Tuesday, August 31, 2010



At a time when there is already concern over the increasing assertiveness of the Chinese Navy in the South and East China Seas, the first port call by two ships of the Chinese Navy in Myanmar while on their way back from anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf has aroused considerable interest and some concern in the neighbouring countries.

2.China has a long history of army-army cooperation with Myanmar, including a militaery supply relationship. It has also been helping Myanmar in building an oil/gas terminal at Kyaukpu off the Arakan coast. The new port, when completed, will place three modern ports at the disposal of China----the other two being Gwadar on the Mekran coast of Pakistan and Hambantota in Sri Lanka. The Bangladesh Government is interested in securing Chinese assistance for the modernisation of the Chittagong port.

3.Till now, the Chinese authorities and the Governments of Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bangladesh have projected these ports as purely commercial ventures with no naval significance. Only Pakistan makes no secret of the significance of Gwadar for the navies of Pakistan and China. It hopes that a modern naval base at Gwadar will give the Pakistan Navy a strategic depth by reducing its dependence on the Karachi port, which is vulnerable to attacks by the Indian Navy. It is prepared to offer the proposed naval base at Gwadar to the Chinese Navy for use by its naval ships visiting the Indian Ocean and the Gulf.

4.Some retired Chinese naval officers are of the view that a viable Indian Ocean fleet for their navy would require forward bases in this area. How to acquire such bases without adding to the alarm of the US, which is already talking of the Chinese assertiveness in the Indian Ocean area as Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, did during his recent visit to New Delhi? The Chinese have not yet openly reacted to his comments though they reacted quickly and vehemently to the comments of Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, on the Chinese naval assertiveness in the South China Sea at the recent Asean Regional Forum meeting at Hanoi.

5.The US view of the Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean are still confused despite the lucid remarks of Admiral Mullen. While he was clear and forthcoming, Ms.Michele Flournoy, the US Under-Secretary of Defence, was not that forthcoming during her visit to Delhi in the third week of August to prepare for the forthcoming visit of Shri A.K.Antony, our Defence Minister, to the US. She avoided any reference to the Chinese activities in the Indian Ocean area.

6.Her remarks could be interpreted as discouraging any Indian expectation of major Indo-US naval co-operation against Chinese forays into the Indian Ocean as one of the possible results of the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to New Delhi coming November. She reportedly told the Indian media on August 10: " There has been tremendous progress in the number of joint exercises, but the need is to make them meaningful so that they are reflective of the real world situation....The exercises must prepare both sides to jointly undertake counter-piracy operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We also have to respond to maritime security and freedom of navigation against those contesting the accepted rules of the world. We will have to work to prevent that. We have to be prepared in terms of capability."

7.The visit of the two Chinese naval ships to the Yangon port in Myanmar must have been under preparation for some time and could not have been the Chinese way of reacting to the pronouncements of US officials while visiting New Delhi. At the same time, the port call in Myanmar proclaims openly the beginning of Chinese activism, if not assertiveness, in the Indian Ocean region.

8.The Chinese have taken note of the speculation in India and elsewhere as to what the port visit portends. Is it an innocent halt while returning home from the Gulf or does it have a strategic significance? Is it meant to convey a message to the US and the Indian Navies that China has core interests in the Indian Ocean too as it has in the South and East China Seas? This subject should figure in the agenda of the forthcoming talks with Mr.Obama when he visits New Delhi.

9.To calm any frenzied speculation over the Chinese intention, the Party-owned "Global Times", in an editoriial on September 1, has proposed a naval trust-building exercise among the Asian navies. The text of the editorial is annexed.

10.This may pleae be read in continuation of my article dated July 24,2010, titled MONITORING CHINA'S NAVAL ASSERTIVENESS at
http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3944.html and article dated August 10,2010, titled "CHINA: A Wake-Up Call for Vietnam & India" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3974.html (1-9-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE ( Editorial carried by the "Global Times" on September 1,2010)

Asian navies should trust each other

The Chinese navy's first-ever port call to Myanmar on Sunday (August 29) has triggered plenty of noise and speculation in India.

The Indian press aligns Myanmar with Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, where they believe China has helped build port facilities, and conclude that the neighboring giant is aimed at building a "string of pearls" for greater space on the Indian Ocean - long considered India's backyard.

Just like the strong reactions from Japan when China's warships made their way through the first island chain into the Pacific Ocean, every step the fledgling power makes to test its wings has been met with suspicion.

