Friday, February 27, 2009



Cunning, devious, erratic.

2.These are the allegations increasingly being used about President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan inside the coalition formed by BenazirBhutto before her assassination in order to fight for the restoration of democracy as well as inside his own Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

3. Well-informed sources in the PPP say that ever since he took over as the President in September last year, he has sought to marginalisethe loyalists of Benazir Bhutto and have them replaced by loyalists of the Zardari family. The Bhutto loyalists have been shocked by thedisinterest allegedly shown by him in pursuing vigorously the investigation into the assassination of his wife. Instead of doing so, he hasallegedly asked Rehman Malik, the Internal Security Adviser, to suspend any further investigation on the ground that the UNSecretary-General has already initiated action for the case to be investigated by a team appointed by him. It is alleged that anyone, whoraises the question of the lack of progress in the investigation, incurs Zardari's wrath and is subjected to harassment by the police. A typicalexample is that of Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, of the Sindh National Front (SNF), who is a cousin of the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto and a founding-fatherof the PPP. The police have allegedly been set after him and other members of the SNF after they raised the issue of the investigation inpublic.

4. These PPP sources claim that Bhutto loyalists have started raising doubts about the genuineness of the so-called political will of BenazirBhutto on the basis of which Zardari took over the interim leadership of the PPP till their son Bilawal, designated in the so-called will as herultimate successor, came of age to be able to take over the leadership. There has been no demand so far for an enquiry into thegenuineness of the will, but there are increasing insinuations that the so-called will was the idea of Rehman Malik. Malik used to be incharge of co-ordinating physical security arrangements for Benazir Bhutto and many in the party accuse him of negligence which, accordingto them, contributed to her assassination. To the surprise of many, who were close to Benazir, not only no action was taken against him byZardari, but he was appointed as the Internal Security Adviser with the rank of a Cabinet Minister and has emerged as a close personaladviser of Zardari. It is alleged in party circles that Malik, himself a retired police officer, has been misusing the police officers of theFederal Investigation Agency (FIA) in which he had served during Benazir Bhutto's second tenure (1993-96) as the Prime Minister formonitoring the activities of the critics of Zardari.

5. Speculation about differences between Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani continue to gain currency despite repeated denialsby both. These PPP sources say that Gilani is unhappy that important decisions are being taken by Zardari and his close group of adviserswithout consulting him or keeping him in the picture and instructions issued directly over his head to senior bureaucrats to have thedecisions executed. Gilani was also excluded from the committee set up by Zardari for selecting Party candidates for the elections to fillup vacancies in the Senate, the upprer House of the Parliament.It is said that Gilani was taken by surprise by the press conference held byRehman Malik at which he admitted that there was partial involvement by certain elements in Pakistan in the conspiracy for the Mumbaiterrorist attack. Only a day before Malik's press conference, the Cabinet Committee on Defence had discussed the Indian allegations and itwas reportedly decided that a set of questions should be sent to India and that Pakistan should await India's replies before deciding on thenext step.

6. It is alleged that Zardari, who was under tremendous pressure from the US to co-operate with India, advised Malik to admit partialinvolvement without awaiting India's replies to the questions. The PPP sources claim that even Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of theArmy Staff (COAS), who was present at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee, was surprised by Malik's press conference.

7. During Benazir Bhutto's second tenure as the Prime Minister, many PPP workers known for their loyalty to Zardari had been recruited intoGovernment Departments, including the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the FIA. After dismissing her in 1996, Farooq Leghari, the thenPresident, had sacked all these people who had been recruited without following the civil service recruitment rules. It is said that Zardarihas been keen to have these people re-taken into the jobs from which they were sacked by Leghari, but Gilani has been strongly resistingthis.

8. Senior officials of the Foreign Office are mystified by Zardari's decision to visit Wuhan and Shanghai in China from February 20 to 24,2009, without an official invitation from the Chinese Government. He did not visit Beijing. Nor did he meet any Chinese leaders. He onlyspoke to President Hu Jintao over phone from Shanghai before returning to Islamabad. The Chinese had reportedly told Zardari that sincethey would be busy in connection with the first visit of Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to China after assuming office, theywould not be in a position to receive him in Beijing during February. In spite of this, he decided to go ahead with his visit and restrict his visitto Wuhan and Shanghai only. His advisers projected his decision as part of the plan announced by him after taking over as the President tovisit different provinces of China once a quarter to learn from China's experience in economic development. Foreign Office officials havebeen saying that it is not in keeping with the dignity of the office of the President of Pakistan to keep travelling to other countries----even ifit be to China---- without a formal invitation and without taking into account the convenience of the hosts.They project this as an indicator ofwhat they allege as the erratic and flippant streak in him.

9. Zardari has also come in for strong criticism inside his own party as well as inside the ruling coalition for what they see as the lack oftransparency in matters relating to co-operation with the US in its fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Reports carried by sections of theUS media alleging that the increasing Predator air strikes on suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban hide-outs in Pakistani territory are beingcarried out with the knowledge and tacit consent of Zardari have added to the suspicions that he has a huge debt to pay to the US for itsrole in persuading Gen. Pervez Musharraf, when he was the President, to issue the National Reconciliation Ordinance to withdraw thepending cases against him and Benazir to enable them to return to Pakistan from political exile and contest the elections.

10. His decision not to take any action against Musharraf for his repeated violations of the Constitution when he was in power and not toreinstate former Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, who was sacked by Musharraf, are also seen by many of his critics asmotivated partly by his own interests and partly by US desires. It is alleged that Zardari is worried that if he reinstated the former ChiefJustice, the latter might question the validity of the National Reconciliation Ordinance and order a retrial of the case relating to the allegedmurder of Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, at Karachi in September 1996. Zardari was an accused in the case, which hassince been closed. The US also feels uncomfortable with the former Chief Justice because of the interest taken by him in looking into thecases of a large number of Pakistanis, who were picked up by the Pakistani intelligence agencies and handed over to the US intelligencewithout following the due process of the law because the US suspected that they were involved with Al Qaeda. Many of them are reported tobe in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre.

11. Nawaz Sharif is bitter with Zardari for the way he has gone back on every commitment made by him before the elections to the NationalAssembly in February last year. He first went back on the commitment made regarding the reinstatement of the former Chief Justice. He then took Nawaz Sharif by surprise by manipulating to have himself nominated and elected as the President and then went back on thecommitment to do away with the various constitutional amendments introduced through decree by Musharraf to restore to the Presidentthe powers to dismiss the Prime Minister and dissolve the National Assembly. He also went back on the commitment to review the variousaspects of co-operation with the US in its so-called war against terrorism in order to remove those aspects which were not in Pakistan'snational interests.

12. When Nawaz Sharif announced his support for a fresh agitation by the lawyers to demand the reinstatement of sacked Chief JusticeIftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, Zardari allegedly sent Rehman Malik to meet him and his brother Shabaz Sharif, till recently the ChiefMinister of Punjab, to warn them that if Nawaz Sharif supported the fresh agitation by the lawyers, he (Zardari) would not oppose any rulingby a bench of the Supreme Court to disqualify Nawaz and his brother from contesting any election and holding any public office.

13. Whereas Zardari and Benazir were the accused in many criminal cases which had not ended in any conviction, Nawaz Sharif had beenconvicted on a charge of attempted hijacking of the aircraft in which Musharraf was travelling from Colombo to Karachi in October 1999,which provoked the coup against Nawaz. His brother was the accused in two criminal cases, but not a convict. While the US-supportedNational Reconciliation Ordinance led to the withdrawal of the cases against Benazir and Zardari, it did not affect the conviction of Nawazand the cases against his brother.

14. Despite this, the Election Commission allowed Shabaz Sharif to contest the election. He became the Chief Minister of Punjab with thesupport of the PPP. Nawaz was not able to contest the election because of his conviction. He was hopeful that if Iftikhar MohammadChaudhury was reinstated as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court he would have his conviction reviewed and set aside. Zardari hadreportedly promised Nawaz that the Government would take the initiative to have his conviction set aside, but he went back on the promise.Nawaz and his brother refused to appear before a bench consisting of Judges appointed by Musharraf to argue their case. The result: thebench's ruling on February 25,2009, declaring them as ineligible to contest elections and to hold any public office.Shabaz Sharif hasresigned as the Chief Minister and Governor's rule has been proclaimed in the province for two months. The PPP hopes to form the provincialGovernment with the help of Musharraf loyalists in the PML ( Qaide Azam) and possible defectors from the PML of Nawaz.

15. Though Zardari's advisers have been strongly denying that he had anything to do with the ruling, Nawaz and Shabaz are convinced thatthe ruling was induced by Zardari. There has already been public agitation on this issue. Presuming that Zardari had a role in inducing thisruling by the bench of the Supreme Court, this could prove to be as unwise and as damaging as the decision of Musharraf in 2007 to haveIftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury sacked. Zardari is not Benazir. He is seen by many in his own party as a political upstart. His confrontationwith Nawaz could set in motion a chain of events which may ultimately discredit once again the political class in Pakistan and prepare theground for another spell of military rule.

16.The US has reasons to be concerned over the developments in Pakistan. There is a trust deficit between it and Nawaz. It continues toback Zardari who has shown himself to be as amenable to US wishes as Musharraf, if not even more. It continues to encourage Gen.Kayanito back Zardari. But Zardari's mishandling of the political situation could come in the way of the US operations against Al Qaeda and theTaliban at a time when the Obama Administration is re-tooling its Afghan strategy. (28-2-09)

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



Tibetans in China and abroad have started a boycott of the Tibetan New Year (Losar) fortnight, which started on February 25,2009. They are observing the fortnight as a period of mourning in homage to the Tibetans who were killed by the Chinese security forces during the uprising in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China in March and April last year. Their observance of the period of mourning consisted of prayers and processions. In some places, they also burnt the effigies of the Chinese leaders in keeping with the Tibetan tradition of burning the effigies of demons during the New Year.

