Monday, May 31, 2010



The dilemma posed by Pakistan to US policy-makers and opinion-moulders is reflected in an editorial titled “Dealing With Pakistan” published by the “New York Times” of May 28,2010. Its text is annexed.

2. Terrorists are the main foreign exchange earners of Pakistan. The more the terrorists operating from its soil, the more the aid from the West to deal with them. The more the aid from the West, the more the terrorists on its soil.

3. The Pakistani leaders----military and political--- feel that as the main source of threat to the security of the US and other countries of the West, the terrorists on its soil have brought for it a strategic importance and attention which it would not have otherwise secured.

4. When Pakistan was born in 1947, it had a two-commodity economy--- cotton and cotton-based textiles and leather goods. It continues to have a two-commodity economy. It has not been able to diversify it. In the past, what it earned from the export of these two commodities was sufficient to keep it going and to meet its imports bill. Today, it is not.

5. Today, it needs a substantial extra source of income to be able to meet its imports bill and service its external debt. In the absence of any significant economic development, it is dependent on assistance from the West---mainly from the US--- to keep the economy and the State going and to avoid bankruptcy.

6. During the cold war, its willingness to let its territory be used by the US for its campaign against the erstwhile USSR brought it the required aid flow from the US. The end of the cold war saw its importance in the eyes of the US decline. This was accompanied by a decrease in cash flow.

7. Pakistan’s value as the surrogate of the West in its campaign against the USSR was replaced by the spectre of its becoming the main source of threat to the security of the US and other Western countries from the terrorists operating from its soil. The cash flow was resumed and it kept increasing----this time not for assisting the US in fighting against the USSR, but for its supposedly collaborating with the US in its efforts to contain and neutralize terrorism originating from its soil.

8.A two-pronged policy of collaboration became its new strategic weapon---- seeming collaboration with the US against the terrorists in return for the cash flow and collaboration with the terrorists against the US for keeping the US fears of a terrorist attack on the US homeland alive and for preventing any threat to its own security from the terrorists.

9. If terrorism emanating from the Pakistani soil dries up, its importance in the eyes of the US will again decline just as it happened when the threat from the USSR ended. It is in its interest to keep terrorism alive so that the fears of the US remained alive and money continued to flow from the US for keeping the terrorists under control.

10.The US finds itself in a thankless situation. The more the aid it gives to Pakistan to deal with the terrorists, the more the incentive for Pakistan to keep the terrorists alive and active to keep alive the fears of the US. If it reduces its aid to Pakistan, there is a danger of Pakistan not doing even what it is doing now to deal with the terrorists.

11.The only way the US can get out of this vicious circle is by taking in its own hands the responsibility for destroying the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory instead of depending on Pakistan for this.

12. This policy has many risks:

• An increase in anti-Americanism in Pakistan and a consequent rise in the flow of volunteers to the terrorist organizations.
• An increase in the influence of Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan.
• A spell of political instability in Pakistan with a further weakening of the mainstream political elements.
• The emergence of another Afghanistan, which cannot be easily brought under control.

13. One way of avoiding a risky direct role by the US will be by assisting elements in Pakistan such as the Balochs, the Sindhis and the Mohajirs, which have been unhappy over the state of affairs in the country and over the increase in the activities of the fundamentalists and other Talibanised jihadis, to achieve their political objectives ---- whether those objectives are independence or autonomy.

14. Terrorism is unlikely to end in Pakistan as it is constituted today. A Pakistan reduced to its fundamentalist Punjabi core surrounded by non-fundamentalist liberal Islamic states of different ethnic origin may not be able to exploit the terrorist weapon in the same way as the present-day Pakistan has been doing.

15. Pakistan of the 1971 vintage is becoming an increasing threat to the homeland security of many nations of the world----in the West as well as the East, in the Ummah as well as in the non-Islamic world. One has to work for a reduced Pakistan to make this threat manageable and ultimately eliminate it. ( 31-5-10)

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


Dealing With Pakistan
Published: May 28, 2010

Nine years after the 9/11 attacks, the United States is still trying to figure out how to manage relations with Pakistan — and what mix of inducements and public and private pressures will persuade Islamabad to fully commit to the fight against extremists.

The Obama administration is working hard to cultivate top Pakistani officials. There are regular high-level visits. In March, a senior Pakistani delegation visited Washington for a strategic dialogue with the Americans that seems to be building trust and cooperation across a range of government agencies.

An April visit to Islamabad by the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, and Leon Panetta, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was a reminder of the limits of American power. They warned officials of severe consequences if an attack on American soil is traced back to Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s proximity to Afghanistan, its nuclear arsenal and the fragility of its government, it is not clear how much punishment Washington would ever mete out.
Pakistan has its own horrifying reminders that the fight against terrorism is not just America’s fight. On Friday, gunmen and suicide bombers stormed two mosques in Lahore, killing at least 80 worshipers.

Pakistan’s Army has mounted big offensives against Pakistani Taliban factions in the Swat Valley and South Waziristan. It has hesitated in North Waziristan where Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the failed Times Square bombing, reportedly received support and training. Intelligence-sharing has improved, but there is a lot more to be done as the Shahzad case showed.

So why isn’t Pakistan doing all it needs to?

Part of that is the strategic game. Islamabad has long used extremist groups in its never-ending competition with India. Part is a lack of military capability and part political cowardice. While some of Pakistan’s top leaders may “get it,” the public definitely does not.

The United States still does not have a good enough strategy for winning over Pakistan’s people, who are fed a relentless diet of anti-American propaganda.

As The Times reported on Wednesday, the United States is often blamed for everything from water shortages to trying to destroy the Pakistani state. The Obama administration came in determined to change that narrative. When he was in the Senate, Joseph Biden, now the vice president, worked with Richard Lugar on a $7.5 billion, five-year aid package that would prove American concern for the Pakistani people (not just the military) by investing in schools, hospitals and power projects.

Congress approved the first $1.5 billion for 2010, but the State Department is still figuring out how to spend it. The projects need to move as quickly as possible. And Pakistani leaders who demand more help, but then cynically disparage the aid, need to change their narrative.

The State Department also needs to move faster to implement its public diplomacy plan for Pakistan. Officials need to think hard about how to make sure Pakistanis know that aid is coming from the United States — like the $51 million for upgrading three thermal power plants announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in October. It is a delicate issue, but the “made in America” label has to be affixed.
The State Department has committed to spend $107 million over two years to help Pakistanis better understand the United States. Plans include bringing 2,500 Pakistani academics and others on exchange visits and expanding after-school English classes in Pakistan. There also are proposals to bring more American academics to Pakistan and to reopen cultural centers. They should move ahead. An initiative to make more American officials available to speak directly to Pakistanis has shown promise.

Changing Pakistani attitudes about the United States will take generations. The Shahzad case is one more reminder that there is no time to lose.

Sunday, May 30, 2010




A day before the start of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue at Washington DC and three days before President Barack Obama’s appearance at a reception to be hosted for the Indian delegation by Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, one more charade in Indo-US cooperation will be enacted with the departure of a four-member team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of the Government of India for Chicago to interrogate David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) on his secret visits to India at the instance of the LET to collect operational information that would facilitate one more terrorist strike by the LET in India----this time directed mainly at Israeli and other Jewish targets.

2. On May 1,2010, Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, tried unsuccessfully to cause an explosion in the Times Square of New York. He was identified and arrested on May 3 as he was trying to flee to Pakistan. Within a week, the US made the Pakistani authorities detain for questioning over 15 persons in Karachi, Islamabad and other places in this connection and US officials including Gen.James Jones, the US National Security Adviser, Mr.Leon Panetta, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) flew to Pakistan thereafter to insist on follow-up action by the Pakistani agencies and to warn the Pakistani leaders of the consequences of their non-cooperation.

3. One admired the seriousness and the sense of urgency shown by US officials for protecting American lives. If the protestations of President Barack Obama and his officials of friendship for India and their repeated assurances of the high priority attached by him to the US relations with India were sincere and honest, one would have expected from them a similar seriousness and sense of urgency in protecting Indian lives by facilitating immediate access to Headley for Indian investigators.

4. The immediate follow-up which they insisted upon from Pakistan to protect American lives, they did not concede to India to protect Indian lives. Headley was arrested by them in the beginning of October, 2009. It has taken them eight months to grant access to the Indian investigators. Even the access which they have now agreed to give after a delay of eight months is a limited one. During this delay of eight months, the LET would have been able to cover up its trail in India, withdraw from India those of its cadres whose identities were known to Headley and reorganize and relocate its sleeper cells.

5. The Indian investigators, it has been reported, will be allowed to question Headley in the presence of his lawyer and an official of the FBI. Do you call this interrogation? What is interrogation? It is not just questioning a person and typing out his replies. It is much more than that. It is a psychological process by which you make the suspect contradict himself by confronting him with evidence which you have been able to collect independently. Ultimately, he realizes the game is up and comes out with the truth.

