Monday, March 16, 2009




Extract from my article dated August 27,2008, titled "After Tricky Mush, Tricky Zardari" at

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

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

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

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

Extract from my article dated October 9,2008, titled "President Zardari---Forward & Backward" at

While his (Zardari's ) instincts in relation to India seem to be refreshingly different from those of his predecessors----even from those of Benazir who instigated terrorism in Kashmir when she was the Prime Minister---- his grasp of the ground realities in Pakistan is weak. The ground realities are determined by four entrenched mindsets, which have always been opposing any fresh thinking on the relations with India. These entrenched mindsets are those of the Army, the intelligence community, the Foreign Office and sections of the political class with a close nexus to the Army and the intelligence community.

Unless these entrenched mindsets are made to change, new thinking alone, however welcome, will remain just loud-thinking without any follow-up action. To be able to translate any new thinking into action, Zardari has tro stabilise his position as the President, acquire a popular image and acquire the ability to enforce his will on these entrenched mindsets. No previous political leader of Pakistan was able to acquire such an ability and had to ultimately bow to pressure from the Army, the intelligence community and the Foreign Office.

Zardari has been the President hardly for a month and it is too early to say whether he would be able to bring about such a change in the mindsets. India has to keep patience with him without expecting quick policy changes. At the same time, it should not lower its guard till the ultimate reality emerges---- is it refreshingly new or more of the same as seen in the past?

The current position in Pakistan is complicated by the emergence of a fourth important power ---- Al Qaeda. The future of Pakistan is going to be determined by a configuration of four As---Allah, the Army, America and Al Qaeda. The outcome of the fight between the Army and America on the one side and Al Qaeda on the other will determine whether Zardari's tenure will see a change for the better or the worse in Pakistan.

Extract from my article dated February 28,2009, titled " PAKISTAN BACK TO BEING PAKISTAN" at

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

Extract from my article dated March 14,2009, titled "ASIF ALI ZARDARI : WHAT A MESS! " at

No other leader of Pakistan has ever created such a huge political mess in such a short time as President Asif Ali Zardari has. What the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto took six years to destroy, Zardari has destroyed in six months as the President----- namely, the credibility of Pakistan as a State, its institutions and its unity as a country and as a people.

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




Extract from my article dated July 22,2007, titled " PAKISTAN-Musharraf Bruised But Not Beaten" at

Pakistan's judiciary was generally subservient to the executive, whether it was under political or military leadership. Political leaders suchas the late Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, Mrs.Benazir Bhutto and Mr.Nawaz Sharif were as arbitrary and as ruthless in imposing their will on thejudiciary as Gen.Zia-ul-Haq and Gen.Musharraf were.

It goes to the credit of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry that he broke from this past habit of subservience. Even last year, he hadruled against the manner in which the Executive had privatised the Pakistan Steel Mills. He followed this up by entertaining public interestpetitions from the relatives of dozens of missing persons, many of whom were suspected to have been illegally arrested by theInter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and handed over to the US authorities on suspicion of their being terrorists.

It was his interest in the whereabouts of missing persons-----many of them allegedly in the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba---which set the alarm bells ringing in the offices of Musharraf and the ISI. Added to this was the fear that his repeatedly demonstratedindependence might come in the way of Musharraf getting himself re-elected as the President by the present National Assembly, whoseterm expires later this year, instead of seeking re-election after a new National Assembly has been elected. Musharraf was also afraid thatthe Chief Justice might debar him from giving himself another extension as the COAS when the present one expires in December next.Under Pakistan's electoral laws, a serving government servant cannot contest elections.Musharraf has repeatedly exempted himself fromthis provision in order to hold double charge as a serving COAS and an "elected" President, which is totally unconstitutional.

If the past subservience of the judiciary has been broken, the credit for this should entirely go to the Chief Justice. He refused to beintimidated by Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and the heads of the Intelligence agencies. His defiance of Musharraf electrified thelawyer community and large sections of the public and he became an iconic figure for those demanding the restoration of democracy andthe exit of Musharraf and the Army from power. Successful defiance of a dictator has an infectious effect. Not only large sections of thepeople, but also many members of the judiciary started defying the executive and the army. Some resigned in solidarity with the ChiefJustice and some others stayed in office and expressed their defiance in other ways. It was this spread of the spirit of defiance to theserving judges of the Supreme Court, which has now resulted in the setting aside of Musharraf's orders suspending the Chief Justice andrestoring him to his high office.

Musharraf found himself with no other alternative, but to accept the verdict in seeming good grace. It is a blow to his prestige, but the blowneed not necessarily be fatal so long as he continues to enjoy the support of the senior officers of the Armed Forces and so long as publicmobilisation against him does not have a snowballing effect. The lawyers and other opponents of Musharraf managed to mobilise largesections of the public by exploiting the iconic figure of a Chief Justice arbitrarily thrown out of his job. With the Chief Justice now back in hisjob, they no longer have an iconic figure out in the streets whose image they can exploit. They now have to look for issues, which they canexploit for keeping the anti-Musharraf crowds mobilised.

