Friday, August 29, 2008



The "New York Times" reported as follows on August 28,2008: "Top US and Pakistani army commanders had a highly unusual secret meeting on board an American aircraft carrier in the Indian Ocean to discuss how to combat the escalating violence along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The leading actors in the day long conference were Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani.The meeting had been convened on Tuesday (August 26) by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While officials of the two allies offered few details on Wednesday about what was decided or even discussed at the meeting - including any new strategies, tactics, weapons or troop deployment- the star-studded list of participants and an extreme secrecy surrounding the talks underscored how gravely the two nations regarded the growing militant threat.".

2.The top secrecy surrounding the talks between Admiral Mullen and Gen.Kayani brings to mind a similar top secret meeting between Gen.Jehangir Karamat, the then Pakistani Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and Gen.Anthony Zinni, the then chief of the US Central Command, on the tarmac of a Pakistani airport before the US launched Cruise missile strikes against Osama bin Laden and the training camps of Al Qaeda in Afghan territory in August,1998, in retaliation for the Al Qaeda-organised explosions outside the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam.

3.The US had fixed the Cruise missile strikes on a day (August 20,1998) when bin Laden was expected to visit a training camp to meet a group of Al Qaeda volunteers, who had completed the training. Nawaz Sharif was then the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The US did not want his Government to know in advance about the planned Cruise missile attacks lest the information leak to Al Qaeda. At the same time, it was worried that if the Pakistani Army detected the incoming Cruise missiles, it might mistake them for missiles launched by India and this could lead to a war between India and Pakistan.

4.Just before the launch of the missiles, Gen.Zinni landed in a Pakistani airport secretly. Only Karamat was informed in advance about his landing. Zinni had requested him to meet him secretly for a discussion on the tarmac of the airport. He also asked Karamat to come alone to the airport without being accompanied by any of his officers. As the two took a stroll on the tarmac, Zinni told Karamat about the impending missile strikes and asked him not to tell Nawaz or anybody else about the strikes. Immediately thereafter, Zinni took off. Shortly thereafter, the missiles were launched from US naval ships.

5.The missiles destroyed only some training camps of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) of Pakistan in Afghan territory. Al Qaeda camps had been evacuated from the area targeted by the Cruise missiles. Bin Laden had cancelled his visit to one of the camps. He and his camps escaped the strike.

6.Till today, it has been a mystery as to how bin Laden and his Al Qaeda came to know of the date and time of the strike. Did they get their information from their own sources? Or did Karamat inform his officers and Nawaz in violation of the assurance given by him to Zinni and did any of them leak out? No answer is available to any of these questions.

7.Recently, US military officers have been complaining in their testimonies to the Congressional committees as well as in their briefings of the media that the collusion between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Taliban has reached such an extent that the Taliban and Al Qaeda had come to know in advance in some cases about planned strikes by US Predator aircraft on the hide-outs of these organizations in Pakistan. While some Predator strikes were successful, many others were not.

8.It is learnt from reliable Afghan sources that the NATO officials based in Afghanistan suspect that the leakages had been taking place not only from the ISI and some sections of the Pakistan Army, but also from some members of the Pakistan Government headed by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. The US suspicions are particularly focussed on the Awami National Party of Afsandyar Wali Khan, and the Jamiat-ul-Islam Pakistan of Maulana Fazlur Rahman It is understood that this matter of leakages of information was raised by President George Bush with Gilani when the latter visited Washington DC in the last week of July,2008.

9.It is likely that one of the purposes of the top secret meeting between Mullen and Kayani on board a US aircraft-carrier was to discuss how to prevent such leakages.(29-8-08)

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2008



Asif Ali Zardari, the co-Chairperson of the Pakistan People's Party and the leader of the ruling coalition, which came into existence after the elections of February 18,2008, can be as tricky and as insincere as Pervez Musharraf, who resigned as the President on August 18,2008, in order to avoid humiliating impeachment proceedings against him by the Parliament.

2. There is no other way of interpreting his going back on the solemn commitments in writing made by him to Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), within a few hours of his signing those commitments. The first of these commitments related to the reinstatement of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury and other judges sacked by Musharraf within 24 hours of the resignation of Musharraf through an executive order. The second commiment related to choosing a non-political candidate in consulatation with the PML (N) to succeed Musharraf as the President and to work for the removal of the powers of the President to dismiss the elected Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly.

3. After forcing Musharraf to resign by mounting pressure on him with the co-operation of the PML (N), Zardari has gone back on his commitment once again and has been dragging his feet on the reinstatement of the sacked Chief Justice due to a fear that, if reinstated, he may set aside the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) under which all criminal cases pending against him and Benazir Bhutto were withdrawn by Musharraf.

4. Zardari has also gone back on his commitment to choose a non-political candidate through consensus for the post of President and decided to contest the post himself, ostensibly under pressure from his party and its electoral allies. After having announced his decision to seek office as the President, he has started dragging his feet on his commitment to work for the abolition of the powers of the President to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly. It is also apparent that he wants to chair the powerful National Security Council (NSC) set up by Musharraf. Thus, Zardari has made clear his intention----kept concealed so far---- to be the successor to Muasharraf with the same powers as Musharraf.

5. What has shocked the PML (N) is not only his shamelessly going back on his solemn commitments, but also justifying it with the cynical argument that agreements are not holy like the Holy Koran and hence subject to change depending on the change in trhe circumstances. The shocked PML (N) has decided to withdraw from the ruling coalition and sit in the opposition. It has also decided to nominate former Chief justice Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, who refused to take a fresh oath after Musharraf seized power in October,1999, and resigned office, as its candidate for President. The PML (Qaide Azam) headed by Shujjat Hussain, which was created by Musharraf in 2002 and which has remained loyal to him, has decided to nominate its own candidate ( Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed). Even if such a three-cornered contest materialises, Zardari should have no difficulty in getting elected with the support of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) of Altaf Hussain, living in exile in the UK, the Awami National Party (ANP) of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Jamiat-ul-Islam Pakistan of Maulana Fazlur Rahman and pro-PPP Independents.

6. The US and Musharraf, in their own ways, have been trying to ensure that Zardari is elected and Nawaz is marginalised. Like Zardari, the US does not want the reinstatement of Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury since he was keen to enquire into the cases of missing Pakistanis, many of whom were informally and illegally handed over by Musharraf to the US intelligence on suspicion that they were having contacts with Al Qaeda. The US feels uncomfortable with Nawaz for the reason that he has been calling for major changes in the policy of co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda and the Taliban followed by Musharraf.

7. Even though the US does not rate highly Zardari's leadership qualities, it prefers him to Nawaz because of his willingness to maintain Musharraf's policy of co-operation with the US in its so-called war against terrorism in Afghanistan and his perceived amenability to pressure by the US because of its role in persuading Musharraf, when he was the President, to issue the NRO. The US is also hopeful that, unlike Nawaz, Zardari will avoid any humiliation of Musharraf and will let him continue to live in Pakistan without fearing any harassment by the Government.

8. Musharraf has not been inactive since his resignation. According to well-informed MQM sources, he played a role in persuading Altaf Hussain to support Zardari as the President. Musharraf has similarly been trying to persuade the PML (QA) to withdraw its candidate and support Zardari.

9. Well-informed PPP sources say that the entire scenario has been proceeding according to a tacit understanding reached with US officials during the visit of Yousef Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister, and Rehman Malik, his Advisor on Internal Security, to Washington DC, in the last week of July,2008. According to these sources, this understanding provided for: launching of a special land-cum-air operation by the Pakistan military against Al Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in the Bajaur Agency, permission to be accorded by the Gilani Government for continuing unmanned Predator strikes by the US intelligence agencies on terrorist hide-outs in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and US pressure on Musharraf to resign thus paving the way for the election of Zardari. The object of the entire exercise was to keep Nawaz out of power, marginalise him and keep up the present level of US-Pakistan co-operation against terrorism.

10. If Zardari gets elected as the President, how sincere will he be in keeping up his commitment to extend full co-operation to the US in the war against terrorism? As proof of his good intention, he has already got banned the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on August 25,2008.This is a move meant to placate the US and convince it that Zardari is as keen to fight against terrorism as Musharraf was. The ban itself will make no difference to the activities of the TTP just as the bans imposed by Musharraf on the Lashkar-e-Toiba and other organisations on January 15,2002, did not make any difference They just changed their names and started operating under different names. The TTP would not even change its name. Musharraf in the past and Zardari now try to create an impression of co-operating with the US without actually doing so. They try to create a cosmetic effect through seemingly bold statements, formal bans etc. If they are really sincere about their co-operation, their sincerity has to be reflected in the action takem by them on the ground against the TTP through measures such as locating and arresting or killing their leaders, destroying their training infrastructure etc. One sees very little sign of such action.

11. After 9/11, the US tried to project Musharraf as its frontline ally in the war against terrorism. He did co-operate, but not whole-heartedly. It is now hoping that if elected as the President, Zardari will co-operate with it without reservations. Zardari is giving the impression that he will. It is most likely that he will turn out to be as insincere as Musharraf. He will give the impression of co-operating while avoiding it in effect. (26-8-08)

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

Monday, August 25, 2008


Defeatist campaign to run down security forces seen
Special Correspondent
Former RAW official says Arundhati Roy is to blame
HYDERABAD: B. Raman, former head, Counter Terrorism Division of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has regretted that a campaign was being run to create a feeling of defeatism in the minds of security forces fighting terrorists and felt this was as pernicious a trend as the ideology of jihad.
The defeatist campaign which was started by writer Arundhati Roy should be resisted before the “virus” spreads, he told a meeting on ‘Tackling jihadi terrorism’ organised by an NGO, Social Cause here on Sunday. Mr. Raman said the security forces had never shown signs of fatigue so far and this was the strength of the country.

Of late, however, people were falling for arguments questioning the utility of fighting terrorists. This was as dangerous as terrorism itself.

The former RAW official said it was unfortunate that not many studies were done about jihadi terrorists in India although extensive knowledge about the mindset of Army personnel belonging to Pakistan was gathered and incorporated in the training programmes for security forces here.

Understanding the mindset and ideology of jihadis was important to control the problem, he said. Some of the components of the ideology were – loyalty to a particular religion, religious solidarity taking precedence over cultural solidarity and religious beliefs have no national frontiers, he added.
Former Director General of Police T.S. Rao sought a stringent law to cut off support to terrorists. Andhra Bhoomi Editor M.V.R. Sastry said political support is leveraging terrorist activity.

Friday, August 22, 2008




(To be read in continuation of my paper of 14-8-08 titled "Taliban Fights Fiercely to Protect Zawahiri", which is available at )
At least 64 persons, most of them civilian workers in a cluster of arms production factories located in the heavily-protected cantonment area of Wah, about 30 kms from Islamabad, were reported to have been killed on the afternoon of August 21,2008, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside different gates of the factories during shift change. The ease with which they penetrated into this high security area would indicate either that they had accomplices in the security staff or that they were workers of one of the factories, who had no difficulty in entering the complex. If suicide bombers could penetrate into such a high-security area with so much ease, it should be equally easy for other terrorists to penetrate one day into Pakistan's nuclear establishments. The expression high security has ceased to have any meaning in Pakistan's sensitive establishments because of the penetration by the jihadi elements.

