Saturday, September 19, 2009



The Aga Khan Foundation has over the years undertaken many rural development projects in the NA. Whatever little development has been there is mainly due to the Aga Khan Foundation. Even though the Islamic fundamentalist parties from time to time mounted a campaign against successive Aga Khans and their workers in the NA by projecting them as Western agents and anti-Islam, the Government of Pakistan saw to it that there was no interference with the Foundation's work because of its excellent international image.

2. The only major development project taken up by the Government was the construction of the Karakoram Highway with Chinese assistance to facilitate the overland movement to China of the exports from Punjab. The benefit of these exports largely went to the peopleof Punjab. It was completed in 1978.

3. The Karakoram Highway was also used for the movement to Pakistan of Chinese nuclear and military equipment such as the M-9 and M-11 missiles, equipment for the Chashma nuclear power station constructed by the Chinese etc. The two countries avoided transporting such sensitive equipment by sea to avoid detection by the US. Some of the missiles supplied by North Korea to Pakistan after Benazir Bhutto's secret visit to Pyongyang in 1993 also came by the overland route via China and then the Karakoram Highway. Some of the missiles for Iran from China and North Korea were also transported by the same route.

4. On March 9,1995, Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan and Kyrghystan signed at Islamabad a Transit Trade Agreement to facilitate trade between Pakistan and the Central Asian republics (CARs) via China. Under a separate agreement between Pakistan and China, it was decided to upgrade the Karakoram Highway to facilitate this trade with the CARs, with Pakistan meeting the expenditure on its side and China on its side. While work on the Pakistan side involving an investment of US $ 85 million started after the signing of the agreement, China dragged its feet on upgrading the Highway in its territory because of its concerns over the increasing use of the Highway by the
Uighur extremist elements for getting arms, ammunition and explosives from Pakistan and by Pakistani narcotics smugglers for smuggling heroin to China.

5.Writing in the "Herald" (December,1995), the monthly journal of the "Dawn" group of publications, Ahmed Rashid, the well-known Pakistani expert on Afghanistan and the CARs, said: " Beijing's reluctance stems from the fact that the proposed road would run across Xinjiang and the Chinese fear that the route would increase the traffic in fundamentalism. After an abortive Islamist uprising in the town of Baren in 1992 in which 22 people were killed, China closed its road links with Pakistan for several months. In the second week of November,1995, Ibrahim Rouzi, Director of Xinjiang's Religious Affairs Bureau, ordered a Government probe into the mushrooming of unauthorised mosques and Quranic schools in the region, which, he said, were often opened from funds from abroad. "We must firmly oppose religious activities which run counter to the Socialist system, divide the motherland and incite fanaticism by disseminating speeches in mosques about a religious war," he added."

6.Ahmed Rashid further reported in the same article that six Islamic militants (Uighurs) from Xinjiang, who were undergoing training at the Islamabad Islamic University, attended a convention of the Jamaat-e-Islami at Lahore.

7. The "International Herald Tribune" reported on May 28,1996, that following a resurgence of pro-independence terrorist activity in Xinjiang, the local authorities had tightened border security and issued the following instructions: " We must greatly increase control on frontier crossings, put more soldiers on duty, strengthen inspection of goods crossing the border and seriously stop weapons, splittists and reactionary phamplhlets entering China."

8.The "Far Eastern Economic Review" of Hong Kong reported as follows in its issue of June 13,1996: " Beijing has ordered the re-deployment of several army units in the troubled Muslim region of Xinjiang as a result of increased separatist activities in the border areas. A Chinese scholar told a seminar in Hong Kong that he had been delayed for six hours while travelling in the region in May because of a massive shift of troops in the Aksu District. The official media have confirmed the assassination by separatists of one Muslim cleric and several polcemen in the regional capital Urumqi in late February. The movement of troops from military sub-districts in the region is believed to be the largest since a separatist insurrection took place in the Western border county of Akto in April,1990"

9.Another reason for China's concerns over the threats to its internal security from the Karakoram Highway was the increasing use of the Highway by narcotics smugglers for smuggling heroin from Afghanistan into China via Pakistan. As in the FATA, in the NA too, large sections of the local people, because of the extreme poverty, started taking to narcotics smuggling as a means of livelihood.

10. Quoting a Chinese diplomat in Islamabad, the Urdu language daily "Nawai Waqt" of Pakistan reported as follows on June 4,1996: " China has deported hundreds of Pakistanis, who had illegally entered Xinjiang for hunting eagles. These Pakistanis did not possess any valid documents to enter the Chinese territory. He also disclosed that dozens of people, allegedly involved in the smuggling of drugs, were
arrested by Chinese guards and one of them has been sentenced to death in Beijing. Several Pakistani drug smugglers are still languishing in Chinese jails."