6.With Headley’s lawyer and the FBI officer sitting there all the time, will the Indian investigators be able to do it? No. Headley will just give proforma replies to the Indian questions and these replies would have been rehearsed with his lawyer and got approved by him. Of what use, his proforma replies? Will we be able to prosecute him in India? If we decide to do so, will the US extradite him to India?

7.The departure of the Indian team to the US just before the Strategic Dialogue and the appearance of Mr.Obama at the State Department to talk to the Indian delegation is meant to prevent this issue from casting a shadow on the dialogue.

8.Do you remember what we were told after the so-called State visit of our Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, to Washington DC in November last? We were told of a counter-terrorism initiative which the two countries have embarked upon. We were told of the personal interest taken by Mr.Obama in the Headley case. We were told of his instructions to the FBI chief, Mr.Robert Mueller, to visit India and reassure his Indian counterparts of the FBI’s readiness to co-operate with India in this matter. Subsequently, the US Ambassador to India, Mr.Timothy Roemer, has been repeatedly telling Indian officials and people that the US was working “day and night” to meet the Indian request for access to Headley.

9. The outcome: A delay of eight months in giving us access and that too a limited access which reduces the entire exercise to a charade.

10. Should India have agreed to go along with this charade? Should the Manmohan Singh Government have literally colluded with the Obama Administration in playing a fraud on the Indian people by creating an illusion of Mr.Obama’s cooperation when the US has not been co-operating with India as it expects others to co-operate with it?

11. It would have been more in keeping with our national self-respect and dignity for the Manmohan Singh Government to have politely withdrawn its request to the US for access to Headley because of the lack of sincerity on the part of the Obama Administration and its belated action, which has reduced the utility of any interrogation by Indian investigators. ( 30-5-10)

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



The Indo-US Strategic Dialogue being held at Washington DC from June 1 to 4, 2010, should try to impart fresh life and momentum to some ideas mooted in the past, which have not made satisfactory progress in implementation.

2. The first relates to co-operation between the two countries in the fields of protection of critical information infrastructure and critical infrastructure. During the first tenure of Mr.George Bush as the President, the two countries had set up a joint Indo-US Cyber Security Forum to promote co-operation for the protection of the critical information infrastructure in the two countries. The Forum consisted of experts of not only the two Governments, but also of the private sector. The association of the private sector with a highly classified joint governmental forum indicated the realisation of the two Governments that considerable expertise on cyber security was available in the private sector, which had to be tapped for mutual benefit. It was also meant to create an awareness in the private sector of the need for strengthening cyber security in order to be able to protect the critical information infrastructure.

3. The joint Cyber Security Forum had a good start. It used to meet twice a year alternately in New Delhi and Washington DC and discussed a number of new ideas on the subject. It came under a cloud in the second tenure of Mr.Bush after it was found out by the Indian counter-intelligence that the Forum had been misused by the US intelligence for penetrating the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) of the Government of India and allegedly planting moles there. Since then, Indian enthusiasm for the Forum seems to have declined and there has been an understandable reluctance on the part of the Indian security agencies to consider any new ideas for co-operation with the US in such sensitive areas.

4. As a result, ideas for close Indo-US co-operation for the protection of critical infrastructure do not have many takers in the Indian security establishment. The US has undoubtedly developed new technologies for the protection of the critical information infrastructure and the critical infrastructure. India would stand to benefit from these technologies and from a regular exchange of ideas with US experts on the subject. To my knowledge, the setting-up of the joint Cyber Security Forum was not followed up with the setting-up of a joint Forum on the protection of the Critical Infrastructure. This needs to be done.

5. While the misuse of the Cyber Security Forum by the US intelligence agencies for penetrating the NSCS needs to be condemned, we should not allow this to come in the way of future co-operation between the two countries, with appropriate safeguards to ensure that the past misdeed by the US was not repeated. The two countries will benefit by resurrecting this idea and moving it forward.

6.The other idea relates to the promotion of Indo-US co-operation in the use of Science & Technology in Counter-terrorism and joint projects for research and development of homeland security technologies. A joint meeting of leading scientists and counter-terrorism experts of the two countries was held at Goa in January 2004, to discuss this idea. Among those, who addressed this meeting and welcomed the initiative were the then Indian President, Dr.Abdul Kalam, and Mr.Robert Blake, the present Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, who was then the No.2 in the US Embassy in New Delhi. As one who was associated with that meeting, I have been disappointed by the poor follow-up on this idea.

7. Closely associated with this was the idea of joint projects involving India, the US and Israel for the research and development of homeland security technologies. The idea came out of the thinking of an Israeli expert who addressed a gathering of security experts from the three countries, including this writer, who met in Israel in the beginning of 2004 to discuss how the three countries can co-operate in counter-terrorism. This idea too, like other good ideas, has remained without serious follow-up.

8. One of the problems in developing the strategic relationship between the two countries has been the plethora of generalities and platitudes which mark the periodic exchanges at the political and bureaucratic levels and dearth of concrete ideas whose implementation would be of benefit to both the countries and a marked lack of seriousness in following up on the few worthwhile ideas which keep coming up from time to time. It is time to identify concrete areas for bilateral cooperation and bring to bear a laser sharp focus on their implementation. (30-5-10)

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

Saturday, May 29, 2010




Eighty persons were killed and over 120 others injured in two acts of terrorism directed against Ahmadi worshippers in two mosques belonging to their community in Lahore on May 28,2010. Among those killed were former sessions judge Ameer Ahmad Sheikh, the Amir of the Ahmadia community in Lahore Ejazul Haq, and Major General (retd) Nasir Ahmad.

2.Though the Ahmadis had been subjected in the past to persecution and atrocities by the Sunni extremists, these were the most brutal acts of terrorism directed against them since Pakistan was born in 1947. There had been worse acts of terrorism directed against the Shias, who are in a much larger number and much more influential politically and economically in the Pakistani society, but the Ahmadis, who are a marginalized community with no political or economic power, had been spared such acts of terrorism till now.

3. The two commando-style terrorist attacks were staged at the time of Friday prayers in the two Ahmadi mosques located in the Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas of Lahore. Since the Ahmadis are treated as non-Muslims in Pakistan because they do not recognize Prophet Mohammad as the only Prophet of Islam, their places of worship are not recognized as mosques.

4.These attacks have, therefore, been described by the Pakistani officials and media as attacks on places of worship and not mosques. The Ahmadis, who regard themselves as Muslims despite their reverence for the founder of their community as another Prophet, look upon their places of worship as mosques no different from other mosques. Thus, the two incidents were two more instances of brutal attacks by Sunni extremists on another group of Muslims worshipping in mosques. However, in Pakistan, to describe the Ahmadis as Muslims and their places of worship as mosques would be considered blasphemous. There are five million Ahmadis in Pakistan’s total population of about 180 million.

5. Seven heavily armed terrorists throwing hand-grenades into the packed gathering of worshippers and opening fire with assault rifles forced their way into the Garhi Shahu mosque. Two terrorists raided the Model Town mosque. While the worshippers in the Model Town mosque beat back the raiding terrorists before the police intervened, the worshippers in the Garhi Shahu mosque were kept hostage for nearly three hours by the terrorists before they were rescued by the security forces.

6. The security forces are reported to have captured two of the nine terrorists involved in the two attacks. Three allegedly blew themselves up and the remaining four were killed in the exchange of fire. According to the “Daily Times” of Lahore, the attackers also fired shots and hurled a hand grenade at a nearby mosque of Ahl-e-Hadees, adjacent to the City Law College.

7. A TV channel quoted the Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah as saying that one of the captured terrorists belonged to Rahim Yar Khan district and used to be a student of a madrassa in Karachi and that the other terrorist captured is a Pashtun.

8. On March 8, a suicide bomber had rammed his car packed with explosives into a Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore, killing 11 people. On March 12, two suicide bombers had attacked Pakistani Army vehicles in a military cantonment in the city, killing more than 50 people. There were no major terrorist incidents in Lahore in April.

9. A statement disseminated from London through the Internet on behalf of the international Ahmadiya community said: “The attacks are the culmination of years of un-policed persecution of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat, which is a minority sect in Pakistan. In 1974 legislation was passed that declared Ahmadis to be ‘non-Muslim’ and in 1984 further legislation was passed in which the practice of the faith was outlawed. At regular intervals since then Ahmadis have been attacked but today’s attack is the most cruel and barbaric. All Ahmadis, who are based in 195 countries, are peace loving and tolerant people and yet they are continually targeted by extremist factions. During his Friday Sermon at 1pm today (May 28) the Head of the Ahmadiya Muslim Jamaat,His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, said: “Today two of our mosques in Lahore were attacked by extremists. At the moment we do not have full details of what has happened. It is clear though that a number of our Ahmadis have been killed and many others have been injured. These people had merely come to the mosques to offer their Friday prayers and yet became victims of a heinous terrorist attack. May God grant patience to the bereaved and elevate the status of those who have been martyred.”