2. This is the third suicide attack in the non-tribal areas since the elected coalition Government headed by Yousef Raza Gilani came to office on March 18,2008. The previous two targeted the Danish Embassy in Islamabad (June 2,2008) in protest against the publication by some Danish newspapers of caricatures of the Holy Prophet and policemen, who were returning to their police stations after performing duty at the Lal Masjid in which a meeting was held (July 6,2008) in memory of those killed during the Commando raid in July last year.

3. The blasts in Wah came in the wake of the threat issued by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to resume terrorist attacks in the non-tribal areas if the Government did not stop the on-going military operations in the Bajaur Agency, where many leaders and cadres of Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban have reportedly taken shelter.Since the threat was issued by the TTP, the Pakistan Army has not been much active on the ground in the Bajaur Agency either by itself or through the para-military Frontier Corps. However, helicopter gunships of the Army and the planes of the Air Force have stepped up their air strikes in response to the US pressure to neutralise the terrorist infrastructure in the area, which was making the NATO forces in Afghanistan bleed.

4.Making a statement in the NWFP provincial Assembly on August 21, Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti said that thousands of foreign militants were present in the Bajaur Agency and claimed that they would have captured the area if the military operation had been delayed for a couple of days.According to him, in the past, the two traditional pillars of power in the tribal belt were the political administration and the Malik (tribal chief) system. He said that a third pillar, inducted into the area during the 1980s, had emerged stronger than the traditional pillars. He added that some called this third pillar the Mujahideen, some others called it the Taliban and yet some others termed it Al Qaeda. It was this third pillar which was now dominating the tribal belt. According to him, there cannot be peace in the NWFP without peace in the FATA and there cannot be peace in the FATA without peace in Afghanistan. The ground situation in Afghanistan, the FATA and the NWFP was closely inter-connected. He said that before launching the military operation in the Bajaur Agency,the Government had sent a delegation for talks with the local tribals, but there were thousands of Arabs, Uzbeks and Chechens in the area, who are unaware of the Pashtun traditions and customs and came in the way of peace.

5. In retaliation for the air strikes, the TTP blew up an Air Force bus on the Kohat Road in the NWFP on August 12 killing 13 persons, including seven administrative personnel of the PAF, and followed this up on August 19 with an explosion outside the District headquarters hospital of Dera Ismail Kahan in the NWFP, in which 32 persons, many of them Shia outdoor patients, were killed. The TTP claimed responsibility for both these attacks and projected them as in retaliation for the continuing air strikes in the Bajaur Agency.

6. While the targeting of the PAF bus is explained by the anger of the TTP over the air strikes, its targeting of Shia outdoor patients is attributed by well-informed police sources to its strong suspicion that the Shias of the NWFP and the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been collaborating with the Pakistan Army in its operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Over 100 persons--- more Shias than Sunnis--- have been killed in continuing Shia-Sunni clashes in the Kurram Agency for the last 10 days.

7. While the attacks of August 12 and 19 were in the tribal areas, the attacks in Wah on August 21 were in a non-tribal area. The TTP has already admitted responsibility for the suicide attacks in Wah and warned of similar attacks on military installations in other cities, including Lahore, Karachi,Islamabad and Rawalpindi if the Government does not stop the air strikes in the Bajaur Agency and withdraw the Army from the Agency and the Swat Valley of the NWFP.The Government has to take these threats seriously in view of the repeatedly demonstrated capability of the TTP to strike at military targets in non-tribal areas since the commando action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad from July 10 to 13,2007.

8. The anger of the TTP, the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda against the Pakistan Army has not subsided as a result of the resignation of Pervez Musharraf from the post of President on August 18,2008. They hold Musharraf as well as the Army responsible for the commando action in the Lal Masjid and for the military operations in the tribal belt, which they view as undertaken to protect Western lives and in support of the NATO operations in Afghanistan. They are demanding not only the stoppage of all air strikes in the tribal belt and the withdrawal of the Army from there, but also the stoppage of any co-operation with the US and other NATO forces against the Afghan Taliban. It is only a question of time before the anti-Musharraf and anti-Army anger for their co-operation with the US broadens to include anti-Asif Zardari anger for the continuing co-operation with the US. The terrorists view Zardari as no different from Musharraf and as much an apostate as Musharraf. They are convinced that the air strikes and ground operations in the Bajaur Agency have been agreed to by Zardari and Gilani as a quid pro quo for the role of the US and the UK in persuading Musharraf to quit as the President.

9. The FATA is emerging as Pakistan's Falluja. After the US occupatiion of Iraq, Falluja became the launching pad of terrorist strikes in the rest of Iraq---- whether by Al Qaeda or by ex-Baathist resistance fighters. Only after the US ruthlessly pacified Falluja and destroyed the terrorist launching pads there, did it start making progress in its counter-insurgency operations in the rest of the Sunni areas of Iraq. The NATO forces will continue to bleed in Afghanistan and the jihadi virus will continue to spread in Pakistan unless and until the FATA is similarly pacified through ruthless application of force. The Pakistan Army has not demonstrated either the will or the capability to do so.A more active role by the NATO forces under US leadership is necessary----either covertly or openly. A strategy for a Falluja-style pacification of the FATA is called for----with the co-operation of the Pakistan Army if possible and without it, if necessary.

10. The USSR was defeated by the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s because of the reluctance of the Soviet troops to attack their sanctuaries in the FATA and the NWFP. India has been unable to prevail over cross-border jihadi terrorism because of the reluctance of its leadership to attack their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. The US is unlikely to prevail over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan unless it is prepared to destroy their infrastructure in the FATA. Deniable Predator air strikes by the US intelligence agencies on suspected terrorist hide-outs in the FATA have been increasing and some of them have been effective in neutralising well-known Al Qaeda operatives. But air strikes alone will not be able to turn the tide against the jihadis. Effective hit and withdraw raids into the FATA in the form of hot pursuit should be the next step. The longer it is delayed the more will be the bleeding. (22-8-08)

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


(An article written for the forthcoming issue of ‘India Abroad” of the US)


" O Allah, Pervez, his ministers, his 'Ulama and his soldiers have been hostile to your friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur and Lal Masjid: O Allah, break their backs, split them up and destroy their unity; O Allah, afflict them with the loss of their dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our dear ones; O Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O Allah, destroy them, for they cannot escape You; O Allah, count them, kill them, and leave not even one of them."

Extract from Osama bin Laden’s fatwa of September 20,2007 against Musharraf & the Pakistani Army. My analysis of the fatwa is available at

Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf played a double-game in the war against terrorism. He pretended to condemn terrorism and religious extremism. In his televised address to his people on January 12,2002, he described terrorism as an absolute evil, whatever be the cause, but, in practice, he made a distinction between terrorism directed against India and Afghanistan and terrorism directed against the US.

2. He was more active against Al Qaeda, which threatened the US, than against the Pakistan-based terrorist organizations, which threatened India, and against the Taliban, which threatened Afghanistan. He helped the US through limited operations against Al Qaeda infrastructure in Pakistani territory, but refrained from even such limited operations against the jihadi infrastructure directed against India and Afghanistan.

3. He knew how to manipulate political opinion in the US in his favour. Periodic high-profile arrests of Al Qaeda operatives in Pakistani territory, whose presence was detected by the US intelligence, thereby leaving him with no choice but to act, was one of his ways of impressing US political opinion. Among such arrests were those of Abu Zubaidah in Faislabad in Punjab,Ramzi Binalshibh in Karachi, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad in Rawalpindi and Abu Faraj al-Libi in Mardan in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

4. Another way was periodically sending the Army and the para-military forces into the tribal areas for operations against Al Qaeda and its allies such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) etc, but these operations were half-hearted and subject to periodic ceasefires whenever the security forces were unable to counter the terrorists effectively.

5. The third way was reiterating often to Western interlocutors his determination to reform the madrasas and free them from the control of the jihadis, but not acting on his promises. He managed to project himself to Western policy-makers as a courageous and determined fighter against jihadi terrorism, not through action on the ground, but through impressive words on the TV. It took the US some time to realise that he was “bravely” countering terrorism not on the ground, but on the TV screen through words and phrases which were not followed up by action.

6. He did little to help the US in its hunt for bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his No.2. According to the US, they were operating from the Pakistani tribal belt, but he avoided acting against them due to fear of violent repercussions in Pakistani territory. Criticism of his double-talk and half-hearted action should not obscure the fact that he did try to help the US in its war against terrorism through a number of other ways such as the following:

Post-9/11, for some months, he placed two bases of the Pakistani Air Force in Balochistan at the disposal of the US for mounting search and rescue operations in Afghan territory.

He placed the Karachi port at the disposal of the US navy for bringing logistic supplies for the NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan and allowed their transportation by road to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

He allowed Pakistani naval ships to join the NATO’s naval task force patrolling the seas in the Gulf to prevent sea-borne operations of Al Qaeda.

He directed his intelligence agencies to pick up informally Pakistani nationals and Pakistani visitors from the US suspected by the US to be Al Qaeda sympathizers and secretly hand them over to the US agencies for interrogation at detention centres in places such as the Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Diego Garcia, Bagram in Afghanistan and Morocco. The due process of law was not followed in these cases such as informing their relatives, producing them before courts etc. According to allegations in Pakistan, about 200 such Pakistanis were rounded up and illegally handed over to the US. The whereabouts of many of them are not known till today. It was the action of dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in initiating enquiries into these cases which initially annoyed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Musharraf against him. It led to the conflict between Musharraf and Chaudhury.

He secretly allowed a large increase in the US intelligence personnel based in Pakistani territory. It was said that during Musharraf’s tenure more US intelligence operatives were operating from Pakistani territory than during the US-sponsored proxy war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He even allowed them to run secret operations for recruiting Pakistani and Afghan nationals as human sources.

He secretly released a number of notorious heroin smugglers, who were in jail in Pakistan, so that the US intelligence could use them in its hunt for bin Laden and Zawahiri.

While openly opposing trans-border operations by the Afghanistan-based US troops and unmanned US Predator aircraft in the Pakistani tribal belt, he closed his eyes to air strikes by the Predator aircraft on suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda and its allies in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). While some of these air strikes killed genuine terrorists, some others killed innocent civilians, including young children studying in madrasas due to wrong information.

He informally detained Sultan Bashiruddin Mohammad Chaudhury and Abdul Majid, two retired nuclear scientists, whom the US suspected of having contacts with Al Qaeda and allowed the US intelligence to interrogate them in Pakistani territory.

He gave the US a role in monitoring the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal in order to prevent nuclear material from falling into the hands of Al Qaeda or other terrorists.