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



Extracts from my article dated November 28,2007, titled "Musharraf Minus the Uniform" available at

Will Kiyani be able to deliver if not bin Laden and Zawahiri at least others such as Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Neo Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, who is the de facto ruler of South Waziristan, and Maulana FM Radio Fazlullah,the de facto ruler of the Swat Valley?

Kiyani comes to office as the COAS (Chief of the Army Staff) with impeccable credentials. He has the distinction of being the first Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to be appointed as the COAS since Pakistan became independent in 1947.Ehsanul Haq was also the DG, ISI, before he became the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. Kiyani is the son of a non-commissioned officer (NCO) of the Army. His humble background as the son of an NCO has endeared him to the junior ranks of the Army. At a time, when there are signs of some demoralisation in the junior ranks fighting against Al Qaeda and other jihadi organisations in the Pashtun belt, high hopes will be placed on him for reversing the process of demoralisation.

Kiyani is also a non-controversial officer, who had in the past not come to notice for any dubious association with the Taliban or Al Qaeda or any of Pakistan's fundamentalist organisations. He was liked by the political leaders, who were attracted by his unassuming nature and humble demeanour. A man of few words, he is quite a contrast to Musharraf, a braggart. His reputation as an apolitical officer went up during the recent controversy over Musharraf's suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury of the Pakistan Supreme Court. Knowledgeable sources said that at the meeting held at Musharraf's office in March, 2007, at which the decision to suspend him was taken, Kiyani was the only person, who kept quiet and did not utter a word either in support of Musharraf's decision or in criticism of the Chief Justice. It was also reported that he kept the ISI out of this unsavoury controversy and that it was the Directorate-General of Military Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau, which played the leading role in the campaign to denigrate the former Chief Justice, which ultimately boomeranged on Musharraf.

Kiyani, who joined the Pakistan Army in 1970, started his career in the Baloch Regiment as an infantryman. He did not come to public notice till Mrs. Benazir Bhutto, during her first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988-90), chose him as her Deputy Military Secretary. The two have since maintained their personal friendship despite the ups and downs in her political career.

Kiyani is believed to have a wide network of contacts in the US Armed Forces, but he really attracted the attention of the US' political and military leadership at the time of the Indo-Pakistan military confrontation in 2002 after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. He was the Director-General, Military Operations (DGMO), at that time and the US was reportedly impressed by the cool manner in which he handled the crisis.

In September 2003, he was appointed the Corps Commander of the X Corps at Rawalpindi. It was the X Corps that had launched the coup of October 1999 which brought Musharraf to power. No military coup in Pakistan could be successful without the X Corps being in the forefront of the coup. All military chiefs chose their most trusted officer to head it. The fact that Musharraf chose him for this key post spoke of his confidence in him as a trustworthy officer, who would do his bidding.

As Corps Commander, Musharraf made him responsible for co-ordinating the investigation into the two attempts to assassinate him in Rawalpindi in December, 2003. Apart from identifying some of the jihadi terrorists responsible for the attempts, Kiyani also managed to establish the involvement of some junior officers of the Army and the Air Force in the attempts and had them arrested.

In October next year, he was appointed the DG of the ISI and once again impressed the US by his success in having Abu Faraj al-Libbi, an al Al Qaeda operative allegedly involved in the attempts to assassinate Musharraf, arrested in the tribal belt. He was immediately handed over to the US without properly interrogating him in connection with the attempts to kill Musharraf. Many Pakistani sources, however, have not accepted the claim of the ISI and that of the US that Abu Faraj was the No.3 of Al Qaeda and had masterminded the attempts to kill Musharraf. Subsequent evidence has not proved their claims.

Even though Kiyani was projected as a highly successful DG of the ISI, facts speak otherwise. It was during his tenure as the DG of the ISI that the Neo Taliban staged a come-back with a bang, the Pakistan Army practically lost control over the Pashtun belt and Al Qaeda established its sanctuaries in Pakistani territory.

The US has strongly backed his elevation as the COAS because of his known loyalty to Musharraf, his friendship with Benazir Bhutto and its hopes that he would improve the morale of the Army and vigorously pursue Al Qaeda & co. Its hopes in him may ultimately be belied just as its hopes in Musharraf were. The US has never been a good judge of Pakistanis and particularly of Pakistani Army officers. Will it be different this time? Let us wait and see.