2. In the Qinghai province, over 100 Tibetan monks of the Lutsang monastery took out a silent procession in the Mangra ( the Chinese call it Guinan) county on February 25,2009. The procession terminated at the country centre, where the local Government offices are located. They presented a petition to a representative of the local Government calling, inter alia, for an international enquiry into the violent incidents of last year. The petition also appealed to the Chinese leaders to respect the wishes and feelings of the Tibetan youth. After observing silence for 30 minutes at the county centre, they went back to their monastery peacefully. The local Chinese authorities did not try to prevent the procession and accepted their petition.

3. However, on February 26,2009, vans of the Public Security Bureau went round the county asking the leaders of the procession to surrender to the police and the local population to help the police in the identification and arrest of the leaders. They warned of legal action against those not carrying out the orders and not co-operating with the police. A few hours later, a contingent of the People's Armed Police (PAP) raided the monastery and took away a number of monks for interrogation at the police station.

4. The Chinese authorities in Tibet and other areas having a large Tibetan population organised singing and dancing in public squares and street plays, showing how the Chinese vanquished serfdom and what was portrayed as the feudal rule of the Dalai Lama. A large number of Han Chinese living and working in these areas attended the State-sponsored celebrations, which were largely boycotted by the Tibetans despite the payment of a cash gift by the Chinese to Tibetans attending the celebrations. However, there are no reports of the Chinese forcing the Tibetans to attend the celebrations, which could have led to violence.

5. Coinciding with the beginning of the New Year fortnight, the Chinese authorities suspended the issue of permission to foreign tourists and journalists to visit Tibet and the Tibetan-inhabited areas. They have indicated that this ban could continue till the end of March.

6. However, Edward Wong of the "International Herald Tribune" managed to visit Qinghai--- presumably with a permit issued by the Chinese before the imposition of the temporary ban. His despatch, which was carried by the IHT on February 25,2009, stated as follows: "The most prominent act of Tibetan resistance to Chinese rule since an uprising last March, unfolded quietly in towns across western China on Wednesday (February 25), as monks, nomads and merchants refrained from holding festivities and instead used the occasion of Losar to memorialize Tibetans who suffered in China's military crackdown last year. Many Tibetans forsook dancing and dinner parties for the lighting of yak-butter lamps and the chanting of prayers. The result of a grassroots campaign that began months ago, the boycott of Losar signifies the discontent that many of China's six million Tibetans still feel toward domination by the ethnic Han Chinese nearly one year after the uprising and almost six decades after Mao Zedong's troops seized control of the high deserts and grasslands of Tibet. Although more passive than the protests and riots of last year, the boycott has raised tensions. Tibetans here (in Tongren) and in other towns, including Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, say Government officials have handed out money to Tibetans to spur them to celebrate. On Wednesday, the government was eager to show festive Tibetans on state-run television: It broadcast footage of Tibetans in Lhasa dancing, shooting off fireworks and feasting in their homes. But no such activities were in evidence in this part of Qinghai Province, near the birthplace of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, except for a flurry of firecrackers set off at noon by Chinese officers outside a paramilitary compound. The boycott of festivities began even earlier, during Chinese New Year, which ran for two weeks from late January and which Tibetans here tend to observe alongside Losar. "The government thinks we should celebrate this holiday properly," said Shartsang, the abbot of Rongwo Monastery. "Certainly this year people haven't celebrated it in the same way they did in past years." The Government has stepped up security across Tibet and shut off access to foreigners. Here in the town of Tongren, called Rebkong by Tibetans, more than 300 security officers with riot shields were seen training in the stadium on Wednesday afternoon. On Monday night, a unit of officers marched in formation along a road cordoned off with yellow tape. Like most of the people interviewed for this article, the monk asked that his name not be used, for fear of government reprisal. The monastery is under tight surveillance: Cameras have been installed throughout, monks say, and security officers dressed in monk's robes wander the alleyways. Nevertheless, the monks have put photographs of the Dalai Lama back up in prayer halls and in their bedrooms. One monk from southern Qinghai held up an amulet of the Dalai Lama dangling from his neck. "The Chinese say this is all one country," the monk said. "What do we think? You don't know what's in our hearts. They don't know what's in our hearts," he said, and tapped his chest. Some of the greatest hostility comes from 30 or so monks from Drepung and Sera monasteries in Lhasa who have sought refuge here, even as some monks from Rongwo have tried fleeing across the Himalayas to India. Last spring, after the uprising, security forces in Lhasa cleared out monasteries and jailed monks for months. About 700 monks were sent to a camp in Golmud in Qinghai Province for four months of patriotic education, then ordered to return to their hometowns for three months, said three young monks who were shipped to the camp. The three are now studying here. "We want to go back to our monastery in Lhasa, but the police would check our ID cards and evict us," one of the monks said over tea in a bedroom stacked with Buddhist texts. "We came here because we wanted a good opportunity to study."

7.While the Chinese have prevented all foreign journalists from visiting Tibet, N.Ram, the Editor-in-Chief of "The Hindu" of Chennai, was a privileged visitor to Tibet for two days to observe how the Tibetans are observing Losar. The official Xinhua news agency (February 26) reported as follows after his visit: "Mr. Ram’s latest visit coincided with the run-up to the Tibetan New Year. He said: “We witnessed fewer people in work places as they went back home to celebrate the New Year.There was no sign of strain or suppression there as people were filled with excitement and the atmosphere was festive. There were plenty of signs of prosperity on my long drive from Lhasa to Nyingchi.The contrast between the old and the new is very powerful, demonstrating what the Chinese Government and the system have done for Tibet.”

8. On February 26,2009, "The Hindu" disseminated a report of the Xinhua describing how the Tibetans were celebrating the Losar. (27-2-09)

( 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: )

Thursday, February 26, 2009



"In an assessment on Bangladesh disseminated in January, 1997, this writer had observed as follows: " There are individual officers in theBangladesh intelligence community and in its security forces, who feel positively towards Sheikh Hasina (Prime Minister) and her father, butone cannot say the same thing of these organisations as institutions. Institutionally, they may not share with her the same enthusiasm forcloser relations with India and for assisting it in dealing with the insurgency (in the North-East). It would take her and her party considerable time to understand and assess the intricacies of their working and the labyrinthine relationships which they have built up withtheir Pakistani counterparts during the last 21 years. She, therefore, has to move with caution."

"The savage manner in which 15 members of India's Border Security Force (BSF) were reportedly abducted, tortured, killed and their bodiesmutilated beyond recognition last week shows that even after almost five years in power, Sheikh Hasina is apparently not in total commandof her military and intelligence establishment, which like its counterpart in Pakistan, has been infected by the fundamentalist virus of Afghan vintage and is probably developing an agenda of its own vis-à-vis India."

---Extract from my article dated 23-4-2001 titled BANGLADESH: A BENGALI ABBASI LURKING SOMEWHERE? at

The current mutiny across Bangladesh by directly-recruited junior officers and other ranks of the Bangladesh Rifles (BD) bodes ill for therecently-elected (in December,2008) Government headed by Sheikh Hasina. Their mutiny, which started in Dhaka on February 25,2009, and has since spread to other parts of the country, including Chittagong, ostensibly over long-pending grievances regarding pay and allowancesand food rations, is directed till now not against the political leadership but against the senior army officers----serving and retired---ondeputation to the BDR.

2.The targeted Army officers occupy senior positions in the command and control of the BDR and their pay and allowances and other perksare governed by those applicable to the army officers and not by those applicable to the directly-recruited officers of the BDR. Resentmentover what is perceived by the direct recruits as the step-motherly treatment meted out to them by the deputationists and re-employedofficers of the Army seem to have acted as the trigger for the mutiny. The spreading mutiny, during which a number of senior army officersserving on deputation in the BDR, are reported to have been either killed or held hostage, seems to have taken the Army and politicalleadership by surprise. It was the outcome of a secret conspiracy well-planned and well-executed by the junior officers and other ranks.The intelligence wing of the Bangladesh Police and the Army-dominated Directorate-General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) seem to havebeen taken by surprise. If the DGFI had advance information, it would have at least tried to alert the senior army officers so that they did notbecome targets and victims of the mutineers. The fact that it did not do so suggests that the DGFI was not aware.

3. The fact that the mutineers were able to plan and execute this conspiracy in total secrecy with even the grass-roots political cadres ofdifferent parties not getting scent of it, speaks of a well-organised anti-army network inside the BDR. The identities of the ring leaders of theconspiracy remain unclear. A question of major concern both to the BD political and military leadership as well as to India should be---- wasthe mutiny purely due to bread and butter issues or is there something more to it?

4. As in the case of the BD Army, in the case of the BDR too, many of the recruits at the lower levels come from the villages and quite a fewof them are products of the mushrooming madrasas across the country funded by money from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan. The ruralareas of Bangladesh and the madrasas there are the main recruiting and brainwashing grounds of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI-B) andother jihadi organisations. While the international community has paid considerable attention to monitoring the infiltration of the PakistaniArmed Forces by fundamentalist and jihadi elements since the days of the late Gen.Zia-ul-Haq, similar attention has not been paid tomonitoring the presence of fundamentalist and jihadi elements in the BD Armed Forces and the BDR.

