interest in seeking the assistance of the Taliban for the UNOCAL project disappeared after the UNOCAL itself abandoned it as not feasible. In 1996, Osama bin Laden and his advisers shifted from the Sudan to Afghanistan when the Taliban had not yet captured power in Kabul.

After capturing power in Kabul, the Taliban welcomed the presence of bin Laden and encouraged him to shift from Jalalabad to Kandahar. He was permitted to start his training infrastructure in Afghan territory. Alarm bells started ringing in the US over the developing nexus between the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the role played by the ISI in training the Taliban and reports of the resumption of the contacts of bin Laden with his old friends in Pakistan in the ISI as well as in Pakistani fundamentalist organizations.

The US concerns over these developments increased after bin Laden formed in 1998 his International Islamic Front (IIF) For Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People and Al Qaeda organized explosions near the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam on August 7,1998. The US Cruise missile attacks on Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghan territory on August 20,1998, were not effective.

From then on, there was increasing pressure by the US on the Government of Nawaz Sharif to either pressure the Taliban to hand over bin Laden to the CIA or to permit the US Special Forces to mount a special operation from Pakistani territory to kill or capture bin Laden. Nawaz did not do either as he was afraid of the repercussions in Pakistan if he collaborated with the US against the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

After overthrowing Nawaz Sharif and seizing power in October, 1999, Musharraf appointed Lt.Gen.Mahmood Ahmed, a close friend of his, as the DG of the ISI. The US was unhappy over what it viewed as non-cooperation by the ISI in its efforts to have bin Laden killed or captured. Before it started its military strikes on the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghan territory on October 7,2001, it pressured Musharraf to replace Lt.Gen.Ahmed as the DG of the ISI. Musharraf appointed Lt.Gen.Ehsan-ul-Haq as the DG. He was succeeded by Lt.Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, who has since taken over as the COAS from Musharraf. The present DG is Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj.

Kiyani tried to keep the ISI out of political controversies. In recent months, it is the IB which is becoming increasingly controversial after Musharraf appointed Brig (retd) Ijaz Shah, a close personal friend of his, as its Director and inducted a number of retired army officers into it. He also placed the IB under the control of Shaukat Aziz, his confidante, who was the then Prime Minister. Before her assassination, Benazir used to complain that the threat to her security mainly came from Ijaz Shah, Lt.Gen.(retd) Hamid Gul and Chaudhury Pervez Elahi, former Chief Minister of Punjab, all the three of them Zia loyalists. She did not make any complaint against the ISI. However, since her assassination, there have been allegations by her party members that junior officials of the ISI might have also been involved in her assassination in addition to those named by her when she was alive. Ijaz Shah resigned after the elections.

The ISI has always had three operational priorities. Firstly, the annexation of Kashmir through covert action; secondly, acquiring a strategic depth in Afghanistan through a Government which would be favourable to Pakistani interests; and thirdly, to help the Government in its clandestine nuclear and missile procurement efforts.

These priorities have not changed. That is why it has refrained from taking action against the Pakistani jihadi organizations, which are active in India and against the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, which is operating against the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan from sanctuaries in Balochistan and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

While pretending to extend unconditional co-operation to the US in its so-called war against terrorism, Musharraf kept the co-operation confined to action against Al Qaeda operatives based in Pakistani territory. Even the co-operation against Al Qaeda is restricted to action against Al Qaeda sleeper cells operating from non-tribal areas. He did not take any effective action against Al Qaeda sanctuaries in the FATA or against the leadership of the Neo Taliban, headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar, its Amir, operating from the tribal areas of Pakistan. Nor did he act against the terrorist infrastructure directed against India.

In December,2003, Musharraf escaped two attempts to assassinate him at Rawalpindi allegedly mounted by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements with the complicity of some junior officers of the Army and the Air Force. The failure of the ISI to detect this conspiracy led to fears that there are elements in the ISI, which are opposed to co-operation with the US even against Al Qaeda.

Dr.Aamir Liaqat Hussain, the then Minister of State for Religious Affairs, gave expression to these fears in an interview to the "Daily Times" of Lahore on May 5, 2005. He warned that Musharraf had a lot of enemies ‘within’ who could make an attempt on his life again at any time. He said that there were certain elements within the forces who could attack the General. He added: “No common people could attack President Musharraf, but certainly there are elements in the forces who can launch yet another attack against him. There is an ISI within the ISI, which is more powerful than the original and still orchestrating many eventualities in the country.” He added that he feared a threat to his own life because he supported Musharraf's call for an enlightened and moderate Islam and had been given the task of preparing the texts of sermons advocating enlightened and moderate Islam to be used at all mosques of the Armed Forces.

The sympathies of many serving and retired officers of the ISI and the Army for Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations and the unwillingness or inability of any Government of Pakistan to act against them are coming in the way of the success of the so-called war against global jihadi terrorism.

Thursday, July 24, 2008



The next three steps in India's quest for civilian nuclear energy would be the approval of the draft of the India-specific safeguardsagreement jointly prepared by officials of the Government of India and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by the Board ofGovernors of the IAEA before it is formally signed by India and the IAEA, a consensus in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) on the removal ofthe restrictions on nuclear trade with India and the approval of the agreement (known as the 123 agreement) reached by the officials of theUS and India by the US Congress.

2. While the decisions of the IAEA and the NSG would determine the conditions under which the member-countries of the IAEA and the NSGwould trade with India in civilian nuclear matters, the US Congress would decide the conditions under which the US would trade with Indiain the nuclear field.

3.The IAEA is expected to take a decision by the end of August and the NSG in the beginning of September if the US has its way. It has beenreported that Pakistan, which is a member of the Board of Governors of the IAEA, has already submitted a long memorandum to the IAEAraising objections to the proposed safeguards agreement on procedural ground, on grounds of merit and on the ground that it would amountto unfair discrimination to Pakistan.

4. The procedural objection is that the required minimum notice has not been given to the member-countries of the Board of Governors toconsider the agreement carefully and that an attempt is being made to rush through the approval process. The objection on merit relates toalleged dangers of diversion of uranium purchased by India from overseas suppliers for weapons purposes thereby adding to the threat toPakistan. The charge of unfair discrimination to Pakistan is sought to be justified on the ground that there is no simultaneous attempt to liftthe NSG restrictions on nuclear trade with Pakistan. It is learnt that Pakistan has suggested to China that the two should co-ordinate theirpositions at Vienna just as they had co-ordinated their positions on the issue of permanent membership of the UN Security Council for India..

5. Pakistan is not a member of the NSG and would, therefore, have to depend on China for taking up the issue of alleged unfairdiscrimination to Pakistan. Since his recent visit to Japan to attend the G-8 summit, during which he met President Hu Jintao of Chinabilaterally in the margins of the summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his advisers have been expressing the confidence that theremay not be any difficulty from China. That was before Pakistan circulated its objections .

6.It has been noticed since the Sino-Indian war of 1962 that whenever there was a conflict between Indian and Pakistani interests andbetween Indian and Pakistani concerns on any issue, Beijing favoured the Pakistani interests over the Indian and paid greater attention toPakistani concerns than to Indian concerns.

7. The first departure from this practice was seen during the Kargil conflict of 1999 when Beijing agreed with the US position that Pakistanshould withdraw its troops behind the Line of Control (LOC). It was the Chinese insistence on this during the visit of Nawaz Sharif, the thenPrime Minister, to Beijing at the height of the conflict that made Nawaz fly to Washington DC and request for a face-saving to enablePakistan to withdraw its troops behind the LOC.