10. A report disseminated from Lahore by the Associated Press said: “Ahmadis are reviled as heretics by mainstream Muslims for their belief that their sect’s founder was a savior foretold by the Quran, Islam’s holy book. The group has experienced years of state-sanctioned discrimination and occasional attacks by radical Sunni Muslims in Pakistan, but never before in such a large and coordinated fashion.” The AP report further said that before the attacks the suspect from Rahim Yar Khan had stayed at a center belonging to the Tableeghi Jamaat.

11.Geo TV reported that the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility, but the authenticity of the claim is yet to be established.

12.On April 17, 2010, “Dawn” of Karachi had reported an increase in kidnappings for ransom and murderous attacks on members of the Ahmadiya community in the industrial town of Faislabad in the Punjab. A member of the local Ahmadiya community had alleged that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD) headed by Prof.Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, which is the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), was responsible for these incidents and that the local police were not taking action against those involved. Faislabad is a stronghjold of the LET. Abu Zubaidah of Al Qaeda, now held in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, was captured in 2002 from the house of an LET activist in Faislabad. The Ahmadis have been alleging that the JUD and some members of the Pakistan Muslim League (N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister, have been acting in tandem in attacking the members of the community in Punjab. In this connection, they have named Syed Saqlain Shah, a member of the National Assembly, his uncle Syed Iqbal Shah, a former member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly, and Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, senior Vice-President of PML (N).

13. The LET, which is close to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), never indulges in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory. It is doubtful whether it would have carried out the terrorist attacks on the Ahmadis despite its past acts of atrocities and intimidation against them. A strong suspect is the Sunni extremist Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which has been involved in acts of terrorism in Pakistani territory for many years. Like the LET, it too is close to Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

14. Two other suspects are the Jaish-e-Mohammad, whose leader Maulana Masood Azhar, had served for some years in the LEJ, and an organization mysteriously calling itself the Asian Tigers with no allusions to Islam or the Holy Koran, which looks upon the Ahmadis as American agents. The Asian Tigers were allegedly responsible for the recent kidnapping and execution of Sq.Leader Khalid Khawaja, a retired officer of the Pakistan Air Force, who had served for some years in the ISI. After his retirement, he used to hobnob with a number of jihadi terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, the TTP, the JEM, the LET and the LEJ, and had come under suspicion in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist in the beginning of 2002. The Asian Tigers had accused him of being an agent of the US and the Ahmadis. Not much is known about its origin and background. It is possible that the LET or Ilyas Kashmiri’s 313 Brigade also operate under the name Asian Tigers in order to avoid attracting the suspicion of the ISI and the US. (29-5-10)

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

Friday, May 28, 2010



At least 76 railway passengers are reported to have been killed in an incident attributed to the Maoists in the West Midnapore District of West Bengal on the morning of May 28,2010. The incident took place at around 1-30 AM at a place about 150 KMs from Kolkata.

2. The incident occurred when 13 coaches of a Super Deluxe Express train going from Howrah in Kolkata to Mumbai derailed. A goods train coming at the same time from the opposite direction hit five of the 13 derailed coaches.

3. It is clear the derailment was a criminal act, but the cause of the derailment, which led to the tragedy, is under investigation. The Railway Minister, Ms. Mamata Banerjee, blamed it on a "bomb blast" on the rail track while the West Bengal Police said it was an act of sabotage since fish plates were found removed from the railway track. The Union Home Minister, Shri P Chidamabaram said in New Delhi that the disaster appeared to be an act of sabotage, but it was not yet clear whether explosives were used to cause the derailment.

4.Ms.Mamta Banerjee has been quoted by sections of the media as saying that a patrol engine had passed through the disaster spot half an hour earlier. If so, it is not clear how it missed the explosive device if it had been planted on the track. If the claim that a patrol engine had passed over the track about 30 minutes before the derailment is correct, it would weaken the possibility of sabotage. Thirty minutes after the patrol engine had passed would have been insufficient for the perpetrators to remove the fish-plates from the track. The picture is not clear. It is important to keep an open mind while investigating the responsibility for the criminal act.

5.The present suspicion is that the Maoists must be responsible for the criminal act-----whether it was caused by an act of terrorism or an act of sabotage. The criminal act was committed in an area, where the Maoists have been active. The Maoists of the State have been observing a Black Week to protest against alleged atrocities by the security forces against them. Inspector-General of Police (Law and Order) Shri S. Karpurakayastha of the West Bengal Police was reported to have told the Press Trust of India (PTI) that the Maoist-backed People's Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) had left two posters near the rail track "clearly owning responsibility" for the derailment. However, a PCPA spokesman Shri Asit Mahato has denied the group's involvement.

6.The history of terrorism and insurgency in India has seen many attacks directed against railway transport---- against inter-city long-distance trains as well as against urban trains. The first anniversary in 1993 of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by a Hindu mob saw a number of explosions in railway trains allegedly caused by members of the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). Over the years there has been a number of attacks against railway transport in the rural areas allegedly carried out by the Maoists. The mass casualty attacks against some urban trains in Mumbai in July 2006, were allegedly the work of members of the Indian Mujahideen and/ or the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).

7. Generally, while the Maoists’ preferred modus operandi has been to cause deaths by tampering with the railway track either by planting an explosive device or by removing the fish-plates, that of the jihadis----indigenous as well as Pakistan-sponsored--- has been to plant timed explosive devices inside railway coaches. The jihadis have more sanctuaries and sleeper cells in urban than in rural areas. The reverse is true in the case of the Maoists. Hence, the Maoists’ tendency to attack rural than urban transport. Both the MO are followed by the insurgents and terrorists of the North-East.

8. The tragedy of May 28,2010, underlines weaknesses in our capability for protecting the railway infrastructure. The Mumbai July 2006 attacks were followed by measures to strengthen physical security in urban railway networks. Weaknesses in physical security in rural railway networks have been exploited by the perpetrators on May 28.

9. Protecting the rural inter-city railway traffic is a much more complex and difficult job than protecting urban traffic. How to strengthen the physical security for rural inter-city trains is a question which needs urgent attention. Anti-explosive checks inside trains, frequent foot patrolling and patrol car patrolling of the railway tracks are the normal security precautions already followed by the Railways and our security agencies. Can they be further strengthened and supplemented by other measures?

10. If the investigation establishes that the Maoists were responsible for the criminal act, it proves once again that they have become indifferent to the impact of their actions on the general public. Fears of public aversion to their acts are no longer a restraining factor on their activities. When the jihadis developed a similar indifference to public aversion some years ago, we were faced with an increase in their attacks on soft targets. We could face a similar increase in Maoist attacks on soft targets in rural areas and small towns.

11.The increasing attacks on soft targets in the rural areas and small towns would call for a new strategy aimed at the identification and targeted neutralization of the Maoist leadership. There is no other way of countering attacks on soft targets. Physical security, however strong, cannot guarantee total protection against attacks on soft targets.

12. The need for a two-pronged approach---- suitable political handling to address the grievances and anger of the tribals and other poor people who flock to the Maoist groups and a strong security response to the Maoist organizations and their leadership in order to make them give up violence or face neutralization--- remains valid even after what happened on May 28. But our sympathy for the grievances of the tribals and other poor people should not be allowed to come in the way of strong action against the Maoist organizations and their leadership. The initiative for evolving and implementing a suitable strategy has to come from the Government of India, with the co-operation of the affected States. (29-5-10)

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010



The “Times of India” has reported (May 28,2010) that the Government of India is contemplating the setting up under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of a coordination committee on all matters concerning security and intelligence. This committee will initially comprise the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Cabinet Secretary and the Union Home Secretary.

2. If this proposal is approved and comes into being, it could mean the retention of the co-ordination responsibility in the PMO, but with the NSA, who is part of the PMO, sharing that responsibility with the Cabinet Secretary and the Home Secretary,instead of exercising that responsibility exclusively as has been the practice till now.

3. The Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus set up in 2000 under the chairmanship of Shri G.C.Saxena, former head of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) and the then Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, had recommended a two-tier mechanism for co-ordination---- the first consisting of all intelligence agencies and the second in respect of technical intelligence. It recommended that the Principal Secretary to the PM, in his concurrent capacity as the NSA, should head both. Shri Brajesh Mishra thus became the Co-ordination Czar of the then Government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

4. Shri J.N.Dixit, who succeeded Shri Mishra as the NSA in 2004, and Shri M.K. Narayanan, who succeeded Shri Dixit after his death in January 2005, continued to exercise exclusively the responsibility for co-ordination with the Principal Secretary to the PM having no responsibility in the matter. While the intelligence agencies were not quite comfortable with Shri Dixit inheriting this role, they were quite happy with Shri Narayanan, a former head of the Intelligence Bureau and a former Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, exercising this responsibility.