The biggest fear, as some foreign strategists asserted, is that China may flex its muscles from one ocean to another, and eventually become a frightening superpower cruising around the world's blue waters.

What a grand picture these strategists are drawing. Some amateur military "experts" will jump into the air over the slightest mention of such an ambitious plan.

The reality of the situation is much less exciting than their fantasies.

Only two escort ships back from their missions to protect Chinese trade fleets from piracy in waters off the Somali coast visited Myanmar. On the way home, the escort group made port calls to Egypt, Italy and Greece.

Conspiracy theories aside, China's navy has been growing stronger over the past few years, and has been reaching places it has never reached before.

Not surprisingly, Japan, South Korea, India and some Southeast Asian countries are concerned.

These countries should be more concerned about the US, the only real super power, which could cause trouble by stoking feelings of discontent.

China has to pay attention to the concerns arising naturally from its neighbors in Asia.

A stronger Chinese navy does not necessarily mean a threat, but an additional peace-keeping force, as is shown in the gulf of Aden.

The fear aimed at the Chinese navy is a dangerous result of neighboring countries' suspicion and mistrust over China's rise.

The process to resolve this mistrust is the same process to resolve the "China threat" theory.

A lack of communications has built up this mistrust and misjudgment.

The Chinese government may try to establish a communication mechanism between navies in Asia.

Only through the better exchange of ideas and explanations can the other countries fully understand the Chinese navy's willingness to cooperate instead of compete.

Asia's navies should not repeat history in the Atlantic Ocean where world powers tried to use their naval powers to conquer each other.



Kim Jong-il, General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and Chairman of North Korea’s National Defense Commission, visited China from August 26 to 30,2010. This is his second visit to China this year. He had earlier visited China in May last. Underlining the significance of the visit, the "China Daily" said in an article: "Never before has Kim paid two visits abroad within a year."

2. The visit by train was first detected by the South Korean intelligence and reported by the South Korean media. Western news agencies picked up news of the visit from the South Korean media. The Chinese and North Korean authorities and the Government/party controlled media of the two countries maintained silence on the visit till the morning of August 30. On the morning of August 30, the Chinese media for the first time commented on the reports carried by the South Korean and Western media on the visit without confirming that he was in China. The confirmation came later that day on the Chinese Central TV after he had returned to North Korea. The TV reported that President Hu Jintao had met Kim Jong-il in Changchun, the capital of the Jilin province, on August 27. It carried visuals of the meeting between the two leaders and a report on a banquet hosted by Mr.Hu in honour of the North Korean leader.

3. Kim's visit was confined to Jilin and Heilongjiang, where he visited several agricultural and industrial establishments---- reportedly in order to learn from the Chinese experience in the modernisation of its economy. In this connection, the Chinese media referred to a visit earlier made by him ----without saying when--- to Vietnam to learn from its experience in modernisation. Kim visited a food processing factory, a high-speed train factory and an elementary school in Jilin where his father, the late Kim Sung-Il, had studied in the 1920s.

4. The "China Daily" reported on August 31 that during the talks with Kim President Hu emphasized that it was a basic experience of China's reform over the past three decades that economic development called for self-dependence but cannot be achieved without cooperating with the outside world. Hu reportedly said:”This is the inevitable path of the times that accelerates the development of a country.” According to Piao Jianyi, chief of the Center of Korean Peninsula Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Kim indicated that North Korea's development will be closely connected with cooperation with China. Piao was of the view that a major party meeting next month in Pyongyang might take important decisions concerning development, probably by drawing inspiration from China's experience.

5. Chinese analysts feel that an important objective of the visit was probably to brief the Chinese leadership on North Korean plans for launching a drive for the modernisation of the North Korean economy. Would that drive be as ambitious as that of China? Would North Korea open up to the outside world---particularly to the West--- as significantly as China had done post-1978? Or would the expected North Korean modernisation and opening-up be in North Korean colours----more gradual with continuing suspicion of the outside world? The answers to these questions are not yet available. They are unlikely to be available in adequate measure even after the coming party meeting next month. North Korea's evolution into a modern economy would most probably come about slowly and almost imperceptibly. There are no indications as yet that its leadership has overcome its paranoia of the West----particularly the US.

6. The second objective was to brief the Chinese leaders about what Kim called "the rising generation" and to reassure Beijing that the expected generational changes would not affect North Korean bonds with China. Kim was quoted as having stated as follows at the banquet hosted by President Hu: "With the international situation remaining complicated, it is our important historical mission to hand over to the rising generation the baton of the traditional friendship passed over by the revolutionary forerunners of the two countries as a precious asset so as to carry it forward through generations."

