Sunday, September 13, 2009



The first signs of political ferment against Islamabad appeared in 1971 when an organisation called the Tanzeem-e-Millat (TM) started operating in Gilgit despite the ban on political activities. In 1974, Johar Ali Khan, the founder of the party, called for a strike to demand the repeal of the Frontier Crime Regulations (FCRs) and the recognition of the basic rights of the locals.When the agitation took a violent turn, A.R.Siddiqui, the then Deputy Commissioner, ordered the Gilgit Scouts, a para-military unit raised by the British and with a history of over a
hundred years, to fire on the agitators and disperse them. They refused to open fire on fellow-Shias. He then grabbed a rifle from a soldier of the Gilgit Scouts and opened fire on the crowd himself. One agitator was killed and the crowd dispersed.Johar Ali Khan and 15 others were arrested and taken to the jail. A large number of Shias raided the jail and got them freed. They were subsequently re-arrested.

2. Following these violent incidents---the first in the history of the NA since the Pakistan Army occupied it--- Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto, then in power in Islamabad, issued a notification disbanding the Gilgit Scouts as a punishment for its refusing to fire on the Shia agitators. The disbanding of the unit hurt the feelings of the Shias. It also threw a large number, who served in the Scouts, out of job.This marked the beginning of the alienation of the Shias of the NA against Islamabad.Tracing the history of the alienation of the Shias of the NA,the
"FridayTimes", a weekly of Lahore, wrote in its issue of October 15-21,1992, as follows: " The Gilgit Scouts was the only credible law-enforcing agency from pre-Partition times. Northerners generally resent the undoing of this centuries-old institution."

3. The widespread anger caused by the disbanding of the Gilgit Scouts led to the emergence of a number of anti-Government religious organisations of the Shias. To counter this, the local Army authorities allegedly encouraged the formation of pro-Government organisations by the Sunnis. This injected the poison of religious sectarianism in the NA, which like the rest of Jammu & Kashmir, had historically
remained a tolerant society.

4. The injection of this poison led to an anti-Shia carnage in Gilgit in May 1988. This was followed by more anti-Shia incidents in 1990, 1992 and 1993. In its issue of April 1990, the "Herald", the monthly journal of the "Dawn" group of publications of Karachi, wrote as follows: " In May 1988,low-intensity political rivalry and sectarian tension ignited into full-scale carnage as thousands of armed tribesmen from outside Gilgit district invaded Gilgit along the Karakoram Highway. Nobody stopped them. They destroyed crops and houses, lynched and burnt people to death in the villages around Gilgit Town. The number of dead and injured was put in the hundreds, but numbers alone tell nothing of the savagery of the invading hordes and the chilling impact it has left on these peaceful valleys. Today, less than two years later, Gilgit is an arsenal and every man is ready to fight. In March 1990, when the Administration raided homes in Gilgit Town to seize weapons, one was
reminded of Karachi and Beirut, not Shangri-la. In February and March this year, sectarian violence in Gilgit claimed several lives in the worst flare-up since May,1988."

5. The "Herald" did not identify "the invading hordes" or their leader. These hordes consisted of Mehsuds and Wazirs from the Waziristan area of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Their leader was a man called Osama bin Laden. He was then the blue-eyed Mujahideen of the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). 1988 was the year which saw the end of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
Before the Soviets announced their intention to withdraw, the attacks by the Afghan and Arab Mujahideens were intensified. An increased number of private flights organised by the CIA brought in more and more weapons for use by the Mujahideen against the Soviet troops. Some of these weapons were diverted by the ISI to the Mehsuds and the Wazirs, who carried out during 1988 the greatest massacre of Shias in
the history of the sub-continent since India and Pakistan became independent in 1947. More Shias of Gilgit were killed by bin Laden's Mehsuds and Wazirs in 1988 than the Shias (Hazaras) killed by the Taliban during the five years of its rule in Afghanistan.

6. Since the support of these tribals and of OBL and his Arab Mujahideen was needed in the culminating battles against the Soviet troops, the Western world maintained a silence on the carnage of the Shias. Till "Herald" broke the story of the carnage two years later, the outside world hardly had an idea of the ferocity of the suppression of the Shias of Gilgit by the Pakistan Army with the help of the invading tribal hordes from the FATA.