11. It added: " The diplomat termed as incorrect a report about denial of visas to Pakistani tourists wishing to visit China. He said that following the arrest of about 450 Pakistanis in October,1995, in Xinjiang for illegal activities, Beijing has decided not to issue visas to any individual tourist. However, tourist groups are not being denied visas if they are sponsored by Pakistani or Chinese tourism institutions.Moreover, no trader or industrialist of Pakistan will be refused a visa. Asked whether the arrested Pakistanis were indulging in unhealthy political activities in Xinjiang, he declined to comment."

12. After seizing power in October 1999, Pervez Musharraf took up with the Chinese authorities the importance of the early implementation of the project for the upgradation of the Karakoram Highway. The Chinese took up the work on their side according to a mutually agreed revised schedule and have reportedly completed it ahead of schedule. The upgradation work on the Pakistan side has been much behind

13. In the winter of 1998-99, Musharraf used the NA as the launching pad for the infiltration of the Pakistani Army into the Kargil area of India's J&K. Pakistani troops, assisted by Mehsuds and Wazirs from Waziristan trained by Al Qaeda, occupied the Kargil heights during the height of winter with the objective of disrupting traffic between Srinagar and Kargil and starving the Indian troops deployed in the Siachen sector of J&K. After the explosions outside the US Embassies in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam by Al Qaeda in August 1998, the Nawaz Sharif Government came under considerable pressure from the US either to act against Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Afghan territory or to let the US do it. Musharraf sold to Nawaz the idea that some of the inmates of Al Qaeda camps in the Afghan territory could be shifted to the NA for helping the Pakistan Army in its operations in J&K.

14. Nawaz agreed to it under the impression that the operations planned by Musharraf on the Kargil heights would only involve the tribals trained by Al Qaeda and not the Pakistan Army. In May,1999, a military conflict broke out between the Indian and Pakistani armies when the Indian Army took action to eject the Pakistani Army invaders from the Indian territory on the Kargil heights. The Indian Army killed or
captured regular soldiers of the Pakistan Army, many of them belonging to its Light Infantry Regiments raised in the NA. Through a back channel mechamism, the Government of India confronted Nawaz with conclusive evidence of the involvement of the Pakistani Army in the illegal occupation of the Indian territory, which triggered off the conflict.

15. Nawaz was taken by surprise because the clearance given by him to Musharraf was for shifting some of the inmates of Al Qaeda camps in Afghan territory to the NA for use against India and not for using the Pakistan Army for occupying Indian territory. The anger of Nawaz with Musharraf for using the Pakistan Army for occupying Indian territory set in motion the train of events which ultimately led to his overthrow and arrest by Musharraf in October,1999.

16. During the height of the Kargil fighting, the British High Commission in New Delhi used to organise daily briefings on the fighting for the benefit of some of the British journalists, who had assembled in New Delhi to cover the conflict. One of the British journalists who was covering the conflict from New Delhi was Julian West. In a despatch from New Delhi, which was carried by the "Electronic Telegraph" (May 30,1999) Julian West reported as follows:

(a). "A group of British Islamic fundamentalists are reported to be among the insurgents …According to Western intelligence sources, six Britons are reported to have recently received training in mountain techniques and high-altitude warfare."

(b)."The British Muslims are among a number of Islamic guerillas being trained in remote valleys near Skardu, in Pakistani Kashmir, just north of the LOC from Kargil…. Their instructor reportedly claimed that he was being paid Pound Sterling 30 a day---probably by Pakistan's military intelligence agency ISI."

( c ).The preparation of a mixed force of Afghan, Kashmiri, Pakistani and even British Muslim guerillas, trained to fight at high altitudes,reinforces India's contention that the current conflict was well planned. It also further confirms long-standing reports that Pakistan employs a loose network of international terrorists as well as Pakistani army regulars and Kashmiri militants-- not only for operations in Afghanistan,but also for intrusions into Indian Kashmir.

(d). "Western intelligence has long believed that various Muslim dissident groups in Britain are front organisations for Islamic extremism,funded by an international network of wealthy Muslims and often sponsored by Pakistani and Arab intelligence agencies."

(e)."Although the Indian army claims that these are Pakistani army regulars in disguise, Western intelligence believes that many are Afghan,Pakistani and even international Muslim militants backed by Pakistan's ISI.. Principal amongst these is Al Badr, a terrorist group linked to
Osama bin Laden…."