5. Ever since Shri P.Chidambaram took over as the Home Minister after the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, there were indications that he was not happy over the marginalization of the role of his Ministry in the co-ordination of the functioning of the intelligence community. It was apparent from his 22nd Intelligence Bureau Centenary Endowment Lecture at New Delhi on December 23, 2009, that he wanted his role and that of his Ministry in matters relating to internal security management to be strengthened. His desire for a more participatory and active role for the MHA in the co-ordination of the functioning of the TECHINT agencies became clear during his intervention in the Lok Sabha at the time of the recent debate over allegations of phone-tapping by the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

6. If Shri Chidambaram has his way it would dilute the role of the PMO in general and the new NSA, Shri Shiv Shankar Menon, in particular in the co-ordination of the functioning of the intelligence and security agencies. If the TOI report is correct, the PMO is trying to find a new mechanism under which the PMO will continue to exercise the co-ordination responsibilities through the NSA, while at the same time partly satisfying the desire of Shri Chidambaram by making the NSA share this responsibility with the Cabinet Secretary and the Home Secretary.

7.Before 2000, the responsibility for co-ordination was being exercised by the Secretaries’ Committee chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and consisting of the Home, Defence and Foreign Secretaries and the Principal Secretary to the PM. This collective responsibility for co-ordination, which was replaced in 2000 by the exclusive responsibility of the NSA, is now sought to be revived in a modified form under which the NSA will still be responsible for co-ordination but with his powers shared with the Home Secretary and the Cabinet Secretary. Shri Menon will not be an intelligence and security Czar as his predecessors were.

8. Nor will Shri Chidambaram be the Co-ordination Czar. He will have a more important role than his predecessors since 2000, but not as important as he would have liked it to be.

9. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of December 24,2009, titled “the Internal Security Czar” at (28-5-10)

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010



The increasingly adventuristic policies and actions of North Korea and China's reluctance to tame North Korea to oblige President Barack Obama have placed him in a quandary where the US will be damned if it acts against North Korea for sinking the South Korean naval ship Cheonan in March last and will be equally damned if it does not.

2. Nothing brings out the helpless state of the US under Mr.Obama more dramatically than the reported plea of Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, who has just completed a high-profile visit to Beijing for a bilateral strategic dialogue. News agencies have quoted her as saying : "The US and China must work together to fashion an effective response to the sinking of the Cheonan. Maintaining peace on the Korean peninsula is a shared responsibility between the countries."

3. Ever since Mr.Obama assumed office as the President in January 2009, there has been a weakening of the US will and readiness to act independently in crisis situations-----whether these related to the global economic melt-down or peace and security in regions of vital interest to the US or nuclear proliferation or counter-terrorism. The beneficiaries of Mr.Obama's lack of will to act firmly and independently have been rogue states such as Iran, Pakistan and North Korea.

4. In foreign policy matters, the US has practically been reduced by Mr.Obama to the position of a dependency of China---- depending on the goodwill and co-operation of China for dealing with these States and for protecting vital US national interests----whether in the Pacific region or in the Af-Pak area or in the Gulf.

5. The inability of Mr.Obama to fashion a coherent and deterrent response to the rogue states has further encouraged the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea and strengthened their determination to go ahead with their nuclear projects without having to worry about a robust US response. Both Iran and North Korea have convinced themselves that they don't have to worry about the response of the US so long as they have the support of China.

6. It is amazing that in less than 18 months, Mr.Obama has reduced the US to the position of a mediocre Pacific power, which has to depend on China for protecting its regional interests. The policy of containing China followed under Mr.George Bush has given way under Mr.Obama to one of pathetically courting China to spare Mr.Obama the dilemma of having to act against the rogue States. Mr.Obama's power-sharing willingness in the Pacific has given China an importance which it had never dreamt of having till 2020.

7. So long as the rogue States have the confidence that China will not let them down, the US is going to find itself confronted more and more with Cheonan-like situations. North Korea's action in sinking the Cheonan without worrying about the implications dramatically illustrates the contempt that it has for the US power in the region. It is not bothered about condemnation by the UN Security Council or by the likelihood of international sanctions.

8. Fears of a US determined to act even at the risk of a military confrontation are what kept States such as Iran and North Korea under some control in the past. The disappearance of these fears and the US-encouraged rise of the Chinese influence and role led to the adventuristic naval action by North Korea in March last and could one day lead to an adventuristic Iranian action against Israel.

9. The fear of the US Pacific Fleet once acted as the deterrent. It no longer does so. The result: The US finds itself with zero options in the Pacific either for acting against North Korea or for enforcing its will in the region as a whole. ( 26-5-10)

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

Monday, May 24, 2010



The Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, addressed a press conference on May 24,2010, to mark the completion of one year of his second tenure as the Prime Minister. Hopes that he will be more forhcoming than he usually is on matters of concern to the people such as the internal security situation and India's relations with Pakistan were belied. He was evasive and avoided going into specifics. This has led to considerable criticism.

2. It would be unfair to say that Dr.Manmohan Singh has not had achievements to his credit during the six years he has been in office. He has had. The economy has been in good shape without being affected seriously by the global melt-down. Greater attention has been paid to the problems of the common man. India's relations with the US have improved without affecting its relations with Russia. It has maintained its interest in Afghanistan without being deterred by terrorist attacks on the Indian mission in Kabul and without letting itself be forced by the US pressure to reduce its presence in that country to address Pakistani concerns. Frictions over border and security-related issues have not been allowed to come in the way of the developing economic relations with China. Following the Copenhagen summit, the comfort level between India and China has increased. Relations with Sri Lanka have improved and India has played a quiet role in ensuring the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan Government without losing sight of the interests of the Tamils. Relations with Bangladesh are in a better shape than before with greater attention to India's security concerns by the Government in Dhaka. Despite misunderstanding with the Maoists of Nepal, India has not lost the goodwill of the political class in Nepal. The low-profile relations with Myanmar have served India's security interests. Relations with Bhutan, the Maldives, the ASEAN countries and Japan continue to improve. While maintaining its interest in the countries to the East of India, India has been paying more attention to the countries to the West of India. The Look East policy has been supplemented by a much-needed Look West policy. India has been playing an important role in multilateral institutions and mechanisms----whether in matters relating to the economy or regional security. India is accepted as a benign regional power though there is continuing skepticism over its capability to play the role of a global power on par with China.

3.Lack of public enthusiasm over his policies have been confined to his handling of Pakistan's use of terrorism against India and the increase in the activities of the Maoists, who pose a challenge to the political stability and internal security of India. His desire for better relations with Pakistan in spite of its continuing use of terrorism against India to achieve a change in the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir and to keep India weak came out clearly at the press conference. No one can question his interest in keeping the dialogue going with Pakistan in the hope of one day persuading the Pakistani leadership to realise the folly of using terrorism to serve its national agenda. What one finds distrurbing is his tendency to romanticise India's relation with Pakistan and his ill-conceived assertion that India's emergence as a major power depended on better relations with Pakistan.

4.His remarks linking India's future as a major power with an improvement in its relations with Pakistan are likely to be misinterpreted in Islamabad as indicating that its use of terrorism against India has started paying dividends. There will be more and not less terrorism as a result of Dr.Manmohan Singh's penchant for softness towards Pakistan. Ever since he took over as the Prime Minister in 2004, one has not come across a single statement of his indicating in clear terms what India can do and what it will not do to improve relations with Pakistan.

5. There has been an unfortunate impression in Pakistan that Dr.Manmohan Singh does not attach the same seriousness to Pakistan's use of terrorism against India as large sections of our public and political class do. As a result of Dr.Manmohan Singh's perceived softness towards Pakistan and his disinclination to use the stick against Pakistan, there is an impression in Pakistan's military and intelligence circles that Dr.Manmohan Singh lacks the will and the desire to be tough with Pakistan and , hence, they can do anything against India and get away with it so long as he is the Prime Minister.

6. Unless this impression is corrected through a clear enunciation of our policy, we are not going to have any respite from Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. India has suffered two acts of mass casualty terrorism emanating from Pakistan during the tenure of Dr.Manmohan Singh---- the July 2006 attack on suburban trains in Mumbai and the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai--- and more are likely so long as our Prime Minister does not act to remove this impression of Pakistan.

7. Unwilling to strike and hesitant to wound Pakistan. Repeated expressions of goodwill towards Pakistan seem to be more important to him than assurances to his own people that he will not tolerate any more act of mass casualty terrorism against his people from Pakistan.

8. This is not an argument against talks with Pakistan. This is an argument to hold our feet firmly to the ground while talking to Pakistan and to avoid talks based on illusions. This is an argument to underline that Dr.Manmohan Singh, as the Prime Minister, has an important responsibility to protect the lives and property of his people from acts of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan. The exercise of this responsibility should have greater priority over any goodwill for Pakistan.