8. However, China agreed with Pakistan's position of opposing the permanent membership of the UN Security Council to India. Chineseinterlocutors whom I have had an opportunity of meeting in various seminars denied that Pakistan's opposition had in any way influencedthe Chinese position. According to them, China opposed India's permanent membership because the Government of India tried to ridepiggy-back on Japan.

9. These interlocutors also felt that in the NSG China would strongly underline the need to remove the restrictions on nuclear trade withPakistan without linking it to the lifting of the restrictions on nuclear trade with India. Would it be so? India has to keep its fingers crossed.

10. Annexed is an article written by me on August 12,2007, tracing the evolution of the Chinese position on this issue till then. It is availableat the web site of the South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG), New Delhi, at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers24/paper2330.html (24-7-08)

(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: seventyone2@gmail.com)

Paper no. 2330 12-Aug-2007

By B. Raman

Between July, 2005, when India and the US agreed in principle on civilian nuclear co-operation, and June, 2006, Beijing's reaction wasunmistakably unenthusiastic. It sought to justify its lack of enthusiasm on the ground that such a special waiver to India, when it has notsigned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and not given up its military nuclear ambitions, could weaken the global non-proliferationarchitecture.

2. While Chinese Government spokespersons avoided outspoken comments on the India-US deal while making obvious their lack ofenthusiasm for it, the government-controlled media in China observed no such restraint. For example, the "People's Daily" wrote onNovember 4, 2005: "This would be a hard blow on America's leading role in the global proliferation prevention system as well as the systemitself. This will bring about a series of negative impacts. Now that the United States buys another country in with nuclear technologies indefiance of international treaty, other nuclear suppliers also have their own partners of interest as well as good reasons to copy what theUnited States did. A domino effect of nuclear proliferation, once turned into reality, will definitely lead to global nuclear proliferation andcompetition. Always calling itself a 'guard' for nuclear proliferation prevention, the US often condemns other countries for irresponsibletransfers but this time, it hesitates not a bit in revising laws, taking the lead in 'making an exception' (in the case of India).Such an act of theUnited States once again proves that America is not at all a 'guard' of NPT and the treaty, however, is no more than a disguise serving theUS interest. The most immediate reason for the foundation of NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) was India's first nuclear test in 1974, afterwhich the United States instantly cut off its nuclear cooperation with India and established the NSG in 1975 to restrict selling sensitivenuclear technologies and raw materials to non-NPT countries. Over the past 30 years, the United States has always been trying to preventIndia from access to nuclear technologies. Today, however, the United States wants a change."

3. The editorial came in the wake of a meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) on October 20, 2005, at which a US representativebriefed the NSG members on the Indo-US deal and spoke of the US intention to move for the lifting of the NSG restrictions against India afterthe passage of the enabling legislation by the US Congress and the finalisation of a formal bilateral agreement (the 123 Agreement nowsigned) by India and the US.

4.. The lack of enthusiasm for the Indo-US nuclear deal was again evident at the time of the visit of President George Bush to India in thefirst week of March, 2006. In the daily media briefing of the Chinese Foreign Office at Beijing on March 2, 2006, its spokesperson Qin Gangsaid: "India should abandon nuclear weapons and strengthen atomic safeguards. India should sign the NPT and also dismantle its nuclearweapons. As a signatory country, China hopes non-signatory countries will join it as soon as possible as non-nuclear weapon states,thereby contributing to strengthening the international non-proliferation regime. China hopes that concerned countries developingcooperation in peaceful nuclear uses will pay attention to these efforts. The cooperation should conform with the rules of internationalnon-proliferation mechanisms."

5. This negative attitude was in a great measure caused by the Chinese suspicion that the Indo-US nuclear deal was the US' quid pro quofor an Indian willingness to co-operate with the US in countering the growing Chinese power in the Asian region. This suspicion wasstrengthened when our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, decided not to attend the summit meeting of the Shanghai Co-operationOrganisation (SCO) as an observer at Shanghai in June, 2006. The Indian explanation that since India was only an observer of the SCO andnot a full-fledged member, its participation at the level of the head of Government was not warranted did not seem convincing to Beijing. ThePrime Minister's decision not to go was interpreted as due to the US suspicion that one of the main objectives of the SCO was to counter theUS presence and role in the Central Asian Republics. As a result, China's lack of enthusiasm for the Indo-US nuclear deal continued.

6. In the meanwhile, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan initiated a campaign to counter the Indo-US deal at two levels. He did notoppose the deal. Nor did Pakistan energetically try to have the deal disapproved by the US Congress through Congressmen and Senatorssympathetic to it. Instead, it sought to counter the deal by using the following arguments. First, it will be discriminatory to Pakistan if it wasnot made applicable to it too. Second, it will create a military nuclear asymmetry in the sub-continent by enabling India to divert itsdomestic stock of fuel for military purposes, while using the imported fuel for civilian purposes under international safeguards. Thus, it willhave an adverse effect on Pakistan's national security.

7. The US rejected the Pakistani arguments by pointing out that Pakistan's economy was unlikely to grow as rapidly as the Indian economyin the short and medium terms and hence it should be possible to meet its energy requirements from conventional sources. The US alsorepeatedly made it clear that in view of the role of Dr. A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, and some of his colleaguesin clandestinely supplying nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, Pakistan cannot be treated on par with India, which had anunimpeachable record of non-proliferation.

8. While sticking to his arguments, Musharraf requested the Chinese leaders during his State visit to China in February, 2006, for Chineseassistance in the construction of six more nuclear power stations, with a capacity of 600 or 900 MWS each. The Chinese reportedly agreedin principle to supply two stations of 300 MWs each to be followed later by four more. This subject again figured in the General's bilateraldiscussions with Mr.HU in the margins of the SCO summit in June, 2006, and in the subsequent discussions between the officials of the twocountries, who met at Islamabad and Beijing for doing the preparatory work for Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Pakistan fromNovember 23 to 26.

9. Gen. Musharraf and his officials were so confident that an agreement in principle for the construction of two new nuclear power stations(Chashma III and IV ) would be initialed during Mr. Hu's visit that they even set up a site selection task force.

10. Then for reasons, which were not clear, there were indications of changes in the Chinese attitude---less negative towards the Indo-USnuclear deal and increasingly guarded on the Pakistani request for new nuclear power stations. In the case of India, the changing Chineseattitude was reflected in the daily media briefing of the Foreign Office spokesperson and in a media interview given by the ChineseAmbassador in New Delhi. In the case of Pakistan, the change was reflected in the daily media briefings of the spokespersons of the twoForeign Offices at Beijing and Islamabad.

11. In an interview to the Press Trust of India (PTI), which was circulated by the agency on November 20, 2006, before the arrival of Mr.Hu inNew Delhi, Mr. Sun Yuxi, the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi, was reported to have stated as follows: ``Every country has the right todevelop energy in any form, including nuclear form, to meet its development needs. The objectives of non-proliferation should also bemaintained and strengthened." When it was pointed out by the agency that India had contended that it abided by all non-proliferation rulesalthough it had not signed the NPT, he said: ``Anything which can strengthen non-proliferation efforts should be welcomed by theinternational community.'' He added that Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon had recently apprised him about the issue and told him thatIndia was trying to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. “I (would) like to take his word... If India is making effort, if any effort (is beingmade) to strengthen non-proliferation, I agree,'' he said. The Chinese envoy, however, refused to comment on the Indo-U.S. civil nuclear dealon the ground that it was a bilateral issue between India and the US.

