Friday, April 30, 2010



"Both Prime Ministers recognized that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these should not be bracketed. Prime Minister Singh said that India was ready to discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues."--- From the joint statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani on July 16,2009, at the end of their talks at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt.

" The two Prime Ministers decided to ask their Foreign Ministers and Foreign Secretaries to first discuss the modalities of restoring trust and confidence in bilateral ties. That would pave the way for talks on all issues of mutual concern. We don't have to be stuck with nomenclatures. This does the relationship no good. Dialogue is the only way forward to open channels of communications and restore trust and confidence.....They agreed to assess the current state of affairs and then to start afresh on the way forward. The focus is on charting a course forward so that the searchlight is on the future and not on the past."---From the remarks made by Mrs.Nirupama Rao, India's Foreign Secretary, at the end of the talks between the two Prime Ministers at Thimpu in Bhutan on April 29,2010.


From the above quotes relating to the meetings of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani at Sharm-el-Sheikh in July last and at Thimpu on April 29,2010, it is evident that Dr.Manmohan Singh has once again conceded at Thimpu as he had done at Sharm-el-Sheikh Pakistan's point of view that India's dissatisfaction over the perceived lack of action by Pakistan against the "terror machine" in Pakistan as the Foreign Secretary put it should not be allowed to stand in the way of a resumption of the dialogue on other issues of importance. The terrorist strike by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Mumbai in November, 2008, should not be allowed to continue to cast its shadow over the future relations between the countries. That is the meaning of the remark of the Foreign Secretary that the searchlight should be on the future and not on the past. While India will continue to press Pakistan for action against the LET and the Pakistan-based conspirators now facing trial before a Pakistani anti-terrorism court for their involvement in the 26/11 terrorist strike, it will no longer link this to the question of the resumption of the dialogue on all issues of mutual concern.

2. Having succeeded in making Dr.Manmohan Singh de-link the terrorism issue from the dialogue issue, Pakistan is now trying to change the very nature of the approach on the terrorism issue by projecting it as a global issue and not just a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan. During his interaction with the Pakistani media at Islamabad after returning from Thimpu, Mr.Shah Mehmood Quereshi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister, has sought to downgrade the priority attached to the terrorism issue. "The Hindu" of May 1,2010, has reported as follows: : "As for India's concern about terrorism, his counter was that it was a global concern and would be best addressed collectively."

3. Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister, had made it clear during his meeting with Pervez Musharraf at Islamabad in January,2004, that the terrorism issue was the core issue for India and that progress on other issues of interest to Pakistan would depend on the progress on the terrorism issue. At the Havana meeting in September,2006, Musharraf succeeded in removing this linkage by making Dr.Manmohan Singh agree that the terrorism issue was of common concern to both India and Pakistan. It ceased to be a core issue of exclusive concern to India.

4. At Sharm-el-Sheikh as well as at Thimpu, Mr.Gilani has succeeded in downgrading the primary importance of the terrorism issue and now Mr. Quereshi has proceeded a step further by projecting it as a global issue and not a bilateral issue. What, in fact, he has said is, let the bilateral dialogue focus on issues of concern to Pakistan and let the terrorism issue be dealt with multilaterally in appropriate fora.

5. Dr. Manmohan Singh has repeatedly failed to project the Pakistan State-sponsored terrorism as the core concern of India which has to be addressed first before there can be progress on other issues.His over-keenness for a dialogue with Pakistan and his repeated failure to counter the Pakistani strategy of playing down the importance of the terrorism issue are not serving India's interests. They are strengthening the impression in the minds of the civilian and military leaders in Pakistan that it can sponsor any act of terrorism against Indian nationals and interests in the Indian territory or Afghanistan and get away with it.

6. Unless the Pakistani leadership is disabused of this impression through appropriate political, diplomatic and covert actions, our nationals will continue to bleed at the hands of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists. No one is against the resumption of a comprehensive dialogue with Pakistan, but the conditions under which the talks are to be resumed should protect our nationals and our core concerns. One does not have the impression this is being done. ( 1-5-2010)

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

Thursday, April 29, 2010



When he was President, Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan had sought to counter the Indo-US deal on civilian nuclear co-operation at two levels. He did not oppose the deal. Nor did Pakistan energetically try to have the deal disapproved by the US Congress through Congressmen and Senators sympathetic to it. Instead, it sought to counter the deal by using the following arguments. First, it would be discriminatory to Pakistan if it was not made applicable to it too. Second, it would create a military nuclear asymmetry in the sub-continent by enabling India to divert its domestic stock of fuel for military purposes, while using the imported fuel for civilian purposes under international safeguards. Thus, it would have an adverse effect on Pakistan's national security.

2. The Bush Administration rejected the Pakistani arguments by pointing out that Pakistan's economy was unlikely to grow as rapidly as the Indian economy in the short and medium terms and hence it should be possible to meet its energy requirements from conventional sources. The Bush Administration also repeatedly made it clear that in view of the role of Dr. A. Q. Khan, the so-called father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, and some of his colleagues in clandestinely supplying nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, Pakistan cannot be treated on par with India, which had an unimpeachable record of non-proliferation.

3.During his State visit to China in February, 2006, Musharraf requested for Chinese assistance in the construction of six more nuclear power stations, with a capacity of 600 or 900 MWS each. The Chinese reportedly agreed in principle to supply two stations of 300 MWs each to be followed later by four more. This subject again figured in the General's bilateral discussions with President Hu Jintao in the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in June, 2006, and in the subsequent discussions between the officials of the two countries, who met at Islamabad and Beijing for doing the preparatory work for Mr. Hu's visit to Pakistan from November 23 to 26,2006. Gen. Musharraf and his officials were so confident that an agreement in principle for the construction of two nuclear power stations would be initialed during Mr. Hu's visit that they even set up a site selection task force.

4.However, there was no substantive reference to the co-operation between China and Pakistan in the field of civilian nuclear energy during Mr. Hu's visit to Pakistan. The joint statement issued on November 25, 2006, by Gen. Musharraf and Mr.Hu said: “The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in the energy sector, including fossil fuels, coal, hydro-power, nuclear power, renewable sources of energy as well as in the mining and resources sector.” Addressing a press conference after his talks with Gen. Musharraf, Mr.Hu said in reply to a question on nuclear co-operation: "Cooperation in the energy sector is an important component in the relationship between the two countries. We reached a common understanding on strengthening energy cooperation. We would continue this cooperation in future as well." While Mr.Hu himself did not refer to any future supply of new nuclear power stations, some Pakistani analysts interpreted Mr. Hu's remarks as indicating a willingness to supply more nuclear power stations.

5.Well-informed Pakistani sources attributed the more guarded Chinese position to the bilateral discussions between President George Bush and Mr.Hu at Hanoi in the margins of the summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Organisation on November 18 and 19, 2006. The speculation was that during these bilateral discussions, Mr. Bush pointed out to Mr.Hu that the Chinese supply of new nuclear power stations to Pakistan could not be projected as a continuation of the Chinese assistance to Pakistan under a 1985 bilateral co-operation treaty under which CHASHMA I and CHASHMA II were given and hence would need the clearance of the NSG. According to this speculation, Mr. Bush was also reported to have referred to the Pakistani rejection of repeated requests from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to hand over Dr. A. Q. Khan for an independent interrogation and pointed out that the Chinese supply of the new power stations could encourage Pakistan's non-cooperation with the IAEA.

6. The Chinese attempt to project its proposal to supply two more power reactors to Pakistan as continuation of an old project of 1985 entered into by China with Pakiatan before the safeguards of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) imposing restrictions on the supply of civilian nuclear equipment and technology to countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and not a new project was rejected by the Bush Administration. The Chinese sought to compare their Chashma project with the Russian project for the supply of nuclear power stations to India being set up at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu. The Russians went ahead with the project on the ground that the agreement for its construction had been reached before the NSG restrictions went into effect.

7. Following the rejection of the Chinese arguments by the Bush Administration, the Chinese did not take any further action for going ahead with their proposal. During their visits to China, President Asif Ali Zardari and other Pakistani leaders kept pressing the Chinese to finalise the agreement and start its implementation. The Chinese were reluctant to do so.

8. In a surprise move, the Chinese have now announced that they are going ahead with the project. There have been two announcements in this regard. The first is by the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), which set up Chashma I and is now constructing Chashma II. It has now announced that an agreement for the provision of a Chinese loan for two new nuclear reactors at the Chashma site designated as Chashma III and IV was signed with Pakistan on February 12 and that it went into effect in March,2010.

9. The second announcement is in the form of a confirmation by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. The "Global Times" , the English daily of the Party-owned "People's Daily" group, reported as follows on April 30,2010: "Beijing confirmed Thursday (April 29) that Chinese and Pakistani officials have signed an agreement to finance the construction of two nuclear reactors, to be built in Pakistan by Chinese firms. Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said Thursday that the nuclear deal conforms to international standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

10. The paper quoted Shen Dingli, Executive Deputy President at the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, as saying as follows:"Beijing and Islamabad had started joint civilian nuclear projects before China joined the NSG in 2004, which means the mutual cooperation is legal. Washington can't find reasons to criticize Sino-Pakistani nuclear cooperation."