7. Writing on the same subject, the "Friday Times" (October 15-21, 1992) said as follows:" In 1988, 150 people were killed when armed lashkars from Chilas and Kohistan--- a predominantly Sunni and an exceptionally militant region-- raided the Shia-dominated region of Gilgit.After eight days of uninterrupted carnage, the military was finally called in and curfew imposed. Zia-ul-Haq's regime exploited the Shia-Sunni chasm. The invasion from outside has ignited an inferno of instability that has continued to blaze with the passage of time. It has
militarised an otherwise peaceful environment into a ghetto of blind hatreds and animosities."

8.Twenty-eight Shias were killed in Gilgit Town in May,1992. Latif Hasan, a well-known Shia leader of the Town, was murdered in broad daylight by masked assassins, leading to retaliatory attacks by Shias on the Sunnis, killing six of them. On August 18,1993, 20 Shias were killed in the same town and the authorities had to impose a curfew.

9. Strongly condemning the anti-Shia incidents in the NA, Allama Syed Sajid Ali Naqvi, the chief of the Tehrik-e-Jafria Pakistan, the Shia political organisation of Pakistan, demanded the dismissal of the Inspector-General of Police of the NA. The "Frontier Post" of August 28,1993, quoted him as saying as follows: "Due to wrong policies and inappropriate tactics of the IGP of the Northern Areas, the situation has deteriorated to such an extent that the Pakistan Army had to leave the peaks of Siachen for the streets of Gilgit. The bureaucracy and the authorities of the Northern Areas, who do not have the fear of accountability, have started interfering in the beliefs, customs, traditions and religious affairs of the poor people."

10. The year 1988 saw not only the "invading hordes" of Sunni tribals trained and motivated by OBL coming down the Karakoram Highway constructed with Chinese assistance in territory, which belongs to India. It also saw the movement of the first heavily-protected convoy of Chinese vehicles carrying Chinese weaponry, including short-range missiles, and nuclear-related equipment down the same Highway.The Karakoram Highway had become AQ Khan's Proliferation Highway. Many more convoys carrying such material have since come down this Highway---most of them carrying weaponry meant for the Pakistani Armed Forces and some carrying weapons meant for Iran.

11. Iran, which was dependent on this Highway for the movement of some of its military imports from China, chose to maintain a silence on the plight of the Shias of Gilgit. ( 14-9-09) To be continued

(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: )



Between 1949 and 1974, the Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) was governed directly from Islamabad through Punjabi and Pashtun officers deputed from the federal Government services. In 1974, Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto gave it a facade of an autonomous governing set-up through an Interim Constitution. He called it an Interim Constitution because he contended that the Kashmiris would be given a final constitution after a plebiscite had been held under the UN auspices. Even now, it is ruled under this so-called Interim Constitution.

2. This Interim Constitution provided for a President of the POK as the head of State, a Prime Minister as the head of the Government and a Legislative Assembly consisting of 40 directly elected and eight indirectly elected members. It also allowed the POK to have its own national flag and to issue its own passports to its residents. The POK flag and passports were different from those of Pakistan. However, the POK passports were not recognised by foreign countries. The inhabitants of the territory, therefore, travelled with Pakistani passports.The Interim Constitution also provided for a POK National Anthem, an Election Commission, an Auditor-General, a Supreme Court, a High Court and subordinate courts.

3.The exercise of powers by this ostensibly autonomous set-up is strictly limited by the following provisions:

Only candidates, who sign a declaration that Kashmir is a part of Pakistan, can contest the elections to the Legislative Assembly.

Under Article 32 of the Interim Constitution, the Legislative Assembly cannot make any laws relating to the defence and security of the territory, currency, external affairs and trade.

All important decisions of the POK Government, including appointments of Judges and senior officials, are subject to approval by a body called the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Council, whose Secretariat is based in Islamabad and functions under a Minister of the central Government designated as the Federal Minister of State for Kashmir and Northern Areas ( of Pakistan) Affairs. The Council is presided over by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and consists of five Federal Ministers nominated by the Prime Minister, the Federal Minister of State for Kashmir and Northern Areas ( of Pakistan) Affairs, who is an ex-officio member, the President of the POK and the
Prime Minister of the POK, or in his absence, one of his Ministers. This Council was not given any jurisdiction over the NA.