5. Senior officers' relationship with the junior ranks has always been the Achilles' heel of the BDR, which used to be known before the birthof BD in 1971 as the East Pakistan Rifles (EPR). The EPR consisted largely of Bengali direct recruits officered by Punjabi and Pashtundeputationists from the Pakistan Army. Resentment over the humiliating attitude of the Pakistani Army officers towards the Bengali juniorranks was an important factor, which had contributed to the desertion of large sections of the Bengali junior ranks from the EPR and theirjoining the freedom struggle under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

6. After the birth of Bangladesh those members of the EPR, who had deserted and joined the freedom struggle, were reconstituted into thehard-core of the newly-created BDR. The force at the lower and middle levels has grown around this hard core. It now has a strength ofaround 70,000 and its role is mainly trans-border security in times of peace. In Bangladesh territory bordering India, which has been thehotbed of the activities of the HUJI and where many of its training camps are located, the BDR is responsible for security. Its role in thisregard often brings it into contact with the HUJI and other jihadi elements.

7. The unfriendly attitude of sections of the lower ranks of the BDR to India became evident from the savage manner in which 15 members ofIndia's Border Security Force (BSF) were abducted, tortured, killed and their bodies mutilated beyond recognition by elements from the BDRin April,2001. Sheikh Hasina, who was in power at that time too, did not or could not take action against those responsible for this savagerydespite her professed friendship for India.The BD Press had quoted the then BD Foreign Secretary, Syed Muazzem Ali, as telling journalistsat Dacca on April 20,2001, as follows: "The border force has standing responsibility of protecting the frontier from any external attacks. BDRare there to repulse any attack on the country’s frontier. There are some situations when decisions are taken instantly. It does not requireto send file to Dhaka, get order and then start firing. It is the charter duty of BDR to protect our frontier from any attack on our border. Ifquestion of war comes, then the orders from top level may come." He thus tried to justify the action by the BDR.

8. The mutiny and the consequent confrontation between the junior elements of the BDR and the Army has placed Sheikh Hasina in a tricklysituation. The Army seems determined to act against the BDR mutineers and crush their revolt by using tanks and other heavy weaponsagainst them. It should be able to crush them in Dhaka and other big towns. Its ability to do so in the rural areas and particularly near theborder with India remains to be seen. If the mutineers realise the lack of wisdom of their action and surrender without further resistance,the situation may be controlled. If they put up a resistance in the rural areas, many HUJI and other jihadi elements might join them in thehope of exploiting the situation to their benefit.

9. In the past, the BDR had remained loyal to Sheikh Hasina and other political leaders. They preferred to depend on the police andpara-military forces for their personal security than on the Army, which they distrusted. Now she has no other option but to back the army inits confrontation with the mutineers and authorise it to take whatever action it considers necessary to quell the mutiny. The political fall-outof the confrontation could be unpredictable for her Government. The ultimate beneficiaries of any political instability resulting from it couldbe the jihadis.

10. The developing situation has to be closely watched by India and the rest of the international community. (26-2-09)

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

Saturday, February 21, 2009



Tibetan youth organizations in Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas of China have kept up their campaign for the observance of the Tibetan New Year’s Day (Losar) on February 25,2009, as a day of mourning in homage to those killed by the Chinese security forces in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics of August,2008, and March 10,2009, as a day of the Tibetan resistance struggle to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the flight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from Tibet and the completion of what they describe as the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

2. Appeals have been issued to Tibetan youth all over the world to express their solidarity with the people of Tibet by observing these anniversaries in the manner indicated by them. While the Tibetan youth organizations in China as well as outside have been repeatedly saying that the observance of these two anniversaries will be peaceful and dignified, one cannot rule out the possibility of violent incidents as had happened last year.

3. The Chinese authorities in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China are taking no chances. They have sent reinforcements of security forces from the adjoining provinces to Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited areas and continue to make a large number of preventive arrests of Tibetan youth and monks suspected of being sympathetic to the Dalai Lama. House searches have been undertaken to seize and destroy pictures of the Dalai Lama.

4. Reports of sporadic public protests and alleged police excesses against Tibetan youth and monks continue to come in with increasing frequency as the two anniversaries approach. Apart from preventing any violent or embarrassing incident, the Chinese authorities are also trying to ensure that large numbers of Tibetans and Han Chinese participate in the celebration of Losar being organized by them. Boycott of these officially-organised Losar celebrations is being treated as a crime. There is a danger that the Chinese effort to force the Tibetan youth and monks to participate in the official celebrations may lead to street clashes .

5. This year, the situation is more unfavourable to the Tibetan youth and monks than it was last year as a result of the Maoists coming to power in Nepal. Last year, many Tibetan refugees from Nepal managed to cross over into Tibet and participate in the anti-Beijing protests. This year, in response to Chinese requests, the Maoist Government in Kathmandu has tightened up surveillance and movement restrictions on the Tibetan refugees to prevent their entering into Tibet. Telephone communications between Tibet and Nepal are being strictly controlled and watched to prevent any pre-Losar interactions between the Tibetan youth and monks in Nepal and Tibet. Internet links are also subject to similar controls.

6. Enterprising Tibetan youth in Western countries have been managing to circumvent these controls in order to remain in touch with the youth and monks in China. The Chinese security agencies have encouraged a number of Han Chinese co-operating with the Government agencies to start their own blogspots and chat groups by posing as alienated Tibetans and interact with foreign-based Tibetans in order to identify them and collect information about the plans for the protests.

7. Overseas Tibetan youth organizations have started web broadcasts to the Tibetans in China. These broadcasts, which have managed to evade jamming or other technical disruptions by the Chinese, have been disseminating messages for the observance of the two anniversaries as days of mourning. They say that March 14,2008, saw the beginning of a new phase of the Tibetan resistance struggle and assert that the Chinese will not be able to crush it.

8. In the run-up to the Losar, the most restive area has been the Kardze [in Chinese, Ganzi] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of the Sichuan province. There are under-currents of social tensions in the Sichuan province due to the return to the province of a large number of Chinese who lost their jobs in the coastal areas due to the economic crisis. The tensions in the Tibetan community due to religious and ethnic reasons and those in the local Han Chinese community due to economic reasons could become a dangerous mix in the weeks to come.

9. While media reports that the Chinese authorities have imposed a curfew in Lhasa have not been confirmed, it has been reported by independent sources that Western parts of the Gansu, Sichuan, and Qinghai provinces, which have large Tibetan communities, are again closed to foreign tourists.

10. There is growing disenchantment among Tibetan youth and monks over what they see as the attempts by President Barack Obama and Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to play down the violations of the human rights of the Tibetans. Mrs.Clinton’s visit to Beijing from February 20 to 22,2009, came five days before the Losar. The Tibetan youth and monks were expecting that she would reiterate forcefully the US interest in ensuring respect for the human rights of the Tibetans. Her remarks on the human rights issue were very general and lacking forceful articulation. The Tibetans have been describing Obama as a two-issue President with his entire focus on setting right the economy and reversing the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan. For the sake of Chinese co-operation in setting right the economy, Obama and Mrs.Clinton are prepared to close their eyes to the human rights situation in Tibet. So, they say.

11. Attempts may be made by angry Tibetan youth to create embarrassing situations outside Chinese diplomatic missions in India. Security for them needs to be tightened. (22-2-09)

(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: )

Thursday, February 19, 2009



( This is a paper, which I had prepared in June,2007, at the request of a very well-known US multinational company with a wide presence in East, South-East and South Asia. I have not made any changes except in my E-mail address, which I have changed since then )

One has to make a distinction between a radicalisation of Pakistan and a radicalisation of sections of the people of Pakistan. A radicalisation of Pakistan would mean its radicalisation as a State and as a nation as happened to Iran in 1979 and a control over its governance by a radical ideology, which is detrimental to peace and security not only in the region, but also in the world as a whole. A radicalisation of sections of the people of Pakistan would mean some sections of the people of the country coming under the influence of destabilising radical ideas and posing a threat initially to peace and security in Pakistan itself and subsequently in the region and the rest of the world.

2. In the short and medium terms, there is no danger of a radicalisation of Pakistan as a State and a nation. The Army plays an important role in the governance of Pakistan----either directly by taking over the reins of power or indirectly when a duly elected political leadership is in power by having a say in matters concerning national security. There has been an increase in the number of radical elements in the Army since the days of the late Gen.Zia-ul-Haq (1977-88). This could be attributed to his decision to treat the certificates issued by the madrasas (religious schools) as equivalent to those issued by non-religious schools for purposes of recruitment to the Armed Forces and other Government departments. This equivalence has continued till today and no Government---- under military or political leadership--- has had the courage to remove it. As a result, one finds an increasing number of students from the madrasas in the Armed Forces and other Government departments. They are more prone to be influenced by radical ideas than the products of non-religious institutions.

3.No authentic data is available of the number of such radical or radical-prone elements in the Armed Forces and other Government departments. According to reliable sources in the Pakistani Police, they constitute about 25 per cent of the total strength of the Armed Forces and other Government departments. Most of them are at the lower and middle levels. The presence of radical elements at the higher
command level is rare. However, exceptions are there----the most prominent of them being Gen.Zia himself, who was a devout Deobandi and Gen.Mohammed Aziz Khan, who retired two years ago. Gen.Aziz Khan belongs to the Sudan tribe of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and was considered a hard-core fundamentalist in his thinking and actions. After his retirement, there are no votaries of radical or fundamentalist ideologies at the level of Lt.Generals and Generals

4. The Pakistan Army has thus an increasing number of radical or radical-prone elements at the lower and middle levels, but it is not a radical institution in the religious sense. While the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, which consists largely of military officers, have no compunctions about using radical elements in the society for achieving their strategic objectives, they have ensured that their institutions do not get infected with radical ideas at the senior levels. During the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the ISI, in collaboration with the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), used radical ideologies for motivating the Afghan, Pakistani and Arab volunteers to fight against the Soviet troops. At the same time, it saw to it that these ideas did not affect the Army as an institution. This was equally true in the case of the Air Force and the Navy too.