11.This is a reiteration of the original Chinese stand that Chashma III and IV are extensions of an agreement of 1985 signed before the NSG safeguards went into effect and hence not affected. This would also indicate that China does not consider it necessary to seek the approval of the NSG for going ahead with the construction of Chashma III and IV.

12. The surprise Chinese announcement has come at a time when Pakistan has stepped up pressure on the US for a US-Pakistan civilian nuclear co-operation agreement similar to the agreement signed with India in July 2005, followed by action to have the restrictions against Pakistan lifted. This issue was raised by Pakistan at the recent Ministerial-level strategic dialogue between the two countries at Washington DC. While the Obama Administration was reported to have rejected the Pakistani request, there were indications that it was treating the A.Q.Khan affair as a closed chapter and was sympathetic to Pakistan's energy needs. The US has already made a commitment to help Pakistan improve its conventional energy production capacity.

13. While rejecting the Pakistani request for a nuclear agreement once again----though not as firmly as was repeatedly done by the Bush Administration--- did the Obama Administration indicate to China that it would not raise an objection to China's going ahead with its proposal for the construction of Chashma III and IV by accepting the Chinese interpretation that it did not attract the NSG safeguards? If so --- I am inclined to believe it is--- this is the second instance in which the Obama Administration has enlisted the co-operation of China in strengthening Pakistan's capacity in various fields.

14.The " Los Angeles Times" reported on May 25,2009, that the Obama Administration had appealed to China to provide training and even military equipment to help Pakistan counter a growing militant threat and that Richard C Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, had visited Beijing in this connection for talks with the Chinese authorities. Following his visit, the Chinese Government announced an aid package of US $ 290 million to enable Pakistan strengthen its counter-terrorism capability.

15. Indications of the Obama Administration taking a benign view of China's military and nuclear co-operation with Pakistan ought to be taken seriously by Indian policy-makers. ( 30-4-10)

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

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



1991: Liviu Radu, a Romanian diplomat posted in New Delhi, was kidnapped by some Khalistani terrorists. He was got released as a result of an operation mounted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). A Western intelligence agency co-operated in the operation. A senior officer of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) told the media about the identity of the Western agency. It was prominently carried by some sections of the media. The Western country concerned through its Embassy in New Delhi strongly protested against the failure of the MEA officer to protect the identity of its agency.

1993: After the serial blasts in Mumbai in March 1993, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the US secretly sent a team of its explosive experts to Mumbai to help the investigators of the Mumbai Police. They were put up in a Mumbai hotel under a non-official cover. The leader of the team was surprised to receive a phone call from a journalist of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) then posted in New Delhi, who was aware of their FBI identity. Enquiries revealed that a senior officer of the Mumbai Police had told the journalist about their FBI identity and revealed to him the name of the hotel where they were staying. There was a strong protest from the FBI over the indiscretion of the Mumbai Police officer.

2010: Madhuri Gupta, a Second Secretary working in the Press and Information wing of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, was arrested on a charge of working for the Pakistani intelligence. While reporting on her arrest and interrogation, sections of the media named another officer of the High Commission and claimed that he was from the Indian intelligence. According to a report carried by a national daily, this was mentioned to the journalists by an officer of the MEA.

It is important to protect the identity of serving intelligence officers posted abroad for three reasons. Firstly, the exposure of his identity will make it impossible for him to perform his intelligence tasks in future. Secondly, it could pose a serious threat to his life from terrorists. And, thirdly, it could create operational problems.

In the 1970s, the revelation of the identity of a serving officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) posted in Europe led to his assassination by some terrorists. The Congress passed a law making it a criminal offence for anyone to reveal the identity of a serving intelligence officer. Since then,American officials and media take care not to reveal the identity of a serving intelligence officer even if they come to know of it. Dick Cheney, the Vice-President under George Bush, came under severe criticism for asking one of his aides to brief a journalist about the identity of a serving woman officer of the CIA. Cheney's aide had to face an enquiry for carrying out the request of Cheney, which amounted to a crime.

In other countries too, officials as well as the media take great care to protect the identity of serving intelligence officers posted in foreign countries. In Israel, as in the US, it is a crime to reveal the identity of a serving intelligence officer. In India, we have neither laws nor traditions to protect the identities of serving intelligence officers posted abroad. During the last five years, Indian media has exposed the identities of at least a dozen serving external intelligence officers posted abroad, thereby damaging their utility as intelligence officers and exposing them to likely physical threats from terrorists.

This is highly unwise on the part of the journalists, but how can we blame them when they are tipped off by other officers of the Government, who do not realise the importance of protecting the cover and security of intelligence officers serving abroad. There could be strong opposition from the Indian media to the Government enacting a law similar to the US law to protect the identity of intelligence officers serving abroad, but it should at least ensure that such leakages and disclosures do not take place from the officials of the Government.

The case of Madhuri Gupta has been handled in an unprofessional manner, with almost a leak an hour. If some of these leaks are to be believed, she must be the greatest intelligence agent ever produced in the history of espionage from a diplomatic mission comparable to the legendary Cicero, a Nazi agent in the British Embassy in Ankara. ( Please see

If our news channels are to be believed, what all she has done: Exposed the identities of Indian agents in Pakistan; exposed the identities of Indian agents in other countries; gave to the Pakistani intelligence copies of classified documents including what is described as the classified minutes of the Prime Minister's office on India's relations with Pakistan etc etc. If he was alive, Cicero's handling officer would have envied her handling officer in the Pakistani intelligence.There are at least a dozen journalists claiming exclusive access to the results of the interrogation and yet reporting the same unbelievable stories in almost the same language. These dozen journalists are also claiming exclusive access to the interrogation reports. Some of them have even been giving what they claim are quotes from the interrogation reports. I known how interrogation reports are recorded. They are not recorded the way they are shown on some of our TV channels.

Who is Madhuri Gupta? What is her background? She is an Urdu translator posted in Islamabad to monitor the Urdu media. The Press and Information wing in which she was working deals only with open information and handles the Pakistani media. It is not a wing of the mission having access to classified documents. It is the cut and paste from the media wing. And yet our media has been reporting that classified reports passed through her hands. She was not even the head of the wing. She was one of its staff.

I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I saw an anchor criticising Pakistan for not co-operating with India in the investigation of the case. What does he expect Pakistan to do? Admit that she was their agent and tell us the details of what she did for the Pakistani intelligence? The world will be laughing at the kind of reporting that has been going on on our TV channels. Normally, the print media used to be more responsible in reporting. Senior sub-editors used to exercise some check over the exuberance of the reporters and carefully vet their stories before accepting them. Now, even print media journalists are competing with their TV colleagues in being more and more sensational. What is important is not whether one is correct and believable, but whether one's story is sufficiently sensational. The more sensational, the better.

Truth, reliability, balance and restraint in reporting have been the victims of the "breaking news" culture in our TV media. Madhuri Gupta's case is a serious breach of our national security.Even if she had not revealed any classified information to the Pakistani intelligence, the very fact that the Pakistani intelligence succeeded in recruiting her speaks poorly of our counter-intelligence controls. The case deserves to be investigated and analysed in a serious manner on the basis of established facts. Instead, it has been converted into a slapstick serial which will go on until another equally attention-catching serial replaces it.

The Government and our officers who have been talking to the media do not realise the importance of keeping the Pakistani intelligence guessing as to what she has been telling her interrogators. Intelligence agencies worth their salt keep their adversary guessing when they identify and arrest one of its agents. When the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, shot down and arrested Francis Gary Powers, the U-2 pilot of the CIA, for quite some time they did not reveal that they had caught him alive. They made an ass of the CIA and then President Dwight Eisenhower by keeping them guessing as to what happened to Powers.

Inatead of making an ass of the Pakistani intelligence by keeping it guessing as to what happened to Madhuri Gupta, our intelligence agencies, the MHA and the MEA are making an ass of themselves by vying with one another in leaking out to the media all sorts of stories after revealing prematurely information about her arrest. ( 29-4-2010)

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2010



Madhuri Gupta, Second Secretary in the Press and Information Wing of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, who is alleged to be a mole of the Pakistani intelligence, was called to New Delhi ostensibly for consultations by the Ministry of External Affairs. When she reached Delhi on April 23, she was reportedly taken into custody by the Delhi Police. After a preliminary interrogation by a joint team of the Delhi Police, the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), she was produced before a magistrate for obtaining her continued police custody to enable the interrogation to continue.

2. At this stage the media seems to have come to know of her detention and interrogation. There has been a welter of confusing and contradictory reports in the media---- much of it, in my view, based on leaks from the Ministry of Home Affairs on the eve of the SAARC summit starting at Thimpu, Bhutan, on April 29. It has been suspected for some time by well-informed observers that the MHA does not subscribe to the reported interest of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the resumption of a composite dialogue with Pakistan. Details of the case, as they emerge, will strengthen the MHA’s feelings about the futility of a composite dialogue with Pakistan at present till Pakistan gives up its hostile attitude to India..