7. This strengthened speculation that at the party meeting next month Kim might officially indicate his plans for his succession which might involve the elevation of his youngest Swiss-educated son (27 years old) Kim Jong-Un. Why did Kim feel the need to reassure the Chinese that the "rising generation" will be as close to China as the present generation and the preceding one of his father? Was his visit to the Chinese school which his father had attended meant to emphasise the close links of his family with China and calm possible Chinese misgivings about the impact of the Swiss upbringing of Kim Jong-Un on future North Korean policies?

8. The third objective was to discuss with the Chinese leadership a possible return of North Korea to the six-party talks on its nuclear programme and the sequel to the sinking of a South Korean naval ship allegedly by North Korea in March last. The Xinhua news agency reported that Kim told Hu that North Korea remained committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and that it "is not willing to see tensions on the peninsula." According to Xinhua, Kim said he wished to maintain close communication and coordination with China in pushing for an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks to ease the tension on the Korean Peninsula, and to maintain peace and stability there. It quoted Hu as telling Kim that maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula accorded with the common aspiration of the people, and China respected and supported positive efforts made by North Korea to ease the situation. The North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), however, made no mention of the remarks attributed to Kim by Xinhua.

9. Despite these remarks, Chinese analysts are not optimistic about the chances of an early resumption of the Six-Party talks. The “China Daily” has quoted Zhang Liangui, Professor of international strategic research at the Central Party School, as saying as follows: "The US and the DRPK have different expectations on the talks. While the US seeks denuclearization of the peninsula, the DPRK wants to get the UN sanctions on it lifted.”

10. Chinese analysts described as a surprise Kim’s leaving Pyongyang for China when former US President Jimmy Carter was visiting the North Korean capital to secure the release of an American, Aijalon Mahli Gomes, who was sentenced in April to eight years in jail for entering the country illegally. Lü Chao, Director of the North and South Korea Research Center at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview: "Carter has a good reputation in North Korea. Kim has met him before. But perhaps Kim missed this meeting on purpose to show his toughness and send a message that it will not bow to US pressure after a series of military drills between the US and South Korea."

11. Two interesting editorials carried by the Party-owned “Global Times” on the visit on August 30 and 31 are annexed. ( 31-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

ANNEXURE (“ Global Times” editorials)

North Korea's reform and opening-up ( published on August 31,2010)

The fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visited China last week was finally confirmed by the two governments Monday.

Although foreign media continues to speculate about Kim's "succession plan" and whether he brought his son along, there are signs that the North Korean leader is showing an increasing interest in the economy.

In his two visits within about a three-month span, Kim visited a number of cities that are on the frontier of China's booming market economy.

Earlier, he also visited Vietnam, and inspected Russian cities that were undergoing social transformations.

This points to North Korea having a strong interest in opening up and developing its economy. In fact, the country has made several experimental attempts in the past decade or two, including setting up a special economic zone and conducting currency reform.

It is hard to imagine that any country wants to stay poor and isolated. The international community should not marginalize North Korea out of prejudice.

China's rising economy is taking place just across a river from North Korea. There is no reason the North Korean leadership is not willing to learn from China.

Kim Jong-il's latest visit shows his attention to the economy has been growing.

The outside world complains that North Korea has shut itself in. But, they may think otherwise when they consider the existence of a South Korea-US alliance, and the fact that the media in South Korea, the US and Japan have been openly discussing how to overthrow the North's rule.

The West always sees North Korea as one of the world's major threats. But how could a country like North Korea be strong enough to launch a "suicide attack" against them?

Living in the shadows of South Korea, Japan and the US, North Korea has to wrap itself up tighter in order to fend off military threats, and threats of political and cultural infiltration.

North Korea's opening-up will help relieve tensions in Northeast Asia. But, the knot does not only lie on the North's side. Other countries in this region must redouble their efforts to untangle the knot.

These three nations should not bully North Korea any more. China should also try hard to pull North Korea out of its international turmoil.
If the US does not cooperate, South Korea and Japan will have to reconsider their roles. Do they really want to be trapped in a knot made tighter by the US?

China-North Korea's stable relationship ( published on August 30,2010)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has become a hot topic in international news media over the past few days, as they speculate about Kim's "secret" trip to northeastern China, and his political mission.