4. Even this facade of a separate set-up was denied to the NA, which was incorporated into Pakistan as a centrally administered tribal area like the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) near the Afghan border. Like the FATA, the NA was also governed under what was called the Frontier Crime Regulations (FCR) framed by the British during the colonial days for dealing with what they looked upon as the criminal tribes of the areas bordering Afghanistan. The people of the NA were not given passports and were not allowed to travel or migrate abroad. Every resident had to report to his local Police Station once a month and all movements from one village to another had to be reported to the police station. Collective fines were imposed on entire villages for crimes or violations of law and order committed by individual inhabitants of the villages.

5. Till Octobrer 1994, the people of the NA had no right of adult franchise. The territory had no elected Assembly or even municipal councils and no representation in the National Assembly. Political parties were banned. In 1994, the Benazir Bhutto Government allowed political parties of Pakistan, but not of the POK, to extend their activities to the NA and set up branches there. The PPP, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), the Muttahida Qaumi Party of Altaf Hussain, the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Tehrik-e-Jaffria Pakistan (TJP), a Shia party, opened branches in the NA. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) encouraged the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), a Sunni extremist party which has been campaigning for the declaration of the Shias as anti-Muslim, to expand its activities in the NA to counter the activities of the TJP.

6. In October,1994, party-based elections to a 26-member council called the NA Executive Council were held. It was announced on March 31,1995, that its members would have the same status, emoluments and privileges as the members of the NWFP Legislative Assembly,thereby giving it a facade of a provincial Legislative Assembly, but, in reality, the Executive Council was given only recommendatory
powers and not legislative powers. Five of its members were designated as Advisers to the Federal Minister for Kashmir and Northern Areas (of Pakistan) Affairs, Mohammad Afzal Khan. He told the National Assembly on March 26,1996, that the Advisers would have the same status and powers as the Ministers of the POK Government. Even the POK Ministers have very limited powers, but even those limited
powers were not given to the NA Advisers. The Minister's statement was just an eye-wash.

7. The NA continued to be ruled directly from Islamabad by the Minister of State For Kashmir and Northern Areas (of Pakistan) Affairs. with the help of six officers----all non-natives----deputed from outside. These officers were the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Commissioner,the Deputy Commissioner, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), the Judicial Commissioner and the Chief Engineer, Public Works. While the posts of the CEO and Chief Engineer were generally filled by serving or retired army officers, the other posts were filled by officers taken on deputation from Punjab or the NWFP. There was no right of appeal against the judgements of the Judicial Commissioner. The Pakistan Supreme Court had no jurisdiction over him.

8. These so-called political and administrative reforms introduced by the Benazir Bhutto Government failed to satisfy the locals and to reverse the process of alienation of the people, which had started in 1971. ( 13-9-09) To be continued.

( 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: )



While speaking at a meeting organised by the Indo-Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Chennai on August 17,2009, I had called for an India-China-Japan trialogue on maritime security----initially at the non-Governmental level to be upgraded subsequently to the Governmental level. The text of my talk may be seen at

2. On September 8,2009, worried by the likely consequences of the mounting anti-China demonisation campaign indulged in by some members of our community of strategic analysts, I wrote an article titled " India-China: Dangerous Hysteria", which is available at .

3.I was amazed and disturbed by the kind of vituperative mail I got from many Indian readers of my article. All sorts of abuses were hurled at me---- "senile", "confused", " a dunce", " bought over by the Chinese" etc etc. The comments of the strategic analysts, which triggered off my article, and the vituperative mail, which I received in response to my article, only confirmed my fears that large sections of our civil society and strategic analysts' community continue to be caught in the mental quagmire of 1962 and are unable to rid themselves of the frozen vision of 1962. They are not prepared to look at China through glasses of 2009.

4. After I wrote my controversial article, I happened to attend an interesting interaction with a distinguished Taiwanese, who was educated in a prestigious US university and who is a good friend of India.One of the members of the audience asked him for his assessment of Sino-Indian relations. He almost expressed identical thoughts when he said that he was worried to note that Indian thinking and reflexes on China continue to be governed by the memories of the 1962 experience and that Indian analysts, when writing on China, continued to look behind rather than forward. He pointed out how millions of Taiwanese had died at the hands of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) and how millions of Chinese had died at the hands of the Japanese . Despite this, instead of continuing to nurse suspicions and fears arising from the past, Taiwan had considerably improved its relations with China and Beijing and Tokyo are in the process of improving their bilateral relations despite their continuing dispute over the East China Sea islands. He felt it was time for India to rid itself of the bitter memories of the past and start looking to the future in its relations with China.