3. The Prime Minister himself is unlikely to allow this case--- despite its being a serious embarrassment---- to influence his decision whether the time is ripe for a resumption of the composite dialogue. His decision will be influenced by Pakistan’s stand on the question of anti-India terrorism from Pakistani territory and not by Pakistani intelligence agencies recruiting Indian agents. They have been doing so since 1947. So have we. Intelligence agencies are meant to collect intelligence. Human intelligence demands recruitment of agents.

4. While we should be worried over this second instance of the penetration of the Indian High Commission---the first one at a more senior and sensitive level was in the 1980s--- there is no need to over-dramatise it and indulge in chest-beating about our alleged incompetence to prevent it. What is required is not one more scene in the never-ending Indo-Pakistan drama, but a clinical analysis of the case to understand how she was recruited, by whom, how she was operated, what made her work for the Pakistani intelligence etc.

5. The clinical analysis should have three main objectives: Firstly, to identify weaknesses in our counter-intelligence set-up which enabled the Pakistani intelligence to recruit and operate her; secondly, an assessment of the damage caused by her; and thirdly, an understanding of how the Pakistani intelligence works now.

6.The picture is far from clear regarding the history of her alleged relationship with the Pakistani intelligence and the damage caused by her. In the welter of speculative reports appearing in the media, what attracted my attention was a piece of information----as yet unverified--- that she was actually recruited not by the Inter-Services Intelligence, our usual bete noire, but by Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau (IB),

7. If this ultimately proves to be correct, this would indicate that the Pakistani IB is once again playing an active role in intelligence-collection operations relating to India and India’s role in Afghanistan. It used to be very active against India till 1971. After 1971 and particularly under Zia-ul-Haq, the role of the IB was gradually diluted and the ISI was given the leadership role in India-centric operations---whether for intelligence collection or for the sponsorship of terrorism or for other covert actions. The IB was gradually militarised by inducting an increasing number of serving and retired military officers into it. This militarization gathered momentum under Pervez Musharraf. For all practical purposes, the IB became an appendage of the ISI.

8. When she was Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto had tried to restore the police character of the IB and give it a more active and independent role in the intelligence community of Pakistan. Her efforts were got scuttled by the ISI. Since taking over as the President in September 2008, President Asif Ali Zardari has been trying to restore the pre-1971 position of the IB as the principal internal intelligence and security agency of Pakistan. He has placed it under his confidante Rehman Malik, who is the Interior Minister. Rehman Malik, who himself is a retired Police officer from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), has diluted the presence of serving and retired Army officers in the IB and restored the pre-eminence of Police officers in the organization once again. After being headed by military officers continuously since 1990 except for a short period between September 1997 and August 1998, it is headed again by senior police officers since August 2008. The present Director-General of the IB Javed Noor used to be the Inspector-General of Police of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir when he was appointed to head the IB in May,2009.

9. The US has also been encouraging the demilitarization of the IB and the process of the restoration of civilian pre-eminence in the internal intelligence and security set-up of Pakistan. It has increased the allocation of funds for the IB and has been helping it in other ways too for making it once again a professional intelligence organization run by civilians as it used to be.The US sees in the strengthening of the IB one way of reducing the negative role of the ISI in Pakistan.

10. In our preoccupation with the ISI, we have not been paying adequate attention to the rejuvenation of the Pakistani IB. If the reports that Madhuri Gupta was recruited and handled by the IB are correct, it underlines the importance of our paying more attention to the IB.

11. Annexed is an article on the IB written by me on May 26,2009. ( 29-4-2010)

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




By B. Raman

In our preoccupation with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), we have not been paying the required attention to the goings-on in Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau (IB), which comes under the Ministry of the Interior. It is the counterpart of our IB and is of the same pedigree. Even today, the IBs of the two countries maintain some of the traditions, nomenclatures for officers and subordinate units and methods of functioning which they had inherited from the British in 1947.

2. The founding fathers of independent India made the IB the first among equals in India's internal security and counter-intelligence set-up. It has retained and even strengthened that position. It continues to be an organisation largely staffed and led by police officers taken on deputation or permanent secondment from the Indian Police Service cadres of different States of the Indian Union, but the number of direct recruits has been increasing. The IB acts as the eyes and ears of the Government of India in all matters that could have a bearing on internal security. As the leading counter-intelligence agency of India, it plays the leadership role in countering the activities of the ISI in Indian territory and against Indian interests in India and abroad.

3. As against this primacy of the Indian IB and its significant role, the Pakistani IB saw over the years its role in the internal security management and in counter-intelligence gradually eroded, with the ISI assuming the responsibility for internal security tasks. The ISI assumed the leadership in internal security matters initially in the then East Pakistan because of the Army's suspicion of the loyalty of the Bengali police officers and then in Balochistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province for similar reasons. Whereas the police officers from different States in the Indian IB enjoyed the total confidence and trust of the Government of India, in the Pakistani IB, only the Punjabi police officers enjoyed some trust and confidence. The remaining police officers of non-Punjabi origin were looked upon with suspicion.

4. The marginalisation of the Pakistani IB by the ISI in matters relating to internal security was followed by the beginning of a process of militarisation of the IB----with the induction of serving and retired military officers into the IB. This process started under Zia-ul-Haq. When Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister in 1988, she sought to reverse the process. She appointed Maj-Gen. Shamshur Rehman Kallu, a retired officer who was close to her father, as the DG of the ISI much to the discomfort and unhappiness of the serving army officers. On her orders, Kallu also prepared a scheme for the re-organisation of the intelligence community. One of the key points in this scheme was the demilitarisation of the IB and restoring its police character and its role as the premier internal security agency of the country. Before the scheme could be implemented, she was dismissed by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August 1990.

5. Nawaz Sharif, who succeeded her as the Prime Minister after the ISI-rigged elections held later that year, carried out the wishes of the army and threw aside the scheme drawn up by Kallue. He once again started inducting retired and serving officers of the Army into the IB. When Benazir returned to power in 1993, she once again took up the scheme for the re-organisation of the IB and strengthening its role in internal security management. She ordered a vast expansion of the strength of the IB, emulated the Indian model of having a directly-recruited civilian cadre in addition to the police officers and ordered the direct recruitment of a large number of civilian officers.

6. When Farooq Leghari, the then President, dismissed her in 1996, he stopped the expansion ordered by her and ordered that those recruited by her should not be given appointment in the IB. Those who had already joined were sacked. Nawaz Sharif, who returned as the Prime Minister after the elections, did not reverse the orders of Leghari and went along with the wishes of the Army to let the ISI retain its primacy in internal security and counter-intelligence matters. The militarisation of the IB picked up momentum under Pervez Musharraf and reached its nadir when he appointed Brig.Ijaz Shah, a highly controversial retired officer with strongly suspected links to the jihadi terrorist organisations, as the Director-General of the IB.

7. Since the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition Government came to office in March 2008, there have been indications that Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Pervez Musharraf as the President in September, 2008, wants to implement once again the ideas of Benazir for the re-organisation of the IB and strengthening its role in internal security. He appointed Rehman Malik, a retired police officer, who had served under Benazir in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during her second tenure as the Prime Minister, as the Adviser for Internal Security with the rank of a Cabinet Minister. He now co-ordinates all internal security matters and the IB works under him.

8. Zardari also restored the practice of a senior police officer heading the IB and reportedly wanted that all those directly-recruited to the IB during Benazir's second tenure, but kept out by Leghari and Sharif should be re-appointed. Well-informed PPP sources say that Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, who does not feel comfortable with Rehman Malik and who has the backing of the ISI, has been dragging his feet in the implementation of the orders of Zardari to re-appoint all the direct recruits to the IB, who were sacked or kept out by Leghari or Sharif.

9. These sources say that the differences between Zardari and Malik on the one side and Gilani and the ISI on the other regarding the relative roles of the IB and the ISI are also coming in the way of a proper investigation into the role of the five detained activists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the conspiracy to carry out the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008. According to these sources, while Zardari and Malik are in favour of a more energetic investigation and prosecution to please the US, Gilani and the ISI have been opposing such an investigation.

10. Despite the difficulties faced by him in strengthening the IB and its role in internal security management, Zardari and Malik have been persisting with their efforts. Zardari gives a high-profile role to Malik in all matters relating to internal security. Malik and the Director-General of the IB accompany Zardari on his foreign tours. These sources say that Shoaib Suddle, the then Director-General of the IB, had accompanied Zardari on his recent visits to the US and West Europe and earlier to China. Zardari has also been encouraging the IB to set up its own network of liaison relationships with foreign intelligence agencies. Malik and the IB are being given a more active role in the counter-Taliban operations.