12. A few hours later, in response to a question on the subject, Jiang Yu, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said at Beijing:"China has sought more information and explanations from India to address the concerns of some countries on the Indo-US civilian nucleardeal. We hope that Indian side can attach importance to these opinions and provide more information and explanations. Chinese side hasnoted that during the deliberations in the NSG regarding US-India nuclear cooperation, some countries expressed concern and doubts. TheChinese side will continue to participate in these relevant discussions with an earnest and responsible attitude."

13. Almost coinciding with these explanations at New Delhi and Beijing, the spokespersons of the Foreign Ministries of Pakistan and Chinatried to discourage expectations in Pakistan that Gen. Musharraf and Mr.Hu would be initialling a memorandum of understanding on theChinese supply of two more nuclear power stations. They described the reports in this regard, which had been appearing in the Pakistanimedia for weeks before Mr. Hu's visit, as speculative and not based on facts.

14. The Joint Declaration issued on November 21, 2006, at the end of the formal talks between Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr.Hu said:"Energy security constitutes a vital and strategic issue for producing and consuming countries alike. It is consistent with the commoninterest of the two sides to establish an international energy order, which is fair, equitable, secure and stable, and to the benefit of theentire international community. Both sides shall also make joint efforts, bilaterally as well as in multilateral fora, to diversify the globalenergy mix and to increase the share in it of renewable energy sources. Global energy systems should take into account and meet theenergy needs of both countries, as part and parcel of a stable, predictable, secure and clean energy future. In this context, internationalcivilian nuclear cooperation should be advanced through innovative and forward-looking approaches, while safeguarding the effectivenessof international non-proliferation principles. Both countries are committed to non-proliferation objectives and agree to expand their dialogueon the related issues, in bilateral and international fora."

15. The reference to promotion of international civilian nuclear co-operation through "innovative and forward-looking approaches" wasinterpreted, with some validity, as confirming the evolution of the Chinese view on the Indo-US deal from negative to hopefully positive. As aresult, there was a greater confidence in New Delhi that China might not oppose the removal of restrictions applicable to India when thematter formally came up before the NSG at the initiative of the US. This guarded optimism was also evident from an interview given by ShriPranab Mukherjee, the Indian Minister For External Affairs, to Shri Karan Thapar of the IBN-CNN TV channel on November 26. The relevantextract is annexed.

16. Dr. Manmohan Singh and Mr.Hu had formal talks hardly for a little more than an hour. The carefully-formulated position on the nuclearissue could not have been the outcome of such a brief meeting. The final version of the Joint Declaration was already ready before the twoleaders formally met and approved it. It had been drafted by the officials of the two countries in their preparatory meetings in the weeksbefore Mr. Hu's arrival. The change in the Chinese position must have been the outcome of these discussions in the weeks before Mr. Hu'svisit and not a sudden change on the eve of the summit or at the summit itself.

17. As against this, the change in the Chinese position with regard to Pakistan's request for six more nuclear power stations came aboutsuddenly in the days (not weeks) before Mr. Hu's arrival in Islamabad. Well-informed Pakistani sources attributed the more guarded Chineseposition to the bilateral discussions between President George Bush and Mr.Hu at Hanoi in the margins of the summit of the Asia PacificEconomic Co-operation (APEC) Organisation on November 18 and 19, 2006. The speculation was that during these bilateral discussions, Mr.Bush pointed out to Mr.Hu that the Chinese supply of new nuclear power stations to Pakistan could not be projected as a continuation of theChinese assistance to Pakistan under a 1985 bilateral co-operation treaty under which CHASHMA I and CHASHMA II were given and hencewould need the clearance of the NSG. According to this speculation, Mr. Bush was also reported to have referred to the Pakistani rejectionof repeated requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to hand over Dr. A. Q. Khan for an independent interrogation andpointed out that the Chinese supply of the new power stations could encourage Pakistan's non-cooperation with the IAEA.

18. It was believed by these sources that Beijing, which has been projecting itself as a responsible and co-operative interlocutor of the US,Japan and South Korea on the question of North Korea's nuclear test and has won praise for its role in bringing North Korea back to thenegotiating table, did not want this positive image to be dented by disregarding the reservations of Mr. Bush relating to the supply of newpower stations to Pakistan. It, therefore, changed its stance at the last minute.

19. There was no substantive reference to the co-operation between China and Pakistan in the field of civilian nuclear energy during Mr.Hu's visit to Pakistan. The joint statement issued on November 25, 2006, by Gen. Musharraf and Mr.Hu said: “The two sides also agreed tostrengthen cooperation in the energy sector, including fossil fuels, coal, hydro-power, nuclear power, renewable sources of energy as wellas in the mining and resources sector.” Addressing a press conference after his talks with Gen. Musharraf, Mr.Hu said in reply to a questionon nuclear co-operation: "Cooperation in the energy sector is an important component in the relationship between the two countries. Wereached a common understanding on strengthening energy cooperation. We would continue this cooperation in future as well." While Mr.Huhimself did not refer to any future supply of new nuclear power stations, some Pakistani analysts interpreted Mr. Hu's remarks as indicatinga willingness to supply more nuclear power stations.

20.Pakistani officials and analysts close to the Government tried to give the impression that the fact that no memorandum of understandingwas signed did not mean that the Chinese were not going ahead with the project. But, the Chinese Foreign Office spokesperson was veryclear on this point during a media briefing on November 20, 2006, at Beijing. He said: "As far as I know, there will be no new arrangement inthis area."

21. Interestingly, in reply to a question on this subject, Mr. Sean McCormack, a spokesperson of the US State Department, said inWashington as follows on November 27,2006: "The US welcomes strong ties between China and Pakistan and urges China to play aconstructive role in world affairs. We encourage development of bilateral relations between Pakistan and its neighbours. China and Pakistanhave a long history of relations. As for any sort of nuclear angle on this, I’m not aware of anything new that was announced or is allowed forby these agreements other than what was already grandfathered in by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. So I don’t think there’s anything new onthat front.”

22.What he apparently meant was that in addition to the Chashma I and Chashma II power stations given by China under an old agreementof 1985 for civilian nuclear co-operation between China and Pakistan, there would be nothing new for the present till approved by the NSG. What was significant was that China paid attention to the US reservations on this subject instead of going ahead with its assistance as itdid in the past in matters such as the supply of M-9 and M-11 missiles and nuclear equipment to Pakistan. This new attention to USreservations is what the Americans welcomed as China's constructive role.

23.There was no reference to China's possible assistance to Pakistan for the construction of Chashma IV and V for nearly seven months---either from the Pakistani side or from the Chinese side. On July 18, 2007, there was a surprising reference to it in a Chinese statement onthe Pakistani commando action in the Lal Masjid. This caused anger against the Chinese, who were suspected to have forced Musharraf toorder the commando action after the kidnapping of six Chinese women by some students of the girls' madrasa attached to the Masjid. The"China Daily" reported as follows on July 18, 2007: "China did not push Pakistan for operations against the Red Mosque, ChineseAmbassador to Pakistan Luo Zhaohui said. It is the consistent policy of China not to meddle in the domestic affairs of other countries, hetold The News, a major Pakistani daily. Luo said he was considering an invitation to visit the mosque but it was made impossible due to theunstable security situation. "We enjoy very cordial relations with the ruling party here and likewise we maintain friendly ties with othersegments of the society including the political parties of the opposition," he said. "I had no knowledge as to why Chinese nationals arebeing targeted and were the victims in five recent incidents", Luo said, referring to several Chinese who were killed in that country. He saidif Chinese continued to be targeted, cooperation between the two countries could suffer. To protect the 3,000 Chinese working in Pakistan,China and Pakistan have decided to set up a Joint Task Force (JTF), the Ambassador revealed. China and Pakistan are still close friendsand neighbors, Luo said. The Chinese Government is in discussions about proposed Chashma-III and IV for nuclear power projects.Chashma-II will be completed early next year, he said."