7. Since the US forces went into action against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghan territory on October 11,2001, there was considerable anger against Musharraf among the people----particularly the Pashtun tribals--- for co-operating with the US. This anger was aggravated by the deaths of a number of tribal children during the Predator air strikes in the tribal areas and by the commando raid ordered by him into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad from July 10 to 13,2007. A large number of Pashtun girls from the FATA studying in a madrasa attached to the Masjid were allegedly killed during the raid. Anti-US and anti-Musharraf anger reinforced each other leading to a wave of suicide terrorism, mainly by the tribals, since July last year in the tribal and non-tribal areas and the spread of the virus of Talibanisation across the tribal belt.

8. Of all the leaders of Pakistan, only Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto were articulate in expressing their concern over the threat posed to Pakistan by the increasing extremism and terrorism and in showing an inclination to co-operate with the US in some form or the other. When Musharraf ordered the commando action in the Lal Masjid, Benazir refrained from criticizing him. Before her assassination on December 27,2007, she had even stated that, if elected, she might permit the US troops to enter Pakistani territory to arrest or kill bin Laden if the US had precise information about his location. It is her statements, which were viewed by the jihadis as anti-Islam, which led to her assassination at Rawalpindi.

9. There is a serious threat to the life of Musharraf, which would continue despite his resignation as the President. When in office, he escaped three attempts by Al Qaeda to kill him---one in Karachi and two in Rawalpindi. It will make redoubled efforts now to eliminate him. If it succeeds, it could make other leaders of Pakistan even more reluctant to co-operate with the US.

10. There is not yet much convergence of views between Zardari and Nawaz over the co-operation with the US in the war against terrorism. Nawaz wants major modifications, if not a complete break, with the policies followed by Musharraf. He does not regard the Taliban as a terrorist organisation. He looks upon it as a national resistance movement like the Afghan Mujahideen of the 1980s. He is, therefore, against any association of Pakistan with the NATO operations in Afghanistan. He wants the use of the Karachi port and Pakistani territory by the NATO forces for the transport of logistic supplies to Afghanistan to be re-considered. He favours continued co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda in the form of intelligence sharing and Pakistani operations in the Pakistani territory on the basis of intelligence given by the US. He is against any joint operations with the US or any unilateral operations by the US in Pakistani territory. He wants a review of the reported presence of a large number of US intelligence personnel in Pakistani territory for collecting intelligence. He is of the view that intelligence collection in Pakistani territory should be done by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. As regards action against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other Pakistani jihadi organisations in the tribal belt, he holds the view that the nature of these operations should be decided by Pakistan in accordance with its national interests and that there should be no dictation by the US on this issue. Like Musharraf, he does not accept US allegations that Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are based in Pakistani territory. He is totally against the practice of Pakistani agencies informally picking up suspects named by the US and handing them over to the US agencies without following the due process of law. Zardari favours the continuance of the mechanism for co-operation laid down by Musharraf. However, he agrees with Nawaz that the practice of informally picking up suspects named by the US and handing them over to the US should stop. Ultimately, the advice of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the COAS, as to the co-operation mechanism with the US, which would suit Pakistan's national interests ,will have considerable impact on the changes, if any, to be introduced in the policies inherited from Musharraf.

11. The US and the international community will have more reasons to be concerned if Nawaz Sharif comes to office as the Prime Minister. His attitude to terrorism has always been ambivalent. During his first tenure as the Prime Minister (1990 to 93), he appointed Lt.Gen. (retd) Javed Nasir, a member of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), as the Director-General of the ISI. He had to remove him under pressure from the Clinton Administration in 1993. During his second tenure (1996 to 99), he had Mohammad Rafique Tarar, another member of the TJ, elected as the President of Pakistan. Nawaz’s father was also closely associated with the TJ. The TJ of Pakistan has had a long history of association with the jihadi organizations, while projecting itself outwardly as a purely missionary organization to help Muslims become better Muslims. bin Laden shifted from Khartoum in the Sudan to Afghanistan during the last weeks of Benazir’s second tenure in 1996, but he flourished during Nawaz’s second tenure. Nawaz repeatedly evaded US pressure to allow its special forces to mount an operation from Pakistani territory into Kandahar to kill or capture bin Laden. If he had permitted the US and if the US had succeeded, there might have been no 9/11. His ambivalence has not changed.

12. The security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would be of even greater concern now than it was under Musharraf. It is doubtful whether Nawaz would allow the US the kind of role in ensuring its security that Musharraf had allowed.

13. Apart from the war against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, a matter of equal concern will be the capability of the post-Musharraf dispensation to prevail over the Pakistani Taliban known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The TTP headed by Baitullah Mehsud has strengthened its hold in the FATA and in the Swat Valley of the NWFP and has been spreading its activities to other parts of the NWFP. If it manages to acquire control of the NWFP, it is only a matter of time before it spreads its influence to the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, thereby aggravating India’s problems in Jammu & Kashmir.

14. The lack of a consistent policy towards the TTP displayed by the Pakistan People’s Party led Government since it came to office on March 18 last does not bode well for the future. While the post-Musharraf dispensation could be expected to extend at least some co-operation to the US---- though not on the same scale as under Musharraf--- it will follow Musharraf’s policy of not acting against the anti-India and anti-Afghanistan terrorist infrastructure. India cannot expect any relief from the problem of the ISI-sponsored cross-border terrorism.

15. It is important for India to revive its covert action capability against Pakistan-based terrorism, which was wound up in 1997 under the so-called Gujral Doctrine of unilateral gestures to our neighbours. Even if we do not use this capability now, it should be available for use, if the situation warrants it. Knowledge that India has such a capability at its disposal and may use it, if left with no other option, may itself act as a deterrent.

16. Pakistan is not yet another Afghanistan, but it could become one if the Government there and its security forces are unable to prevail over the jihadi hordes operating from the tribal belt. The medium and long-term implications of such a development for India need to be clearly analysed, anticipated and pre-empted. We continue to pay a price for our failure to do so in respect of the success of the Afghan Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s and the 1990s.

17. The new vintage of jihadi elements coming to the forefront across India such as the so-called Indian Mujahideen are already projecting their jihad as part of the global jihad being waged by the Muslims of the Ummah and not as a localized jihad for purely local reasons. If they join hands with Al Qaeda and other global jihadi terrorists, our internal security problems will be magnified. It is important to identify deficiencies in our preventive capabilities and remove them quickly.

18. If we continue to close our eyes to the developing situation in India and around us and remain in a denial mode, fondly hoping that this cannot happen to us, it is only a question of time before we find that India has become another web of jihadi terrorism. It can happen to us too as it happened in Afghanistan and has been happening in Pakistan. (20-8-08)

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

Tuesday, August 19, 2008



The resignation of Gen.(retd) Pervez Musharraf's from the post of the President of Pakistan became effective on the evening of August 18,2008. As per the Constitution, Mohammedmian Soomroo, the Chairman of the Senate, the upper House of the Parliament, will be acting as the President till the new President is elected. The election has to take place within 30 days of Musharraf's resignation.

2. All eyes will now be on the members of the National Assembly, the lower House, who were considered the loyalists of Musharraf. Will they continue to maintain their independent identity or will they go back to their mother parties from which the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) engineered their split before the elections of 2002?

3. The present composition of the National Assembly is as follows:

The Pakistan People's Party of Asif Zardari --- 121 seats.
The Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Nawaz Sharif-- 91
The Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), who were Musharraf loyalists--- 54 The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), which supported Zardari's Party in the Sindh provincial Assembly, but Musharraf in the National Assembly--- 25 The Awami National Party--- 13
The Jamiat-ul- Ulema-e-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rahman---6
The Pakistan Muslim League (Functional) of the Pir of Pagaro-- 5 The Pakistan People's Party of Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao --1
The National People's Party --- 1
The Balochistan National Party (Awami)--- 1

4. If the PML (QA) goes back to the PML (N) from which it was split by the ISI in 2002, the two PMLs together will have a total of 145 seats. They may also be able to count on the support of the five members from the PML (F), thus making a total of 150 seats in the Assembly with a total strength of 336 seats. If Zardari, who already enjoys the support of the Awami National Party and Fazlur Rahman's party and other one-seat parties, manages to win the support of the MQM and all the 18 independents, he will have the support of 186 members. Thus numerically, Zardari and his PPP will continue to be in a strong position. However, this could change if the MQM takes an independent position and all the independents do not support him.

5. The question of the reinstatement of the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury and other Judges sacked by Musharraf last year for refusing to take a new oath after he imposed a State of Emergency will be tricky. Previously, Nawaz Sharif was insisting on the reinstatement of all of them through an executive order whereas Zardari wanted the Constitution to be amended to achieve this objective.He wanted the amendment for two reasons. Firstly, he did not want the Chief Justice and other Judges appointed by Musharraf after sacking Chaudhury and others to lose their jobs. Second, he wanted to re-fix the tenure of the Chief Justice in such a manner that shortly after being reinstated as the Chief Justice to vindicate his honour, Chaudhury will retire. Neither Benazir nor Zardari liked Chaudhury because they felt he might overthrow the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued by Musharraf under which the criminal cases pending against them were withdrawn to enable them to return to Pakistan and resume their political activities.

6. When he was the Chief Justice before being sacked by Musharraf for the first time in March,2007, Chaudhury had started emulating the Indian judiciary by encouraging what in India has come to be known as public interest litigation---- that is entertainment of petitions from private individuals on matters of public interest and enquiring into them. It was his entertainment of a petition on the large number of missing persons picked up by the intelligence agencies as Al Qaeda suspects and handed over to the US informally for interrogation without following the due process of the law, which caused the initial break between him and Musharraf and uneasiness in the US. Fears that he might set aside the re-election of Musharraf as the President while holding charge as the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) made Musharraf impose the State of Emergency and sack him for a second time after having reinstated him under the pressure of the lawyers' community. Zardari's fears that Chaudhury might entrtain a petition against the NRO is responsible for his lack of enthusiam for his reinstatement. Even today, neither Zardari nor the US is comfortable with the idea of his reinstatement.

7. Nawaz was insisting on his immediate reinstatement through an executive order in the hope that he would entertain a petition on the re-election of Musharraf and declare it unconstitutional. Till a few weeks ago, Nawaz was not confident that an impeachment motion against Musharraf would get the required two-thirds majority. Hence, his repeated insistence on the reinstatement. To delay his reinstatement, Zardari managed to win two-thirds support for the impeachment proposal and forced Musharraf to resign. He will now be hoping that with the resignation of Musharraf ,Nawaz will not attach the same urgency to the reinstatement of Chaudhury.If Nawaz continues to insist on it, fresh friction could arise.

8. Both Zardari and Nawaz have releatedly expressed themselves in favour of abolishing all constitutional amendments introduced by Musharraf through executive orders and restoring the 1973 Constitution introduced under Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto. Under the 1973 Constitution, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto had made the President a figurehead with all powers concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister. Gen.Zia-ul-Haq amended the Constitution through an executive order and inserted a provision enabling the President to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the elected National Assembly. Zia used this provision in 1988 to dismiss Mohammed Khan Junejo, his Prime Minister, and dissolve the National Assembly when Junejo developed differences with Zia over the Afghanistan peace talks then under way in Geneva and over the enquiry into the explosion at the arms storage depot at Ojehri near Islamabad in which the arms and ammunition given by the US for issue to the Afghan Mujahideen were kept. There were allegations that the Army deliberately caused the explosion to destroy the records before the visit of an US inspection team. It was alleged to have done this in order to conceal the issue by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of some of these arms and ammunition meant for use against Afghan and Soviet troops to Khalistani and other terrorists in India.

9. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who succeeded Zia as the President, used this provision to dismiss Benazir in August 1990 and dissolve the National Assembly. In 1996, Nawaz Sharif, then the leader of the opposition, instigated Farooq Leghari, the then President, to dismiss Benazir and dissolve the Assembly. Leghari, once a close confidante of Benazir, had developed differences with her and Zardari and obliged Nawaz. The PML of Nawaz won a two-thirds majority in the elections that followed. Nawaz used this majority to remove from the Constitution the provision for dismissal. He then forced Leghari to quit and had Mohammad Rafique Tarar, an associate of his father and a member of the Tablighi Jamaat, elected as the President. Musharraf re-introduced the provision in the Constitution.

10. Another amendment introduced by Musharraf, which added to the powers of the President, related to the appointment of a National Security Council (NSC), to be chaired by the President, to discuss and approve national security policies and decisions. He also laid down that the power for the dismissal of the Prime Minister and the dissolution of the Assembly could be exercised by the President only on the recommendation of the NSC. The suggestion for an NSC was first made in a public speech by Gen.Jehangir Karamat, Musharraf's predecessor as the COAS. Nawaz strongly disapproved of his speech and disagreed with the idea. Following this, Karamat took premature retirement and Musharraf succeeded him.

11. Nawaz has been critical of Musharraf's action in introducing the NSC. He has been of the view that all such decisions should be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security chaired by the Prime Minister and that there was no need for an NSC for this purpose. While Zardari and Nawaz agree on the need to abolish the power of the President to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly, there are differences on their approach to the NSC. Zardari wants the NSC mechanism to continue, but under the supervision of the Prime Minister, but Nawaz wants it to be abolished. However, this should not pose an insurmountable obstacle. If the powers of the President over the NSC are transferred to the Prime Minister, Nawaz might reconcile himself to its continued existence.

12. The abolition of the power of the President to dismiss and the removal of the NSC from his control will once again make the Prime Minister the most powerful part of the Executive and reduce the President to being a mere figurehead. Neither Zardari nor Nawaz would like to be just a figurehead. They would be interested more in the powerful post of the Prime Minister.

13. Zardari seems to be contemplating two options----make Yousef Raza Gilani, the present Prime Minister, as the figurehead President and himself (Zardari) take over as the Prime Minister after getting himself elected to the National Assembly or propose one of his nominees as the President. Nawaz is opposed to this and wants that the PPP nominees should not hold both the posts of the President and the Prime Minister.He would have no objection to Gilani taking over as the President, provided he (Nawaz) is made the Prime Minister. To enable him to contest the election to the Assembly, his conviction in 2000 by an anti-terrorism court appointed by Musharraf on a charge of terrorism has to be set aside. For this purpose, he would need the assistance of a reinstated Chief Justice Chaudhury. If he is reinstated, there would thus be the danger of his facilitating the election of Nawaz by setting aside his conviction and coming in the way of Zardari's election by entertaining a petition against the NRO and staying it. If there are irreconcilable differences between Zardari and Nawaz on this issue, there could be a deadlock.

14. The other issue on which there is not yet much convergence between Zardari and Nawaz is over the co-operation with the US in the war against terrorism. Nawaz wants major modifications, if not a complete break, with the policies followed by Musharraf. He does not regard the Taliban as a terrorist organisation. He looks upon it as a national resistance movement like the Afghan Mujahideen of the 1980s. He is, therefore, against any association of Pakistan with the NATO operations in Afghanistan. He wants the use of the Karachi port and Pakistani territory by the NATO forces for the transport of logistic supplies to Afghanistan to be re-considered. He favours continued co-operation with the US against Al Qaeda in the form of intelligence sharing and Pakistani operations in the Pakistani territory on the basis of intelligence given by the US. He is against any joint operations with the US or any unilateral operations by the US in Pakistani territory. He wants a review of the reported presence of a large number of US intelligence personnel in Pakistani territory for collecting intelligence. He is of the view that intelligence collection in Pakistani territory should be done by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. As regards action against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Pakistani organisations in the tribal belt, he holds the view that the nature of these operations should be decided by Pakistan in accordance with its national interests and that there should be no dictation by the US on this issue. Like Musharraf, he does not accept US allegations that Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are based in Pakistani territory. He is totally against the practice of Pakistani agencies informally picking up suspects named by the US and handing them over to the US agencies without following the due process of law. Zardari favours the continuance of the mechanism for co-operation laid down by Musharraf. However, he agrees with Nawaz that the practice of informally picking up suspects named by the US and handing them over to the US should stop. Ultimately, the advice of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the COAS, as to the co-operation mechanism with the US, which would suit Pakistan's national interests ,will have considerable impact on the changes, if any, to be introduced in the policies inherited from Musharraf.

15. As regards India, both Zardari and Nawaz are agreed on the desirability of gradually delinking th question of promoting bilateral trade from the Kashmir issue. They are also in favour of pushing ahead with the project for the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. They are unlikely to act against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory Terrorist activities in Indian territory, backed by the Inter-Services Intelligence, will continue at the present level. So too the ISI operations against Indian nationals and interests in Afghanistan. Though not immediately, the civilian Government may be amenable to having a second look at Pakistan's present policy of not allowing transit trade to Afghanistan from India through Pakistani territory. A re-organisation of the ISI will be undertaken in order to reduce its role in internal security matters without damaging its capability in external security matters. A greater role for the Intelligence Bureau in internal security matters is likely. The policy of militarisation of the IB introduced by Musharraf will be reversed. A reversion to the past practice of the ISI remaining a largely military organisation and the IB a largely police organisation is likely.

16. This is the second time that Pakistan will be reverting from military to civilian rule since it became a nuclear power. When the first transition took place in 1988 after the election of Benazir, the US Embassy in Islamabad had played an active role in deciding the lines of responsibility in nuclear matters. Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, the then COAS, agreed to her taking over as the Prime Minister only after she agreed that she would have no role in nuclear decision-making which will be totally in the hands of the COAS. Zia was not driven out by a revolt against him. He was killed in a plane crash. The Army was in a strong position then. It was able to dictate matters. Now, the Army will be on the defensive vis-a-vis the political class after the humiliating exit of Musharraf. Will it be able to impose its will in nuclear matters and deny any responsibility to the civilian Prime Minister as Beg did in 1988? What role will the US play? There was no Al Qaeda in 1988. There is now an Al Qaeda looking for nuclear material. The question of effective control over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has assumed greater importance.

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

Monday, August 18, 2008



"Whatever be his past attitudes, Gen. Musharraf would be keen to improve his image in the US and to remove perceptions of his proximity to the religious extremists, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. Though he accused Mr.Sharif of being amenable to US pressure, he may not be as insensitive to US concerns over various issues as one would be led to believe from his past record. India needs to wait and watch the evolving situation, while avoiding any open expression of anti-Musharraf views and concerns. Maintain a rational and healthy watchfulness, but avoid irrational fears and reactions, which could prove self-fulfilling. That should be our policy for the present."

--- Extract from my article of 16-10-1999 titled MUSHARRAF: THE MORNING AFTER available at


Remember how the people of Pakistan sang and danced in the streets on October 12,1999, when the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Pervez Musharraf, took over as the Chief Executive after overthrowing Nawaz Sharif, the elected Prime Minister?

2.They did so not because they liked Musharraf, but because they were fed up with their political class in general and with Benazir Bhutto,Asif Zardari and Nawaz Sharif in particular. Corruption,misgovernance and arbitrary rule became the leitmotif of 11 years of political rule under Benazir and then Nawaz.

3.Today, the people of Pakistan are singing and dancing in the streets not because they are elated over the prospect of being ruled by Zardari and Nawaz, but because they are fed up with nine years of military rule under Musharraf. Misgovernance and arbitrary rule were as rampant under Musharraf as they were under Benazir and Nawaz though corruption was not.

4.To add to Musharraf’s woes, his co-operation with the US in the so-called war against terrorism proved a kiss of death. It was unpopular not only with the religious fundamentalists, but also with large sections of the liberals, who attributed Pakistan’s growing instability to the public anger over his perceived closeness to the US.

5.Singing and dancing cannot go on for ever. They have to come to an end and the process of facing the ground realities has to start the morning after. What are the ground realities confronting them?

The economy in serious difficulties with the Exchequer unable to cope with the rising oil prices and meet the basic needs of the people even in respect of necessities such as wheat and flour.

The relentless spread of the virus of Talibanisation across its tribal belt and the dangers of its infecting the non-tribal areas too.

A country caught in the fatal embrace of the US. It will be as suicidal to continue to be in its embrace as it will be to get out of it. Continuing the embrace of the US would mean more terrorism of the Al Qaeda kind and more Talibanisation. Freeing itself of its embrace would mean a collapse of its economy and a weakening of the potential of its armed forces.

6.The realities are grim enough to demand a statesman of clarity and vision at the helm of affairs. There is none on the horizon. Zardari and Nawaz are not statesmen. They are no-holds barred politicians.

7.Till now, they presented a façade of unity lest any discord between them should redound to be benefit of Musharraf. Now that Musharraf is gone, more and more discord and less and less unity will be the order of the day.

8.Discord is likely on the following issues: Who should be the President----from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) or the Pakistan Muslim League, from Sindh or Punjab? Should the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, who is perceived to be closer to Nawaz than to Zardari, be reinstated? What changes are necessary in the policy of co-operation with the US in the war against terrorism followed by Musharraf? Nawaz would like a total break with the policy, but Zardari wants only modifications and not a total break.

9.The political equilibrium in Pakistan could change if the loyalists of Musharraf in the PML (Qaide Azam) flock back to the PML of Nawaz Sharif. Zardari’s position could be weakened, making new elections unavoidable.

10.The Army’s anti-India reflexes were kept under check by Musharraf. It is doubtful whether either Zardari or Nawaz will be able to do so as effectively as Musharraf did. The temptation to profit from the fresh difficulties of India in Jammu &Kashmir will be difficult for the Army and the Inter-services Intelligence to resist.

11.In Pakistan, the Army has always been in the driving seat of policy- making on Kashmir. Musharraf, in the driving seat of power, brought in a certain measure of moderation after his bitter experience during the Kargil conflict. With a politician in the driving seat, there will be greater uncertainties for India in Kashmir since his control over the Army will be less than that of Musharraf.