(f). An intelligence source, who believes about 3,000 to 5,000 militants are currently being trained in various camps run by Pakistani intelligence in Pakistan and possibly in Afghanistan, said: "This current operation (in Kargil) has all the hallmarks of the ISI."

(g). "The operation almost certainly has the backing of the ISI and could not have been launched without the knowledge of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif."

17.Apart from Al Badr of bin Laden mentioned by Western intelligence sources, other organisations which have claimed responsibility for the occupation of the ridges in the Kargil-Dras sector were:

(a). The Lashkar-e-Toiba. "The Times" of UK correspondent in Islamabad (May 31, 1999) quoted Abdullah Muntazir of the Lashkar as saying as follows: " We have Muslim volunteers from all over the world coming to join the jihad….A large number of our fighters have come from the Afghan province of Nuristan. " The correspondent also reported that at least four other Pakistan-backed militant groups were recruiting people to fight in Kashmir.

(b). The United Jihad Council of Muzzafarabad , which claimed to be a united front of 14 unnamed organisations. It is headed by Syed Salahuddin belonging to one faction of the Hizbul Mujahideen. The Hizbul Mujahideen works in close concert with the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Jammat-e-Islami of Pakistan and the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar of Afghanistan.Since the US declared the HUM as an
international terrorist organisation in October, 1997, its volunteers operating in Kashmir use the cover of the Hizbul Mujahideen. (20-9-09)

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: )


There are a number of issues that need to be taken note of and that seem to be lost in what is increasingly a war of personalities between scientists:

(1) Dr. Santhanam has claimed that the TN test achieved a yield of between 23-27 kilotons.

(2) If that statement is taken to be accurate - and let us assume that it is - that yield is substantially higher than that claimed by analysts in the West who using data and assumptions that were at times questionable suggested a much lower yield.

(3) Dr Santhanam in his op-ed piece claimed the deployment of 25 kiloton warheads on a wide scale.

(4) Subsequently he has said that India's deterrent consists only of 15 kiloton weapons - some consistency would be appreciated in this regard.

(5) What nobody has explained is why India has built missiles - with Santhanam himself in DRDO - with payloads of between 700 and 1500kg ?

(6) The other issue that has not been tackled is that of the primary stage of the TN device which has not been disputed as being a boosted-fission device and which, if Santhanam's figures are correct would have had to have a yield and produced a yield of between 15 and 17 kilotons.

(7) Taking Dr. Santhanam's words as being accurate some conclusions can immediately be drawn:

(a) India's weapons teams were not convinced of the TN test and did not weaponize any thermonuclear weapons

(b) India's deployed nuclear weapons weigh between 700kg and 1500kg - based on the Agni payloads

(c) Both fission and boosted-fission types that were tested worked.

(8) Admiral Suresh Mehta's words were very guarded:

"As far as we are concerned, scientists have given us a certain capability which is enough to provide requisite deterrence...the deterrent is tried and tested"

(9) No 15 kiloton or 25 kiloton fission or boosted fission device weighs 700-1500kg. At most the figures for those types will range between 170kg and 300kg with Indian design technology.

(10) Nobody - either critics or supporters - have considered the possibility of the scalability of either the fission or boosted-fission weapons/devices tested. This aspect of Indian weapons research in the last decade is what needs to be examined if one is to assess the Indian nuclear deterrent.

(11) The French MR31 120kiloton warhead used on their SSBS-S2 IRBM was a pure fission warhead weighed 700kg using about 25kg of weapons-grade plutonium (which is a considerable amount). The successor warhead, the MR41 was a boosted-fission warhead for the MSBS M1 and M2 SLBMs and had a yield of 500 kilotons and weighed 700kg.

To what yield are India's fission and/or boosted-fission designs scalable ?
Do the large payloads of the Agni series lead to the inexorable conclusion that large fission or boosted-fission weapons are the ones deployed ?

Without an analysis of this question, everybody who is attempting to tell the world they know what India's deterrent consists of is merely whistling in the wind - adding nothing but noise to a debate that has seen Dr. Santhanam being described as a nuclear scientist (when he is not) and Dr. Kalam being told to shut up because he is not a nuclear scientist and which has seen the POK-1 1974 test team turn on the 1998 team without remembering that the yield of their test in 1974 was also hotly disputed.

There are no heroes in this drama. What India needs to do is ignore the rhetoric and analyse whether its fission and boosted-fission capability can reliably deliver warheads in the 50-100 kiloton class to the armed forces with confidence.