11. These sources say that the ISI, with the backing of Gilani, has not given up its efforts to oppose any leadership role for the IB in internal security matters. It is in this connection that one notes with interest the decision taken by Gilani on May 16, 2009, to appoint Javed Noor, the Inspector-General of Police of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, as the DG of the IB in replacement of Suddle, who was close to Zardari. Suddle, who belonged to the Sindh cadre of the Pakistani Police Service, was the DIG of Police of Karachi in September, 1996, when Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, who was challenging the role of Zardari in the PPP, was allegedly killed by the police following an altercation with them. Suddle is one of the accused in the case filed in this connection.

12. Despite this, Zardari had him appointed as the DG of the IB in June, 2008. He was given an extension of two years after he reached the age of superannuation. In April last, a judge of the Supreme Court set aside the extension given to him and other police officers facing trial in connection with the murder of Murtaza. Despite this, he was taken to the US and West Europe by Zardari along with the DG of the ISI. Shortly after his return from the tour, Gilani had him replaced as the DGIB on the ground that his continuing to hold this office had become untenable because of the Supreme Court judgement. It is not known whether Javed Noor is a nominee of Zardari or Gilani or the ISI. The removal shows that the ISI continues to be opposed to any attempt to give the IB the primacy in internal security matters.


A mole in an Indian mission can do great damage

( )

April 27, 2010 16:26 IST

Madhuri Gupta, the indian diplomat arrested for spying in the Indian mission in Islamabad [ Images ], may not have access to sensitive information, but she has access to the high commission and could have planted transmitting devices and tapped phones, writes B Raman.

Madhuri Gupta, second secretary in the press and information wing of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, has been arrested on a charge of working for a foreign intelligence agency. She was called to New Delhi [ Images ] ostensibly on consultation duty in connection with the SAARC summit opening in Thimphu on April 29 and taken into custody after her arrival.

Apparently, she was not aware that she was under suspicion. If she was, she might not have come to New Delhi. Instead, she might have fled to some other country to escape arrest and interrogation as Major Rabinder Singh, an alleged mole of the Research & Analysis Wing, did in 2004.

It has been reported that Home Secretary G K Pillai, has confirmed her arrest. He has not given any other details. There are two possibilities -- she was either working for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence or for the intelligence agency of a Western country through its intelligence officer working under the cover of a diplomat in Pakistan. I would not rule out the second possibility. Western intelligence agencies, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, had in the past tried to recruit Indian diplomats posted in Indian missions abroad through blackmail or offer of money or offer of resident status in their country. Madhuri Gupta is reported to be an unmarried woman in her 40s.

The ISI normally uses money or blackmail for recruiting India [ Images ]n diplomats posted in Pakistan. In the 1980s, when Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ] was the prime minister, the ISI had allegedly recruited a senior Indian Armed Forces attache by trapping him with the help of an attractive woman in Karachi and then blackmailing him with her help. He was called back to India under some pretext and removed from the armed forces. He was not prosecuted.

If the allegations against her are correct, Gupta might have been recruited by the agency which was using her either as an information agent or as a service agent. An information agent consciously supplies intelligence to which he or she has access. A service agent facilitates an intelligence operation of the recruiting agency in various ways.

As a Second Secretary in the Press and Information Wing, Gupta might not have had much access to sensitive intelligence. But, as she was working in the high commission, she would have had access to various offices in the Indian High Commission for performing furtive tasks such as planting bugs in the offices of the high commissioner and other diplomats, attaching transmitting devices for transmitting the telephone conversations of the high commissioner and others to the officer who recruited her etc.

If she had been working as a service agent, she would have caused immeasurable damage by enabling the agency that recruited her to collect electronically a lot of sensitive intelligence. It would never be possible to quantify and assess the extent of damage caused by her. She herself would not know since she would be unaware what kind of intelligence had been going on to her controlling officer through the gadgets which she had planted in the Indian High Commission on his direction.

In the 1970s, a British woman had been recruited by the Indian Embassy in Paris to work as a telephone operator. She had helped the MI-6 (the British intelligence service) in clandestinely recording the telephone conversations of all Indian diplomats posted in Paris. She had caused considerable damage before she was detected and sacked.

B Raman

Monday, April 26, 2010



Since the beginning of last year, the Chinese Navy, which no longer makes a secret of its aspiration of becoming a Pacific naval power on par with the US, has been adopting a dual strategy. This strategy is marked by an open and increasing assertiveness in the South and East China Seas and by a defensive extension of its capabilities, areas of operation and naval networking into the Indian Ocean and the Gulf areas.

2. Its assertiveness in the South and East China Seas is marked by repeated reiteration of its territorial claims in the area and its determination to protect its rights to fisheries, minerals, and oil and gas in the areas claimed by it. It is also marked by the expression of its readiness to use its Navy to protect its rights.

3.On May 16,2009, China officially imposed a ban on summer fishing in the South China Sea. Rejecting a Vietnamese protest against the ban, which affected the livelihood of Vietnamese fishermen who enjoyed traditional fishing rights in the area, Qin Gang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said on June 9,2009, that China had "indisputable" sovereignty over the South China Sea islands, including Xisha and Nansha islands, and their adjacent waters. "It's a regular and justified administrative measure of China to post a summer fishing ban within the South China Sea, with the aim of protecting the sustainability of marine life in this area," Qin said. Simultaneously, China deployed some patrol ships in the area to enforce the ban.

4. On January 5,2010, Jiang Yu, a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, said that China's sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea, including the Xisha and Nansha islands, was indisputable. He was explaining an announcement by the State Council of a guideline on the development of tourism in the province of Hainan, which said that tourism would be promoted on the Xisha and some uninhabited islands.

5. On February 9,2010, the China National Offshore Oil Company Limited (CNOOC Ltd.) announced that its partner, Husky Oil China Limited, a subsidiary of Husky Energy Inc., has discovered a new deepwater gas field in the South China Sea. It said in a statement on its website that the LiuHua (LH) 29-1 field is the third deepwater gas discovery made in Block 29/26 of the Pearl River Mouth Basin in the eastern South China Sea, after other discoveries in 2006 and 2009. According to the Xinhua news agency, CNOOC Ltd. is the listed subsidiary of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, China's largest offshore oil company.

6. On April 26,2010, China's fishery administration said it had started regular patrols of the South China Sea by sending two vessels to take over from two others which were escorting Chinese fishing boats in the area. Wu Zhuang, Director of Administration of Fishery and Fishing Harbor Supervision for the South China Sea under the Ministry of Agriculture, said :"China Yuzheng 301 and 302 take over from China Yuzheng 311 and 202, which have been patrolling the sea area of Nansha Islands since April 1." He added that the patrol ships were sent to escort Chinese fishing boats in the South China Sea and reinforce China's fishing rights in the waters around Nansha Islands. The two ships set sail from Sanya, a coastal city in the Hainan province .

7. Simultaneously with its increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea, the Chinese have also stepped up their assertiveness in the East China Sea where their claims and interests clash with those of Japan. The fact that Tokyo has now a government, which is well disposed towards China and attaches greater importance than was done by past Governments to strengthening Japan’s relations with China, has not come in the way of the new assertiveness in the East China Sea.

8. On February 23,2010, Qin Gang, spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, was asked for China’s reaction to a news report that Japan would appeal to an international maritime court if China started using an East China Sea oil and gas field for gas production. He replied as follows: "China and Japan have a principled common understanding on the East China Sea issue. China upholds and maintains the common understanding. This position has never changed." Qin added that China hoped Japan could provide a more favorable environment to put the common understanding into practice. According to the principled common understanding, the Japanese side could participate in the cooperative development of the Chunxiao oil and gas field in accordance with relevant laws of China, but the cooperative development is different from "joint development”, he said.

9. On April 8,2010, China’s PLA Daily announced that the East Sea Fleet would conduct a “large-scale” military exercise in the East China Sea. Following this, the Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa announced on April 13 that 10 Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) vessels, including two submarines and eight warships, have sailed through international waters between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako, heading southeast into the Pacific Ocean, since April 10. It was reported that the Japanese had made enquiries about these movements from Beijing through diplomatic channels. Beijing pointed out the same day that similar drills had been carried out in in international waters in the past by the navies of other countries. It implied that if other Navies could carry out such exercises in international waters, so could China. Japanese sources interpreted the movements as “signaling an effort by Beijing to expand naval activities in international waters with the aim of preventing intervention by other naval forces.”

10. Japan complained to China on April 21 that a Chinese military helicopter flew close to a Japanese naval vessel, the second encounter of such nature to happen in a month. Japan's Defense Ministry said the helicopter was within 300 feet (90 meters) of the Japanese vessel and had circled it twice. The Japanese vessel was monitoring Chinese military activities. However, the Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada was quoted by the Kyodo news agency as saying that the Chinese vessel did not violate any international laws. After the first incident on April 8, the Japanese Foreign Ministry protested to China on April 12, saying the close flight was "a dangerous act from the view of naval safety," and requested China to look into the matter. The Ministry again protested after the second incident and received a reply that the Chinese Government will investigate. The Japanese Defense Ministry has said it believed that the Chinese actions may be a show of power, and added that Japan intends to strengthen its defense in the area. The “Mainichi”, the Japanese daily, quoted the Japanese Defence Ministry as saying that the Chinese Navy conducted military exercises from April 7 to 9 in the East China Sea. Chinese ships passed through international waters between the main Okinawan island and Miyako Island on April 10 at around 8 p.m., and on around April 13 sailed near the Okinotorishima Island, the southernmost part of Japan.