With anonymous sources saying that Kim met with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and Kim likely asked Beijing to concur with North Korea's long-anticipated leadership change, Western media has also been trying to illustrate a "special" relationship between the two countries.

Actually, in today's China, the media seldom uses the word "special" to describe the two countries' relations. It does not necessarily mean China is deliberately shunning the long historical ties the two countries share.

Beijing has long made it clear that it aims to keep the peace on the Korean Peninsula via a normal China-North Korea relationship.

North Korea has become a marginalized member of Northeast Asia. When China, South Korea and Japan compete with each other and become further involved with each other's economies, the North is like a forgotten island.

Many in China have begun to complain that the isolated North Korea brings too much trouble for China in international relations, and the two countries' relationship should not go back to a "special" status.

However, as a result of historical and geopolitical reasons, the current China-North Korea relationship is not a simple one. This also explains why Kim Jong-il visits China frequently.

Every coin has two sides. The China-North Korea relationship gives other interested countries too much hope of bringing North Korea back to the negotiation table over the North's nuclear weapons program.

The other countries unrealistically expect China has a strong hand to teach its little brother a lesson when it gets naughty.

Perhaps they do not know that North Korea has a strong mind to make its own decisions. Also, China's diplomatic principle is to not interfere with another country's internal affairs.

However, North Korea is an active variable in Northeast Asia, and keeping a stable relationship with it will give China an edge in taking the initiative in international affairs in this region.

The seeming trouble made by North Korea is actually a reflection of Cold War mentalities that separate the Korean Peninsula into the North and the South, and the US has a big part in the region's confusion.

China is not a passive player in Northeast Asia. A stable relationship with North Korea does not mean China has to be an enemy of Japan, South Korea or the US.

As long as China carefully balances international relations in this region, the China-North Korea relationship will not become a negative factor, but a positive boost toward Northeast Asia's peace and prosperity.

China will continue to encourage and help North Korea open up to the world, which will be conducive to the peace in Northeast Asia.

Monday, August 30, 2010



The Government-controlled Xinhua news agency of China disseminated the following news on August 30,2010:

"The 5th Escort Task group of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA)- Navy, made up of two warships -- "Guanhzhou" and "Caohu" --- made a friendly call at Myanmar Yangon's Thilawa Port Sunday (August 29 ) afternoon.

"It was also the first time for Chinese naval warship to have called at Myanmar port.

"The five-day mission is aimed at promoting friendly relationships between the two armed forces of the two countries and exchange between the two navies.

"A grand ceremony was launched to welcome the Chinese warships amid rain, attended by Major Han Sein, Commander of Myanmar Navy Dockyard Base, Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Ye Dabo and other embassy officials as well as representatives of Chinese companies, teachers and students based in Myanmar and local Chinese residents totaling about 200.

"After the ceremony, the warships were open to the visitors for viewing.

"During the call, the Chinese PLA escort task group will launch a series of exchanges with the Myanmar navy.

"Myanmar is the fourth country that the 5th Chinese PLA escort task group called on after completing its escort missions in Gulf of Aden and the waters off Somali coast.

"Prior to Myanmar, the escort task group had called on Egypt, Italy and Greece."

My comment: Why the two ships did not make a port call in Sri Lanka?

Sunday, August 29, 2010



The administration of President Barack Obama has called for a substantive dialogue without pre-conditions between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Beijing on the Tibetan issue and called upon the Government of Nepal to honour its past commitment to allow the Tibetans the freedom of travel to India through Nepal.

2. Its annual report on Tibet submitted to the Congress on August 19 says inter alia: “Encouraging substantive dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lana is an important foreign policy objective of the United States. We continue to encourage representatives of the PRC and the Dalai Lama to hold direct and substantive discussions aimed at the resolution of difference, without precondition..... The US government believes that the Dalai Lama can be a constructive partner for China as it deals with the difficult challenge of continuing tensions in Tibetan areas. His views are widely reflected within Tibetan society, and he commands the respect of the vast majority of Tibetans. His consistent advocacy on non-violence is an important principle for making progress toward a lasting solution....China's engagement with the Dalai Lama or his representatives to resolve problems facing Tibetans is in the interests of both the Chinese government and the Tibetan people. Failure to address these problems will lead to greater tensions inside China and will be an impediment to China's social and economic development.”