24.Apparently concerned over the anti-Chinese turn in some sections of public opinion in the tribal areas, the Chinese once again startedtalking of possible Chinese assistance for the construction of Chashma III and IV in order to reassure Pakistani public opinion that Chinawould continue to be a steadfast friend of Pakistan. China's reversion to its pre-November,2006, positive stand on Chashma III and IV alsocame in the wake of reported Chinese concerns over the real purpose of the reported concert of democracies involving India, the US, Japanand Australia and moves for a joint naval exercise involving these four countries plus Singapore.

25.On August 2,2007,Pakistan's National Command Authority met under the chairmanship of President General Pervez Musharraf, todiscuss, inter alia, India's 123 agreement with the US. A statement issued at the end of the meeting said:“The US-India nuclear agreementwould have implications on strategic stability of the region as it would enable India to produce significant quantities of fissile material andnuclear weapons from un-safeguarded nuclear reactors.The objective of strategic stability in South Asia and the global non-proliferationregime would have been better served if the US had considered a package approach for Pakistan and India with a view to preventing anuclear arms race in the region and promoting nuclear restraints.While continuing to act with responsibility in maintaining credible minimumdeterrence and avoiding an arms race, Pakistan will neither be oblivious to its security requirements, nor to the needs of its economicdevelopment which demand growth in the energy sector.The meeting reviewed Pakistan’s objective and plans for civil nuclear powergeneration under IAEA safeguards, which is part of the overall energy strategy to meet the requirements of economic growth in the country.This objective will be pursued on priority basis especially in view of the increasing oil prices."

26. A Press Trust of India despatch from Beijing after the conclusion of the 123 agreement has cited a Chinese spokesperson as indicatingthat China would adopt a "creative" approach to the development. This recalls the use of the expression "innovative" at the time of Hu'svisit to India.

27. When the issue of the NSG relaxing or lifting its present restrictions on India comes up before it formally in the wake of the 123agreement, three Scenarios are possible:
SCENARIO I: China does not agree to it. This Scenario is unlikely as this could affect the forward momentum in Indo-Chinese relations.

SCENARIO II: China agrees to it without any conditions in the interest of its good relations with India without worrying about its impact on itsrelations with Pakistan. It seems to be an over-optimistic scenario for the present.

SCENARIO III: China agrees to it subject to the condition that there is a similar relaxation of the NSG guidelines in the case of Pakistan sothat it could sell Chashmas III and IV to Pakistan.This Scenario was posed to Shri Pranab Mukherjee by Shri Karan Thapar. His answerswere evasive, but one got the impression that India would not be unduly concerned over this so long as the restrictions on its internationalpurchases are lifted.

28. In the eventuality of Scenario III materialising, there could be a delay in the implementation of the 123 agreement due to the followingreasons:
The US might insist that before clearing the supply of Chashma III and IV to Pakistan, China and Pakistan should sign a formal agreement similar to the Indo-US deal under which Pakistan would separate its military and civilian infrastructure and sign a Pakistan-centric safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which would apply to its civilian infrastructure.

There could be Congressional opposition to the US agreeing to this till the Pakistan Government makes A.Q.Khan available for interrogation by IAEA experts.

Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to Devil’s Advocate. As attention starts to focus on India’s relationship with China and United States,those are the two key issues I shall raise today in an exclusive interview with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Mr Mukherjee, let’s start with the Chinese President’s visit to India, which has just been concluded. The joint declaration says, “Internationalcivilian nuclear cooperation should be advanced through innovative and forward-looking approaches while safeguarding the effectivenessof international non-proliferation principles.” Do you interpret that as an endorsement of the Indo-US nuclear deal?
Pranab Mukherjee: No. After all we are also for non-proliferation. At the same time, what is being done with India, especially with regard tothe Indo-US nuclear deal, they are giving a special treatment to India because of India’s track record related to non-proliferation.
Karan Thapar: So, you’re saying that China has not endorsed it?
Pranab Mukherjee: No. China has endorsed it. I am just explaining the ‘innovative’ word.
Karan Thapar: So, when officials of your ministry have given an assessment to The Hindu, as they did on Friday, to say that China will notcome in the way of any decisions of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to lift restrictions on international civilian nuclear cooperation with India,”you agree with that agreement?
Pranab Mukherjee: I hope so.
Karan Thapar: When you say hope so, is there some doubt? Is there some uncertainty?
Pranab Mukherjee: No. There is no uncertainty. I hope that they will not come in the way.
Karan Thapar: So you’re confident that China will not come in the way?
Pranab Mukherjee: Why are you playing with words? In diplomacy, we don't play with words. What we say is we wait till the official outcomecomes.
Karan Thapar: But you are confident?
Pranab Mukherjee: I am confident.
Karan Thapar: There is a lot of speculation that China might end up offering a similar nuclear deal to Pakistan. So far in the newspapers,there is no mention of it. But if it were to have been offered quietly and not made public, would you be concerned?
Pranab Mukherjee: We shall have to recognise the fact that different countries have different relationships with different countries, keepingin view their own perspectives. Relationship of one country need not stand in the relationship of the other country. Therefore, we shall haveto keep that fact always in view while assessing the relationship between two countries.
Karan Thapar: Very interesting. Most people will interpret that to mean that if China does give Pakistan a nuclear deal similar to the Indo-USnuclear deal, India will have no objection?
Pranab Mukherjee: It's not a question of my objection or non-objection. It's a question of what happens in the ground reality. Therefore, weshall have to keep in view… For instance, Pakistan is being supplied with sophisticated weapons by the USA over a long period.



On July 22,2008, the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) announced that it would observe an unilateral ceasefire coinciding with the forthcoming summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SARRC) at Colombo from July 26 to August 4. It projected the proposed ceasefire as a goodwill gesture to extend its support to the "countries of our region, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives."

2.However, the announcement added the following warning: “ At the same time, if the occupying Sinhala forces, disrespecting our goodwill gesture of our people and our nation, carry out any offensive, our movement will be forced to take defensive actions.”

3. The Government-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation has quoted Gotabhaya Rajapaksa,the Defence Secretary, who is the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, as dismissing the LTTE announcement in the following words: "The Government of Sri Lanka is not prepared for ceasefire with the LTTE. The ceasefire announcement is a ploy by the LTTE when it is being militarily weakened in the war front, to strengthen it militarily under the guise of holding negotiations. There is no need for the Government to enter into a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE."

4. The announcement has come at a time when the LTTE has been facing considerable pressure partly due to the sustained war of attrition imposed on it in its stronghold in the Northern Province by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and partly due to the action taken by many countries to stop the clandestine flow of funds and arms and ammunition to the LTTE.

5. The LTTE has sought to project its announcement in the context of the forthcoming SAARC summit in order to allay any fears in the minds of the leaders of the member-countries regarding possible security threats before and during the summit. The message indirectly sought to be conveyed to them is that they are welcome to come to Colombo for the summit without fearing any security threats from the LTTE.