5. However, there has been a greater spread of radical extremism in the police forces of different provinces and in the para-military forces such as the Rangers and the Frontier Constabulary. According to the same sources in the Police, at least about one-third of these forces are estimated to be infected by extremist ideas. A similar percentage would apply in the case of the civilian bureaucrats in different Government departments at the Federal and provincial levels. The percentage would be more than one-third in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Pashtun majority areas of Balochistan and the POK and less in Punjab
and Sindh. As a result, there is a greater empathy for religious extremism in the civilian bureaucracies and the police forces of these areas than in Punjab and Sindh and in the Baloch majority districts of Balochistan.

6.To analyse the spread of radicalism or extremism in the Pakistani society, it can be categorised in different ways. The first categorization would be between the descendants of converts from Hinduism to Islam and the descendants from the Muslim migrants from Central and West Asia, who were already Muslims when they came to the sub-continent. The Mohajirs of Sindh, who had migrated to Pakistan from India at the time of the partition in 1947, are largely the descendants of converts from Hinduism. They are the least radicalised section of the Pakistani society and have resisted the influence of the extremist organisations. The Pakistani President, Gen.Pervez Musharraf, who advocates a policy of enlightened moderation, is a Mohajir. So is Gen.Mirza Aslam Beg, who was the Chief of the Army Staff under the first tenure of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto as the Prime Minister (1988 to 90).

7. The second categorisation would be on an ethnic basis. The main ethnic groups in Pakistan are the Punjabis , the Pashtuns, the Sindhis, the Balochs, the Punjabi-speaking Kashmiris known as the Mirpuris because they come from a region in the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) called Mirpur and other Kashmiris speaking different non-Punjabi dialects. Of these, the Pashtuns, who are to be found on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, are the most radicalised. They are followed by the Mirpuris and the Punjabis of Punjab. The Sindhis and the Balochs----though they are descendants of the Muslim migrants from West Asia---- are the least radicalised. This is due to the fact that traditionally Marxism and other leftist ideologies have had an impact on their thinking. Leftist ideologies have also had an impact on the thinking of some sections of the Pashtuns, who have resisted the influence of extremism. They are essentially the followers of the late Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, who was very close to Mahatma Gandhi and was popularly known as the Frontier Gandhi. One will find many of his followers in the Awami National Party (ANP) today.

8. The third categorisation would be on the basis of religious orthodoxy----as between the Deobandis and the Barelvis and the Sufis and the non-Sufis. The headquarters of the Deobandis and the Barelvis are in India where these two schools of religious orthodoxy have remained largely uninfected by extremism. The Deobandis of Pakistan are increasingly Wahabised, but not the Deobandis of India or even the Barelvis of Pakistan. The Barelvis in Pakistan as well as India are more tolerant than the Deobandis. The Barelvis of Pakistan have resisted the influence of Wahabism. The Pakistani census does not enumerate the population on the basis of their religious orthodoxy, but according to sources in the religious clerical community in Pakistan, there are more Barelvis than Deobandis in the Pakistani society---the number of Barelvis being the maximum in the province of Sindh. But more madrasas are controlled by the Deobandis than by the Barelvis, more mosques have been set up by the Deobandis than by the Barelvis and more political influence is wielded by the Deobandis than by the Barelvis because of the backing for the Pakistani Deobandis from the clerics and the ruling families of Saudi Arabia and the flow of Saudi money for them.

9. The Sufis are the most tolerant of the Muslim communities of not only Pakistan, but also of the entire sub-continent. Sufism interprets jihad in its true sense as an inner struggle to make oneself a better Muslim and not an external struggle against perceived adversaries of Islam. The Sufis believe that external struggles are the responsibility of the State and not of the religion. Religion and culture have an equally important role in the life of a Sufi. Devotional music plays an important role in their religious functions just as it does in the religious functions of other religions. Sufism is not an orthodoxy. It is a state of mind, which believes that religious thinking need not be illiberal thinking. Despite the efforts of Talibanised elements to eradicate the influence of Sufism, it still has a strong hold in Sindh and the Baloch majority areas of Balochistan. But it is on the retreat in the rest of Pakistan in the face of the onslaught by pro-Taliban elements.

10. The fourth categorization would be on a sectarian basis----between the Sunnis and the Shias. The Sunnis constitute about 80 per cent of Pakistan’s total estimated population of about 150 million. The Shias constitute about 17 per cent. The rest are mainly Hindus and Christians. The Shias are in a majority in the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) of Jammu and Kashmir, which are under Pakistani occupation since 1947, and in certain Pashtun pockets in the NWFP and the FATA. They are in a minority in the rest of Pakistan. Concerned over the likely negative impact of the Islamic Revolution in Iran on the minds of the Pakistani Shias, Gen.Zia encouraged the activities of extremist Sunni elements to counter any trend towards the radicalization of the Shias. This has led to frequent incidents of terrorism directed against the Shias. There has been a radical trend in the Shia community too, but Shia radicalism has essentially a domestic agenda----namely, to protect their interests in Pakistan. It has no external agenda.

11. The fifth and last categorization would be between tribals and non-tribals. The tribal areas near the Afghan border have traditionally been the most fundamentalist in their thinking and way of life. They have also been the most prone to the influence of Wahabism and the Taliban. For centuries, they have defied the attempts of any central Government to enforce its writ in their areas. It was so under the British. It has been so since Pakistan became independent in 1947. Successive Pakistani Governments ----whether led by the Army or the political parties---- have considered it prudent to leave the tribal areas untouched lest they provoke violent reactions from the local inhabitants. Pakistan’s ISI had always kept these tribals in the forefront of its external adventures---- whether against India in J&K as in 1948, 1965 and 1971, or against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s or against the Government of President Najibullah of Afghanistan in the early 1990s. The Taliban was born in these tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The Neo Taliban, Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and some Chechen elements are sheltered and nourished there. Many of the jihadis from South-East Asia and the West are trained there.

12. There are three destabilizing influences in Pakistan---- the Wahabised Islamic extremism, the trans-Ummah pan-Islamism and the country-wide anti-Americanism. The Wahabised Islamic extremism calls for the transformation of Pakistan into an Islamic democracy ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah, as interpreted by the clerics. It says that in an Islamic democracy, Allah will be sovereign and not the people. The trans-Ummah pan-Islamism---- called International Islamism by me--- holds that the first loyalty of a Muslim should be to his religion and not to the State, that religious bonds are more important than cultural bonds, that Muslims do not recognize national frontiers and have a right and obligation to go to any country to wage a jihad in support of the local Muslims and that the Muslims have the religious right and obligation to acquire weapons of mass destruction in order to protect their religion, if necessary. The anti-Americanism projects the US as the source of all evils afflicting the Islamic as well as the non-Islamic world. The religious elements look upon the US as anti-Islam. The non-religious elements look upon it as anti-people. Both religious and non-religious elements condemn what they project as the US collusion with Israel not only on the Palestine issue, but also on other issues affecting the Islamic world.

13. While there is a wide convergence of anti-US views among all sections of the population-----whether religiously inclined or not so inclined, whether liberal or not so liberal, whether elitist or not so elitist---the liberal sections of the Pakistani society, who are still in a majority, if not in a predominant majority, do not subscribe to Wahabised Islamic extremism or trans-Ummah pan-Islamism. Pakistan has always been and continues to be a moderate society. In the last general elections held in 2002, the six fundamentalist parties, which contested the elections as a coalition, won only 11 per cent of the votes cast. The remaining 89 per cent was won by non-religious political parties----some supporting the military rule and others opposing it. However, the coalition of the fundamentalist parties won the majority of the seats in the radicalized Pashtun belt in the NWFP and emerged as the largest single formation in the Pashtun majority areas of Balochistan. As a result, the fundamentalist coalition was able to come to power on its own in the NWFP and as part of a coalition with non-religious parties supporting the Army in Balochistan.

14. The success of the fundamentalist coalition in the tribal areas and the marginalization of the non-religious parties in those areas was facilitated by a decision taken by Musharraf to make a university degree as a necessary qualification for contesting the election and to accord to the certificates issued by the madrasas the equivalence of a university degree for purposes of determining the eligibility for contesting the elections. Non-religious education has made the least progress in the Pashtun belt. As a result, madrasa education is more the rule than the exception in those areas. The fundamentalist parties benefited enormously from Musharraf’s decision and the non-religious parties found themselves at a disadvantage. If Musharraf had not introduced this requirement, the fundamentalist coalition might not have done as well as it did.

15. The religious landscape in Pakistan is dominated by two kinds of organizations-----the fundamentalist parties and the jihadi organizations. The fundamentalist parties have been in existence since Pakistan became independent in 1947 and have been contesting the elections though they are opposed to Western-style liberal democracy. Their total vote share has always been between five and eleven per cent. They reached the figure of 11 per cent in the 2002 elections, thanks to the machinations of the Musharraf Government, which wanted to marginalize the influence of the non-religious parties opposed to him such as the Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) of Mrs. Benazir Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif. In his over-anxiety to cut Mrs.Bhutto and Mr.Nawaz down to size, Musharraf handed over the tribal areas on a platter to the fundamentalists and the jihadis, thereby ---- more unwittingly than consciously --- facilitating the resurgence of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda.