11. Briefing the media in Beijing on April 22, Huang Xueping, a spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of National Defence, defended Chinese naval exercises in the East China Sea and asserted that the movement of Chinese naval ships out in the East China Sea did not violate international laws and posed no threat to other countries. He added that it is routine practice for the army to have its drills in the high seas, and is also a practice done by other countries. He warned: "Countries concerned should not track down or disrupt the activities of Chinese military vessels engaged in normal defense exercises."

12.Instead of being defensive and low-profile about the presence and assertiveness of the Chinese Navy in the South and East China Seas, the Government/Party controlled Chinese media have been openly asserting China’s readiness to protect its traditional rights and defend its territorial claims in the area through its modernized Navy. They project the increasing assertiveness as a message that a modern and powerful Chinese Navy has arrived on the Pacific scene as a force to be reckoned with.

13. In an interview to the “China Daily News” ( April 27), Jin Linbo, a researcher at the China Institute of International Studies, suggested that Tokyo should communicate with Beijing before taking any unilateral action, which may be "misinterpreted" by China. He added: "The increase in frequency and size of our military exercise is normal; it only shows that China's navy is getting stronger. As long as it does not breach any law, other countries should gradually get used to it."

14. ”The “ Global Times” , the English daily of the Party-owned “People’s Daily” group, wrote on April 27: “As strategic equilibrium is shifting in west Pacific Ocean, even the slightest change can be rough for one side to take. A regular military drill by Chinese naval ships in international waters early this month caused a fuss in Japan. The Japanese media was full of hot air over the incident and tried to attach blame to China's seemingly assertive behavior. Admitting the drill took place in international open water, the Japanese media still claimed it raised concern in Japan "since it did not happen before." A stronger navy is a result of China's growing economic strength and ongoing modernization of its military power. It is a strategic requirement of a big power, which must defend its interests to the best of its ability.As China is assuming more responsibilities in East Asia, there will be more frequent military exercises in international waters. Beefing up China's naval forces is also necessary given the US is shifting considerable strategic defensive strength in the west Pacific. Naturally, the transformation of the Chinese navy will bring changes to the strategic pattern in East Asia and the west Pacific Ocean that has lasted for the last five decades. But the trans-formation is positive. China does not hold an intention to challenge the US in the central Pacific or engage in a military clash with Japan in close waters, though it is willing to protect its core interests at any cost. The west Pacific region is critical to world peace and stability; ensuring both requires the involvement of all major countries in the area. Neither side has a monopoly over the future of the west Pacific. Both the US and Japan, along with many other world powers, have aggressively expanded their maritime capabilities, but they need to adjust their viewpoint when considering China's moves. The time when dominant powers enjoyed unshared "spheres of influence" around the world is over. The purpose of China's growing navy is to provide offshore defense and to protect trade routes and Chinese citizens around the globe. It is difficult to imagine China would rely on a maritime strategic system built by the US after World War II to protect its global interests today. A growing Chinese navy is a symbol of China's peaceful rise.
Many countries have acknowledged that a rising China does not pose a threat to the world. If they truly mean it, they should be able to understand a growing Chinese navy.”

15. The Chinese Navy is there to stay and grow and assert China’s claims and rights. That is the message loud and clear.

16. While thus taking an increasingly assertive line on the presence and activities of its Navy in South and East China Seas and West Pacific, Chine continues to maintain a low profile over the presence and activities of its naval vessels in the Indian Ocean and Gulf Regions. They are projected as having a defensive role in protecting Chinese merchant ships and energy supplies from attacks by pirates and others. Chinese analysts do not as yet talk of any Chinese strategic interest in power projection in the Indian Ocean area. ( 28-4-10)

( 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 was no malafide tapping, says security expert
Last updated on: April 26, 2010 11:19 IST
Tags: National Technical Research Organisation, Nitish Kumar, Outlook magazine, Bihar

Amid the muddle over the Indian Premier League [ Images ], the Centre is feeling the heat after Outlook magazine carried a report saying that the National Technical Research Organisation has got telephone conversations of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and many other dignitaries tapped.

However, B Raman, former R&AW officer and's columnist says, "While there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the reports carried by Outlook about the functioning of the NTRO and the genuineness of the intercepts of some telephone conversations of some political leaders, I have difficulty in accepting that these intercepts necessarily show that the NTRO has been tapping the telephone conversations of these political personalities."

Raman says, "Tapping is a process. When there is tapping, there will be a series of intercepts of the conversations involving the same person. When there is only an isolated message, it does not show malafide tapping. It only shows accidental interception of telephone conversations of political leaders cited by Outlook while doing a random communications intelligence sweep."

Raman's contention is that while tapping phones of people who are at national security risk, many other people's conversation also gets recorded and "this happens all the time while doing a random sweep".

A random sweep is not done manually. It is done by a machine which records every conversation within a certain radius when the machine is on.

However, Raman suggests, "From time to time, intelligence officers play back the recording of the intercepts. If they find that if any of the intercepts is of a political nature unrelated to national security and contains politically sensitive or compromising material, the careerists among intelligence officers may show it to political leaders to cut favour with them."

When intelligence agencies find that they do not have sensitive or compromising content in taped material they, normally, shred the conversations.

The security expert adds, "The so-called intercepts cited by the magazine do not have any sensitive or compromising material. My feeling is that these were intercepted accidentally during the course of a random search and the person to whom these were given for shredding has passed them on to the journalist."

Saturday, April 24, 2010



The advance of technology and the increasing dependence on technical intelligence (TECHINT) for the maintenance of internal security have given rise to new ethical questions to which no satisfactory answers have been found anywhere in the world.

2. Modern technology has strengthened the capability of the intelligence agencies for intelligence collection.At the same time, it has placed at the disposal of criminal and anti-national elements better means of evading detection of their activities. The public, the legislature and the judiciary have been reluctant to strenghten the capability of the agencies to neutralise the advantages thus secured by these elements.

3.One may cite one example of the kind of problems now faced by intelligence and investigative agencies operating internally. Public opinion understands the need for the agencies--internal and external---- to intercept the communications of the Armed Forces, the intelligence agencies and the diplomatic missions of foreign countries not well disposed towards us and of their nationals, who might be operating against our national interest, either from foreign or our territory. But, problems arise when there is a need to intercept the communications of one's own citizens, who might be acting against national interest.

4. Laws in most democratic societies normally allow the collection of communications intelligence (COMINT) only on citizens already identified as possible threats to national security on the basis of specific intelligence recorded in writing. In some countries, the required authorisation is given by officials designated by law and in others by the Attorney-General or by a court.

5. A general principle followed universally is that such authorisation should be of specified duration and against a specified individual, residing at a specified address and using a specified telephone or fax number or E-mail address. In recent years, criminal and anti-national elements have started persuading third parties, who may or may not be aware of their background, to let them use their postal and E-mail addresses and telephone and fax numbers for communication purposes.The mushrooming of public telephone booths and cyber cafes has also facilitated the use of evasion techniques by such elements. Every time such a practice comes to mnotice, the agencies had to seek a fresh authorisation for intercepting the communications of the third parties, public telephone booths and cyber cafes, which takes time and consequently results in a break in the continuity of intelligence collection

6.Before the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland, the Clinton Administration tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Congress to modify the law in order to facilitate the authorisation of the interception of the communications of a named suspect, whatever be the telephone and fax number, postal and E-mail address, public telephone booths and cyber cafes used by him or her. Public and Congressional opinion and civil rights groups were unwilling to increase the clandestine interception powers of the agencies. After 9/11, this opposition has relented and one understands that the agencies have been given the additional powers they wanted.

7. The agencies also need a capability for detecting and identifying criminal and anti-national elements that might have escaped detection through human intelligence (HUMINT). This might call for random, but not indiscriminate monitoring of communications that could result in the interception of messages having a bearing on ordinary crime, terrorism, narcotics smuggling, espionage etc. However, public opinion and lawmakers in democratic societies oppose random sweeps of communications due to fears of their misuse for partisan political purposes and on grounds of violation of privacy.

8.Algerian terrorists carried out a series of explosions in France in the 1990s. They were using the Internet for communications. However, the London-based leader of one of the terrorist groups, who had difficulty in operating a computer, used a telephone to convey oral orders for an explosion. During a random sweep of telephone calls, a French agency stumbled upon this call and the police was thus able to arrest the group and prevent any further explosions. The agency's action in carrying out a random sweep of telephone calls was a clear violation of the law, but there was no public outcry against it because it saved the lives of dozens of innocent civilians.