6. At present, this seems to be essentially a public relations exercise by the LTTE in the hope of thereby creating a positive image of itself in the minds of the participating leaders. It does not seem to have any long-term significance in the context of the continuing fighting between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE. It is a short pause in fighting to be observed by the LTTE, provided the Armed Forces do not attack it.

7. The Sri Lankan Government is justified in suspecting that this ceasefire may also be meant to enable the LTTE to re-group its cadres if the ceasefire offer is reciprocated by the Government so that when the fighting is resumed after the SAARC summit, it would be in a better position to defend itself. Its reluctance, if not refusal, to reciprocate is understandable.

8. Can the cease-fire offer be much more than a public relations exercise in the form of a face-saving exercise to seek through the intervention of sympathetic Western powers such as Norway the extension of the ceasefire by both sides even after the SAARC summit is over in the hope of using it for fresh efforts for a resumption of a political dialogue?

9. If that turns out to be the game plan of the LTTE, that would be an indication that the LTTE’s fighting capabilities have been sufficiently damaged by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and that it has started looking for a way out to achieve a stoppage of the fighting without giving an impression of wanting to do so.

10. A clearer indication would come if there is pressure on the Sri Lankan Government from the Western countries to reciprocate the LTTE’s announcement of a ceasefire during the SAARC summit and to extend it further even after the summit is over.

11. The advantage of the ground situation is presently in favour of the Armed Forces and they are unlikely to throw off this advantage by succumbing to any Western pressure on the subject. (24-7-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Wednesday, July 23, 2008



In a recent article ( June 25,2008), the “Dawn” of Karachi described Pakistan as a bus full of drivers “with no one really at the steering and the bus lurching from one side to the other.”

2. No driver has the courage and the confidence to take the steering in an attempt to bring the bus under control and no driver is prepared to let any other driver do so. It is a bus full of drivers, but with none driving.

3. On paper, Pervez Musharraf is still a powerful ruler. He is the President of the country, with unimpaired powers to dismiss the elected Prime Minister and the National Assembly. He is the Chairman of the National Security Council (NSC), which has the power to take decisions in all matters relating to national security. He is the Supreme Commander of the Armed forces, who has to approve all senior promotions and postings in the Armed Forces and whose orders on national security matters, including in matters relating to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, have to be carried out by the Armed Forces.

4. Despite all these powers on paper, he has been reduced to being a figurehead, who manages to survive in office not because the people and the National Assembly want him to continue, but because the US wants him to continue---- out of gratitude for what he had done for the US in the past and out of fear as to what could happen in the future if he is replaced by an unknown quantity not amenable to US pressure.

5. The political leadership would like him to go, but does not have the required numbers in the two Houses of the Parliament to make him go. The people had wanted him to go in the euphoria after the embarrassment inflicted on him in the elections of February 18,2008, but the euphoria has since evaporated and the much-heralded Pakistan spring has proved to be short-lived. It hardly matters to them now as to who is the President and who is the Prime Minister. It will hardly make any difference to the nation and the people. So, they think.

6. Degraded, but not discarded, Musharraf has withdrawn into a shell. Only visiting US leaders and officials continue to take cognizance of his presence and keep meeting him for discussions. His own countrymen---except the leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam) created by him and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain---- avoid meeting him. Yousef Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister, rarely meets him and briefs him on the proceedings of the Cabinet and on the State of the nation. Musharraf has not convened a single meeting of the NSC to discuss the fight against terrorism because he is not confident that the civilian members of the NSC would attend it.

7. Only the Army continues to show him the respect that is his due in his capacity as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and the former Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the COAS, is still loyal to him and keeps him briefed regularly, but he has turned out to be a weak and vacillating chief. Not as decisive as Musharraf was.

8. How strong a Pakistani COAS is depends on the respect commanded by him and the backing enjoyed by him from the US and his own soldiers. The US has been increasingly disenchanted by the performance of Kayani. He has proved himself to be lack-lustre and risk-averse. He has shown hardly any leadership or initiative in the fight against terrorism. He is not leading the fight from the front. Instead, he is merely doing what he is asked to do by the Cabinet after getting it endorsed by Musharraf. The perception of Kayani as a weak COAS has not endeared him to his subordinates.

9. Prime Minister Gilani is worse than a figurehead. Policy decisions are hardly ever taken in Cabinet meetings chaired by him in the Secretariat.They are taken in informal meetings of Ministers and officials chaired by Asif Ali Zardari, the co-Chairperson of the PPP, in his house if he is in the country or in his hotel suite if he is traveling abroad. Government is where Zardari is. He returned to Pakistan last week after an absence of a month traveling abroad. Sometimes, papers and officials were flown to him to seek his decision. Sometimes, decisions were just kept pending till he returned.

10. When Zardari is absent from the country, the real power is exercised by Rehman Malik, who is designated as the Adviser on Internal Security with the status of a Cabinet Minister. He is a former police officer, who was in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during Benazir Bhutto’s second tenure as the Prime Minister (1993 to 1996). He emerged as the closest confidante of Zardari and the alleged handler of all his foreign bank accounts. He continues to enjoy Zardari’s trust despite his alleged failure to make effective security arrangements for Benazir,

11. Malik is accused by many in the PPP of playing havoc with the administration and with internal security management. He has been allegedly indulging in back channel talks with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) without keeping either the COAS or the Government of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) informed. A major share of the responsibility for the deterioration in the situation in the tribal belt is attributed to him.

12. Zardari is a man increasingly worried about his security. He apprehends a threat to him not only from Al Qaeda and the TTP, but also from the remnants of Al Zulfiquar, formed by the late Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, to avenge the overthrow and the execution of their father Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto by Gen.Zia-ul-Haq. The remnants, who blame Zardari for the death of Murtaza at the hands of the Karachi Police in September 1996, have revived their sleeper cells to avenge the death of their leader. The recent explosions by unidentified elements in Karachi and the murder of a private security officer of Zardari at Karachi on July 22,2008, are viewed by Police sources as warning signals to Zardari, who is seen as an usurper not only by the Bhutto clan, but also by many founding members of the PPP such as Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, the uncle of Murtaza, and Maqdoom Amin Fahim. Zardari, who is not confident of the loyalty of the intelligence and security agencies, has been spending more time in Dubai than in Pakistan. He is seeking to rule Pakistan from Dubai.

13. The political and public support for him is declining because of his image as devious. The PML of Nawaz Sharif, which is still a member of the ruling coalition though not of the Cabinet, is increasingly disenchanted with his evasiveness in matters relating to the reinstatement of the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury and other judges sacked by Musharraf in November last year and by his reluctance to break with Musharraf or the US. Zardari feels indebted to Musharraf and the US for the closure of the cases filed against him on various charges relating to corruption and the murder of Murtaza. It is only a question of time before the PML (N) breaks from the coalition. If that happens, fresh elections might become unavoidable in which the PPP is expected to do badly.

14. The jihadi virus is threatening to spread from the tribal belt to Karachi. There has been an increasing movement of internally displaced Pashtun tribals from the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to Karachi. Whenever there is instability and violence in Afghanistan, the displaced Afghan Pashtuns tend to go to the FATA and the NWFP. Whenever there is instability and violence in the FATA and the NWFP, the displaced Pakistani Pashtuns tend to go to Karachi. Altaf Hussain, from his political exile in the UK, has already rung the alarm bells about the dangers of the Talibanisation of Karachi by this internal displacement.