9.His conviction that India's rise as a major power depends on better relations with Pakistan is not totally correct. Better relations with Pakistan will definitely help, but the absence of it will not mean the end of the world for India. We have reached where we are today despite our bad relations with Pakistan and we can continue to keep moving forward even if there is no significant improvement in the bilateral relations. Talk to Pakistan, but avoid the defeatist impression that talking to Pakistan is the only salvation for India. It is not.

10. His remarks on the Maoist challenge brought out clearly the bureaucrat-turned-politician in him and not the statesman. The realisation that the Maoist problem is no longer a localised regional problem was missing in his remarks. It has become a political and humanitarian challenge and a security problem with pan-Indian dimensions that has to be dealt with at a pan-Indian level. A pan-Indian response to this challenge has to come from New Delhi and the Prime Minister has to play the leadership role in the search for such a response.

11. Instead of admitting his responsibility and expressing his determination to exercise that responsibility, he sought to pass the buck on to the States by projecting it as still in the stage of a localised, regional problem which has to be handled by the affected States to the best of their ability with the required assistance from the Govt. of India.

12. His remarks on relations with Pakistan and on the Maoist issue do not bode well for our success in dealing with these two challenges to our national security in an effective manner. ( 25-5-10)

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

Sunday, May 23, 2010



"In a number of websites, as you will find by typing 'cartoons of Mohammed' in Google, cartoonists in all industrial countries have started a concerted vilification campaign to depict the Prophet in the crudest and the most obscene manner. Hundreds of such cartoons have sprouted in most sections of the media in those countries. It would seem that all of them are bent upon teaching a lesson to Muslims for their perceived tendency to eliminate those whom they call infidels and avenging killings by jihadi/Islamic terrorists, and daring them to do their damnedest. One page of Facebook can be closed, but the mushrooming of these hundreds of cartoons is another kettle of fish altogether. The laws against minarets, burqas etc are part of the same psychological war against Muslims and Islam. For the present, Muslims and Muslim countries seem helpless and unsure of what to do to counter this new form of 'clash of civilisations'. It will be interesting to watch the outcome."




As part of the investigation into the attempt by Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, to cause an incendiary car bomb explosion in the Times Square of New York on May 1,2010, the Pakistani authorities are reported to have detained a fresh group of six persons for interrogation.

2. Immediately after the May 1 attempt, they had detained some persons in Karachi----one of them allegedly belonging to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). It was reported at that time that the JEM member had taken Shahzad to Peshawar and from there to a camp of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in North Waziristan. The investigation into the role of those detained at Karachi seems to have reached a dead-end.

3. They have now detained a fresh group of six. This group differs from the earlier group in some respects. Firstly, the earlier group members were mainly from Karachi, whereas five of the six in the new group are residents of Islamabad. Secondly, there were no indications of any links of the members of the previous group with the US. At least some members of the latest group from Islamabad are reported to be returnees from the US who had spent some years in the US----either as students or as workers and then returned to Pakistan to take up local jobs. They had reportedly known Fasil Shahzad when they were in the US. Thirdly, while those detained earlier came from middle or lower middle class families with histories of contacts with jihadi organizations such as the JEM and the madrasas in Karachi controlled by them, those of the Islamabad group seem to belong to upper middle class or affluent families with no previous history of links to jihadi organizations. It is not clear whether they had any links with the Lal Masjid of Islamabad which was raided by Pakistan Special Services Group commandoes in July,2007, during which a large number of students of the two madrasas attached to the Masjid were killed. Many of those killed were Pashtuns from the tribal belt and it was the Pashtun anger over their death which led to the formation of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its taking up arms against the Pakistani Army.

4. And fourthly, while those detained from Karachi earlier have reportedly denied having had anything to do with the May 1 attempt, at least two of those detained in Islamabad are reported to have admitted having known Shahzad and helped him. They have allegedly admitted having helped Shahzad as part of their jihad against infidels. Were they members of the TTP? No evidence so far to prove this, but they knew how to make contacts with the TTP in North Waziristan.

5. It has been reported that some of those arrested in Islamabad have admitted the following: Having helped Shahzad to contact the TTP in North Waziristan; financially helping him though it is not clear whether they helped him meet his expenses in Pakistan or whether they funded his May 1 attempt; having contacted him over phone when they found that he had not fled the US after the failed attempt and urged him to flee the US before he was caught by the local authorities. It is still intriguing why he did not flee immediately and spent 48 hours in the US after having made the attempt.

6. Available particulars of those picked up in the latest round of arrests are given below:

The owner of a large computer shop in Islamabad, who allegedly rang up Shahzad in the US after the attempt and urged him to flee. He apparently knew that it was Shahzad, who had made the attempt.

A post-graduate in business administration from the US who worked for a cell phone company in Islamabad.

Salman Ashraf Khan, a son of Rana Ashraf Khan, who was running a catering company in Islamabad which had links with the US Embassy, after having worked for the Pakistan International Airlines for about 20 years. After reportedly studying in Houston, Texas, Salman had returned to Pakistan and was helping his father in running the catering company. It is alleged that Salman had given some money to Shahzad.

Shoaib Mughal,a computer dealer of Islamabad, who has allegedly admitted having helped Shahzad in contacting the TTP.

Shahid. Full name not known. Had studied in the US and had known Shahzad in the US. Financially helped Shahzad in Pakistan.

A cousin of Salman.

7.It remains to be seen whether the Pakistani authorities are able to take the investigation to its logical conclusion or the investigation reaches a dead-end as it happened in the case of the earlier arrests in Karachi, about which nobody talks now. ( 23-5-10)

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

Saturday, May 22, 2010




During four days of demonstrations in different cities of Pakistan over what many Muslims regard as a blasphemous contest on sketches of Prophet Mohammad sought to be organised by one of the users of Facebook----his controversial page which sparked the anger in Pakistan has since been removed by Facebook---- religious parties and jihadi organisations associated with Al Qaeda and the Talibans have directed the anger against the US and Sweden because of the alleged caricatures of the Holy Prophet by a Swedish and an American national. It is alleged that it was their caricatures which inspired the person who called for blasphemous contest on Facebook.

2. During the demonstrations, slogans were shouted against the US and Sweden, US and Swedish flags were burnt and calls were issued by religious clerics for the death of the Swedish and American cartoonists. A ruling by the Lahore High Court calling for blocking the site of Facebook also added to the anger of pro-Al Qaeda elements because it sought to project the US as partly responsible for the perceived insult to the Prophet. It claimed that Facebook operates from the US and is subject to US laws and regulations. The US had, therefore, a responsibility to act against it.

3. The ruling, which was delivered by Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry said: " As per laws of commerce and business, Facebook is governed by legal jurisdiction of the United States of America and this global social networking has deliberately or recklessly been responsible for hurting feelings and causing discomfort to the majority of Muslim population of Pakistan. Facebook has deliberately or recklessly not taken effective measures for preventing, stopping or blocking blasphemous contest to which it has complete and autonomous authority and a built-in mechanism to block such profane misbehaviour or misconduct. These mechanisms have either been deliberately or recklessly not administered for preventing, stopping or blocking this blasphemous content taking place on Facebook. The announcement of this very blasphemous contest has caused an immense furor and enraged millions of majority Muslims of Pakistan and around the globe, who attach an immense sanctity to the holy status granted to prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad .”

4.Al Qaeda and its associates including the so-called Punjabi Taliban organisations such as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front organisation of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), which were already exploiting the anger against the US over the Drone (pilotless plane) strikes in the tribal belt, have now been exploiting the anger against Facebook for adding to the anti-US feelings in the Pakistani religious circles.

5. Fears of acts of street violence after the Friday prayers on May 21 did not prove correct. There were angry demonstrations outside many mosques and madrasas and the flags of the US and Sweden were burnt, but beyond that there were no other incidents. Al Qaeda has not yet come out with a statement on the issue, but some clerics known to be close to Al Qaeda have called for deaths to the American and Swedish cartoonists, who have allegedly emulated the Danish cartoonist who in 2005 drew up cartoons of the Holy Prophet in a Danish paper.

6. There has been no reaction so far in Pakistan to the alleged publication of a cartoon of the Holy Prophet by a South African journal. The cartoon shows the Holy Prophet as lamenting that Muslims have no sense of humour. This cartoon has already caused protests in South Africa. Since many Muslims in South Africa are of sub-continental origin, reactions in the Indian sub-continent could happen.

7.While Pakistani newspapers have refrained from playing up photographs of the anti-Facebook demonstrations in Pakistan, some have carried photographs purporting to show protest demonstrations by some Muslims in Mumbai after the Friday prayers. Attention has been drawn to the fact that the Government of India was the first to act against Salman Rushdie's book “Satanic Verses" in the 1980s. The insinuation seems to be that while India acted against “Satanic Verses”, it has not against Facebook. We should not allow this to make us act against Facebook. Anyhow, since Facebook has already removed the controversial page, the issue should be treated as closed. Mischievous elements in Pakistan are trying to keep it alive to serve their anti-US agenda. Unless this controversy dies down, it has considerable scope for mischief which could overflow from Pakistan and give a fresh impetus to organizations such as the LET. There is a need to closely monitor the goings-on in Pakistan on this issue. ( 23-5-10)

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



The Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the front organization of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), and other Pakistani jihadi organizations associated with Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been organizing protest demonstrations in different cities of Pakistan to condemn an attempt by an user of “Facebook” to organise an "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day" competition to promote "freedom of expression". His attempt was allegedly inspired by an American woman cartoonist.