9. The importance of random COMINT sweeps for detecting and neutralising the sleeper cells of terrorist organisations has been increasingly felt since 9/11. Due to the difficulties faced by HUMINT agencies in penetrating terrorist organisations, random sweeps help the agencies in detecting a hitherto unsuspected terrorist cell and neutralising it before it can organise an act of terrorism. There has been increasing pressure on Governments from intelligence agencies to let them use random sweeps for detecting sleeper cells.

10. Random sweeps may and often do result in the collection of intelligence regarding terrorist cells and their plans. But, they also collect a lot of other information of no value to the agencies and the police. Fears that some of such information could be misused by the political leadership for partisan purposes come in the way of law-makers legitimising random sweeps. George Bush wanted to give his agencies the additional powers needed for random sweeps, but the Congress thwarted it. There were allegations that in spite of this he used his discretionary powers to authorise random sweeps on a case by case basis to neutralise sleeper cells operating in the US Homeland.

11. It is learnt that it was one such random sweep that made the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) realise that Ilyas Kashmiri, the Pakistani close to Al Qaeda, was trying to use David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), for mounting an attack on the office of the Danish newspaper in Copenhagen which had published some cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad in 2005. The entire investigation started with the interception of an Internet remark by Headley expressing his anger against the cartoonist and calling for an attack on him

12. In India, which is next door to the world's epicentre of terrorism in Pakistan and which has a large number of sleeper cells of Pakistani and Indian jihadi organisations waiting to strike in different parts of the country, the importance of adequate technical capability to detect and neutralise them and adequate powers to use that capability cannot be overemphasised. At the same time, fears of misuse of such capability and the powers to use it are legitimate.

13. How to enable random COMINT sweeps by the agencies in select cases and how to prevent the misuse of the intercepts with no value for counter-terrorism gathered by the agencies for partisan political purposes are questions which have not received the attention they deserve. Post-9/11, there has been a mushrooming of TECHINT capabilities in all countries facing the threat of terrorism. At the same time, attempts have been made to introduce safeguards against misuse of the capabilities.

14.In India too, post 9/11, there has been a mushrooming of TECHINT capabilities in different agencies----- some coming under the Ministry of Home Affairs, some under the Prime Minister in the Cabinet Secretariat and some under the Defence Minister.No attempt has been made to ensure that these capabilities are used in a co-ordinated manner under a common supervisory mechanism to prevent their misuse. Should random sweeps be allowed? Under what circumstances and under whose authority? Should the Parliament have a say in evolving the safeguards against possible misuse just as the Parliaments in many other countries have? These questions need to be debated in open in the Parliament and across the media and appropriate decisions taken which could be used as yardsticks for public and political opinion to decide for itself that the newly-created capabilities are being used in national interest only.

15.The articles published by the "Outlook" on the functioning of the National Technical Research Organisation would hopefully be the starting point of the much-delayed and much-needed debate on this subject. Public debate on sensitive intelligence matters such as this----if carried on with balance and restraint--- will not be harmful to national security. It will make our fight against threats to national security more effective and elicit greater public support for the fight. ( 25-4-2010)

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



A large number of Han residents of Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, had demonstrated from September 2 to 4,2009, to protest against the failure of the local authorities to stop the wave of mysterious attacks with hypodermic syringe needles since August 17,2009. These demonstrations led to two important changes in the local party and Government.

2. On September 5,2009, the regional committee of the Communist Party of China for the Xinjiang Autonomous Region replaced Li Zhi, who was the Secretary of the Urumqi Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, by Zhu Hailun, who was the Secretary of the Regional Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the entire province. Simultaneously, the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of the province, which is the provincial legislature, replaced Liu Yaohua, who was the Director of the Public Security Department of the province, by Zhu Changjie, who was the party chief in the Aksu Prefecture of the province. The Public Security Department of the province, which works under the Ministry of Public Security of the central Government in Beijing, is responsible for internal intelligence and internal security. The police also comes under its supervision.

3.Commenting on these changes, I had stated as follows in my article of September 5,2009, titled “Two Heads Roll In Xinjiang” at : “Some interesting points about these two changes need to be underlined. Firstly, the two decisions have been projected as taken at the provincial level, but the instructions for the changes must have come from Beijing. Secondly, while the change at the party level has been restricted to the municipality of Urumqi, the change at the governmental level has affected the head of the Public Security Department for the entire province. There has been no announcement regarding the head of the Public Security Department in the Urumqi municipality. Any decision regarding him has apparently been left to the new provincial chief. It is also interesting to note that Wang Lequan, the head of the Communist Party of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, has not so far been affected. He is the provincial head of the party continuously since 1994 and is considered very close to President Hu Jintao. During the demonstrations, most of the slogans were against him. Large sections of the Hans of Urumqi blame him for the failure of the police to protect them, but he can be removed only by the central party Politburo or its Standing Committee in Beijing. It would be interesting to see whether he too is removed by the Politburo or whether he is protected from any humiliation by President Hu Jintao. If he is removed, that could be an indication that Hu's position in the party has been weakened by the developments in Xinjiang. If he manages to stay on despite his alleged mishandling of the situation, that could be an indication that Hu's position remains strong.”

4. The Communist Party of China announced on April 24,2010, that Wang Lequan has been transferred from his post and posted as Deputy Secretary of the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. He has been replaced by Zhang Chunxian as the Party chief of the Xinjiang Region. Zhang, 57, is a native of Yuzhou city in Central China’s Henan Province. Before his transfer to Xinjiang, he was working as the Secretary of the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee from December 2005. Zhang, who joined the party in 1973, had served previously in the Ministry of Machinery, the Ministry of Supervision and the China National Packaging and Food Machinery Corporation, and subsequently as the Assistant Governor of Yunnan Province before going to Hunan in 2005.

5. The announcement of the changes in the party leadership of the Xinjiang region was made by the Party a day after the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the party had held a meeting at Beijing to review the situation in the Xinjiang Region. A Xinhua news agency dispatch on the meeting said: “The meeting, presided over by President Hu Jintao, stressed that economic and social development in Xinjiang be pushed forward in a sound and speedy manner, placing priority on guaranteeing and improving people's livelihoods so all ethnic groups in the region can live a more prosperous and happier life.”

6. The fact that Wang had managed to continue as the head of the party in the Xinjiang Region for nearly eight months after the incidents of September,2009, would indicate that Hu managed to resist pressure from the public and party for his immediate removal from the Xinjiang Region. The Xinhua report on the Political Bureau meeting did not refer to the changes in the leadership. A separate announcement regarding this was made on April 24, but the announcement did indicate that the changes came after the meeting of the Political Bureau.

7. In January last, the Chinese Party had convened a Tibetan Work Forum ( the fifth since the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) occupied Tibet ) chaired by President Hu to discuss Tibet-related policies. It was after that Forum that the Chinese decided to resume their dialogue with the representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and toned down their demonisation of His Holiness. It was stated at that time that a similar Work Forum ( the first on Xinjiang) would be organized. It is not clear whether the Politbureau meeting of April 23 was, in fact, the proposed Work Forum or was a prelude to that.

8. During his 16 years as the Xinjiang Party chief, Wang concentrated on developing the oil industry of the Region and encouraged the settlement of a large number of Hans from other parts of China to work in the oil industry. He incurred the anger of the Uighurs by introducing the teaching of the Chinese language in the primary schools and by banning the local Government servants from having beards, wearing headscarves and observing the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. His failure to anticipate and deal effectively with the Uighur disturbances in July last and the subsequent needle attacks on the Hans in August incurred the wrath of the Hans too. He found himself criticized by both the communities. It was the strong support of Hu that enabled him to continue till now despite widespread perceptions of his mishandling of the situation.

9. It would be interesting to see whether the new party chief would be authorized by the Party Central Committee to introduce any changes in the policies towards the Uighurs and their West-based leaders such as Mrs. Rebiya Kadeer, the President of the World Uighur Congress, who have been in the forefront of the campaign against the violation of the ethnic rights of the Uighurs by the Chinese authorities. Will there be a toning down of the demonisation of the ethnic rights movement? Will the Chinese relax the curbs on the religious rights of the Muslims too? ( 24-4-2010)

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

Thursday, April 22, 2010



Worried over nearly 10,000 Buddhist monks and nuns from the Tibet Autonomous Region, Sichuan and other neighboiuring areas rushing to the quake-hit Yushu area in the Western Qinghai province to organise rescue and relief work independently of the Government and the Chinese Red Cross, the Ministry of Public Security in the Qinghai province has imposed restrictions on rescue and relief work by monks and nuns. Under these restrictions, all those who had gone to the quake-hit area from outside the Yushu region have been ordered to go back to their areas. All monasteries have been told that only monks and nuns belonging to monasteries located in the Yushu area can participate in the rescue and relief work. Others have been banned from participating.