3. The report has been submitted under the Tibet Policy Act 2002, enacted by the Congress during the George Bush Administration. The Act calls upon the Government to submit an annual report to the Congress on the negotiations between His Holiness and the Chinese authorities on the future of Tibet. The report should have been submitted in March last, but the Obama Administration delayed its submission, possibly because of its expectation that China would support strong action against North Korea for sinking a South Korean naval ship in March. The Obama Administration's unhappiness with Beijing's reluctance to support action against North Korea was earlier reflected in its decision to come out openly against the Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea and is now manifested in its decision to submit its delayed report on Tibet to the Congress and to use strong language in the report.

4. The report expresses Washington's disappointment with the lack of progress in the talks and adds: “We hope that another round will be scheduled soon and will include discussion that will lead to solutions to the problems that Tibet and its people face. We continue to urge both sides to engage in substantive dialogue and hope to see a tenth round of dialogue that will lead to positive movement on questions related to Tibetans’ lives and livelihood.”

5.Beijing has been consistently refusing to discuss with the emissaries of His Holiness deputed for these talks the future of Tibet and other Tibetan-inhabited regions. It has been insisting that these talks should be restricted to discussing the future of His Holiness to which His Holiness is not agreeable.

6. The Nepalese media reported on August 19 that during a meeting with the Nepalese Home Minister, Mr.Bhim Rawal, the previous day at Kathmandu, Mr.Atul Keshap, US acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, who was on a visit to Nepal, called upon the Nepal Government to honour its commitment of 1989 under an informal agreement to allow free passage for Tibetan refugees wanting to travel to India. The 1989 agreement, which was brokered by the UN, allows fleeing Tibetans free passage to Dharamsala in India through Nepal. Under Chinese pressure, the Government of Nepal has set up new security posts along the border with Tibet to prevent Tibetan refugees from crossing over into Nepal for going to Dharamsala. In June, the Nepalese border security authorities were reported to have handed over to the Chinese authorities three Tibetans who had crossed over into Nepal from Tibet. China has reportedly been funding the expenditure on the new border posts and has been pressing the Government to suppress anti-Chinese activities by the Tibetan refugees living in Nepal.

7.The Chinese have not yet reacted to these actions by the Obama Administration. During the forthcoming visit of President Obama to India in November, an exchange of views on the progress of the talks between His Holiness and Beijing should be on the agenda. The Government of India should take the initiative in proposing the inclusion of this item on the agenda. His Holiness should also be invited to any reception hosted by our President in honour of President Obama. (30-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )



The Chinese Defence Ministry and government/party controlled media have played down the new friction between India and China over the reported disinclination of the Chinese Foreign Ministry to issue a regular visa to Lt.Gen.B.S Jaswal, the General Officer commanding in chief of India’s Northern Command, who was to lead an Indian military team for the fourth defence dialogue to be held in Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Office reportedly stated that he came from the "sensitive location of Jammu and Kashmir"and "people from this part of the world come with a different kind of visa" and suggested that India depute some other officer for the dialogue. The Government of India has not agreed to this and suspended two forthcoming visits by three Chinese military officers to India --- two of them for attending a training course. New Delhi has, however, clarified that the suspension of military exchanges would not apply to the periodic trans-border meetings between military officers posted on both sides of the disputed border as part of the confidence-building measures.

2. There is apparently an attempt by both capitals to keep the temperature under control and not to allow the friction to assume a self-sustaining and aggravating dimension, thereby damaging the over-all bilateral relationship.New Delhi has denied press speculation that officials of China's Ministry of Public Security had recently removed maps of India exhibited in the Indian pavilion in the Shanghai Expo showing Arunachal Pradesh as an integral part of India. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its territory and describes it as southern Tibet.

3.The Chinese Defence Ministry has sought to give the impression that India's suspension of the forthcoming visit of three Chinese military officers to India did not amount to a suspension of the broader military exchanges between the two countries. It said in a statement: "China has not suspended defense exchanges with India and has received no word that India has stopped military exchanges between the two countries. " The Chinese Foreign Ministry, which caused the friction by its disinclination to issue the visa, has remained silent till now.

4. There is an attempt by the Chinese to treat it as a purely visa-related misunderstanding not having any strategic significance in relation to the Chinese position on Jammu & Kashmir and to create an impression that China has not changed its position to favour Pakistan and to the detriment of India. In an article carried on August 30,2010, the Party-controlled "Global Times" said: " The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is now under control by India and Pakistan, both of which claim full rights to the area." A copy of the article is annexed. (30-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )


Text of the article carried by the "Global Times"

Military exchanges intact: China

By Wang Zhaokun

China on Saturday denied reports that it had halted its military ties with India, saying it has confidence that both sides will focus on the broader picture of the bilateral relations between the two neighbors.

