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: )