12.India should continue with the peace process with Pakistan. It should build bridges with all sides of the political spectrum there. It should co-operate closely, but discreetly with the US and Afghanistan in monitoring the situation and avoiding nasty surprises. The US still has the capability to exercise moderation on the Pakistani policies through its contacts in the Army. India should encourage the US to keep using that capability in the common interests of India, the US and Afghanistan. Greater vigilance on our border with Pakistan and on the internal security situation is necessary. (18-8-08)

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

Saturday, August 16, 2008



The present political and public atmosphere in Pakistan reminds one of the atmosphere that prevailed in Washington DC in August,1974, before the then President Richard Nixon was persuaded with great difficulty by his friends and advisers to resign as the President instead of facing the ignominy of impeachment by the Congress on charges which derived from the enquiries into the Watergate scandal. The evidence against him was so strong that there was not an iota of doubt that the impeachment proceedings, if held, would have resulted in his removal from office.

2. Almost everyone was convinced of the need to initiate impeachment proceedings against him. It would have been justified morally and legally. At the same time, even his worst critics wanted to avoid the impeachment proceedings because they felt that it could turn out to be a traumatic experience for the nation and could result in the weakening of the office of the President of the US in the eyes of its citizens.

3.Ultimately, Nixon saw reason and resigned on August 8,1974. In a brief address to the nation from his office, he said he was resigning in order to set in motion a healing process in the nation. He said: “I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the President and the Congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home.”

4.Gerald Ford, his Vice-President, who succeeded him, issued an order under his powers as the President exempting Nixon from any legal proceedings relating to the Watergate scandal. The high dignity of the office of the President of the US was preserved, justice was served by forcing a wrong-doer to resign without the traumatic spectacle of an impeachment and a leader, who had served the US well till he got involved in the Watergate scandal, was spared the humiliation of a trial by the Congress, which could have caused undesirable strains in the relations between the Executive and the Congress.

5. Nixon and President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, who is under tremendous pressure to resign or face impeachment proceedings, had certain traits in common. As public leaders, both had positive qualities, but as individuals they were perceived as men without scruples, who would be prepared to do anything to serve their personal interests and to keep themselves in office.

6. Even before Nixon was elected as the President in 1968, he used to be referred to by his critics as Tricky Dick. In an article in June 2002 titled TRICKY MUSH: CAUGHT WITH HIS PANTS DOWN (
I had stated as follows: “ It is said that you can fool some people for all time, all people for some time, but not all people for all time. Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, whom the late Gen. Asif Nawaz Janjua, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) during the first tenure of Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister, used to describe as "Tricky Mush", had always believed that he could fool all people for all time.”

7. His time of reckoning has come. It is also the time of reckoning for Pakistan. The future of Pakistan and its fight for genuine democracy will be determined how Musharraf and the military and political leaders of Pakistan conduct themselves at this juncture.

8. It is not in the interest of Musharraf himself or of Pakistan that he continues in office. His deviousness and repeated misuse of his powers have discredited him beyond repair and damaged the cause of democracy in Pakistan.

9. Unlike Nixon, Musharraf is not a popularly elected President. He is a self-appointed President, who manipulated the Constitutional process in order to have himself appointed as the President. One does not, therefore, have to worry about any negative impact on the public mind.

10. But, he was also the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) till the end of last year. His exit has to be brought about in a manner which would not be perceived by large sections of the Armed Forces as a humiliation inflicted on their former chief by the political class. Just as people in the US were worried about the impact on the relations between the Executive and the Congress, in Pakistan, given the important role of the Army even in the political field, one will have to worry about any impact on the relations between the Army and the political class.

11. It is incumbent on all those, who have remained loyal to him, to convince him that he should take the lead in setting in motion a healing process by resigning as the President and keeping himself out of the country for some time till the painful memories of his misrule have faded away.

12. It is equally incumbent on the political class to take the initiative in having a resolution passed by both Houses of the Parliament exempting him from all legal action arising from his constitutional and political misrule, if he resigned, and assuring all those who had let themselves be used by him for repeatedly violating the Constitution and the laws that no action would be taken against them if he quits.

13. A bane of democracy in Pakistan has always been the vindictive streak in their people and leaders. It is time to rid themselves of this streak. (16-8-08)

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

Friday, August 15, 2008




The phenomenon of Jundullahs (Soldiers of Allah), which refers to angry young Muslims not belonging to any organisation taking to acts of reprisal terrorism, has spread from Pakistan to the Muslim majority Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. Jundullahs were believed responsible for most of the acts of suicide terrorism in Pakistan last year.

2.Unlike the Jundullahs of Pakistan, those of Xinjiang have not so far resorted to suicide terrorism.Their attacks have been against selected hard targets such as border police guards, offices of the Public Security Department and other government offices. They have carefully avoided causing fatalities among innocent civilians. Their targets have been mainly Han Chinese working for the Government in Xinjiang. They have avoided killing even Han civilians. Their modus operandi involved use of local materials of an unsophisticated nature such as tins filled with gasoline and home-made hand-grenades. They travelled to the scene of the attack in cars---- some of them stolen taxis driven by fellow-Jundullahs. When they did not have any explosive material or guns at their disposal, they have used knives to cause fatalities. In one incident, they used a heavy truck to run over 16 jogging police guards in Kashgar.

3. The Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET), a Pakistan (North Waziristan) based Uighur organisation, which the Chinese authorities used to blame in the past for such incidents, draws its volunteers mainly from the members of the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan, the Central Asian Republics (CARs) and Turkey. Subsequently, the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) or Group, also based in North Waziristan, was suspected by them. This was evident from a number of queries received by me from readers in China of the article about the IJU written by me on September 6,2007, titled "Global Jihad: Uzbeks To The Fore" (Annexed). This article has had a large number of readers in China.

4. After the latest three incidents---- one before the inauguration of the Beijing Olympics and two after---- the Chinese authorities seem to be confused. The perpetrators of these three incidents---- including four women, one of them a 15-year-old girl---- were local residents of the areas where their attacks took place. There is so far no evidence that they had ever travelled outside Xinjiang and underwent training in any camp of either the IMET or the IJU. The Chinese authorities are for the present not connecting these three incidents to either of these organisations.

5. From the evidence available so far, these three incidents seem to have been in reprisal for the public execution of two Uighurs in Kashgar on July 9 on a charge of participating in the activities of the IMET. These two executions and the subsequent forcible closure of about 40 allegedly illegal mosques have caused a wave of anger among the local residents, who have been taking to acts of reprisal. Some foreign-based Uighur organisations, with suspected links to the IMET, have claimed credit for these incidents in their web sites or statements, but their claims have not so far been corroborated.

6. The three recent incidents which have mystified the authorities are:

AUGUST 4,2008:Fourteen border police guards were killed on the spot and two others succumbed to injuries later when a 28-year-old taxi driver later identified by the name Kurbanjan Hemit, a resident of Kashgar, drove a stolen truck into a group of 70 police guards jogging on the road in the morning. Initially, the Chinese authorities had claimed that they were killed by home-made explosives and knives, but subsequent reports indicated that they were crushed to death under a truck. The driver had an accomplice, who was also a native of Kashgar. He was identified as Abdurrahman Azat, a 33-year-old vegetable vendor. He had placed himself with a mobile telephone outside the border police post. He reportedly informed the driver as soon as the police guards came out and started jogging on the road. As the truck ran over them, the vegetable vendor threw a home-made bomb at the police post and killed some of the injured with a knife used for cutting vegetables. Both the attackers were arrested and are under interrogation.

AUGUST 10: Between 3 and 4 AM, 15 Uighurs in different taxis drove round the town of Kuqa (pronounced Kucha), located midway on the railway line between Kashgar and Urumqi, the capital of the province, and threw home-made hand-grenades and tins filled with gasoline at the local office of the Public Security Department, other government offices, hotels and shops owned by Hans. Since there were not many people on the road at such an early hour in the morning, there were only two fatalities, a police officer and a civilian. The police, who were initially taken by surprise, subsequently managed to corner the attackers and shot dead eight of them. Two blew themselves up with hand-grenades in order to escape capture. Two, including a 15-year-old Uighur girl (Hailiqiemu Abulizi), who was badly injured by a hand-grenade, were captured. Three managed to escape.The Germany-based East Turkestan Information Center (ETIC) said that “East Turkestan freedom and independence fighters attacked a Party building … a people’s government building, a tax office, bazaar management, and brothel on Aug. 10.” It added that the attackers, seven men and four women, were “martyred.”

AUGUST 12:At the town of Yamanya, about 30 Kms from Kashgar, an unspecified number of persons jumped out of a vehicle at a road check-point and stabbed to death three security guards, who were stopping and checking vehicles. A fourth guard was badly injured. It is not known what happened to the attackers.

7. Since the August 4 incident, the local authorities have been raiding all mosques in Xinjiang and rounding up suspects. On August 5, they issued instructions banning the use of words like "jihad", "pan-Islamism", "pan-turkism" etc and any reference to Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and any pro-Al Qaeda organisation.They also drew the attention of the local Uighurs to the already-existing bans on unauthorised prayer congregations and ostentatious construction of mosques. They also reminded the clerics that all religious sermons should be based on the Communist Party's interpretation of the Holy Koran and warned Uighur Government servants that they would be held responsible if any act of violence took place in their areas or originated from mosques frequented by them. They are also making a background check of all Uighurs studying in driving schools. (15-8-08)

(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: )


Global Jihad: Uzbeks To The Fore - International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 273 ( 6-9-07)

By B. Raman

After the Arabs and the Pakistanis, the Uzbeks have come to the forefront of Al Qaeda-inspired global jihad.

2. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan ( IMU) led by Tahir Yuldeshev now co-ordinates the training of volunteers from different jihadi terrorist organisations of Pakistan as well as from other countries of the world. Till last year, its training infrastructure was located in South Waziristan, but after clashes with some sections of the local tribals, it has shifted its infrastructure to North Waziristan. It enjoys the support of the Mehsud sub-tribe of the Pashtuns led by Baitullah Mehsud and of the former students of the two madrasas run by the Lal Masjid of Islamabad. Reliable police and tribal sources in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan say that many, if not most, of the acts of suicide terrorism and attacks on the Pakistani Armed Forces since the Pakistan Army's commando action in the Lal Masjid between July 10 and 13, 2007, including the killing of three Chinese nationals in Peshawar, were carried out by angry tribals motivated and trained by the IMU. The IMU consists of Uzbeks recruited from Uzbekistan as well as Afghanistan and has a small number of Chechens, Uighurs and Tajiks in its ranks. Till now, the IMU's acts of terrorism have been confined to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. It has not come to notice for any jihadi activities in other countries.

3. A second Uzbek group operating from North Waziristan, which calls itself the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) or the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG), came into being in Pakistani territory post 9/11 as a result of a split in the IMU following the US military strikes in Afghanistan against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It describes Osama bin Laden, Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Neo Taliban, and Maulana Samiul Haq, the Amir of a faction of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam Pakistan, as its mentors. It focusses on training volunteers from the Western countries as well as from Uzbekistan.

4. It came to notice for the first time in April 2004 when it claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings around Tashkent and Bukharo in Uzbekistan which killed 47 people. The attacks targeted local government offices, as well as a crowded market. On July 30, 2004, it carried out simultaneous bombing attacks on the US Embassy, the Israeli Embassy, and the office of the Uzbek Prosecutor General, killing at least two people and wounding many others.