2. According to the Agence France Presse (AFP),Molly Norris, the American cartoonist whose work inspired the controversial page, condemned the Facebook spin-off and apologised to Muslims. She allegedly drew a cartoon in April to protest against the cancellation of an episode of popular show "South Park". Norris satirically proposed May 20 as an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." An "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page quickly turned up on Facebook, but Norris, writing on her website, said she had nothing to do with it. "The vitriol this 'day' has brought out of people who only want to draw obscene images, is offensive to Muslims who did nothing to endanger our right to expression in the first place," she said. "I apologise to people of Muslim faith and ask that this 'day' be called off," she said

3.The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) has banned access to Facebook, YouTube and more than 450 links to "derogatory" Internet material in view of what it called "growing sacrilegious content". Sweden said it has closed its embassy in Islamabad for more than two weeks due to the security situation. An Al Qaeda front organisation has reportedly offered US $ 100,000 to anyone who kills Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has angered many Muslims by drawing what they regard a highly blasphemous caricature of the Prophet.

4.In view of the interest taken by the LET and other Al Qaeda associates to exploit this issue to whip up anger in Pakistan, one has to be watchful to the possibility of LET elements in India including members of the Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) indulging in similar provocative acts in India. It is an emotional issue which can be easily exploited to create similar anger in sections of the Indian Muislim community.

5. In this connection, reference is invited to my earlier article of April 3,2010, titled “Was Jihad Jane A Recruit of LET?” annexed below for easy reference. (22-5-10)

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


WAS JIHAD JANE A RECRUIT OF LASHKAR-E-TOIBA? International Terrorism Monitor- Paper N0. 638

By B.Raman

The case of Colleen La Rose also known as Jihad Jane and Fatima La Rose, who was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) a fortnight after the arrest of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in October,2009, and indicted on March 4,2010, on a charge of involvement in a conspiracy to kill a Swedish cartoonist who had drawn a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad in his paper, has not received in India the attention it deserves.

2. Colleen La Rose, a 46-year-old blonde from the Philadelphia area, where Headley used to live for some years before shifting to Chicago, had a troubled personal life. She was a volunteer for jihad who was recruited by an unidentified person in South Asia through the Internet and given the task of killing the Swedish cartoonist, just as Ilyas Kashmiri initially tasked Headley through the Internet to kill the Danish cartoonist, who had published cartoons of the Prophet in a Danish paper in 2005. Headley subsequently met Ilyas in North Waziristan. There is so far no indication that Jihad Jane had met her South Asian recruit to whom she got engaged without ever having met him.

3. Whoever initially recruited Headley and Jihad Jane seems to have done so for two reasons. Firstly, both of them had typical physical features of a White American. They did not look like Muslims and could , therefore, easily evade profiling. Headley looked a typical White despite his Pakistani origin. Jihad Jane is a typical White with no mixed blood. Secondly, both of them are US nationals with valid US passports with which they could travel easily without facing difficulties in obtaining visas and in going through immigration controls.

4. Both of them had been given double tasks. Headley was given the tasks of facilitating the operations of the LET in India and attacking the office of the Danish paper in Copenhagen with the help of sleeper cells in Europe to which Ilyas had given introduction. Headley had played an active role in helping the LET in carrying out the terrorist strikes in Mumbai between November 26 and 29,2008.Jihad Jane had the dual task of killing the Swedish cartoonist with the help of Ireland-based contacts in Europe and organising acts of terrorism in South Asia. In the evidence against her, the reference is to South Asia and not specifically to India.

5. The FBI has revealed the nationalities of her seven accomplices who were picked up in Ireland, but not their identifying particulars.Of the seven arrested in Ireland two are Algerians, two Libyans, a Palestinian, a Croatian, and an American woman married to one of the two arrested Algerians. The FBI documents available so far do not say anything about her South Asian fiancee. They are silent even about his nationality. He has been described as a man who claimed that he knew how to work with bombs and explosives.

6.In June 2008, Jihad Jane had posted a comment on YouTube saying she was “desperate to do something somehow to help” suffering Muslims. According to the FBI indictment, she appears to have been contacted by the jihadis thereafter. The indictment charges that she received a direct order to kill a Swedish resident. She traveled to Sweden and tracked the target with the intent of carrying out the murder. The FBI identified the target as cartoonist Lars Vilks.In an e-mail message to a co-conspirator, she wrote that she would pursue her mission “till I achieve it or die trying,” according to the indictment.The indictment accuses her of agreeing, in March 2009, to marry a co-conspirator from a South Asian country who was trying to obtain residency in Europe.He allegedly urged her to go to Sweden, find the Swedish man "and kill him". The indictment claims she tried to raise money over the internet, lure others to her cause, and lied to FBI investigators.

7. According to US media reports, she is also linked to an online organization -- where she was a subscriber, again using the name Jihad Jane. The site is run by an American Muslim, who had made the following posting after she was indicted: "Sisters -- please consider sending her [LaRose] a message of support and hope and let's remind her she isn't alone. It's likely she's the only Muslimah there. As always, use discretion when writing, don't ask pointed questions, and of course don't say anything that could create problems for her or yourselves."

8.She has been accused not only of conspiring to murder the cartoonist, but also of allegedly trying to recruit women with Western passports to marry fellow violent jihadists and of raising money for terrorist causes.

9.The US Department of Justice has issued the following statement regarding her indictment:

"The indictment charges that LaRose (an American citizen born in 1963 who resides in Montgomery County, Pa.) and five unindicted co-conspirators (located in South Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the United States) recruited men on the Internet to wage violent jihad in South Asia and Europe, and recruited women on the Internet who had passports and the ability to travel to and around Europe in support of violent jihad.

"The indictment further charges that LaRose and her unindicted co-conspirators used the Internet to establish relationships with one another and to communicate regarding their plans, which included martyring themselves, soliciting funds for terrorists, soliciting passports and avoiding travel restrictions (through the collection of passports and through marriage) in order to wage violent jihad. The indictment further charges that LaRose stole another individual’s U.S. passport and transferred or attempted to transfer it in an effort to facilitate an act of international terrorism.

"In addition, according to the indictment, LaRose received a direct order to kill a citizen and resident of Sweden, and to do so in a way that would frighten "the whole Kufar [non-believer] world." The indictment further charges that LaRose agreed to carry out her murder assignment, and that she and her co-conspirators discussed that her appearance and American citizenship would help her blend in while carrying out her plans. According to the indictment, LaRose traveled to Europe and tracked the intended target online in an effort to complete her task."

10.Available details regading the indictment do not identify the South Asian "with knowledge of bombs and explosives" with whom she fell in love through the Internet and who recruited her for acts of terrorism in Sweden and South Asia, but the available particulars of the modus operandi of recruiting and using non-Muslim looking Whites for terrorist strikes point the needle of suspicion at the LET.

11.This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of January 28,2010, titled "Female Headleys in Al Qaeda?" at



The decision of President Barack Obama to drop retired Admiral Dennis Blair, his Director of National Intelligence (DNI), has led to his resignation from the post with effect from May 28,2010. He has chosen to resign instead of waiting for the President to name his successor after being informed by Mr.Obama of his decision to replace him. His announcement that he was quitting came on May 21,2010, three days after the Senate Intelligence Committee had come out with a report specifying 14 intelligence failures relating to the unsuccessful attempt by a Nigerian student trained by Al Qaeda in Yemen to blow up a US flight from Amsterdam as it was about to land in Detroit on December 25,2009. The list of 14 failures named by the Committee is annexed.

2. Ever since the Christmas Day incident, there were indications that Admiral Blair had lost the confidence of Mr.Obama. His role as the co-ordinator of the intelligence community of 16 agencies, as the supervisor of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) and as the driving force behind efforts to improve the collection of human and technical intelligence relating to terrorism came under a cloud. There were reports that Mr.Obama had started dealing directly with other officials like the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Mr.Leon Panetta, and the President’s Counter-Terrorism Adviser Mr.John Brennan. Media reports had alleged that Mr.Obama had sidelined Admiral Blair without removing him from his post.

3. The exit of Admiral Blair was, therefore, not a surprise, but it was interesting that Mr.Obama took five months to decide to replace him even though it became evident after the Christmas Day incident that the DNI had not been able to perform effectively the tasks of co-ordination and joint action for which he was handpicked by Mr.Obama in January 2009.