Since he took over as the Vice-Chief of the Army Staff on October 8, 2007, Kiyani has been co-ordinating the military operations to re-establish the writ of the Government over the Swat Valley. He has not been very successful so far. The tribals of the Swat Valley, ably led by Maulana Fazlullah and backed by Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Neo Taliban and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) have been putting up a stiff fight against the Pakistani Army, despite its use of helicopter gunships and heavy artillery. Kiyani's policy of over-relying on helicopter gunships and heavy artillery and avoiding ground confrontations has already come in for criticism in Pakistani military circles. Faced with this criticism, he has only now sent his troops to engage the terrorists in ground confrontations. Kiyani has promised that he would eject the terrorists from the Swat Valley before the elections and re-establish the writ of the state. If he does not succeed, his reputation as the COAS could take a beating.

As the dramatis personae in Islamabad play out the drama, there is a man up there in the tribal north waiting and watching, hoping that Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal would ultimately fall into his hands. His name is Osama bin Laden. He wears no hats and is not part of the triumvirate, but his threatening shadow will continue to hover over Pakistan till Al Qaeda is defeated and neutralised. That is not for tomorrow.

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



Two important and emotional ( for the Tibetans) anniversaries have passed off without any reports of violent incidents in theTibetan-inhabited areas of China. These were March 10 which was the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising of 1959, which led to theflight of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to India, and March 14, which was the first anniversary of the violent uprising of last year.

2. There has been no major outbreak of violence this year due to the following reasons. Firstly, the heavy deployment of security forces bythe Chinese authorities in all the Tibetan-inhabited areas. Secondly, a greater sophistication exhibited by the security forces which avoidedover-reaction of the kind seen last year, which added to the anger of the Tibetan residents. Thirdly, the co-operation extended by theMaoist-led Government of Nepal by preventing the large number of Tibetan refugees in Nepal from extending any moral and material supportto their co-religionists in Tibet and helping the Chinese authorities in imposing a virtual iron curtain between the Tibet Autonomous Regionand the rest of the world.

3. The Chinese authorities have suspended all tourist traffic to the Tibet Autonomous Region and banned the visits of foreign journalists tothe region. The only foreign journalist allowed to visit the Region since February this year was N.Ram, the Editor-in-Chief of "The Hindu" of Chennai. However, some foreign journalists, including a correspondent of the "International Herald Tribune", managed to visit theTibetan-inhabited areas of Sichuan and reported on the prevailing atmosphere of resentment in those areas.

4. As a result of this iron curtain around the Tibet Autonomous Region, the only reports coming out of the Region and disseminated to theIndian public are the despatches of the Chinese State-owned Xinhua news agency carried by "The Hindu" without fail. Even the US-StateDepartment funded Radi Free Asia has been handicapped in getting authentic information from the Tibet Autonomous Region. As a result,practically all its broadcasts during this period were about developments in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of Sichuan and Qinghai.

5. There were many incidents of peaceful protests in the Sichuan and Qinghai provinces. These were in the form of processions and publicprayers by the local monks, distribution of anti-Chinese and pro-Dalai Lama leaflets and at least one incident of attempted self-immolation. . The Chinese did not interfere with such protests so long as they remained peaceful. Most of the widespread peaceful protests in theSichuan province were reported from Kardze, Lithang, and Nyagrong counties, all of which fall under the Kardze prefecture.Kardze, whichthe Tibetans call Kham, is the traditional homeland of the Khampas, who rose in revolt against the Chinese in the 1950s. They haveremained bitterly anti-Chinese and strong devotees of His Holiness even today. Last year, while the Chinese were able to quell the uprisingin the Tibetan Autonomous Region within a couple of weeks of its outbreak, the uprising in the Kardze area continued for about twomonths----with Khampas on horse-backs attacking isolated Chinese military posts. The Qinghai province is the birth-place of His Holiness.

6. The observance of these two emotional anniversaries coincided with the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) atBeijing from March 3 to 12,2009. Next to the state of the economy, the situation in Tibet received considerable attention. There were manybriefings for the media by Tibetan officials and representatives to the NPC session. President Hu Jintao participated in one of theinteractions in the margins of the NPC session during which he made observations on Tibet. Prime Minister Wen Jiabo also spoke on Tibetwhile briefing the media at the conclusion of the session.

7.Hu said on March 9,2009:"We must reinforce the solid Great Wall for combating separatism and safeguarding national unity, so that Tibet,now basically stable, will enjoy lasting peace and stability.The Tibet authorities should implement the central Government's policies onTibet, focus on development and stability issues, attain an economic great-leap-forward, safeguard national security and social stability,and keep improving people's living standard, in order for them to make new progress in the building of a unified, democratic, prosperous andharmonious socialistic new Tibet. Tibet must stick to the development road with Chinese characteristics and Tibetan features so as tostrengthen the material foundation for the building of a socialistic new Tibet. Tibet should vigorously advance the program of buildingsocialist new villages, develop industries with distinguished features and strengthen ecological and environmental protection. Tibet shouldembark on more projects that will directly result in the improvement of people's life and working conditions, particularly those of farmersand herdsmen.The Government must also give priority to addressing people's immediate needs, so that people of all ethnic groups in Tibetwill be able to share the fruit of development." He avoided any reference to His Holiness.