5. A statement purported to have been disseminated by it said: “A group of young Muslims executed martyrdom operations that put fear in the apostate government and its infidel allies, the Americans and Jews. The mujahidin belonging to Islamic Jihad Group attacked both the American and Israeli embassies as well as the court building where the trials of a large number of the brothers from the Group had begun. These martyrdom operations that the group is executing will not stop, God willing. It is for the purpose of repelling the injustice of the apostate government and supporting the jihad of our Muslim brothers in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, the Hijaz, and in other Muslim countries ruled by infidels and apostates.”

6. On May 26, 2005, the US State Department issued the following statement: "The Department of State on May 25 announced the designation of the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224. This designation blocks all property, and interests in property, of the organization that are in the United States, or come within the United States, or the control of U. S. persons. The Secretary of State took this action in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Department of Homeland Security. The Islamic Jihad Group, active in Central Asia, broke away from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization that is listed by the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee. On July 30, 2004, the Islamic Jihad Group conducted coordinated bombing attacks in Tashkent against the U.S. and Israeli Embassies, and the office of the Uzbek Prosecutor General, killing at least two people and wounding nine. The Islamic Jihad Group claimed responsibility for these attacks and indicated that future attacks are planned. The Islamic Jihad Group continues to target Americans and U.S. facilities overseas and is a dangerous threat to U.S. interests. After an explosion at a safehouse in Bukharo, Uzbekistan, IJG suicide bombers attacked a popular bazaar and other locations in Tashkent in March and April 2004, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen police officers and innocent bystanders and dozens of injuries. The attackers in the March and April 2004 attacks, some of whom were female suicide bombers, targeted the local government offices of the Uzbekistani and Bukharo police, killing approximately 47 people, including 33 terrorists. These attacks marked the first use of female suicide bombers in Central Asia. Those arrested in connection with the attacks in Bukharo have testified to the close ties between the IJG leaders and Usama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Kazakhstani authorities have declared that IJG members were taught by al-Qaida instructors to handle explosives and to organize intelligence work and subversive activities. Kazakhstan has arrested several IJG members and put them on trial."

7. In October, 2005, the British Government declared it as a terrorist organisation despite strong opposition from human rights groups, which alleged that the Uzbek Government was projecting political dissidents opposed to it as pro-Al Qaeda terrorists.

8.The IJG, which was formed in 2002 to oppose the co-operation extended by the Government of Islam Karimov to the US in its operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, projects the US and Israel as the main enemies of Islam and all Muslim countries co-operating with the US as apostates, which need to be opposed. The stated political objective of the IMU is to rid the Central Asian Republics (CAR) and the Xinjiang region of China of the lingering influence of Communism and make them part of an Islamic Caliphate. The IJG, which also has the over-all objective of a global Islamic Caliphate, projects itself as a global jihadi organisation and not a basically Uzbek organisation. It says that since Islam does not recognise nationalities or ethnicities, any Muslim can become its member irrespective of where he or she lives. Since it describes the US and Israel as its principal enemies, it welcomes volunteers from countries where the US and Israel have a large presence.

9. In an interview on May 31, 2007, Ebu Yahya Muhammed Fatih, who describes himself as the Commander of the Islamic Jihad Union, stated as follows:

"After the fall of the Afganistan Islamic Administration,we who shared the same opinions came together and decided to organize groups which will conduct jihad operations against the infidel constitution of cruel Karimov in Uzbekistan. The sole aim of all the emigrant-mujahedeen brothers was to find war-like solutions against the infidel constitution of cruel Karimov. For this aim our Union was established in 2002."Our Union's aim is, under the flag of justice and Islam Dominancy, to save our Müslim brothers who have been suffering from the cruelty of pre-Soviet period and Uzbekistan, and to take them out of the swamp of cruelty an infidelity, as well as to help other Müslim brothers all around the world as per God and his Prophet's orders.

"Members of our Union are not members of a specific tribe or a nation. As there is no nationalism and tribalism in Islam, our Union is formed of the believers from all over the world and multi-national emigrants travelling to praise the religion.

"Today we proceed according to our targeted goals with all our means. Muslim youth in the republics of former Soviet Union who found the path of Allah and are ready to fight for their religion have been trained in various fields in the training facilities of the Union. One of the armed forces of the Union is active in Afghanistan. Besides, we have been in contact and also been working on our common targets together with Caucasian mujahedeens. We have also been working together on plans and aims against the infidel regime of Uzbekistan which is one of our major targets."

10. In April, 2007, the US Embassy in Berlin announced that it was strengthening security at US facilities in Germany in response to what it described as an increased threat of terrorism. Mr. August Hanning, a former head of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency known as the Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND), who is now Deputy Interior Minister, said in an interview that 14 German Islamists had gone to Pakistan for training. He also said that in recent months the Pakistani authorities had detained at least seven German Islamists “who could have been involved in planning attacks”.

11. On September 5, 2007, German Federal Prosecutor Monika Harms announced the arrest of three persons and the recovery from them of 700 kilos of chemicals capable of being converted into explosives. German media reports said that they were planning attacks against a US military base in Ramstein and the Frankfurt airport. Two of the arrested persons have been described as white converts to Islam, both German nationals, and the third as of Turkish origin. The Federal Prosecutor named the three persons aged 22,28 and 29 as belonging to the German cell of the Islamic Jihad Union. It has been reported that seven more members of the cell are still at large.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



Pakistani President Gen. (retd) Pervez Musharraf had held a party in his house on August 11,2008, to celebrate his 65th birthday. The party was attended by a small group of officers of the armed forces and civilian bureaucrats, who are his close personal friends, and some close relatives. He did not invite any of the civilian political leaders. Among those, who attended, were the chiefs of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy and the Inter-Services Intelligence. Earlier in the day, they had officially called on him in his office to wish him a happy birthday.

2. The Mohajirs in Karachi held over 25 functions in different parts of the city to celebrate his birthday.

3. As a mark of defiance of the Taliban, which has been projecting music and dance as anti-Islam, Musharraf had invited some musicians to the party in his house to sing on the occasion of his birthday.

4. According to reliable Mohajir sources, the chiefs of the armed forces and the ISI have refrained from advising him as to what should be his course of action in the face of the campaign for his impeachment, removal from office and arrest mounted by Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, who has reportedly been saying that he is determined to have Musharraf arrested and kept in the same jail in which Musharraf had kept him after he was overthrown in October,1999.

5. Asif Ali Zardari, the co-chairperson of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who was initially against any impeachment and humiliation of Musharraf, is now going along with Nawaz Sharif for his impeachment and removal, but he continues to be against his arrest and detention if the impeachment motion succeeds.

6. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), a predominantly Mohajir organization headed by Altaf Hussain from his exile in the UK, is very unhappy with Zardari for his succumbing to the pressure from a vindictive Nawaz. Mohajir sources allege that before the MQM agreed to support the PPP in its Government formation in Sindh and participate in it, it had been assured by Zardari that there would not be any impeachment or humiliation of Musharraf. According to these sources, Altaf Hussain is unhappy that Zardari should have gone back on his word and succumbed to the pressure from Nawaz without consulting the MQM. These Mohajir sources say that if Musharraf is sought to be arrested and humiliated under pressure from Nawaz, Karachi will go up in flames and no Punjabi will be safe there.

7. According to the same sources, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj, the Director-General of the ISI, who is a distant cousin of Musharraf, have told Musharraf that it is up to him to decide whether he will fight the Nawaz-instigated impeachment or quit. They have said that they would respect whatever decision he took.

8. Kayani and Nadeem Taj are worried that Al Qaeda, which has already unsuccessfully attempted thrice to kill Musharraf, might try to kill him if the Government, under pressure from Nawaz, removes his physical security. They are worried---so are the Americans--- that if it succeeds in killing him, it would be a big set-back to the war against Al Qaeda. They are determined to see that Musharraf’s life is not jeopardized because of the vengeful attitude of Nawaz.

9. It is learnt that Kayani and Nadeem Taj have assured Musharraf that he would continue to enjoy the physical security provided by the Army and the ISI even if he is removed from office.

10. The Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), from where the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al Qaeda are operating, come directly under the President. The instructions to the Armed Forces regarding military operations in the FATA go from the President and regarding operations in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) from Rehman Malik, the Internal Security Adviser, who is a close confidante of Zardari.

11. If Musharraf is replaced by a civilian President, jointly nominated by Zardari and Nawaz, the Army is likely to tell the Government that the internal security duties in the FATA and the NWFP should be performed by the police and para-military forces so that the army could focus on its core function of defending the border with India.

12. The Army is also likely to demand that the command and control of the nuclear arsenal should be with the COAS and that the new President should have no role in it. At present, Musharraf exercises the command and control.

13.Musharraf is expected to make the customary pre-Independence Day telecast to the Pakistani people on the night of August 13 unless he is prevented by the Government from doing so. If he telecasts his message, he may give an indication of his future plans. The “Daily Times” of Lahore has claimed that he may announce his resignation from the post of President. (13-8-08)

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008




The nation is still reeling under the impact of three rounds of serial blasts in quick succession in Jaipur on May 13, 2008, in Bengaluru onJuly 25 and in Ahmedabad on July 26. The police have been unable to make much headway in the investigations into the Mumbai suburbantrain blasts of July ,2006, in which about 190 innocent civilians were killed and other terrorist strikes, which have followed one after theother in different parts of the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States of Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat have been as cluelessin the face of this terrorism as the non-BJP ruled States.

2.There is a huge jihadi iceberg, which has been moving from State to State spreading death and destruction. We have not been able tolocate this iceberg, trace its movement and destroy it. We don't even know who are behind the so-called Indian Mujahideen, which hasclaimed responsibility for many of these terrorist strikes.They have had many failures in the form of unexploded improvised explosivedevices (IEDs) --- over 30 of them. The conventional wisdom in investigation is that every failure by the terrorists takes the police one stepcloser to a successful identification of the terrorists responsible. Over 30 failures --- over 20 of them in Surat in Gujarat-- and yet we are asclueless as ever.Were these failed IEDs examined by a single team? What were their conclusions? No answer.

3. The so-called Indian Mujahideen had sent three E-mail messages claiming responsibility--- two before the explosions took place and oneafter the explosion. It has been reported by "The Hindu" that one more message purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen has beenreceived by a newspaper warning of terrorist strikes in Godhra in Gujarat where a group of Hindu pilgrims travelling in a railwaycompartment were burnt to death by a group of Muslim fanatics in February 2002, which provoked acts of retaliation by sections of theHindus all over the State. We take pride in the fact that we are a nation of high-class experts in information technology (IT). And yet, wehave not been able to make any break-through in our investigation through an examination of these messages.

4.It is ageed by all analysts that one of the objectives of the perpetrators of these blasts in different States of India outside Jammu &Kashmir was to create a divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. Fortunately--- thanks to the prompt action by the concerned Stateadministrations and to the good sense of the two communities--- the terrorists have not succeeded in this objective.