16. The jihadi organizations are so called because they misinterpret the concept of jihad and advocate its use against all perceived enemies of Islam----internal or external, non-Muslims or Muslims---- wherever they are found. Their call for jihad has a domestic as well as an external agenda. The domestic agenda is the setting up of an Islamic democracy in Pakistan ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah. The external agenda is to “liberate” all so-called traditional Muslim lands from the “occupation” of non-Muslims and to eliminate the influence of the US and the rest of the Western world from the Ummah.

17.The jihadi organizations were brought into existence in the 1980s by the ISI and the Saudi intelligence at the instance of the CIA for being used against the troops of the USSR and the pro-Soviet Afghan Government in Afghanistan. Their perceived success in bringing about the withdrawal of the Soviet troops and the collapse of the Najibullah Government has convinced them that the jihad as waged by them is a highly potent weapon, which could be used with equal effectiveness to bring about the withdrawal of the Western presence from the Ummah, to “liberate the traditional Muslim lands” and to transform Pakistan into an Islamic fundamentalist State. The Pakistani Army and the ISI, which were impressed by the motivation, determination and fighting skills displayed by the jihadi organizations in Afghanistan, transformed them, after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, into a new strategic weapon for use against India to annex J&K and in Afghanistan to achieve a strategic depth.

18. The aggravation of the anti-US feelings in the Islamic world after Osama bin Laden, through Al Qaeda and the International Islamic Front (IIF), started a global jihad against “the Crusaders and the Jewish People” in 1998 has resulted in a dual control over the Pakistani jihadi organizations---- the control of the ISI, which has been trying to use them for its national agenda against India and in Afghanistan and that of bin Laden, who has been using them for his global agenda against “the Crusaders and the Jewish people”. The jihadi organizations are now fighting on three fronts with equal ferocity----against India as desired by the ISI, against the US and Israel as desired by Al Qaeda and against the Pakistani State itself as dictated by their domestic agenda of an Islamic State ruled according to the Sharia and the will of Allah. The growing Talibanisation of the tribal areas in the FATA and the NWFP and its spread outside the tribal areas is the outcome of their determined pursuit of their domestic agenda. The acts of jihadi terrorism in Spain and the UK, the thwarted acts of terrorism in the UK and the unearthing of numerous sleeper cells in the UK, the USA, Canada and other countries and the resurgence of the Neo Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan are the outcome of their equally determined pursuit of their international agenda. Members of the Pakistani diaspora in the Gulf and the Western countries have been playing an increasingly active role in facilitating the pursuit of their international agenda.

19.The international community’s concern over the prevailing and developing situation in Pakistan has been further deepened by the status of Pakistan as a nuclear weapon State. Musharraf has been repeatedly assuring the US and the rest of the international community that the security of its nuclear arsenal is strong and that there is no danger of its falling into the hands of the jihadi terrorists. To reassure the US of his determination to ensure its security, he has discreetly allowed US experts to play an active role in monitoring the security of the arsenal through its technical intelligence agencies as well as through ground monitors. Despite this, the concerns remain. This is due to various factors.

20. Firstly, it is admitted even in Pakistan that there has been an infiltration of extremist elements into every section of the Pakistani State apparatus---- the Armed Forces, the Police, the Para-military forces and the civilian bureaucracy. When that is so, it is inconceivable that there would not be a similar penetration of Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. In fact, over the years, Pakistani newspapers have been reporting about the participation of unnamed Pakistani nuclear scientists in the annual conventions of extremist organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ).

21. Secondly, the fundamentalist and jihadi organizations are strong supporters of a military nuclear capability for the Ummah to counter the alleged nuclear capability of Israel. They project Pakistan’s atomic bomb not as a mere national asset, but as an Islamic asset. They describe it as an Islamic bomb, whose use should be available to the entire Ummah. They also support Pakistan sharing its nuclear technology with other Muslim countries. In their eyes, A.Q.Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, committed no offence by sharing the nuclear technology with Iran and Libya because both are Muslim States or with North Korea as a quid pro quo for its sharing its missile technology with Pakistan. They look upon Pakistan’s sharing its nuclear technology and know-how with other Islamic States as an Islamic obligation and not as an illegal act of proliferation.

22. Thirdly, while serving scientists may be prepared to share the technology and know-how with other Muslim States, there has been no evidence of a similar willingness on their part to share them with Islamic non-State actors such as Al Qaeda. However, the dangers of such a sharing of know-how with the non-State actors were highlighted by the unearthing of evidence by the US intelligence after 9/11 that at least two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists ----Sultan Bashiruddin Chaudhury and Abdul Majid---were in touch with Osama bin Laden after their retirement and had even visited him at Kandahar. They were taken into custody and questioned. They admitted their contacts with bin Laden, but insisted that those were in connection with the work of a humanitarian relief organization, which they had founded after their retirement. Many retired Pakistani military and intelligence officers have been helping the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations. The most well-known example is that of Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul, who was the Director-General of the ISI during Mrs.Benazir’s first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988-90). Are there retired nuclear scientists, who have been maintaining similar contacts with Al Qaeda and other jihadi organizations? That is a question, which has been haunting Western intelligence officers and security experts.

23. And, fourthly, there are still many troubling questions about L’Affaire A.Q.Khan. Was it a rogue operation as maintained by Musharraf or were others also involved----not only in the nuclear establishment, but also in the military high command? Musharraf’s continued refusal to hand him over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at Vienna for interrogation has come in the way of the entire truth being found out.


24. Against this background as discussed in Paras 1 to 23, what are the future implications for Pakistan and the international community as a whole?

SHORT-TERM ( next five years) IMPLICATION No.1: The Pashtun belt on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border would continue to be under the de facto control of Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the Pakistani jihadi organizations with neither the Pakistani Army in Pakistani territory nor the US-led NATO forces in the adjoining Afghan territory being able to prevail over the terrorists in an enduring manner. The NATO forces will not be able to prevail in the Afghan territory unless and until the roots of the jihadi terrorism in the Pakistani territory are initially sterilized and ultimately destroyed. The Pakistani Army has so far not exhibited either a willingness or the capability to undertake this task. The lack of willingness arises from its perception that it will need its own jihadis for continued use against India and the Neo Taliban for retrieving the strategic ground lost by it in Afghanistan. Moreover, the Army fears that any strong action by it against the jihadis operating in the Pashtun belt could lead to a major confrontation between the Army and the tribals, who contribute a large number of soldiers to the Pakistan Army. Next to Punjab, the largest number of soldier-recruits to the Pakistan Army come from the NWFP and the FATA. Its incapability arises from the fact that ever since Pakistan was born in 1947, the FATA has remained in a state of isolation and utter neglect with no worthwhile development of its economy and infrastructure. It should be possible to root out the terrorist infrastructure in this area through operations mounted by the NATO forces from the Afghan territory, but neither the present military-dominated Government nor any future democratically elected civilian Government might be in a position to agree to this as this could aggravate anti-American feelings right across the political spectrum and the country as a whole and discredit the Government in power at Islamabad.

SHORT-TERM IMPLICATION NO.2: The likely spread of jihadi extremism of the Taliban kind from the tribal areas to the POK and to those areas of Pakistani Punjab bordering the Pashtun belt. There are indications of this having already started.

SHORT-TERM IMPLICATION NO.3: Continuing jihadi terrorism in J&K and other parts of the Indian territory. The terrorism in the Indian territory will ebb and flow depending on the effectiveness of the Indian security forces and counter-terrorism agencies in dealing with it. However, the activities of the jihadi terrorists in the Indian territory will be more sporadic than sustained----even in J&K. Occasional outbreaks of spectacular acts of terrorism will be followed by long spells of inactivity. In the first few years after terrorism broke out in J&K in 1989, it almost assumed the shape of a sustained insurgency. But, the political, counter-infiltration (building of border fences) and counter-terrorism measures taken by the Indian authorities have dented the capability of the terrorists to maintain a sustained wave of terrorist attacks. The total elimination of these sporadic acts would not be possible till the Pakistani State gives up its use of terrorism as a strategic weapon.

SHORT-TERM IMPLICATION NO.4: Continuing instability in Afghanistan with the danger of Afghanistan reverting back to the pre-9/11 position. Narcotics control measures and all measures to dry up the flow of funds to different terrorist groups will remain ineffective. The flow of funds from the international community to Afghanistan will not result in any significant economic development and in an improvement in the standard of living of the people. On the other hand, there would be a danger of some of these funds leaking into the coffers of the terrorists through their sympathizers in the Government. There has been a penetration of the newly-raised Afghan security forces and the civilian administration by the Neo Taliban.

SHORT-TERM IMPLICATION NO. 5: The phenomenon of angry individual Muslims in the Pakistani and other Muslim diaspora in the West taking to suicide terrorism and emulating Al Qaeda even if they do not agree with its objectives will continue. The strong measures taken by the Western Governments against their own Muslim population as well as Muslim visitors to their country will add to the feelings of alienation and anger in the Muslim diaspora. This will come in the way of their integration and aggravate the divide between the Muslims and non-Muslims. Instances of acts of reprisal terrorism against Western nationals and interests will continue to take place. A repeat of 9/11 in the US homeland cannot be ruled out however strong the physical security measures. The vicious cycle of More terrorism—More physical security and restrictive measures against Muslims---More alienation and Anger---More Terrorism will continue unbroken.

MEDIUM-TERM (five to ten years) IMPLICATION : Terrorists likely to succeed in their efforts to get WMD material and know-how from scientists sympathetic to them, thereby bringing nearer the dangers of an act of WMD terrorism.