8.Wen said on March 13,2009:: "The central Government held three talks last year with the Dalai Lama's representatives in response to theirrequest. Such talks can continue as long as the Dalai Lama is sincere, otherwise no substantial results can be made.The Dalai Lama is nota simple religious figure, but a political exile.We have full evidence. The so-called government-in-exile situated in Dharamsala is a de facto,theocratic regime and this illegal government is under direct leadership of the Dalai Lama. He has been traveling around the world and isquite capable of misleading some political figures.Some Western countries are also trying to use him. We should not only listen to what hehas said but also look what he has done.The current stability and development of Tibet has demonstrated that the Chinese centralGovernment has carried out correct policies in the region.The situation in Tibet on the whole is stable. The Tibetan people hope to live andwork in peace and stability.Both China's Constitution and the Law on Ethnic Regional Autonomy safeguard the freedom and rights of peoplein Tibet, particularly in religious belief. The central Government has increased fiscal input to Tibet to accelerate the region's economicdevelopment and to improve the well-being of farmers and herdsmen. The Tibet Autonomous Region will continue following the opening-uppolicy for the sake of its own development."

9. The Dalai Lama and the radical Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) issued two hard-hitting statements on March 10,2009. In his statement, HisHoliness said:"Quite apart from the current process of Sino-Tibetan dialogue having achieved no concrete results, there has been a brutalcrackdown on the Tibetan protests that have shaken the whole of Tibet since March last year. Therefore, in order to solicit public opinion asto what future course of action we should take, the Special Meeting of Tibetan exiles was convened in November 2008. Efforts were madeto collect suggestions, as far as possible, from the Tibetans in Tibet as well. The outcome of this whole process was that a majority ofTibetans strongly supported the continuation of the Middle-Way policy. Therefore, we are now pursuing this policy with greater confidenceand will continue our efforts towards achieving a meaningful national regional autonomy for all Tibetans. From time immemorial, the Tibetanand Chinese peoples have been neighbours. In future too, we will have to live together. Therefore, it is most important for us to co-exist infriendship with each other. Since the occupation of Tibet, Communist China has been publishing distorted propaganda about Tibet and itspeople. Consequently, there are, among the Chinese populace, very few people who have a true understanding about Tibet. It is, in fact, verydifficult for them to find the truth. There are also ultra-leftist Chinese leaders who have, since last March, been undertaking a hugepropaganda effort with the intention of setting the Tibetan and Chinese peoples apart and creating animosity between them. Sadly, as aresult, a negative impression of Tibetans has arisen in the minds of some of our Chinese brothers and sisters. Therefore, as I haverepeatedly appealed before, I would like once again to urge our Chinese brothers and sisters not to be swayed by such propaganda, but,instead, to try to discover the facts about Tibet impartially, so as to prevent divisions among us. Tibetans should also continue to work forfriendship with the Chinese people. Looking back on 50 years in exile, we have witnessed many ups and downs. However, the fact that theTibet issue is alive and the international community is taking growing interest in it is indeed an achievement. Seen from this perspective, Ihave no doubt that the justice of Tibet's cause will prevail, if we continue to tread the path of truth and non-violence."

10. While the international media,including leading Indian newspapers and TV channels, gave wide publicity to the Dalai Lama's statement,"The Hindu" of Chennai and the Maoist-controlled media of Nepal blacked it out. However, "The Hindu" carried brief extracts from theChinese rejoinder to the statement. The Chinese, through Xinhua, hit out very strongly at the statement. However, Wen, in his press briefing,did not comment on it.

11. While the Chinese took strong note of the statement of His Holiness and ridiculed it, they chose to ignore the statement of the TYC,which had said: "TYC as a national movement with the goal of restoring Tibet’s independence is grounded on historical truth. The ChineseGovernment will not be able to distort this basic truth by propagating against TYC with attempts to label it as a terrorist group. Even underextreme pressure and obstacles directed at TYC by the Chinese Government, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to truth and in ourstruggle for complete independence. It is our promise that we will one day hoist the Tibetan national flag on top of the Potala Palace andour leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, will sit on his rightful throne."

12. The Chinese reacted strongly to resolutions on the Tibetan anniversaries moved in the US Congress and in the Europen Parliament.While not hesitating to criticise the Western countries for their interactions with the Dalai Lama, the Chinese have continued to follow apolicy of avoiding any criticism of the Government of India for the activities of His Holiness and his supporters from the Indian territory.While strongly countering the activities of His Holiness and his followers on the ground in the Tibetan-inhabited areas and in the international stage, they do not want this issue to become a bone of contention between India and China. (16-3-09)

(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: )