2. Initially, the Chinese did not try to prevent monks and nuns from the neighbouring areas from going to Yushu to organise rescue and relief work. According to reliable sources from the Yushu area, the Chinese became nervous and imposed the curbs when a monk publicly refused to shake hands with President Hu Jintao and hundreds of monks and nuns took out a candle light procession to pay homage to those killed. The police were taken aback when the processionists shouted slogans that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should be allowed to visit his home province to console his people in distress. It has been reported that the Chinese are also worried over the campaign mounted by Tibetan exiles in Western countries to demand that their host Governments should exercise pressure on Beijing to allow His Holiness to visit the quake-hit areas. ( 22-4-2010)

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

Wednesday, April 21, 2010



( Observations made by me while addressing a National Seminar on "Fight Against Terrorism" organised by the Mumbai Police at Mumbai on April 21,2010. The keynote address on the state of terrorism was delivered by Shri M.K. Narayanan, Governor of West Bengal. Other speakers were Dr.Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, Dr.Raghunath Mashelkar, former Director-General,, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and Shri G.Parthasarathy, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan )

Two expressions often used by counter-terrorism analysts since the attempt to blow up the New York World Trade Centre in February,1993, are "acts of mass casualty terrorism" and "acts of catastrophic terrorism". These expressions have been defined by different experts in different manner. One of the definitions is based on the number of casualties inflicted by the terrorists. Under this definition, an act of catastrophic terrorism involves fatalities of more than 1000 and an act of mass casualty terrorism involves fatalities of more than 100. 9/11 in the US Homeland was an act of catastrophic terrorism. The terrorist attacks in Mumbai in March,1993, July,2006 and November,2008, were acts of mass casualty terrorism.

2. While other cities in the world have also suffered acts of high casualty terrorism, Mumbai and Beirut have been targeted repeatedly by terrorists. The acts of terrorism in Bali, Madrid and London did not involve orchestration by a foreign State. The acts of mass casualty terrorism in Mumbai involved orchestration by the State of Pakistan.

3. In his inaugural address, Shri D.Sivanandhan, Commissioner of Police, had analysed comprehensively the reasons for the repeated attacks in Mumbai. There is one reason not mentioned by him, which needs to be underlined---- namely the advantage of anonymity offered to a terrorist by a huge city like Mumbai. Anonymity tends to protect the terrorists from detection by the police.

4. What the Mumbai Police is confronted with is not just terrorism , but terrorism sponsored repeatedly against the residents of Mumbai by the State of Pakistan and its intelligence agencies. One should, therefore, talk of the "fight against State-sponsored Terrorism" and not just "Fight against Terrorism". If there was no orchestration by the State of Pakistan, the Mumbai Police would have been able to deal with the threat effectively. They have been facing difficulty because of the foreign sponsorship of terrorism.

5. Thus, counter-terrorism in Mumbai has two aspects--- action against terrorism and the terrorist organisations, which is the responsibility of the Mumbai Police and the Government of Maharashtra, and action against Pakistan, which is repeatedly sponsoring the terrorism. This is the responsibility of the Government of India. Unless the Government of India acts effectively against Pakistan for sponsoring acts of mass casualty terrorism against the residents of Mumbai, it will be unfair to blame the Mumbai Police and the Government of Maharashtra alone for not dealing with terrorism effectively.

6. If there is another act of mass casualty terrorism, there is a strong possibility that it will again be in Mumbai. The Mumbai Police should prepare themselves to face it. They have already taken various measures for revamping the counter-terrorism machinery in Mumbai. Strengthening the machinery alone is not adequate. It is equally important to strengthen the co-operation between the police and the community. The Security and Intelligence Committee of the British House of Commons, which went into deficiencies which led to the successful terrorist strikes in London in July,2005, pointed out that no counter-terrorism machinery however competent and no counter-terrorism doctrine however well thought-out, can deal effectively with terrorism unless there is effective police-community co-operation in counter-terrorism.

7. That the role of the community is important has to be realised by the police as well as the community and the two should work in tandem. After the London blasts, many new ideas have been introduced by the London Police for improving police-community co-operation against terrorism. I would like to underline in particular the appointment of counter-terrorism coordinators in important police stations to interact continuously with the public and the private business sector and the initiative taken by the business sector for sharing the additional expenses incurred by the police for promoting police-public co-operation against terrorism. Some of these ideas should be studied by the urban police in India and those considered worthy of emulation should be adapted to our needs.

8. The series of National Seminars on the "Fight Against Terrorism" being organised by the Mumbai Police in different parts of the city is a welcome and important exercise for promoting police-community co-operation against terrorism. This co-operation should be on a day-to-day basis instead of only at times of seminars like this. How to make police-community cooperation part of the counter-terrorism doctrine? That is an important question which should be addressed jointly by the leaders of the police and the community and an appropriate mechanism found. The Mumbai Police should move in this direction and give a lead to the other urban police of India.

9. In counter-terrorism, the quality of the leadership exercised by the political class is as important as the quality of the leadership exercised by the police, the intelligence set-up and other security agencies. While addressing a seminar in New Delhi in 2001, Shri Narayanan pointed out that while the Punjab Police, the intelligence set-up and other security agencies played an excellent role in bringing Khalistani terrorism under control, they might not have succeeded the way they did but for the equally commendable political leadership and co-operation in dealing with the menace. In dealing with Khalistani terrorism, the political and the professional classes were on the same page. Had this not been so, we might not have succeeded the way we did. In dealing with the state-sponsored jihadi terrorism too, we must try to ensure that the political and professional classes act in tandem and that the required political leadership is forthcoming. Without high-quality political leadership, the police alone, however brilliant and however well-endowed, cannot succeed.

10. In India, we tend to be defeatist. We keep criticising ourselves and our police all the time. We are given to chest-beating about our so-called failures. We tend to forget that our track record against terrorism and insurgencies is not bad at all. We have had success stories in Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. We are not doing too badly in Jammu & Kashmir and in the fight against jihadi terrorism in other parts of India. Our record against the Maoist insurgency has been above average in Andhra Pradesh and poor in other States affected by it. The terrorists and insurgents have had some spectacular tactical successes to their credit--- the explosion on board the Kanishka aircraft of Air India in June 1985, the three acts of mass casualty terrorism in Mumbai and the Dantewada massacre of 76 policemen by the Maoists etc. But since India became independent in 1947, the terrorists and insurgents have not scored any notable strategic success. Strategically, the Indian State and its security set-up have ultimately prevailed despite the tactical set-backs. They never allowed fatigue to set in. Fatigue ultimately set in the ranks of the terrorists and insurgents and not in the ranks of the State. We have never conceded the illegitimate strategic demands of the terrorists and insurgents even though we might have conceded their tactical demands on occasions as happened at Kandahar in December, 1999. This is a unique record of which we ought to be proud of.

11. Let us by all means criticise our police, our intelligence agencies, other security agencies and the political class. They have much to answer for. But let us take care not to allow over-criticism to create defeatism. That is what Pakistan and its terrorist organisations want. We should not play into their hands. An ideal State would not allow the phenomenon of terrorism or insurgency to appear in its midst. But once it appears it takes a long time for the police and other security agencies to deal with it. A study of terrorism and insurgencies around the world would indicate that it takes around 15 to 20 years to deal with the menace. In India too, we have taken the same time. Once through our sins of commission and omission, we are faced with terrorism or insurgency, we need a lot of patience to deal with the menace. Impatience will prove counter-productive. It could make the police and other security forces over-react, thereby aggravating the problem.

12. There are copybook methods of dealing with acts of terrorism such as hijacking, blowing up aircraft, use of improvised explosive devices in public places etc, but there is no copybook method of dealing with terrorism and insurgencies. Our counter-terrorism techniques have to be nuanced and adapted individually to dealing with different kinds of terrorism and insurgencies. The techniques that we use against the jihadis we cannot use against the Maoists. The ruthlessness that we show towards Pakistanis we cannot show towards our own people. While dealing with our own people who have taken to terrorism and insurgencies, the rhetoric has to be non-provocative and non-escalatory and action has to be firm, but balanced.

13. International or global or trans-national terrorism of the jihadi variety cannot be countered effectively without international co-operation. There has been an improvement in international co-operation since 9/11, but this co-operation is still hampered by subjective and strategic factors. India has been a victim of this half-hearted co-operation. There is greater readiness on the part of the US and other countries of the West to co-operate with India against terrorism, but ifs and buts come in when it is a question of cooperation against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. This half-hearted co-operation will continue and we must learn to live with it. Ultimately, our strategic success against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism will depend on our own capacity, our own determination and our own will to act. No international co-operation can be a substitute for the national will and determination to act.

14. Victim activism is weak in India. We saw in the US after 9/11 and we have seen among the Jewish people for years, the results which victim activism can achieve. If only we had victim activism in India similar to what one sees in the US and Israel, the relatives of the victims of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai would have rallied in protest against the plea bargain entered into by the FBI with David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba who was an important co-conspirator in the 26/11 terrorist strikes. The total lack of protest from the relatives of those killed speaks poorly of the dormant state of victim activism in India.