In his latest message addressed to the Americam people, which was disseminated by pro-Al Qaeda web sites immediately after the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, Osama bin Laden has warned of a long war of attrition against the US. The final objective of the war would be not just the withdrawal of the US-led forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, but a withdrawal of US support to Israel and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem in which the sacred Al Aqsa mosque is located as its capital.

2. He has cited the pro-Israel policies of successive US administrations as the principal cause for the 9/11 terrorist strikes and warned that the war thus launched would continue till the US gives up its pro-Israel policies and gives satisfaction to the Palestinians. His message is remarkably free of expressions such as jihad against the crusaders, recovery of legitimate Muslim territories etc. Just as President Barack Obama has reduced the objective of the military campaign in Afghanistan to one of preventing any more 9/11s in the US homeland mounted
from the Af-Pak region, bin Laden has reduced the objective of Al Qaeda and his International Islamic Front to one of helping the Palestinians achieve an independent State and recover East Jerusalem from the control of Israel.

3. The war for such a purpose will be fought wherever possible and wherever opportunities for actions exist. It will not be confined only to
the West Asian region. For him, not only the US, but any State, which supports Israel, could be a legitimate target of attacks---against its
nationals and interests and against Israeli nationals in its territory.

4. It is in the light of this interpretation of his message that one has to assess India's vulnerabilities and the threats that India could face. As a country perceived by Al Qaeda and its associates in the Af-Pak region as close to Israel, India would continue to be vulnerable to terrorist strikes by Al Qaeda and its Pakistani associates as well as by our own jihadi groups, which share the perceptions of Al Qaeda. Their attacks against Indian nationals and interests or against Israeli and other pro-Israel foreign nationals in Indian territory would have two components--- a reprisal component and an attrition component.

5. Al Qaeda and sub-continental jihadi organisations have been looking for opportunities to target Israelis in Indian territory since 1991. The Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) targeted a group of young Israeli tourists in Srinagar in 1991. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who reportedly orchestrated the 9/11 strikes in the US, is reported to have told the US authorities during his interrogation that Al Qaeda wanted to target an Israeli diplomatic mission in India. For the last three or four years, there have been periodic reports of Indian and Pakistani
organisations wanting to target Israeli tourists in Goa. And we had the targeted attack by Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) on a Jewish cultural-cum-religious centre at the Narriman House in Mumbai and its Jewish inmates in November last year. The brutality exhibited by them towards the Jewish inmates was unparalleled in the history of jihadi terrorism in the Indian territory outside J&K. Other LET terrorists also targeted other foreigners in two hotels---many of them from countries involved in the operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

6. Not only the LET terrorists, but also their associates in other jihadi organisations in Pakistan and India must have been gratified by the ease with which the LET commandoes from Pakistan managed to hoodwink the Indian security agencies, hold them at bay for nearly 60 hours and receive the kind of prolonged global live publcity the like of which no other terrorist strike has achieved in recent years.

7. Just as we allegedly covered up our nuclear failure in 1998, we have covered up our counter-terrorism failures of November,2008.It has been an inadequately investigated terrorist conspiracy. Our euphoria over catching one terrorist alive has clouded our vision.Our over-focus on his version of the conspiracy has come in the way of our probing into other angles not possibly revealed by the captured terrorist or not within his knowledge. Every clued-up terrorist organisation strictly follows the principle of restrictive security. Every participant in a terrorist operation does not know all the details relating to that operation. That is where the importance of a satisfactory reconstruction of a terrorist operation arises. Without a satisfactory reconstruction, our ability to prevent similar strikes in future would be reduced. One is not certain there has been such a reconstruction. This would have been noticed by the terrorists too just as it has been noticed by the intelligence agencies of other countries.

8. The inadequate manner in which we have handled the sequel to Mumbai-26/11 is likely to have given cause for hope to the LET and other organisations that they can again successfully launch a major strike in Indian territory----even in Mumbai. It is also likely to have given cause for concern to the intelligence agencies of other countries about our ability to thwart a repeat of 26/11 by the LET or other organisations.

9. It is this concern which is reflected in the precautionary advisories issued by the counter-terrorism authorities of the US and Israel to their citizens planning to travel to India either for business or on holiday in the coming festive weeks when some important Hindu festivals and Christmas could provide an opportunity for fresh attacks on soft targets.

10. Damaging our growing economy and shaking the confidence of foreign businessmen about the security of life and property in India have been important objectives of the sub-continental jihadi organisations. The forthcoming Commonwealth Games in India next year could provide an opportunity to the terrorists to damage India's reputation in the eyes of the world by disrupting the preparations for the Games
through terrorist attacks against the proposed venues for the Games as they are getting ready. A drill for effective physical security in connection with the Games has to be in position right from now. (19-9-09)

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