5.But what the terrorists have failed to achieve so far in other parts of India through their repeated acts of terrorism, the Government ofIndia and the BJP have achieved for them in Jammu & Kashmir---- the Government through its shockingly ham-handed handling of asensitive issue and the BJP by its cynical exploitation of the communal tensions arising from the Government's mishandling for partisan political purposes with an eye on Hindu votes in the next elections, which are expected before next May.

6. Ham-handed handling of vital national security issues has become the defininig characteristics of the Government of India. We have beenseeing it again and again since the Mumbai suburban train blasts of July 2006. Important decisions have been taken--- whether relating toPakistan or China or terrorism--- without examining their implications for national security. Many sensitive issues have been handled in ashockingly inept manner--- thereby giving the impression of its being a Government of novices with very little understanding of such issues.

7.Nothing illustrated its ineptitude more dramatically than the casual manner in which it watched without intervening when the decision totransfer a plot of land to the ownership of a board for the maintenance of a Hindu shrine (Amarnath) in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valleywas taken by the local administration headed by the Congress (I) without a proper examination of its likely impact on Muslim public opinionand its likely exploitation by the Muslim radicals and then when the leaders of the Muslim community protested against it,it was cancelledwithout examining its likely impact on Hindu public opinion in the Hindu majority Jammu Division of the State.

8. The agitation launched by the Hindus of the Jammu Division of the State against the cancellation could have been justified if they hadkept it confined to demonstrations and protests. Instead of doing so, they used the agitation for indulging in deplorable acts such as tryingto disrupt communications with the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and allegedly preventing the Muslim farmers of the Valley from sendingtheir produce of fruits to the rest of India for sale.

9. This was a dangerous turn in the agitation and was interpreted by many as an economic blocade of the Muslims in order to force them to concede the demands of the Hindus in relation to the transfer of the land. A similar situation was sought to be created in 1990 by the jihadisin the valley by preventing the fruit farmers and artisans from sending their produce to the rest of India for sale. The Government ofV.P.Singh, the then Prime Minister, immediately intervened and had their fruits etc flown from Srinagar to the rest of India at Government'sexpense in special planes of the Indian Airlines. It also organised Kashmir Trade Fairs in Delhi and other parts of India and helped theKashmiri farmers and artisans to bring their produce out for sale.

10. One would have expected the Government of India to have promptly acted in a similar manner to break the alleged blocade by theHindus of Jammu. It did nothing of the sort. It kept fiddling as the situation went from bad to worse. Angered by the inaction of theGovernment, the fruit farmers, instigated by the Muslim radicals and jihadi terrorists, decided to take their produce to Pakistan-OccupiedKashmir for sale. No Government could have allowed this. The Government's efforts to stop this have led to instances of firing by thesecurity forces on unruly mobs resulting in over 15 deaths.

11. One would have expected the BJP, which aspires to come to power in New Delhi after the next elections, to exercise self-restraint andresist the urge to exploit the situation for partisan political purposes. The expectations have been belied. Its crude attempts to exploit thesituation with an eye on the next elections have added oil to fire and are threatening to take J&K back to 1989, when the insurgencystarted. All the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism gains of recent years in the State face the danger of being wiped out by theGovernment's inept handling and the BJP's cynical exploitation of it.

12. In the situation as it is developing in J&K, nobody seems to be interested in national interests and in protecting the lives, property andeconomic interests of its citizens--- whatever be their religion. Partisan political interests have taken precedence over national interests.

13. Public opinion should force the Government and the BJP to wake up and prevent a slide back to 1989. Otherwise, the IndianMujahideen, whoever is behind it, and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence will be having the last laugh. (12-8-08)

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

Sunday, August 10, 2008



( Paper presented at a seminar organised by the Asia Centre, Bangalore, on Auguast 9,2008)

The Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, met Nepal's caretaker Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on the margins of the summitconference of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) at Colombo on August 3,2008, and reportedly assured him ofIndia's continued support to Nepal's democratic transition. During the meeting, Manmohan Singh told Koirala that he was impressed by thesteps taken by Nepal to usher in democracy, including the conduct of the Constituent Assembly elections on April 10.

2. At the time Koirala went to Colombo to attend the summit, an agreement on the formation of a new Government continued to elude themajor political formations in the newly-elected Constituent Assembly. In fact, the decision taken by Koirala without allegedly consulting theCommunist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the Communist party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) to represent Nepal at the summit hadbecome a matter of major controversy. The Maoists, who constitute the largest single grouping in the Constituent Assembly, and theCPN--UML felt that Nepal should have been represented by the newly-elected President Ram Baran Yadav and not by the caretaker PrimeMinister, whose days in office were numbered. Ultimately, the Maoists and the CPN-UML had agreed to Koirala attending the summit afterhe reportedly apologised for not consulting them in the matter in advance. This controversy brought into focus once again the suspicion anddistrust, which continued to mark the relations among the major political formations after the elections to the Constituent Assembly, withthe Maoists smelling an Indian-inspired conspiracy to deny them the fruits of office.

3. However, after the return of Koirala to Kathmandu from Colombo, the main political parties agreed on August 5,2008, to form a nationalunity Government led by the Maoists, who will be joined by the Nepali Congress, the CPN---UML and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF)that represents the people of the Terai region bordering India. The Maoists reached an agreement with the leaders of the other threeparties to head the coalition after what was described as ``breakthrough'' talks by Jhala Nath Khanal, the General Secretary of the CPN -UML. According to Khanal, the leaders of the four parties agreed that the coalition will remain in office at least until the Assembly approveda new constitution, a process that may take two years to complete.

4. The talks on Government formation had gone through so many ups and downs during the last four months that any optimistic conclusionthat the suspicions and distrust, which had dogged the talks till August 5, would now be a matter of the past could be misplaced. Before thecontroversy relating to Koirala's participation in the SAARC summit, there was another controversy caused by the election on July 24,2008,of Ram Baran Yadav, an ethnic Madhesi, as Nepal's first President defeating a Maoist candidate. Following this, the Maoists had withdrawnfrom the talks on Government formation in a huff. It took some time and efforts to cajole them back into the talks. The interim Government,which paved the way for the elections to the Constituent Assembly and the declaration of Nepal with a population of 26.4 million as aRepublic on May 28,2008, after ending 240 years of the monarchy, had earlier this year agreed to give the Madhesis greater representationin state and local administration in order to end 16 days of strikes and protests that paralyzed Terai and led to fuel and food shortages inKathmandu. The Terai region is Nepal's agricultural heartland and, according to the Madhesi leaders, it accounts for 48 per cent of thecountry's population and 80 per cent of its commercial and industrial activities. It is the main transport link to India, Nepal's biggest tradingpartner.

5. If the latest agreement does not break down, Puspa Kamal Dahal, the Maoist leader known as Prachanda, is expected to lead thenational unity government as Prime Minister for the next two years. The CPN (Maoist) holds 220 seats in the 601- member ConstituentAssembly, double the number of its nearest rival, the Nepali Congress. With less than forty per cent of the seats, its role inpolicy-making----whether in relation to the new Constitution or in relation to Nepal's domestic and external issues--- should normally belimited. But what it lacks in terms of seats in the Constituent Assembly will be sought to be made good by it through its well-motivated andwell-trained cadres, who would try to enable the party to have its way in matters relating to its agenda through muscle and street powerwhen the voting power is found inadequate.

6. In the list of the irreducible minimum of its agenda is the integration of suitable members of its trained army into the Nepal Army, therebygiving Nepal for the first time an ideologically indoctrinated army. A People's Liberation Army (PLA) of Nepal will be the dream of Prachanda.Will the other three political formations be able to resist the Maoists' plans to reorganise the Army and make it the tool of the ultimatecapture of total state power by the Maoists? That is the first question, which ought to be worrying Indian policy-makers.

7. In the new Government, which would guide the initial steps in Constitution and policy-making, the Maoists will be in the driving seat ofpower, but not yet in total control of it, but total control will be their ultimate aim. The Maoists have reached where they are now through amix of the Chinese and Soviet tactics.Through Chinese-style armed peasant power, they established control over large parts of the ruralareas, but when control of Kathmandu and the Indian-influenced Terai region eluded them, they joined the other political formations in ademocratic street agitation, which gave them their present share of power. In Russia, the Bolsheviks led by Lenin rode to power piggy-backon the Mensheviks. After having got a share of the power and the exit of the Tsar, they kicked the Mensheviks out and established adictatorship of the proletariat, which was to last for nearly 74 years. Is a similar scenario possible in Nepal? That is the second questionwhich should preoccupy our policy-makers. Would such a scenario be in India's interest? If not, should India actively, but discreetly work toprevent it? Who could be its objective allies if it decides or is forced to do so?

8. Prachanda has taken pains to reassure India that it will have nothing to worry about due to the rise of the Maoists to power. Politicalequidistance between India and China, but not economic equidependence has been the central theme of his pronouncements.Nepal'seconomic links with India are so strong that there would be no danger of their dilution as a result of Nepal's closer relations with China, hesays. He told Karan Thapar of the CNN-IBN in an interview on May 20,2008 when he was asked what sort of relations he would be looking atwith India: " A new relation on a new basis. The new base has been laid down with the understanding from Delhi. A new unity with Delhi isalready in process. A new relation means better relations, understanding and cooperation. We want to come closer to New Delhi on thebasis of new relations. I always said that there is a special relationship with India, geographical and cultural, and therefore we should havea special relationship with New Delhi. No one can ignore this historical, geographical and cultural fact. What I am saying is that we will notside up with one country against the other. We will maintain equidistance in political sense and not in terms of cooperation and otherthings. The culture, history and geographical relationship that Nepal has with India will remain intact. It is a historic fact and we will have tostrengthen this relationship."

9. However, there are two issues relating to India on which his heart and mind are set. The first relates to the re-negotiation of the 1950Indo-Nepal treaty and a general review of all other bilateral agreements with India. He told Karan Thapar: " Our people have put forward thisconcern that they feel that the treaty (of 1950) lacks in equality and that it is not beneficial for Nepal. We thus want to review all the pointsof the 1950 treaty. And we want to revise it according to new necessity." When asked whether he wanted to drop the provisions for openborder and the national citizenship status for the people of Nepal in India, he was evasive and said: " Not exactly right now. There are otherprovisions that we want to discuss in detail." He indicated that one of these provisions requiring re-negotiation would be the defencepurchase provision which requires Nepal to consult Delhi and only then acquire arms. He added: "That also should be reviewed and shouldbe made according to the necessity of the 21st century."

10. Karan Thapar then drew his attention to a statement made by Babu Ram Bhattarai, his party colleague, to the "Nepal Telegraph" on May10, 2008, that it was only because of the open border that Nepal could not achieve economic prosperity and asked him whether he agreedwith that. He was again evasive in his reply. He said: "In the transitional phase, right now with the processes going on, it (Bhattarai's view) isnot correct." Prachanda added: " I want to have a general review on all the treaties. But specifically I want to review the 1950 treaty. Wewant changes in the 1950 treaty, others may be okay, or may be revised, but we want to generally review them.We want to strengthenrelations by re-negotiating."