15. Shri P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister, has to be commended for his determined efforts to revamp the counter-terrorism machinery after taking over as the Home Minister, but one is disturbed by what appears to be his uncritical admiration of American ideas, American systemic innovations and American-style rhetoric. By all means let us learn from the good practices of countries such as the US and Israel. But let us not blindly ape them. Our country is different. Our people are different. Our sensitivities are different. Uncritical admiration for American systems and approaches to counter-terrorism can prove counter-productive. ( 21-4-2010)

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

Monday, April 19, 2010



There are threats to the current and forthcoming international sports events in India from the following:

Indigenous terrorists acting on their own.
Indigenous terrorists acting at the instance of Pakistan.
Pakistani terrorists.

2.International sports events make attractive soft targets because of the large crowds, the participation of famous foreign sports personalities and foreign media coverage of the events. In the calculation of the terrorists, a successful attack at an international sports event will not only bring large publicity to their cause, but would also damage the credibility of the Indian Government and its security agencies.

3.The undetected planting of explosive devices outside the Bangalore cricket stadium before an India Premier League cricket match on April 17,2010, shows continuing deficiencies in our intelligence and physical security set-up despite the revamping of our counter-terrorism machinery post/26/11. Even if there has been an improvement in the counter-terrorism machinery of the Government of India, a similar improvement has not been there at the State level. In the US, the Department of Homeland Security has the total responsibility for security against terrorists anywhere in US territory. In India, the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India has to share the responsibility with the States.This often weakens security particularly if different parties are in power in New Delhi and the States.

4.More than the IPL tournament,which ends on April 25, the Commonwealth Games due later this year should be a matter of great concern. Next to the Beijing Olympics of August 2008, it is going to involve the largest gathering of sportsmen and other sports personalities in Asia. If the terrorists want to attack it, they would have started their preparations by now by setting up sleeper cells and by finding out ways of infiltrating the stadia and games villages.

5.Pakistan and the Pakistani terrorist organisations would have a strong motive for attempting to disrupt the Commonwealth Games in order to create a poor image of the Indian organising capability as compared to the manner in which Beijing successfully handled the security of the Olympics. A full-fledged security set-up dedicated to the security of the Games should have been in position by now. One does not get the impression that this is so.

6.The decision to change the venue of the semi-finals of the IPL from Bangalore to Mumbai was inevitable, but was it done by the IPL managing committee after consulting the authorities of the Governments of India and Maharashtra? Do they have the required manpower and technical resources to handle two semi-finals and one final? The security drill should not be left purely in the hands of the State. The Government of India should play the leadership role in coordination and follow-up action.

7.The Govt. of India has been playing the leadership role in respect of the security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games, but one has the impression that this is not so in respect of the IPL matches. The security consultants to the IPL and the State Police seem to be handling the security with the role of the Govt. of India reduced to the minimum necessary. The Government of India should play a more active role after what happened at Bangalore.

8.In a statement made in the Lok Sabha after 26/11, Shri P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister of the Government of India, said that one of the reasons for the terrorists' success in Mumbai was because the responsibility for follow-up action was diffused. From what happened at Bangalore, one gets the impression that it continues to be diffused. We have not learnt the lessons of 26/11. ( 21-4-10)

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



Tibetan monks and others, who have survived the April 14,2010, earthquake in the Qinghai Province , the birthplace of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, have appealed to President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabo to allow His Holiness to visit the quake-hit areas to supervise the rescue and relief efforts and to "offer salvation for our dead and prayers for the victims."

2. Their petition, which has been carried in the Chinese language by, a web site run by a group of Chinese political dissidents and exiles, states as follows: "Dear President Hu and Premier Wen. When we suffered the enormous natural disaster of the earthquake, your Party and government immediately dispatched officials and soldiers and forces from all areas of society to rescue us, the victims, and we in the disaster area are extremely thankful for the government's help. But we are masses with a religious faith and for generations upon generations we Buddhists have believed in Gwalya Rinpoche the Dalai Lama. At such a time as this when we have suffered such a terrible blow we are in urgent need of the Dalai Lama to come to our disaster area and provide salvation for our dead and comfort for our wounded souls. President Hu and Premier Wen, we request that in your gracious benevolence you may satisfy the wishes of the people in the disaster area. We Tibetan victims in our tens of thousands plead with the Party and central government to set aside your grudges against the Dalai Lama for the sake of the people in the disaster area. We only wish the Dalai Lama to come to the disaster area to offer salvation for our dead and prayers for the victims. There is no other purpose to this than that of religious faith. It is only by means of the Dalai Lama visiting here to pray for our comfort that the wounds in our souls may be healed, and aside from this there is no better means. " ( )

3. Over 11,000 Tibetans have been injured by the quake. The deaths of many of them have pushed the total number of fatalities to 2000. It could go up further as more injured die. Despite the deaths of a large number of Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns, the surviving monks and nuns have mounted a massive rescue and relief effort on their own without depending on the rescue and relief campaign of the Government. They were among the first to reach the quake-hit areas before Government officials could reach there. They have been complaining that while the rescue and relief efforts of the Government and the Chinese Red Cross have been highlighted by the Chinese and international media, the stupendous efforts of the monasteries and monks have not received the attention they deserved.

4. Apart from the massive human tragedy, Tibetan Buddhism and culture have also suffered damages due to the destruction by the quake of a number of monasteries and Tibetan cultural heritage sites in the area and the deaths of a large number of monks and nuns. No estimate of the monks and nuns killed are available, but their number is believed to be high.

5. Among the historic monasteries which have suffered damages are the 1300-year old Thrangu monastery, one of the most historically important monasteries of the world, a center for retreat for several previous incarnations of the Karmapa Lama - the head of the Karma Kagyu school of Buddhism--- and the Mahakala shrine. The quake-hit areas have historic and spiritual links with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Karma Kagyu school of Buddhism headed by the Karmapa Lama.

6. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his officials have appealed to the Chinese to allow His Holiness to visit the quake-hit areas, but it is certain the Chinese will not allow him. Nor will the international community exercise pressure on Beijing to allow His Holiness to visit the areas. It is important for international broadcasting stations broadcasting programmes in the Tibetan language, including the external services of All India Radio, to broadcast the prayers of His Holiness to the people of the area. ( 20-4-10)

( 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: )



A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in northwest China's Qinghai Province, on April 14,2010,
killing 1,339 persons----the majority of them Tibetans.Another 332 persons have been reported missing.

2. The epicenter was about 50 km west of the Jiegu Township, the government seat of the Yushu Prefecture, and about 800 km from Xining, the provincial capital. The prefecture has a total area of 267,000 square kilometers and, according to the Chinese media, a population of about 252,700 people, 97 per cent of whom are ethnic Tibetans.

3.Yushu is located at about 4,000 meters above the sea level. The high altitude, thin air, freezing temperatures and electricity shortages have hampered the rescue operations. Braving these difficulties, the Chinese authorities led from the front by President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabo have mobilised massive rescue and relief work. On hearng about the quake, Prime Minister Wen rushed to the affected areas to supervise the rescue and relief operations mounted by the local authorities, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese Red Cross. President Hu cut short his travel in Latin America and rushed to Yushu to join Wen in supervising the rescue and relief operations.

4. The fact that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway line, which is about 360 kms away from the epi centre, has remained undamaged by the quake has helped the Chinese authorities in rushing relief material and personnel to the affected areas.

5. The rapidity and efficiency with which the Chinese authorities have mobilised the relief operations have been highlighted by the Western media, which look upon it as an indicator of the competence and efficiency of China's disaster relief machinery. They have also seen in the impressive relief operations a Chinese keenness to express their solidarity with the Tibetans at their hour of tragedy and wean them away from their feelings of alienation towards the Hans. In their reports from the quake-hit areas, Chinese media have been projecting those who are engaged in the rescue and relief operations as the Tibetans' " Han uncles" and as the "Han uncles" of the PLA.

6. Large sections of the Han population in the rest of China and China's netizen community (about 380 million) have also rallied to the support of the Tibetans affected by the quake by making donations and appealing for donations from others." Tonight we are all Tibetans," said a message appealing for donations.

7. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has expressed his appreciation of the way the rescue and relief operations have been organised in this area in which His Holiness himself and the previous Panchen Lama were born. His Holiness has also noted with appreciation the role played by Prime Minister Wen in supervising the operations. His Holiness has said in his message: "I also applaud the Chinese authorities for visiting the affected areas, especially Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who has not only personally offered comfort to the affected communities, but has also overseen the relief work. I am very appreciative too that the media have been free to report on the tragedy and its aftermath."

8. The Chinese authorities have welcomed assistance from the international community to supplement their efforts. Messages of sympathy and solidarity with the affected people have been pouring into China. The Government-owned Xinhua news agency has been publishing details of these messages and of the foreign help received. A careful monitoring of these details surprisingly show that India and our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh do not figure in this list. Even the names of Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives and their leaders figure.

9. One is certain India too must have expressed its solidarity and contributed its assistance. If so, why this is being treated in such a low-profile manner? Why are India and our Prime Minister not in the forefront of those in the international community rushing to the assistance of the affected Tibetans? What is preventing or discouraging us from doing so? (19-4-10)

( 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: )