4. Mr.Obama’s decision to replace Admiral Blair has come at a time when Mr.Obama has failed to make headway with his policies in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea and has been unable to make Pakistan act vigorously against Al Qaeda and the Talibans, which continue to target the US homeland. While the ground situation in Afghanistan continues to be bad, that in Iraq has started deteriorating with renewed Al Qaeda-inspired terrorism. He has been unable to make Iran and North Korea reverse their nuclear policy. North Korea’s action in sinking a South Korean naval ship killing many South Korean naval personnel is a challenge not only to South Korea, but also to the US presence and leadership in the Pacific area. There has been an erosion of US leadership in the East as well as the West Asian regions and the problem states of the world such as Iran, North Korea, Syria and Pakistan no longer have a fear of the US.

5. The replacement of Admiral Blair in the wake of the nervousness caused in the US by the failed attempt of Faisal Shahzad, the US citizen of Pakistani origin, to cause an incendiary explosion in the Times Square, New York, on May 1 would help in diverting public attention away from the gaps in Mr.Obama’s own leadership by focusing on the gaps in the leadership qualities of Admiral Blair, which have enabled foreign-based terrorists----whether Al Qaeda or the Tehrik-a-Taliban Pakistan--- to revive their attacks against the US, whether in the Khost area of Afghanistan where they killed seven CIA officers in the last week of December last or in the US homeland where two surprise attacks planned in stealth failed not because of the capabilities of the US intelligence, but thanks to the alertness of the public.

6. The post of DNI was created in 2004 to coordinate the work of the US intelligence community and to supervise that of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). This was one of the recommendations of the National Commission, which had enquired into the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland. Admiral Blair was the third incumbent of the post. The previous two under Mr.George Bush were Mr. John Negroponte and Mr. John McConell. One had expected that the fact that the DNI works directly under the President and draws his status and authority from him would enable him to perform the role of intelligence co-ordinator effectively. But the expectations were belied.

7. Admiral Blair, like his two predecessors, was able to co-ordinate effectively only the budgetary part of the work----that is, having the total intelligence budget approved by the Congress and deciding on the allocations of individual agencies. He was unable to co-ordinate effectively the operational part of his work---- that is, setting the intelligence collection tasks for different agencies and getting the intelligence collected by different agencies integrated in a single stream, analysed, assessed and followed up. A DNI can perform the operational co-ordination effectively only if the heads of the agencies keep him in the picture regarding their important operations and share with him all important intelligence at every stage of their processing.

8. None of the three DNIs since the post was created in 2004 was able to make the chiefs of individual agencies share with him all that needed to be shared. There was no common understanding of what needed to be shared. The chief of every agency decided this according to his own whims and fancies. Neither Mr.Bush nor Mr.Obama was able to call the heads of individual agencies to order. The US intelligence community lacked the culture of joint action similar to what one finds in the Joint Chiefs of Staff mechanism in the Armed Forces. Instead of creating and heading an integrated intelligence staff, the DNIs were functioning in an ad hoc non-integrated manner.

9. The National Commission wanted the creation of the NCTC under the leadership of the DNI to ensure the integration of the entire intelligence process relating to terrorism-----collection, collation, analysis, assessment and follow-up action. The terrorist attempts on Christmas Day and on May 1 showed weaknesses in the integration process six years after the post of DNI and the NCTC were created.

10.The exit of Admiral Blair will not remove the deficiencies unless and until the entire counter-terrorism mechanism is overhauled and made to function in an integrated manner. There are lessons for India too because one has the impression that after his visit to the US earlier this year, Shri P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, seems to have come back with some admiration for the NCTC and has been trying to create a similar set-up in India. It is necessary to study what went wrong with it in the US so that we can ensure that similar weaknesses do not creep into our system.

11. What makes the difference between a good intelligence community and a bad one is not the number of its staff, its gadgetry and budgets alone, but its culture of joint action. If this culture is missing, thousands of intelligence personnel and billions of dollars alone will not win the fight against terrorism. None of the three DNIs who have held office since 2004 has succeeded in creating this culture. (22-5-10)

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




The Senate Intelligence Committee found 14 intelligence failures that allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to travel to Detroit on Christmas Day :

— The State Department should have revoked Abdulmutallab's U.S. visa based on information available to the department.

— Abdulmutallab wasn't placed on any of the terrorist watchlists because the standards were interpreted too rigidly and may be too complicated to address terrorist threats.

— Key intelligence reports weren't reported to all appropriate CIA individuals and offices.

— A CIA division at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va., didn't search databases that contained reports related to Abdulmutallab.

— The CIA didn't disseminate key reports until after the attempted attack.

— A name search by the CIA Counterterrorism Center was too limited and failed to uncover key reports about Abdulmutallab.

— Analysts at the CIA Counterterrorism Center didn't connect the reporting on Abdulmutallab, focusing instead on Yemen -based threats from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula .

— Because her computer was wrongly configured, an FBI counterterrorism analyst couldn't access all the relevant reports even though they were in the FBI's system.

— The National Counterterrorism Center's directorate of intelligence wasn't properly organized to connect the reporting on Abdulmutallab.

— The National Counterterrorism Center's Watchlisting Office didn't conduct additional research to find more derogatory information to put Abdulmutallab on a watchlist.

— The National Security Agency didn't take all available actions that could have provided information on Abdulmutallab.

— Analysts didn't connect key reports partly identifying Abdulmutallab and didn't disseminate all relevant reporting.

— The NSA didn't select Abdulmutallab for watchlists based on information that only partly identified him.

— Intelligence analysts were focused primarily on threats to U.S. interests in Yemen from al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula rather than on potential threats to the U.S.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010



Gen.James Jones, the National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama, and Mr.Leon Panetta, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), reached Pakistan from Washington DC on May 18,2010, for talks with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Miniater Mr.Yousef Raza Gilani, Gen.Asfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and senior intelligence officials of Pakistan. They are also to hold discussions with US intelligence officials based in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

2. While the visit has been projected by the Pakistani authorities as one of the periodic consultations on intelligence-sharing and liaison between the two countries, it is reliably learnt from Pakistani sources that the visit has been sparked by US concerns over serious gaps in intelligence coverage, which made possible a successful suicide bomber attack through a Jordanian double agent on a group of seven CIA officers based in the Khost area of Afghanistan on December 30,2009, and the attempt of Faisal Shahzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, to make an incendiary attack in the Times Square of New York on the evening of May 1, 2010. Shahzad had almost completed the task which he had been given by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during his training in the North Waziristan area. The Times Square escaped a major disaster partly due to the malfunctioning of the incendiary car bomb left by Shahzad and partly due to the alertness of a T-Shirt vendor, who had alerted a policeman after noticing smoke coming out of the car.

3. The TTP headed by Hakimullah Mehsud had been involved in the successful strike against the CIA officers in the Khost area and in the failed attempt in the Times Square. In both cases, US intelligence was badly caught napping. Human intelligence (HUMINT) has always been a weak point for the US despite the recent improvement which has made possible some successful Drone (pilotless plane) strikes on terrorist suspects in the two Waziristans, but the technical intelligence coverage of the US was of a high order. It was the better TECHINT coverage by the National Security Agency (NSA) which led to the arrests of many Al Qaeda operatives in the Af-Pak region since the US forces went into action in Afghanistan in October,2001.

4.Both HUMINT and TECHINT agencies of the US failed to detect the preparations of the TTP for the Khost attack and the attempt in the Times Square. According to the Pakistani sources, the NSA failed to pick up any intercept even remotely connected to the two incidents in Khost and New York. Faisal had been frequently visiting Pakistan and was in Pakistan for about five months the last time during which he underwent training and went back to the US to launch the attack. Neither the HUMINT agencies nor the NSA picked up any piece of intelligence related to his being groomed by the TTP for the Times Square attack. The US immigration too failed to notice anything worrisome about his frequent travels to Pakistan despite the financial difficulties faced by him.

5. How to address these serious gaps in intelligence coverage? One way is by the US strengthening its intelligence presence in Pakistan for which a request is to be made to the Pakistani authorities by the visiting officials. They are unlikely to reject this request. A more difficult proposition is to make the Pakistani intelligence agencies improve their intelligence coverage not only in the tribal belt, but also in Karachi and other cities. A nagging question without answer is whether the Pakistani intelligence had noticed the suspicious activities of Faisal, but refrained from alerting their US counterparts.

6. One could understand the poor intelligence coverage of the Pakistani agencies in North Waziristan, but their coverage ought to be better in Karachi, where Faisal initially met elements in the Jaish-e-Mohammad and took their help for going to the TTP camp in North Waziristan. Jihadi elements in Karachi seem to have played an important role in assisting Faisal in obtaining money for his attempted attack and in contacting the TTP just as jihadi elements of Karachi had played an important role in assisting Richard Reid, the thwarted shoe bomber, in 2001. It was to identify the Karachi elements that Daniel Pearl, the journalist of the "Wall Street Journal", went to Karachi from Mumbai, where he was based, in the beginning of 2002 and paid with his life.