5. When he asked me for my views on Sino-Indian relations, I replied that there are three components in India----the political leadership and the serving bureaucracy, the business class and the civil society, including the community of strategic analysts and retired bureaucrats.While the political leadership, the serving bureaucracy and the business class want to be forward-looking, large sections of the civil society and strategic analysts continue to be chained to the past and tend to discourage any forward movement. As a result, the relations are moving at variable speeds---- a little faster in the case of the political leadership,the serving bureaucracy and the business class and much slower in the case of the civil society and the non-governmental strategic analysts' community.

6. In the context of this, I was pleasantly surprised to read in "The Hindu" of September 13, the views on China of two recently retired Foreign Secretaries of the Government of India---- Shyam Saran and Shiv Shankar Menon. Their views as reported by "The Hindu" were restricted to the sphere of maritime security, but indicate a desire to look for ways of working with China instead of treating China all the
time with suspicion.

7. To cite from the remarks of Saran while addressing a seminar on Security and Development at Port Blair in the Andamans on September 5: India should actively participate in shaping an emerging economic and security architecture in the region in close collaboration with all stakeholders, including China. This arrangement should be open, inclusive and loosely structured.... India needs a nuanced policy (towards China) that builds upon possible areas of congruence and deals firmly, though prudently, with situations where interests are threatened.There is no inevitability of conflict with China. There is enough space in the region and beyond for both China and India to be ascendant.

8. To cite from the remarks of Menon during a lecture at the National Maritime Foundation of New Delhi on September 11: China and other States can choose to be part of the solution rather than that of the problem. "My question is, therefore, if energy and trade flows and security are the issues, why not begin discussing collective security arrangements among the major powers concerned? "

9. The refreshing views expressed by the two recently-retired Foreign Secretaries, which are unlikely to be shared by the brigade of compulsive demonisers of China in the strategic analysts' community and in our media, have come in the wake of changing perceptions of China in countries such as Australia, the US and Japan, which were as paranoiac about China till recently as we are even now. There is a
growing realisation in recent months that the cause of international and regional peace and security might be served better by treating China as a possible security partner than as a security threat.

10. One noticed this change of attitude first in Australia after Kevin Rudd became the Prime Minister after defeating John Howard and his party. He has made Australia distance itself from multilateral security mechanisms such as the five-power naval exercise of 2007 by the navies of the US, Australia, India, Japan and Singapore on the ground that such mechanisms cause unnecessary concerns to China. One could also see a change --- from compulsive suspicion to looking for areas of better understanding--- in the attitude of the administration of President Barack Obama towards China. This change was recently reflected in a proposal for a joint naval exercise involving the navies of the US, Australia and China. Some reputed Australian non-Governmental analysts have also been saying in the margins of international seminars on maritime security that though China might not be an Indian Ocean power, it has legitimate interests and concerns relating to the Indian Ocean and hence it should be associated in any dialogue mechanism pertaining to the Indian Ocean. In a seminar attended by me, I even heard an Australian non-governmental analyst arguing that, as a confidence-building measure, India should take the initiative in proposing the inclusion of China in dialogues regarding security in the Indian Ocean.

11.Yukio Hatoyama, the new Prime Minister of Japan, also thinks differently from his predecessors in respect of China and is likely to initiate moves to improve Japan's relations with China.He believes that China should be made part of the solution to the security problems of the region instead of being suspected as an important cause of the problems.

12. At a time when attitudes are thus changing, India should not remain like an old Japanese soldier of the Second World War, who was discovered some years ago living in an uninhabited and isolated island, thinking that the war was still on and without realising that the war ended years ago and that the world had changed beyond recognition.

13. It has to be admitted that no other country in the world has the kind of problems that India has with China----- arising from its adamant attitude in claiming Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh, its nuclear and missile supply relationship with Pakistan, its opposition to India being associated with the UN Security Council as a permanent member and with all the dialogue and security mechanisms in the ASEAN and East Asian regions etc. Its attitudes naturally create a suspicion in the minds of large sections of our civil society that there continues to be a certain malevolence in China's attitude to India.

14. A positive change in the attitude of the Indian civil society to China can come about only if this Indian perception of Chinese malevolence is lessened. How to bring about positive perceptional changes on both sides is a question which should engage the attention of analysts in both countries. Any campaign of hysteria and mutual demonisation in India as well as in China will come in the way of efforts
to bring about changes in attitude on both sides.( 13-9-09)

( 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: )