25. How to win in the fight against jihadi terrorism? The fire of jihadi terrorism started in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region. It can be extinguished only through appropriate measures in the region from which it started-----particularly in Pakistan where the heart of the fire is located. A mix of immediate and long-term measures is required. The immediate measures would include pressurizing Pakistan to stop the use of terrorism as a strategic weapon, effectively put an end to the terrorist infrastructure created by the ISI and arrest and prosecute the leaders of the jihadi terrorist organizations. These measures would weaken the Pakistani jihadi organizations, but would not end Al Qaeda. It could be neutralized only by joint international action. The international community has not been successful presently because of a lack of co-operation from Pakistan. It must be made to co-operate through a carrot and stick policy. Another immediate measure required is a change in the present over-militarised counter-terrorism methods of the US, which are causing considerable collateral damage and driving more Muslims into the arms of Al Qaeda.

26. The long-term measures would include heavy investments in education in Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to make modern education available to the poorer sections of the society at an affordable price and reform of the madrasa system in order to make the madrasas serve the genuine religious and spiritual needs of the people without seeking to make jihadi terrorists out of them.The Western countries should seek to remove the feelings in the minds of their Muslim population that they are a targeted community. For this, there is a need for an improvement in the quality of the interactions of the intelligence and security agencies with the Muslims. How to be firm without seeming to be harsh and how to avoid creating feelings of humiliation in the minds of the Muslims under questioning? These are questions, which need attention----immediately as well as in the medium and long terms. Eradication of the roots of terrorism would be a long drawn-out process. It needs to be handled with patience and understanding of the feelings of the Muslims. The economic development of the tribal areas on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border also needs attention.


27. Those who have taken to jihadi terrorism constitute only a small percentage of the Muslim community of the world. There are about one billion Muslims in the world. Forty-five per cent of them live in the Indian sub-continent. About 15 per cent of the world’s Muslim community lives in India. One finds all the sects and different ideological currents represented in India--- Sunnis as well as Shias, Sufis as well as Wahabis, Barelvis as well as Deobandis, nationalists as well as pan-Islamists. Indian Muslims have many causes for anger----political grievances in Jammu and Kashmir, lack of economic progress in the Muslim community in the rest of India, the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in December, 1992, the periodic Hindu-Muslim riots in different parts of the country, the anti-Muslim incidents in Gujarat in February,2002, in the wake of the massacre of some Hindus traveling by train, the alleged prejudices of the Police and other security forces against the Muslims etc.

28. These causes for anger have led to the outbreak of three different kinds of jihadi terrorism in Indian territory. First, the jihadi terrorism of the indigenous kind in Jammu & Kashmir triggered off by political grievances and by perceptions of ethnic separateness. Second, the indigenous jihadi terrorism of the Al Ummah and Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) kind seen in other parts of India, which is unrelated to J&K and third, the pan-Islamic terrorism of an inspiration of an Al Qaeda kind brought into India by Pakistani jihadi organizations, which are members of the IIF. In recent years, one has been seeing the gravitation of small numbers of angry Indian Muslim youth towards these trans-border and trans-national pan-Islamic organizations, but their number is very small. The vast majority of the Indian Muslims have not let their anger drive them into the arms of Al Qaeda and the IIF. There are many reasons for this.

29. Firstly, the successful working of the Indian democracy and the modern Indian education system have created a growing reservoir of Muslim political and intellectual elite, which has not allowed extremely orthodox religious clerics to take over the leadership of the community and lead it astray. Secondly, an Indian Muslim--- aggrieved for whatever reason---- finds that he does not have to fight his battle alone. He is supported in his struggle for justice by many institutions of the State and the civil society such as the judiciary, the media, the non-governmental organizations and many individuals, Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The Indian judiciary has been much more vigilant in protecting the rights of the Muslims and in ensuring justice to them than the judiciaries of countries such as the US and the UK. One cannot find in India the kind of unbelievably stern sentences awarded by courts to Muslim suspects on the basis of circumstantial evidence alone as one finds in the UK and the US. The judicial principle of the benefit of doubt to the accused operates in India as vigorously in the case of accused Muslims as it does in the case of accused non-Muslims.

30. Thirdly, despite continuing poverty, unemployment and economic deprivation among large sections of Indian Muslims, the number of Indian Muslims, who have managed to make a shining name for themselves whether in politics, or in the corporate world or in the world of arts or in the scientific and academic world, is impressive. Their examples----visible to everyone---act as beacons of hope to the entire community. Where there are reasonable grounds for hope for the future, there is no desperation and the urge to take to violence remains under control.

31. And fourthly, for an Indian Muslim, his cultural bonds, which unite him to the rest of the Indians--- Muslims or non-Muslims--- are as important as his religious and sectarian bonds. Religion is not allowed to breed feelings of cultural incompatability.

32. The example thus far set by the Muslims of India needs to be emulated by the Muslims in the rest of the world if the campaign against international terrorism has to be effective.

33. The Indian counter-terrorist doctrine is based on the principle that the police has to be the weapon of first resort against terrorism and the Army only the weapon of last resort. The Army is used in J&K and the North-East where one faces the problem of cross-border terrorism. In the rest of the country, where there is no cross-border dimension, the police has the leadership role in counter-terrorism. This has served us well.

34. India has faced different kinds of terrorism and insurgencies---------of the ethnic kind in the tribal areas of the North-East where the tribals feel they are ethnically different from the people in other parts of India; of the ideological kind ( Naxalite or Maoist terrorism) in the tribal areas of Central and Eastern India due to perceived economic exploitation of the tribals by non-tribals; of the religious kind in Punjab and J&K; and of the pan-Islamic variety in different parts of India.

35. The ethnic, religious and pan-Islamic terrorist groups had received and continue to receive various kinds of assistance from the ISI such as training, arms and ammunition, funds and sanctuaries. The ethnic and ideological groups had also received similar assistance from the Chinese intelligence till 1979 when it was discontinued. Despite all this assistance, Indian counter-terrorism agencies had been able to deal with them satisfactorily and bring them under control. India has been facing some difficulty in dealing with pan-Islamic terrorism because of the involvement of a large number of Pakistani jihadi terrorists infiltrated into India.

36. Till the jihadi terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory is totally eradicated, jihadi terrorism as practised by pro-Al Qaeda organizations such as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) will continue----but sporadically and not in a sustained manner.

37. Though India has been facing terrorism of different kinds since its independence in 1947, targeted attacks by the terrorists on foreign nationals in Indian territory have been few and far between. Among the very few incidents that have taken place are the attacks on a group of Israeli tourists in Srinagar in 1991 by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) in which one tourist was killed and the kidnapping of five Western tourists in J&K in 1995 by the HUM operating under the name of Al Faran. One of them managed to escape. The others could not be traced. There was also one incident of kidnapping of a Russian expert working for an oil company in Assam by the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).

38. Among the targets of economic significance attacked over the years by different terrorist groups are oil storage tanks and pipelines by the ethnic terrorist groups in the North-East, the explosions targeting the Mumbai Stock Exchange, the Air India Office and a tourist hotel in Mumbai in March,1993, the explosions in a number of trains in North India in December,1993, the explosion in a crowded shopping area in New Delhi in October,2005, the explosions in suburban trains in Mumbai in July,2006, and the explosion in the Samjotha Express train from Delhi to Lahore in February,2007. All these were carried out by Pakistan-based or Pakistan-trained jihadi terrorist groups. There was also an involvement of the mafia group headed by Dawood Ibrahim in the Mumbai explosions of March,1993. There have also been instances of kidnapping of Indian officials of tea estates in Assam by the North-Eastern groups in order to extort money or to demand the release of detained suspects.

39. There has so far been no major attack by jihadi terrorist groups on foreign nationals and interests outside J&K. There was an attack outside the US Consulate in Kolkata in January,2002, but that was directed against the Indian security personnel guarding the Consulate. For the last two years, jihadi terrorists from Pakistan arrested by the Indian Police in different States have been saying that ISI-sponsored groups such as the LET have been planning attacks on targets such as the IT companies in places such as Bangalore in order to disrupt the IT industry, which has been a major source of foreign exchange earnings. However, no attack has so far materialized due to the vigilance of the security agencies.

40. Till the ground situation in Pakistan impoves and the Pakistani authorities put an effective end to the jihadi terrorist infrastructure, jihadi terrorism----of the indigenous as well as pan-Islamic kind--- will continue to take place at sporadic intervals, but it is unlikely to assume chronic proportions and unsettle political and economic stability

41. While pro-Al Qaeda jihadi organizations from Pakistan have been active in Indian territory, Al Qaeda, as an organization, has so far not mounted an act of terrorism in Indian territory. In his confessional statement before a military tribunal in the Guantanamo Bay earlier this year, Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who had allegedly orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland, had spoken of a plan of Al Qaeda to attack the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, which did not materialize. However, his confessional statement did not say when it was planned and why it could not be carried out.

42. Since the visit of President George Bush to India in March,2006, Al Qaeda has been paying a little more attention to India than in the past. In a message of April,2006, bin Laden projected the global jihad as directed against a joint anti-Islam conspiracy of the Crusaders, the Jewish People and the Hindus. There were anti-US demonstrations by Muslims in Mumbai, Lucknow and Hyderabad coinciding with Mr.Bush’s visit. It was reported that some of the demonstrators in Mumbai shouted pro-bin Laden slogans. There were anti-US demonstrations by Sunnis and Shias in different parts of J&K on June 14 and 15,2007. The demonstrators accused the US of driving a wedge between the Shias and the Sunnis and condemned its activities in Iraq. The demonstrations came a week after the circulation of a video message purported to have been issued by an organization calling itself Al Qaeda in India. The authenticity of the message has not so far been established. Nor is there any evidence to show that the demonstrations were a planned sequel to the dissemination of the message. As India’s relations with the US and Israel continue to improve, it is to be expected that Al Qaeda would look for opportunities to attack American and Israeli targets in Indian territory. The Indian counter-terrorism agencies are alert to this danger.