15. The publicly expressed US concerns over the increasing flow of foreign jihadis to Pakistan’s tribal belt and over the increase in infiltrations into Afghanistan from the FATA have stepped up the pressure on the Government either to act to stop this or face the risk of unilateral US action to stop this. Stepped-up action in the tribal belt either by the Pakistan Army or unilaterally by the US would lead to a fresh increase in terrorism in the non-tribal areas, which has come down since the Gilani Government came to office. A solution to this problem cannot be found without a consensus involving Musharraf, Gilani, Kayani, Zardari and Nawaz. Such a consensus does not seem likely in view of Nawaz’s anathema for Musharraf and the US.

16. Pakistan is not yet a failed State, but it is a State with a failed leadership. The only possible way out is for the US to exercise pressure on Musharraf to leave in grace. He is the main stumbling block in the way of a national consensus. Nawaz’s dislike for Musharraf is more than his dislike for the US. Once Musharraf is out of the way and Nawaz’s urge to avenge his humiliation by Musharraf in 1999 is satisfied, he may be amenable for a more co-operative policy with the US in the fight against terrorism. (23-7-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Tuesday, July 22, 2008




Two persons were killed and 14 others injured early on the morning of July 21,2008, when there were two explosions within an interval of 55 minutes in two buses of the public transport system of Kunmimg, the capital of the Yunnan province of China. Both the explosions took place on two buses bearing No.54 plying on the same route. The first explosion, which took place at
7-10 AM, killed one person and injured 10. The second, which took place at 8-05 AM, killed one person and injured four. All the injured are stated to be out of danger, but the hearing of many of them has reportedly been affected.

2.The local police has characterized the two blasts as deliberate acts of sabotage and announced rewards for any clues regarding the identities of the perpetrators. Security has been stepped up in Yunnan and along its border with Burma to prevent the perpetrators from fleeing into Burma.

3. According to reports carried by the state-controlled media, ammonium nitrate is believed to have been used in both the explosions. The improvised explosive devices (IED) used were not of a sophisticated kind. The first IED had been kept in the front of the bus and the second in the rear. It is not yet clear whether there were two perpetrators or whether the two blasts were the work of the same person.

4. There was a similar explosion in a public transport bus in Shanghai two months ago. The Shanghai police have not indicated the progress of the investigation so far.

5. The two blasts in Kunming, coming in the wake of the earlier Shanghai blast, have added to the concerns of the Chinese authorities, who are responsible for the security of the forthcoming Olympics from August 8,2008. While most of the items will be staged in Beijing, the football matches will be in Shanghai, the equitation items in Hong Kong and the rowing in the Shadong province.

6. While the preparations for the games have been going ahead smoothly and most foreign dignitaries, including President George Bush, have confirmed their acceptance of the Chinese invitation to attend the inaugural function, the Chinese have been disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm by international tourists to witness the games. Hotel bookings by intending games tourists have so far been below expectations. One reported reason for this is nervousness over the effectiveness of the security arrangements made by the Chinese authorities. The nervousness has increased after the violent incidents in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas in March,2008, and after reports of the rounding-up of alleged jihadi terrorists in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province bordering Pakistan. Reports of fresh recruitment of Uighurs from the Uighur diaspora in Turkey by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organizations such as the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek organization, and their training in Pakistan’s tribal belt are a source of additional concern.

7. While the Chinese threat perceptions have been mainly focused on the Uighur and Tibetan organizations, Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organizations, the earlier blast in Shanghai and the blasts of July 21,2008, in Kunming have confused the Chinese. None of these organizations is known to have any presence in these places, though Kunming has a small Tibetan population.

8. Were the blasts of July 21 intended to cause more nervousness among intending foreign visitors or were they merely expressions of local anger against the Chinese authorities unrelated to the Olympics?

9. While the evidence available so far does not permit a definitive answer to these questions, two factors need to be noted. Firstly, the perpetrators of the two blasts did not want many casualties. This would be evident from the fact (confirmed by the local authorities) that two hours before the blasts many local residents having Internet access had reportedly received anonymous messages advising them not to travel by buses on this route.

10. Secondly, there have been many local grievances among the non-Han tribal population of Yunnan, many of whom are Christians---mainly Baptists with some Roman Catholics. Before the Communists captured power in China, Yunnan, then known as China’s Baptist belt, used to have the largest concentration of Baptists in China among the local tribals who are spread out along both sides of the Sino-Burmese border. Many American Baptist missionaries used to work among these tribals. After the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered Yunnan, these missionaries fled to the Kachin State of North Burma and from there to India. They then proceeded to Chiangmai in Northern Thailand from where their successors, many of them Lishus of Yunnan and Burma, have been looking after the spiritual needs of the tribals of Burma and Yunnan.

11. There have been allegations of the suppression of the human rights of the Christians. Just as the Chinese do not allow the construction of new mosques in Xinjiang, they allegedly do not allow the construction of new churches in Yunnan. To circumvent these restrictions, the Uighurs have been holding their community prayers in their houses by turn. The Chinese have declared many of these houses as illegal mosques and forcibly closed them.

12. Similarly, the Baptists and the Roman Catholics have been holding their prayers jointly in the houses of members of the community. Since last year, the Chinese have allegedly declared these houses as illegal churches and acted against their tenants.

13. In January last, China Aid, an organization, which monitors the human rights of the Christians in China, had disseminated the following report: “On December 5, 2007 at 2:00pm, policemen and members of the Bureau of Ethnic and Religious Affairs disrupted the house church meeting in Kunming, and detained several members. After searching the building, police seized several hundred Christian books including Bibles and note-pads, and proceeded to burn them outside of the residence. Police also destroyed the identification cards of three of the church members and instructed the landlord of the building to cease rental agreements with the congregation. Chinese law requires officials to issue certificates documenting items taken during seizures. The church members have requested documentation of the items several times, but have been turned away by police officials every time. Any Government which displays such blatant disregard for human rights and religious freedom demands to be held accountable. Government officials have now resorted to the burning of Bibles in order to hinder the growth of the House Church in China. We urge the international community to demand an accounting of these officials for the egregious acts committed against the house church members in Yunan Province. Members of a House Church in Yunan Province were severely beaten by police officials on the morning of January 23, 2008. The incident occurred after two church members walked into the Xishan District’s Public Security Bureau office to request an account of the items, including Bibles, that were taken from the church and burned by police officials in early December of 2007. After ignoring the members’ request, officials proceeded to violently remove them from the office. One female church member 54-year-old Ms. Liang Guihua was thrown into a wall and rendered unconscious for more than 10 minutes.”

14. According to Western news agency reports, the Kunming blasts came two days after the Yunnan police opened fire and killed two rubber farmers in the province's Menglian county in a clash that also saw 41 police officers injured. The clash occurred when police tried to arrest five people in Menglian for allegedly attacking a local rubber company in a long-running dispute between farmers and the private firm, state media said.

15. It has been reported that the Chinese authorities in Beijing have issued instructions to all provincial Governments to be more sympathetic to local grievances and to redress them so that they do not lead to violent incidents damaging the image of China at the time of the Olympics. As one has been seeing in Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan, these instructions are not being followed by the local authorities, who continue to conduct themselves like Red Guards. (22-7-08)

(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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Monday, July 21, 2008




In the wake of the recent upsurge in the activities of jihadi terrorists in the tribal belt on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, US military commanders have been talking of the arrival in Afghanistan via Pakistan of a large number of jihadis from Iraq, the Central Asian Republics, Chechnya in Russia and Turkey to step up the fight against the US and other NATO forces.