7. Under US prodding, the Gilani Government has strengthened the intelligence collection role of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the Pakistani Ministry of the Interior, and restored the leadership role of the police officers in the IB. The IB does not have much of a capability in the tribal belt where one has to depend on the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but one would have expected the IB’s coverage to have been better in Karachi through the local police, but even the IB seems to have missed the contacts of Faisal with the JEM elements in Karachi before he went to Peshawar and from there to Noth Waziristan. (19-5-10)

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

Monday, May 17, 2010



About thirty innocent civilians and 20 other civilians serving as Special Police Officers (SPOs) are reported to have been killed on May 17,2010, when a group of Maoists (Naxals) blew up a rural public transport bus in the Dantewada District of the Chattisgarh State. The bus was reportedly blown up with a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) using gelatin sticks. It was going fromSukma to Dantewada.

2.On April 6, 2010, 75 members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and one District Police member were killed in a Maoist ambush in the thick forests of Mukrana in Dantewada. On May 8, seven CRPF members were killed when Maoists blew up a bullet-proof vehicle in the Bijapur district. The Maoists also killed six villagers, including a sarpanch (village chief) , near Teregaon in the Rajnandgaon district on May 16 and threw their bodies outside their villages.

3. These incidents coming in quick succession within a period of six weeks indicate a weak protective security strategy in the Chattisgarh State, which needs urgent attention. The ghastly mass casualty attack of May 17 on a public transport bus has revived calls for a selective use of air strikes in the Dantewada area, which has a thick jungle cover. Even if the Government authorises limited air strikes, they would not have an immediate impact in the terrain in the Dantewada area, which favours insurgents and poses problems in providing effective protective security to the civilians.

4. There is a danger that in retaliation for the air strikes the Maoists would step up their attacks on civilians and, if they are successful, it would further damage the credibility of the security forces in the eyes of the public. The immediate step required is the strengthening pf protective security measures in the Chattisgarh State in general and in the Dantewada area in particular. The State's determination and ability to protect the civilians has to be demonstrated first before we embark on extreme measures such as air strikes. We should avoid over-reaction in panic and rhetoric which distorts our response.

5.SPOs are not regular police officers on the permanent pay rolls of the State. They are civilians too, who come forward to assist the Police, in the performance of certain essential police tasks while continuing in their normal professions. They are given free food when they function as SPOs and a token payment.SPOs are useful in rural areas. They played a useful role in the counter-terrorism operations against the Khalistani terrorists in Punjab. They were often the targets of attack by the terrorists in order to punish villagers who volunteer to assist the police. Immediately after the death of Sukhdev Singh Babbar, the then leader of the Babbar Khalsa, in an encounter with the Punjab Police in August,1992, terrorists of the Babbar Khalsa attacked and killed in their villages not only a number of SPOs, but also their family members.

6. The targeted attack on the bus carrying about 20 SPOs and other civilians by the Maoists on May 17 was meant to punish the civilians who were helping the police as SPOs and to intimidate the public into not helping the police in any manner. The travel of such a large group of SPOs in a bus carrying civilians was unwise. The Maoists apparently knew this and decided to kill them with an IED even at the risk of killing a number of other civilians, who had nothing to do with the police. It was not an opportunistic planting of an IED after noticing the SPOs in the bus. It was an attack planned in advance after coming to know that such a large number of SPOs would be travelling by this bus.

7.The incident of April 6 exposed a certain casualness in the counter-insurgency approach of the local security forces and the latest attack on the bus shows disturbingly that this casualness continues unrectified six weeks after the earlier incident.

8. The Maoists should have known that their attempt to kill the SPOs by blowing a rural public transport bus could result in the deaths of a large number of civilians, who had nothing to do with the police. The fact that despite this they undertook this attack shows that the Maoists, in their strategy, have reached a stage where they are indifferent to the impat of their actions on the general public. They are prepared to face the risk of temporary spells of public aversion in order to achieve their objective of demoralising and discrediting the police. Will this be an isolated attack involving mass civilian fatalities, or is it going to become a trend?

9.Public transport attracts terrorists and insurgents----- urban transport in the case of the jihadis and rural transport in remote areas in the case of insurgents. Attacks on rural public transport are more difficult to prevent and it is more difficult to protect the travelling public in the rural areas than in urban areas. In the urban areas, attacks on public transport result in much larger casualties than in rural areas as we saw in Mumbai in July,2006, but the psychological impact on the public is the same---- whether in urban or rural areas.

10. In their attempts to discredit the Government of India's counter-insurgency strategy, the Maoists are focussing on Chattisgarh----Dantewada in particular.While there is a need for a pan-Indian strategy to deal with the Maoists under the leadership and co-ordination of the Government of India, a special strategy to protect the people of Chattisgarh and to neutralise Maoist activities in the Chattisgarh area has to be worked out based on a larger surge of better equipped, better motivated and better informed security forces to help the local police. The special strategy for Chattisgarh cannot wait till a pan-Indian strategy is worked out. ( 18-5-10)

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

Sunday, May 16, 2010




In a controversial decision, which should be of concern to India’s national security managers, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives has accepted a request from the US Government to re-settle in Maldivian territory two terrorism suspects from the Guantanamo Bay military detention centre in Cuba. Talks in this regard have been going on with the US authorities since December last.

2.Under a policy initiated by the administration of President Barack Obama after it assumed office in January,2009, it is pledged to close down the military detention centre after transferring to normal judicial custody for trial in US territory according to the normal laws of the land those against whom there is evidence to justify a trial and transferring others against whom there is no such evidence either to the countries to which they belonged before they were arrested post-9/11 or to other countries which are prepared to accept them.

3. The implementation of this policy has slowed down due to the following reasons:

* Opposition to bringing Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, to New York for trial.
* Some of the suspects from Afghanistan and Yemen, who were released and re-settled in their country because there was no evidence against them to warrant a trial, took to terrorism after their release due to their anger against their alleged ill-treatment in the detention centre by the US. There is a danger that many others, who were arrested by the US authorities on mere suspicion without any evidence of their involvement in terrorism might similarly take to terrorism after their release due to their anger against the US. Yemenis, Pakistanis and Afghans constitute a bulk of such suspects in the detention centre.
* Difficulty in finding countries which would accept those whom the US did not want to send to their home country such as the Uighur suspects. China has been demanding that the Uighurs should be handed over to it for trial. Human rights organizations have been opposing this due to fears that they might be sentenced to death and executed by the Chinese authorities. While willing host- countries have been found to re-settle some of the Uighurs, others are without a willing host-country and hence continue to be at Guantanamo Bay.

4. Neither the Maldives nor the US have revealed the nationalities of the two suspects, who are to be transferred to the Maldives for re-settlement from Guantanamo Bay. Among the suspects detained at the centre in Cuba was a Maldivian national Ibrahim Fauzee who was picked up in Karachi in May 2002 and transferred to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre because he was living with an Al Qaeda suspect. He contended that he was not aware that the person with whom he was staying in Karachi had links with Al Qaeda. No evidence of involvement in terrorism could be found against him and he was reportedly released in 2005. His present whereabouts are not known. Nor is it known whether he is one of the two suspects to be accepted by the Maldives.

5. Since the Government of President Nasheed has been developing close relations with China, it is doubtful whether he would accept Uighurs since that could make Beijing unhappy. India should have legitimate cause for worry if under US pressure and offer of money, the Maldivian Government re-settles in its territory Pakistani or Afghan or Yemeni suspects. There is a strong possibility that these suspects, in their anger against the US, would take to terrorism from Maldivian territory where the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) has already set up a presence. The LET has been recruiting Maldivian nationals and allegedly training them in its camps in Pakistan and giving them exposure to the jihad in the Af-Pak region.

6. The Maldives, which has many uninhabited islands, could attract Pakistani and Al Qaeda terrorists interested in sea-borne terrorist attacks similar to Mumbai 26/11. This would seriously add to India’s counter-terrorism concerns. It is doubtful whether the National Security Service (NSS) of the Maldives would be able to keep these suspects under effective surveillance and prevent them from taking to reprisal terrorism. The presence of these suspects in Maldivian territory would pose a threat not only to India and Sri Lanka, but also to the internal security of the Maldives itself.

7. If the two suspects being accepted by the Maldives are local nationals, India has no grounds for protesting. But if they are non-Maldivians, India has every reason to protest and request the Male Government not to accept them.

8. It is not clear whether the Maldivian Government kept India in the picture about its talks with the US on these suspects. If it had, India should have immediately advised it against accepting them. If it had not, it is a matter for surprise that President Nasheed kept India in the dark about a matter which could affect India’s national security.

9. The opposition members in the Maldives have strongly criticized the decision of President Nasheed on national security grounds. The National Security Committee of the Parliament is to discuss the matter on May 19. ( 17-5-10)

( 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: )