43. The indications till now are that Al Qaeda wants to acquire a WMD capability mainly for use against the US in the US homeland. Despite this, Indian counter-terrorism agencies have taken into consideration the possibility of a WMD attack in Indian territory too in their planning to thwart such attacks through preventive intelligence and enhanced physical security.

44. Despite terrorism and insurgencies, India continues to march forward. Its foreign exchange reserves have touched US $ 140 billion and continue to increase. Its economy has been registering annually a growth rate of seven per cent plus. It is a favourite destination for foreign institutional investors. Direct investment flows into the manufacturing sector have been increasing. It is already a major player in the IT sector and is moving towards a similar role in the automobile sector. The health of the economy is a testament to the failure of the terrorists to cause political or economic instability. (17-6-07)

(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: )

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



An important lesson from 2008 having a bearing on national, regional and global economic security is the need for a global co-ordinated counter-piracy strategy.

2. This need was highlighted by the dramatic surge in the activities of pirates of Somalian and Yemeni origin in the seas to the West ofIndia----particularly in the Gulf of Aden. It has been estimated that pirates ---predominantly from Somalia ---- carried out more than 112attacks in the key shipping lanes of the Gulf of Aden, located between the south of Yemen and the north of Somalia, and the Indian Ocean east of Somalia during 2008. They had in their custody at the end of the year about 20 ships, including an Ukrainian ship called "Faina"carrying over 30 tanks to Kenya and a Saudi super-tanker called "Sirius Star" with crude oil worth about an estimated US $ 100 million. The pirates have since released the super-tanker and the ship with tanks after the alleged payment of ransom by the owners of the ships.The surge reportedly pushed up insurance costs and earned the Somali pirates tens of millions of dollars in ransom.

3. This surge was comparable to the dramatic surge in aircraft hijackings in the 1970s particularly after the Arab-Israeli war of 1967.Different non-State actors carried out the hijackings for different reasons---- some for political reasons such as demanding the release ofterrorists and other criminals in custody and some for mercenary economic motives such as demanding ransom payments by threatening tokill the passengers and the crew.

4. Apart from stepped up physical security at airports and on board aircraft, another step that contributed to effectively dealing with theproblem was a series of measures taken by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal and its member-countries to putdown hijacking. Among these measures was an agreement not to pay ransom or concede other demands of the hijackers and on the grantof mutual legal assistance for the arrest and prosecution of the hijackers.

5. There have been instances of non-compliance with such measures. Among such instances, one could cite the repeated refusal ofPakistan to hand over to India the Khalistani hijackers of the 1980s and India's succumbing to the pressure of the Pakistani terrorists whohijacked an aircraft of the Indian Airlines to Kandahar in December 1999, releasing three terrorists from custody and handing them over tothe hijackers in Kandahar. However, such instances of non-compliance have been rare.

6. While taking a strong line of not succumbing to the demands of the hijackers, many countries also raised special intervention forces tofree a hijacked plane from the custody of the hijackers even at the risk of some casualties among the passengers and the crew if they wereleft with no other way of terminating a hijack situation.

7. An agreement not to pay ransom to pirates under any conditions should be an important building block of any meaningful counter-piracystrategy. Instances of daring piracy by some Somalis increased during 2008 apparently because some of the shipping companies secretlypaid ransom to get their ships and crew released. This made piracy a very lucrative occupation for the Somalis and Yemenis. A firmdecision not to pay ransom is important not only for counter-piracy, but also for counter-terrorism. Since Somalia is an important base forthe activities of Al Qaeda and its associates, it would be reasonable to apprehend that some of this ransom money could be going into thecoffers of these jihadi terrorist organisations.

8. An agreement not to pay ransom has to be complimented by the raising of a special intervention force to get hijacked ships released.While there have been many instances of the pirates' attempts to hijack ships being thwarted by the intervention of naval ships onanti-piracy patrol, there has been practically no instance of any hijacked ship taken to a Somali port being freed from the custody of pirates.This would be possible only with the help of special intervention forces. The recent mandate for one year given to the UN member-countriesby the Securitry Council to intervene against piracy originating from Somalia through land or sea-based measures should enable suchspecial intervention forces to operate under an international legal cover. Who will raise such special intervention forces---by the oft-affectedcountries or by regional organisations or other multilateral bodies? These are questions which need to be decided and acted upon.

9.Strengthening physical security for ships is another important component of any counter-piracy strategy . Such physical security could bedivided into two categories---- ship security and sea or maritime security. The US and other Western countries have been repeatedly sayingthat ship security is the responsibility of the company owning the ships and that shipping companies should engage commercial securityguards to play a role similar to sky marshals on board aircraft. While it is correct that Governments have no role in providing security toprivate ships, they could help in strengthening security by laying down an anti-hijacking drill for ships which could be included in thesyllabus of the training institutions training commercial seamen.

10. After the hijacking of the Ukrainian ship in September ,2008, a number of countries, including India and China, has despatched some oftheir naval ships to the Gulf of Aden region to deter piracy and, if deterrence fails, to intervene in the high seas to thwart attempted hijackings. While these anti-piracy patrols are meant to escort commercial ships of their countries, if need be, as they transit through thepiracy-affected areas, and also to escort ships of other countries employing a large number of their nationals in their crew, they have nothesitated to go to the help of commercial ships of other countries too when they are attacked by pirates.

11. A Malaysian naval ship twice beat back pirates attempting to hijack a Chinese ship on December 18,2008, and an Indian ship on January1,2009. While in the case of the Indian ship the Malaysian naval personnel beat back the pirates before they could board the ship, in thecase of the Chinese ship, Malaysian intervenion forced the pirates to run away after they had boarded the ship.The number of suchsuccessful interventions has been on the rise and this could have a downward effect on instances of piracy in this area during 2009. Manyof these successful preventions or interventions were made possible by helicopter patrols or by the ready availability of copters to respondto distress messages. A study of some of these successful interventions also indicates that the sight of an approaching naval coptercreates greater fear in the minds of the pirates than the sight of a naval ship approaching them. For strengthening maritime security----eitherin high seas or in coastal waters---- there is a need for increasing helicopter patrols, which can detect suspicious vessels and movementsmore easily than a naval or coast guard ship.

12. While there are instances of prevention or thwarting of attempted hijackings of ships, there is no instance of a termination of ahijacking after a ship has been hijacked and taken to a Somali port. This is due to paucity of intelligence from Somalia and its ports wherethe ships are taken after hijacking. Successful termination depends on precise intelligence on the port where the ship has been taken andconditions on board and around the ship. No intelligence agency----not even the agencies of the US--- has the capability for the collection ofsuch intelligence from Somalia through land-based operations.

13.According to a Reuters' report of December 13,2008, Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, admitted during a regional securityconference in Bahrain that the US lacked the intelligence needed to pursue the fight against pirates to the Somali soil. The Reuters'despatch added: Quote With the level of information we have at the moment, we’re not in a position to do that kind of land-based operation,”Gates told a regional security conference in Bahrain. “Our first need is intelligence, (to know) who is behind it.” Referring to media reportsthat “two to three clans or extended families” were behind the pirate attacks on ships off the Somali coast, Gates said: “If we can identifywho those clans are then we can operate on land under the auspices of the United Nations and seek out ways to minimise collateraldamage.” Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, who commands the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and oversees a coalition of navies fighting piracyoff Somalia, also expressed concern about the difficulty in identifying the pirates. He said firms should use armed security guards muchmore to protect their vessels. Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, an expert for maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, saidadding land operations to those at sea is crucial to an effective military response to pirate attacks. “The single most difficult problem theforces are facing is that they don’t ... have the jurisdiction to chase them into their natural habitat on land and to deal with them there,” saidRoy-Chaudhury. Unquote

14.So long as terrorism is not defeated in Somalia and political stability not restored there, the virtual impossibility of freeing a hijackedship will continue. So long as this continues, shipping companies will continue to pay ransom to get their ships released. So long as ransomamounts continue to flow into the hands of Somali pirates, the danger of part of these payments going into the coffers of Al Qaeda and itsassociates will continue. So long as the money flow continues, terrorism will continue. This is a vicious circle to which no answer has beenfound so far.

15. The only short-term solution till things improve in Somalia enabling land-based intelligence-collection and termination operations is ajoint campaign of attrition against the pirates by the naval patrols of different countries by luring the pirates into a trap and neutralisingthem. Who will take legal action to have the captured pirates prosecuted and jailed since there is no Government in Somalia capable ofdoing this? Unless there is a legal machinery to deal with the pirates after they are captured, they will manage to get back into circulationand indulge in more acts of piracy.

16. The stepped-up anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden area and the escorting of commercial ships transiting through the area is havingan effect on the piracy. But, this is only one important component of what should be a co-ordinated anti-piracy strategy. There are othercomponents which need attention. These have to be identified and follow-up action has to be taken. The Indian Navy should take theinitiative in organising a brain-storming session of officers of different navies participating in the anti-piracy patrols in order to lay thefoundation for such a co-ordinated strategy. The present efforts are piecemeal and ad hoc. They are more in the nature of fire-fightingmeasures than in the nature of a strategic response. (19-2-09)

(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: )

Monday, February 16, 2009




The Tehrik-e-Nifaz-a-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM---- the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws), founded by Sufi Mohammad, aresident of the Malakand Division of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, came into existence in 1992 two years before thebirth of the Taliban of Afghanistan, headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar. Sufi Mohammad used to be a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI)before he left it and founded the TNSM to fight for the enforcement of the Islamic laws in the entire Malakand Division, of which Swat is apart.

2. Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan in her second term (1993-96) during the period when both these organisations cameinto existence. Whereas the Taliban was brought into existence by Pakistan's intelligence agencies to replace the different warringMujahideen groups of the 1980s vintage, they played little role in the birth of the TNSM. During Benazir's prime ministership, Sufi Mohammadorganised huge road blocades in the Malakand Division to demand the enforcement of the Islamic laws in the area. Benazir bought peace byaccepting all his demands except one. Sufi Mohammad wanted that the Islamic courts to be set up in the Malakand Division should betotally autonomous with the appellate courts in Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP, and Islamabad having no jurisdiction over them. She didnot accept this demand. Her acceptance of the other demands of the TNSM was not reversed by her successor Nawaz Sharif or by PervezMusharraf, who seized power in 1999.

3. There were allegations by Sufi Mohammad that even the demands accepted by Benazir were not properly implemented. Till 9/11, theTNSM remained essentially a religious fundamentalist organisation with close links to the Afghan Taliban, but with no pronounced anti-US oranti-Army feelings. The US military strikes in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom turned it into an anti-US and anti-Armyorganisation. Sufi Mohammad issued a fatwa calling upon his followers to go to Afghanistan to fight against the US troops along with theAfghan Taliban. A large number of his followers led personally by him crossed over into Afghanistan. Many of them were mowed down by USair strikes. The survivors, including Sufi Mohammad, fled back into the Pakistani territory.

4. Musharraf had Sufi Mohammad arrested and kept in preventive detention and banned the TNSM as a terrorist organisation on January15,2002. Maulana Fazlullah, a son-in-law of Sufi Mohammad, assumed the leadership of the TNSM and resumed the struggle for theimplementation of the promises made by Benazir and for abolishing the appellate jurisdiction of the courts in Peshawar and Islamabad overthe Islamic courts in the Malakand Division.

5. In the elections held towards the end of 2002, Musharraf had the polls manipulated in order to have the Awami National Party (ANP), aprogressive Pashtun party, which used to be led by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, known as the Frontier Gandhi, and the Pakistan People's Party(PPP) of Benazir Bhutto defeated. A coalition of six religious fundamentalist parties known as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) came topower in Peshawar after the elections.

6. The MMA Government closed its eyes to the activities of the TNSM and Fazlullah. From a purely religious organisation, the TNSM grewinto a qasi political organisation and expanded its agenda to include not only an autonomous Islamic criminal justice system, but also anIslamic system of education with girls barred from higher education and with a strict code of conduct for all Muslims. Its agenda becamelargely a carbon copy of the agenda of the Taliban of Afghanistan. It extended its full support to the Afghan Taliban leaders, who had takensanctuary in Balochistan, in their preparations to strike back at the Americans in Afghanistan.

7. As a result of the inaction of the MMA Government in Peshawar and the federal Government headed by Musharraf, the TNSM became thede facto ruling power of the Swat Valley. However, despite its periodic oral condemnation of what it saw as the pro-US policies of Musharraf,it avoided any confrontation with the Pakistani Army and the para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps (FC). By the beginning of 2007, ade facto diarchy came into existence in the Swat Valley---- with Maulana Fazlullah and his Mullas running the civil administration and thecriminal justice system and the army and the FC remaining in charge of internal security. The Army avoided stepping on the toes ofFazlullah.

8. This position of an uneasy co-existence between the Mulla rule of the TNSM and a limited administrative power still taking orders fromPeshawar and Islamabad changed after the Army commando raid in the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in July,2007, ordered by Musharraf. The LalMasjid had two madrasas---one for boys and the other for girls. The madrasa for boys was located outside the masjid campus and themadrasa for girls inside the campus. While the boys surrendered to the commandoes without much resistance, the girls egged on by theMullas of the Masjid resisted the commandoes ferociously. A large number of them were killed. Many of those killed came from tribalfamilies of the Swat Valley.

9. Angered by the alleged massacre of the girls by the commandoes, Fazlullah issued a fatwa calling for a jihad against the Army.Simultaneously, similar calls for a jihad against the Army were issued by different tribal leaders and Mullas of the Federally-AdministeredTribal Areas (FATA). Among those killed in the girls' madrasa of the Lal Masjid were also children of some of the tribal families of the FATA.All these tribal leaders and Mullas decided to form the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Mehsud tribe inSouth Waziristan, was designated the Amir of the TTP. The constituent units of the TTP in different areas selected their own Amirs to workunder the over-all co-ordination of Baitullah. The TNSM joined the TTP.Many in Pakistan believe that the assassination of Benazir atRawalpindi on December 27,2007, was carried out by the followers of Baitullah Mehsud in revenge for her alleged support to the commandoraid in the Lal Masjid.

10. The intense anger across the Pashtin tribal belt in the FATA and in the Swat Valley over the Lal Masjid incidents led to a wave of suicideterrorism not only in the tribal areas, but also in non-tribal areas, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The suicide terrorism of theTNSM was directed not only against the security forces deployed in the Swat Valley, but also against the establishments and personnel ofthe Armed Forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the non-tribal areas of the country. Faced with this anger, Musharraf orderedthe Army and the Frontier Corps to go into action against the TNSM in the Swat Valley in October,2007. The military operations initiallysucceeded in pushing back the TNSM cadres from the areas controlled by them.

11. The TNSM followed the same tactics as the Taliban in Afghanistan. Faced with the might of the Pakistan Army and the FC, it avoided afrontal confrontation with them. On Fazlullah's orders, his followers dispersed and went back to their villages. After the electedGovernment led by the PPP came to power in Islamabad in March,2008, the TNSM re-grouped and staged a spectacular come-back, pushedthe army and Frontier Corps out of the areas recovered by them and re-established its control over nearly 80 per cent of the territory of Swat.

12. In the elections of February,2008, the constituent parties of the MMA did badly. The ANP and the PPP, which had been marginalised byMusharraf in 2002, recovered their lost position in the electoral map of the NWFP. The ANP, which emerged as the largest single party in theNWFP, formed a coalition Government in Peshawar along with the PPP and other like-minded groups. The ANP was, in turn, accommodatedby Asif Ali Zardari in the federal coalition at Islamabad led by the PPP.

13. Even though the ANP has joined the PPP-led coalition, its views on the so-called war against terrorism have more in common with theviews of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Nawaz Sharif than with those of Zardari. The ANP believes, like the PML does, that the surgein terrorism in the Pashtun tribal belt was mainly due to the pro-US policies of Musharraf and that there has to be political accommodationwith various units of the TTP in different tribal areas in order to restore the writ of the Government in the Swat Valley and the FATA. The ANPadvocates marking a distance from the US operations in Afghanistan and entering into a dialogue with elements in the TNSM and the TTPwith which, it feels, the Government can do business.

14. Zardari was hesitant to openly support the moves of the ANP lest there be any misunderstanding with the US, but did not rise anyobjections to the ANP entering into a dialogue not with Fazlullah, who had taken to arms against the Army, but with Sufi Mohammad, whohad been released from detention in April, 2008, even when Musharraf was still the President in the hope of using him to create a split in theTNSM and undermine the position of Fazlullah.Following intense negotiations with Sufi Mohammad lasting over several weeks, the ANP-ledGovernment in Peshawar, with a reported nod of approval from Zardari, has signed an agreement with him on February 16,2009, under whichit has conceded all the demands of the TNSM relating to an autonomous Islamic criminal justice system in the Malakand Division as a wholenot subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the courts in Peshawar and Islamabad. The Government is hoping that in return for its acceptingthe primacy of the Mullas of the TNSM in matters pertaining to criminal justice, Sufi Mohammad will be able to persuade Fazlullah and hisadvisers to stop confronting the security forces and withdraw into their masjids, thereby allowing the writ of the civil administration andthe army in all other matters to be re-established.

15.Fazlullah has announced a 10-day ceasefire and ordered the release of a Chinese engineer, who had been kidnapped by the TNSM lastyear, as goodwil gesture towards the Government. It has been reported that the release of the Chinese engineer followed the release by theGovernment of some TNSM activists, who had been arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The release of the Chinese engineer came a fewdays before the planned departure of Zardari to China on February 20,2009, on an official visit.

16. Whether the temporary ceasefire becomes permanent and whether Fazlullah agrees to the re-establishment of the Government writ inthe Swat Valley would depend on the success of Sufi Mohammad in persuading Fazlullah to accept the agreement reached by him with theANP-led Government and call off the fighting.

17. As mentioned earlier, the TNSM, under Sufi Mohammad, had originally a single-point agenda of enforcing the Islamic criminal justicesystem. Under Fazlullah's leadership, it has acquired a multi-point agenda--- enforcing an autonomous criminal justice system in theMalakand Division of the NWFP as a whole, releasing all those arrested during the commando raid in the Lal Masjid, restoring the authority ofthe Mullas of the masjid, re-establishment of the madrasas of the masjid, action against those responsible for the alleged massacre in thegirls madrasa, recognition of the right of the Pashtuns of Pakistan to go to Afghanistan to help the Afghan Pashtuns in their fight against theUS-led coalition, the discontinuance of the US Predator (unamanned aircraft) strikes in the Pakistani territory and withdrawal of the Army from the Swat Valley making the Frontier Corps , which consists largely of Pashtuns, exclusively responsible for internal security.

18. Will Fazlullah give up the other demands in return for the Government accepting the demands relating to the Islamic criminal justice system? The likelihood of the restoration of peace in the Swat Valley with the Government once again in command and control will dependupon the answer to this question. (17-2-09)

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