2. After an unidentified jihadi group (about 200 strong) attacked a US-commanded outpost in the Kunnar-Nuristan area of East Afghanistan and forced its withdrawal on July 13,2008, Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was reported to have stated as follows: “We’re seeing a greater number of insurgents and foreign fighters flowing across the border with Pakistan, unmolested and unhindered. We simply must all do a better job of policing the border region and eliminating the safe havens, which serve today as launching pads for attacks on coalition forces. The group that launched the attack trained in safe havens in Pakistan. We see this threat accelerating, almost becoming a syndicate of different groups who heretofore had not worked closely together.” (The “News” of July 17 and the “Financial Times” of London of July 18)

3. In preparation for his visit to Washington DC later this week, accompanied by Asif Zardari, the co-Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), for talks with President George Bush, Yousef Raza Gilani, the Pakistani Prime Minister, was reported to have convened a special meeting with his senior officials to get himself briefed on the ground situation. Zardari was also reportedly present.

4. During the briefing, the officials were reported to have painted an alarming picture of the infiltration of foreigners into the tribal belt. They reportedly stated that the total number of foreign jihadis in Pakistan’s tribal belt could be as high as 8000. However, Rehman Malik, the Advisor on Internal Security, who has the rank of a Cabinet Minister, later estimated their number as about 1000, while talking to journalists.

5. The “News” of July 21,2008, has carried a detailed report on this subject by Hamid Mir, the well-informed Pakistani journalist. There are some references to India in his report, which should be of great concern to our national security managers. These references are indicated below:

· “A few years ago, Pakistan was the safest route for foreign fighters to enter into Afghanistan but now they rarely use this old route. Most of them come as tourists and traders directly from Dushanbe, Baku, Istanbul, Dubai, Sharjah, Delhi and Frankfurt to Kabul by different airlines. Many Afghans in Kabul, Karachi, Dubai and Delhi are working for them as travel agents. It is also very easy to make a new Afghan passport for them in Kabul.
· “Two American-born Al-Qaeda operators Adam Gadhan alias Azzam al Amriki and Abu Ahmad alias Amir Butt are known in the Afghan Kunar province for making travel arrangements of these young and educated Muslims from the US, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Canada and Australia.
· “It is also learnt that many fighters from Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya, Iraq, Syria and some from India and Bangladesh prefer to stay in the warmer areas of southern Afghanistan which is a safe haven for the Taliban. The fighters from Morocco, Algeria, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and from western countries like to stay in the eastern Afghanistan provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika, Khost and Pakistani tribal areas bordering these areas. “

6. The full text of Hamid Mir’s report is annexed. (21-7-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )



Monday, July 21, 2008

By Hamid Mir

ISLAMABAD: In a disturbing report presented to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, days before he travels to the United States, the latest figure of foreign fighters present in the tribal areas of Pakistan is estimated to be more than 8,000 but the government is reluctant to officially confirm this number.

At a special cabinet briefing on Sunday in which Asif Ali Zardari was also present, besides the prime minister and Adviser to the Interior Ministry Rehman Malik, said the government will have to use force if the process of dialogue does not produce the results but his view was opposed by the minister from FATA Hamidullah Jan.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and his key ministers will visit Peshawar on Monday for a special meeting, which could decide the launching of a major operation against foreign fighters in Fata, Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik told The News on Sunday.

It would be a short and effective operation like the one in Bara recently, officials told The News. Information Minister Sherry Rehman confirmed the briefing to The News without giving any number for the foreign fighters but expressed the determination of the government to pull them out. Mr Zardari listened to the briefing without making any comment.

Although officially the government of Pakistan accepts that foreign fighters are present, their unusually large number has set alarm bells ringing in Islamabad and possibly in other capitals as well. Interior Adviser Rehman Malik, when pressed by this correspondent, however, conceded that the number of foreign fighters was about 1,000.

According to the report presented to the PM, a majority of these foreign fighters are living in North and South Waziristan and Bajaur. Prime Minister Gilani has also been informed that some foreign intelligence agencies are pushing their agents into the Pakistani tribal areas from Afghanistan under the cover of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters. These under-cover agents are trying to instigate the local population to fight against Pakistani forces as part of a “great game” in the region.

Taliban sources on the other hand are not ready to confirm that they are hosting thousands of foreign fighters in their areas. They claim that the number of foreigners is just a few hundred and most of them are living in the tribal areas from the time when the American CIA and Pakistani ISI encouraged them to come and fight against the Soviet Union.

Independent sources in both the Pakistani tribal areas and eastern Afghanistan have, however, claimed that number of foreign fighters started increasing in 2007. The biggest attraction for these young militant guests from the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe was the increase in the number of US troops in Afghanistan. A lot of young Muslims are coming to Afghanistan to fight the US troops who, they believe, have come to Afghanistan not to fight terrorism but to occupy more Muslim lands, including Pakistan, and to plunder their

According to some Afghan sources, foreign fighters are welcomed not only in the Pakistani tribal areas but also in eastern, southern and western Afghanistan. The rising number of civilian causalities has created lot of hatred and resentment against foreign security forces in these Afghan and Pakistani areas. Angry locals believe that the foreign fighters are coming to avenge these killings.

A few years ago, Pakistan was the safest route for foreign fighters to enter into Afghanistan but now they rarely use this old route. Most of them come as tourists and traders directly from Dushanbe, Baku, Istanbul, Dubai, Sharjah, Delhi and Frankfurt to Kabul by different airlines. Many Afghans in Kabul, Karachi, Dubai and Delhi are working for them as travel agents. It is also very easy to make a new Afghan passport for them in Kabul.

Two American-born Al-Qaeda operators Adam Gadhan alias Azzam al Amriki and Abu Ahmad alias Amir Butt are known in the Afghan Kunar province for making travel arrangements of these young and educated Muslims from the US, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Canada and Australia. Most of these Western Muslims tell their Afghan and Pakistani hosts that they will take not only their revenge from the “occupying forces” but they will also take the revenge for the sacreligious cartoons of their prophet from Western governments who encourage such cartoonists in the name of freedom of expression.

Some of these foreigners have married into the tribes of Kunar, Nuristan, North Waziristan and South Waziristan. German-born Turkish fighter Saad Abu Furqan is also known in the Pakistani tribal areas for attracting young Turks to organise Jihad against what he calls the “crusaders” in Afghanistan. A very well known Taliban leader Ustad Dawood is working as coordinator between these foreign fighters and locals from Afghan Paktika province. Dawood speaks English and Arabic fluently.

A source who knows Ustad Dawood revealed that Al-Qaeda and Taliban are now slowly moving foreign fighters to areas round Kabul for a big attack on the Afghan capital Kabul in near future. Some of the foreign fighters have already entered Kabul as vendors and shopkeepers and provide a lot of intelligence to their commanders.

Ustad Dawood has also established contacts with his old friends in the Northern Alliance and is working with Jalaluddin Haqqani for an alliance between the Taliban, some Northern Alliance groups and the Hizb-e-Islami to jointly fight the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

An independent source said many experienced and hardened Al-Qaeda fighters were coming from Iraq to Afghanistan via Iran by road.These fighters enter the Afghan provinces of Herat and Balkh from Iran illegally.

The Nato forces are aware of this infiltration from Iran and have started bombing civilian vehicles moving close to the Iranian border indiscriminately. The bombing killed nine Afghan policemen in southwest Farah province on July 20 and seven civilians on July 17. Nato was also accused of killing more than 50 civilians in the Shindand area of Herat on July 17.