11. The other issue relating to India on which his heart and mind are set is the re-examination of the question of recruitment of Gurkhas tothe Indian and other foreign armies. He told Karan Thapar:" We want to discuss this issue. We don’t want to stop it right now. We want toreview the whole history of the development and the implication on both countries. What kind of relation is created through this institution iswhat we want to review. We want to review and discuss it. I think this will be debated in our Constituent Assembly. It is an important topic.Now we are about to draft a new constitution and that will guide us for Nepal’s vital interest. These are historical questions. We will have toreview it in that perspective. Here in Nepal there was feudal autocracy as a political system. Now we are changing that into a democraticsystem, and we are looking at rapid economic development so that our youth don’t have to look for employment in other countries. We wantto change the political and economic scenario."

12. What are the present ground realities regarding Nepal's relations with India and China? Nepal's exports to India constitute about 55 percent of its total exports and its imports from India about 44 per cent of its total imports.There are over 265 approved Indian joint ventures inNepal of which over 100 are operational, with a cumulative total Indian investment amounting to between 36-40 per cent of the totalForeign Direct Investment in Nepal. The total project cost of these 265 projects is around Rs.28.5 billion, with fixed investment amountingto Rs. 21.9 billion and the foreign investment component amounting to Rs. 7.427 billion. These joint ventures are in practically every sector,including tourism, infrastructure, consumer durables & non-durables and export oriented industries like garments and carpets. A number ofIndian companies, including Dabur, Hindustan Lever, Colgate, etc., have established their manufacturing base in Nepal with the objective toexport their finished products to India. It needs to be added that these statistics taken from the web site of the Indian Embassy inKathmandu relate to the period till 2002-03. The figures must have further gone up since then.

13.The initial focus of India's economic assistance was on infrastructural projects, involving the construction of roads, bridges, hospitalsand airports. While infrastructure continued to remain the priority focus, projects also began to include health, industrial estates and othersectors. About 80 per cent of the Mahendra Raj Marg, a highway that runs the entire length of Nepal (1024 kms.) from the east to the westalong the southern terai, has been constructed by India. In addition, roads from Kathmandu to Dakshinkali, Trishuli, Balaju, Godavari andRaxaul via Hetauda, Sunauli to Pokhara, Rajbiraj to Koshi Barrage and the Janakpur town road are contributions of Indian assistance. Indiahas also constructed a number of bridges on these roads and separately two bridges on the river Bagmati at Kathmandu and one on theriver Mohana. The bridge on the river Sirsiya between the towns of Raxaul on the Indian side and Birgunj on the Nepalese side has alsobeen completed and opened for traffic.Twenty-two other bridges were constructed with Indian assistance on the Kohalpur-Mahakali Sectorof East West Highway.

14. The total value of trade (exports plus imports) between India and Nepal is about 48 per cent of the total trade of Nepal with foreigncountries as against about 10 per cent only in the case of Nepal and China. The total number of Chinese investment projects in Nepal was44 only till 2003-04 for which statistics are available as against nearly 300 in the case of India.Of these, 25 were operational, six underconstruction and the remaining 13 licensed. Chinese investments have been mainly in hotels and restaurants, electronics, radio pagingservices, readymade garments , nursing homes, hydropower, civil construction, etc. China has helped Nepal in the construction of 11 roadswith a total length of about 600 Kms as against nearly 1500 kms in the case of India. China has also been helping Nepal in the constructionof one hydel project, one irrigation project and two electrical transmission projects.

15.In 2001, China and Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation, including Nepal into the list of the tourismdestinations for outbound Chinese travelers. Subsequently, the two countries signed an "Air Service Agreement", according to which, AirChina opened a direct air link between China and Nepal in 2004, by the route of Chengdu-Lasha-Kathmandu. In addition, the China SouthernAirline has also started operating an air service between Guangzhou and Kathmandu since February, 2007. Likewise, the Nepal Airline isoperating air services between Kathmandu and Shanghai and Kathmandu and Hongkong.

16.Military-military relationship has been given increasing attention since 1998, when the the Nepal Army started sending officers andsoldiers to study in Chinese military universities. In the academic year 2006/2007 , 21 officers and soldiers of the Nepal Army went to Chinafor training. China has sent military officers to participate in the adventure trainings organized by the Nepal Army since 2002.

17. While China's relations with Nepal have been expanding over the years, they are nowhere near the multi-faceted relationship betweenNepal and India. In terms of value and usefulness, Nepal's relations with India have been more significant than its relations with China.Nepal has benefited far more from its privileged economic relations with India than vice versa. If a Maoist-dominated Nepal tries forequidependence in its economic relations with India and China, it will be lifting a huge boulder and throwing it on its own feet. Prachandagives the impression of realising this, but not many others in the CPN(Maoist). Bhattarai blames the open border with India for Nepal'sbackwardness. One does not know how sincere is Prachanda when he talks of the importance attached by him to Nepal's relations withIndia.

18. Pro-China intellectuals in Nepal make no secret of their dislike for India.Chinese officials and diplomats keep emphasising that China'srelations with Nepal are based on the three principles of trust, equality and sincerity. They thereby hint that while China treats Nepal as anequal partner, India does not.

19.Addressing the Nepal Council of World Affairs at Kathmandu on August 5,2008, the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Zheng Xianglin said:"Nepal is situated in a favorable geographical position in South Asia, and is a passage linking China and South Asia." That is the reason forthe Chinese interest in Nepal----as a passage to South Asia and as an instrument for strengthening the Chinese presence in South Asia.China has a Look South policy to counter our Look East policy.As we try to move Eastwards to cultivate the countries of South-East Asia, itis trying to move southwards to outflank us. China is not a South Asian power, but it already has a growing South Asian strategicpresence----- in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. It is hoping to acquire a similar presence in Nepal with the co-operation of aMaoist-dominated Government. It has already acquired the status of an observer in the SAARC. Some in the SAARC would ultimately like tomake it a SAARC member to counter the presence and influence of India. Nepal in the past refrained from joining those working for theinclusion of China in the SAARC. A Maoist-dominated Government may do so in future.

20. China has already given indications of its interest in strengthening the value of Nepal as a passage to South Asia by connecting the roadnetwork in Tibet with that in Nepal and by extending the railway line to Lhasa to Kathmandu. If China succeeds in concretising theseideas, the threats to our security will be enhanced. China has other reasons to welcome the rise of the Maoists to power in Nepal. It ishoping with reason that Nepal would stop the anti-China activities of the 1000-strong community of Tibetan refugees in Nepal. They havebeen in the forefront of the agitation against the Han colonisation of Tibet. Some of them are being used by the US Govt.funded Radio FreeAsia for producing programmes directed to the Tibetans. China apprehends that if there is unrest in Tibet after the death of the Dalai Lama,these refugees might be utilised by the US----with the complicity of India--- to destabilise the Chinese presence in Tibet. It is hoping topre-empt this with the co-operation of a Maoist-dominated Government in Kathmandu.

21. India will find itself in Nepal in a situation not dissimilar to the situation in Myanmar----all the time having to compete with China forpolitical influence and economic benefits. Till now, India almost monopolised the strategic playing field in Nepal. Now, there will be a secondplayer in China. In Myanmar, whenever the military Government had to choose between Indian and Chinese interests, it always chose theChinese interests because of its fear of China and its gratitude to China for the support extended by it to the military junta in internationalfora such as the UN Security Council. In Nepal whenever there is a conflict between Indian and Chinese interests, a Maoist-dominated Govt.will choose Chinese interests not out of fear or gratitude but out of considerations of ideological affinity.

22. The relations of the State of Nepal with the State of Pakistan are miniscule and hence of no major concern to India at present. What is ofconcern to India even now and may be of greater concern in future are the activities of the Pakistani and Pakistan-based non-State actorsagainst India from sanctuaries in Nepalese territory and the growing presence and activities of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)from Nepal. In the 1980s and the 1990s, the Khalistani organisations based in Pakistan used to operate through Nepal. So too the jihadiorganisations in the 1990s and thereafter. Pakistan-based mafia groups like the one of Dawood Ibrahim have active supporters in theMuslim community in the Terai region of Nepal. After the Mumbai blasts of March,1993, some of the perpetrators fled to Karachi viaKathmandu. Large amounts of black money from India are laundered in or through Kathmandu, which is also a nodal point for the pumping ofcounterfeit currency notes by the ISI into India. Some years ago, the Government of India reportedly came to know that a cable TV network,which was to come up in Nepal, was actually funded by Dawood Ibrahim. Timely intimation of the information to the Nepalese authoritiesresulted in the withdrawal of permission for the project. Nepalese co-operation in counter-terrorism, counter-money-laundering and mutuallegal assistance are important for our intelligence and investigation agencies.

23. This co-operation and assistance were facilitated in the past by good police-to-police relations. Many of the old generation Nepalesepolice officers were trained in Indian police institutions. They networked well with their counterparts in India --- informally as well asformally. Under a Maoist-led Government, this co-operation is likely to become more and more formal and less and less informal. Over-formalised co-operation is often not very effective in the absence of the informal component.

24. Prachanda and others are yet to come out with detailed formulations on what would be Nepal's relations with the US under a Maoist-ledGovernment. The US Embassy in Kathmandu is reported to have already established lines of communications with the Maoists. The firstpriority of the US would be to discourage the Maoists from moving too close to China. This would also be in India's interest. The first priorityof the Maoists will be to have the name of the CPN (Maoists) removed from the list of terrorist organisations maintained by the US. Thisshould not be difficult since the CPN (Maoists), unlike the LTTE of Sri Lanka, has not been formally designated as a Foreign TerroristOrganisation under a 1996 US law.

25. What impact will the decision of the CPN (Maoists) to give up its armed struggle half-way through and join the democratic mainstream have on the spread of Maoism across the tribal belt of Central India? Not much. The ideological and material dependence of the NepaleseMaoists on their Indian counterparts was more than the other way round. The Indian Maoists, while complimenting their Nepalesecounterparts for their good performance in the elections to the Constituent Assembly, have at the same time been expressing theirskepticism over the success of the experiment being attempted in Nepal. Indian Maoists seem to expect that the Nepalese experiment willnot work and will come unstuck.

26. The Maoists have done well in the elections, which were widely perceived across the world as free and fair. The voters of Nepal havepreferred them over other parties, which had failed to come up to their expectations in the past. A Maoist-led Government is thefreely-expressed choice of the voters. India has no other option but to work with it so long as its policies do not take a blatantly anti-Indiandimension, which would be unacceptable to India. However, if the policies of the new Government do acquire such a dimension, India shouldhave the courage and confidence to be able to have the situation rectified with the help of its well-wishers in Nepal. Despite all that hashappened, there is still a large reservoir of well-wishers of India in Nepal. They should be nurtured and encouraged to be active---not forundermining the Maoists, but for preventing anti-Indian distortions. (7-8-08)

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