It is also learnt that many fighters from Saudi Arabia,Yemen, Egypt, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya, Iraq, Syria and some from India and Bangladesh prefer to stay in the warmer areas of southern Afghanistan which is a safe haven for the Taliban. The fighters from Morocco, Algeria, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan and from western countries like to stay in the eastern Afghanistan provinces of Kunar, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika, Khost and Pakistani tribal areas bordering these areas.

Sources say that fighters from African countries are not encouraged to come to Afghanistan or Pakistan as Al-Qaeda wants them to go to Darfur in Sudan or Iraq. The foreign fighters in the Pakistani tribal areas and Afghanistan are aware about the presence of some undercover agents in their ranks. Recently, they arrested two Uzbeks, three Afghans and one Pakistani for spying and executed them in North and South Waziristan when they confessed during interrogation that they were working for the CIA and ISI.

Foreign fighters avoid getting in touch with non-tribal Pakistani fighters because they suspect them of having links with Pakistani intelligence. Pakistani officials are putting pressure on the Taliban leadership not to encourage foreigners to cross the border into Afghanistan to fight US and Nato troops. The Taliban are also asking them to put down their guns and register themselves with the local political administration.

While some Taliban leaders in North Waziristan have started discouraging foreigners from crossing the border, some in South Waziristan are not ready to listen to the Pakistani government. Their defiance has created a lot of confusion and resentment in Islamabad because the Pakistan government is already under lot of pressure to use heavy force against the Taliban.

Defiant Taliban leaders are of the view that it is the right of every Muslim to join the Jihad against “crusaders” in Afghanistan and they will not ask any foreigner to leave their area or stop fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. A Taliban leader said: “We are not against all the Jews and Christians, but we are against crusaders and Zionists, who should leave Afghanistan first and then we will ask our foreign Muslim brothers to leave the area but if the Pakistani rulers want to fight with us, we are ready.”

Saturday, July 19, 2008




The Neo Taliban of Afghanistan has demonstrated a dual capability---- as a terrorist organization specializing in suicide terrorism and as a conventional guerilla force capable of conventional set-piece battles involving attack-stand-and fight tactics.

2. Its capability as a terrorist organization has remained unimpaired for the last two years. So far this year, it has already committed 73 acts of suicide terrorism as compared to 137 during the whole of last year.

3. Its acts of suicide terrorism are almost as numerous as those witnessed in Iraq, but not as deadly due to the poor training of the suicide bombers.

4. It demonstrated its capability for set-piece conventional battles involving the engagement of large forces during the fighting season of 2006-07. The Taliban units engaged in many of those battles in Afghan territory were trained, motivated and led by Mulla Dadullah.

5.The death of Mulla Dadullah in Afghan territory in an incident in May,2007, impaired its conventional capability. It faced difficulty in finding a suitable replacement for him. This had an impact on the ground situation during the summer of 2007. The much-threatened (by the Taliban) and much-dreaded (by the NATO forces) summer offensive did not materialize.

6. As the NATO commanders were hoping that the tide has started turning against the Taliban, it is showing signs of a second resurgence of its conventional prowess. One has already seen two instances of this. The first was its audacious attack on the Kandahar prison on June 13,2008, during which it took the NATO and Afghan National Army (ANA) forces totally by surprise and rescued about 400 imprisoned Taliban cadres and took them away in motor vehicles without being intercepted by the Canadian forces deployed for the security of this area.

7. The second instance was on July 13,2008, when an estimated 200 jihadi fighters , who had taken shelter, without being detected, in a village called Wanat in the Kunnar province in Eastern Afghanistan managed to attack and over-run an outpost jointly manned by US and ANA forces, after killing nine US soldiers. The US has since vacated this indefensible area, which has reportedly been occupied by the jihadi fighters.

8.What should be worrying is not the occupation of this area by the jihadis, but their ability to keep their movement, assembling in the village and preparations for the attack a secret and the tenacity with which they reportedly fought despite the US outpost calling for air strikes to disperse them.

9.The identity of the fighters and their commander is not yet certain. The Taliban, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Gulbuddin Heckmatyar’s Hizbe Islami and Al Qaeda are known to be active in this area-----with greater activity by the Hizbe Islami than others. There have also been reports from tribal sources in Pakistan that the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which has been operating in tandem with Maulana Fazlullah’s Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), has now moved some of its trained cadres to the Kunnar province to fight along with the Hizbe Islami. However, the JEM is essentially a terrorist organization with very little conventional capability.

10.The kind of conventional capability, which was exhibited during the 2006-07 fighting season and is being exhibited now, could come only from either serving or retired Pashtun soldiers of the Pakistani and Afghan armies and those trained by them.

11. In a report carried by it on July 18,2008, the “Financial Times” of London has quoted Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, as saying that the July 13’s “well co-ordinated” attack by hundreds of insurgents against a US military outpost near the border with Pakistan demonstrated that the enemy in Afghanistan had “grown bolder, more sophisticated, and more diverse”.

12. He added: “We’re seeing a greater number of insurgents and foreign fighters flowing across the border with Pakistan, unmolested and unhindered. We simply must all do a better job of policing the border region and eliminating the safe havens, which serve today as launching pads for attacks on coalition forces.”

13. An agency report carried by the “News” of Pakistan on July 17,2008, has quoted Admiral Mullen as further saying as follows: “The group that launched the attack trained in safe havens in Pakistan. We see this threat accelerating, almost becoming a syndicate of different groups who heretofore had not worked closely together.”

14. Till recently, Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), another Uzbek group, were content with keeping their role confined to training the jihadis of the Taliban, the various Pakistani organizations and volunteers from outside. They were not participating in actual battles due to their small number, which they wanted to conserve for operations outside this region. There have been reports that their number has now been bolstered by the arrival of not only experienced fighters from Iraq, but also fresh recruits from the Central Asian Republics, Chechnya and Turks and members of the Uighur diaspora from Turkey.

15. The Pentagon is reported to have ordered an enquiry into the July 13 fiasco in order to establish the identity of the jihadi forces which attacked the outpost, how the outpost was taken by surprise and how the intelligence agencies failed to detect the movement and assembling of the jihadis near the outpost. It has been reported that the jihadis managed to plan and carry out the attack within two days of the outpost being set up.

16. The US forces should re-examine their present policy of setting up thinly-manned outposts in apparently indefensible areas. They only hand over a seemingly spectacular victory on a platter to the jihadis. They should reverse this tactics and inveigle the jihadis into setting up their presence in such areas and then attack and kill them with superior force. The objective in such isolated areas should be not territorial control, but inflicting heavy attrition on the jihadis.

17.The jihadi battles presently going on in Pakistan’s tribal belt and in Afghanistan have serious security implications for India. Mehsuds, Wazirs and Afridis were the tribals used by the Pakistan Army in 1947-48 to capture what is now called the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). The Pakistan Army again used them before and during the war of 1965. Zia-ul-Haq used them for suppressing a Shia revolt in Gilgit in 1988.

18. President Bush often says with some validity that if the US troops withdraw from Iraq without defeating Al Qaeda, the Arab terrorists now operating in Iraq could move over to Europe and the US and step up terrorism.

19. If the US and other NATO forces fail to prevail over the jihadis in the Pakistan-Afghanistan tribal belt, these tribals, fresh from their victories in that region, would move over to Kashmir to resume their jihad against India. What we are now seeing in Kashmir is the beginning of the end of one phase of the jihad involving jihadis of the 1980s vintage. We might see the beginning of a new phase involving better-trained and better-motivated jihadis of the latest stock. (20-7-08)

(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: seventyone2@gmail.com )