"China has not suspended defense exchanges with India and has received no word that India has stopped military exchanges between the two countries," a statement by China's defense ministry said.

The statement came after reports in Indian media that New Delhi had canceled defense exchanges with Beijing following a visa row between the two Asian giants.

"China takes developing military ties with India seriously, and we are confident that both sides will stay focused on the broader picture of bilateral ties, acting in a spirit of consultation and unity to promote the healthy development of military ties," the statement said.

India summoned China's ambassador Friday to protest against Beijing's refusal of a visa to B.S. Jaswal, an Indian general who had intended to visit China for a high-level defense exchange between the countries.

Indian media said the reason for turning down the visa to Jaswal is that he is responsible for Indian military operations in the disputed area of India-controlled Kashmir.

The Muslim-majority region of Kashmir is now under control by India and Pakistan, both of which claim full rights to the area.

Fu Xiaoqiang, a professor on South Asia affairs at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times that border and military issues between India and China are quite sensitive, and both sides should handle them carefully.

"I don't think the latest visa row between the two countries will have a big impact on bilateral relations," Fu said.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India, and China is already India's biggest trade partner.

However, mistrust remains between the two large emerging economies due to issues such as territorial disputes.

"The rise of the two large countries will definitely bring some clashes. And it will take some time for China and India to establish full trust toward each other," Fu said. "But it is dialogue rather than confrontation that can improve mutual understanding."

Agencies contributed to this story




Under an operation code-named "Project Samosa", the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced on August 26,2010, the arrests of three alleged jihadi extremists--- all of them socially well-placed professionals. One of them is a doctor, the second is an x-ray technician in an Ottawa hospital and the third had studied electrical engineering

2. The police claimed that their arrests had thwarted possible terrorist attacks around Ottawa and against Canadian troops in Afghanistan. From the details given by the RCMP, it was evident that the arrested persons, who were under surveillance for about a year, were discussing and planning a conspiracy to indulge in terrorist attacks and had acquired some materials towards this objective, but were far away from being in a position to carry out these attacks. There was no apprehension of imminent terrorist attacks, but the evidence of the conspiracy in progress was strong enough to warrant the arrests before the conspiracy neared fruition.

3. Amongst the material recovered during the investigation were more than 50 circuit boards police believe were intended to remotely trigger detonators for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and videos, drawings, instruction books and electronic components for IEDs. According to Canadian media reports, the conspiracy was initially detected by the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS), which then alerted the RCMP.

4.Mr.Raymond Boisvert, an Assistant Director in the CSIS, told a press conference: “There are certain individuals in Canada who have adopted an ideology inspired by international terrorist groups who promote heinous violence to achieve their goals. This case reiterates the serious nature of this threat, which can result in tragic consequences if left unchecked.” The police did not say whether the group had any links to Al-Qaeda, but the available details indicated a link to the Af-Pak region.

5. Two of the suspects ----- Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh, 30, and Misbahuddin Ahmed, 26, both of Ottawa, were arrested on August 25. The third, 28-year-old Khurram Syed Sher, was arrested in London, Ontario, the next day. All the three are Canadian citizens. Three non-Canadians, not located in Canada, were also allegedly part of the conspiracy ---- James Lara, Rizgar Alizadeh and Zakaria Mamosta, but they have not been arrested so far. The three arrested Canadians are to be charged with terrorism under the Criminal Code, including conspiring with the three non-Canadians mentioned above and other “persons unknown,” who have been at one time or another located in Canada, Iran, Afghanistan, Dubai and Pakistan, to facilitate “terrorist activity” between February 2008 and August 24.

6. Hiva Alizadeh , who studied electrical engineering, faces a separate charge of making or having an explosive substance in his possession with the intent to endanger life or cause serious damage. According to the police, he is a member of a group with links to the conflict in Afghanistan, and had received training in building and detonating IEDs. Mr.Boisvert said in his briefing that the CSIS is still enquiring to find out whether the three arrested Canadians were self-motivated, made-through-the-internet jihadis or whether they had been subject to external motivation.

7. Sher is a doctor who graduated from the McGill University medical school in 2005. According to the police, he had visited Pakistan in 2006 to participate in quake relief work. He had also participated in a TV reality show on a Canadian TV channel. In 2007, he and some other doctors had written to Mr.Stockwell Day, Minister for Public Safety, protesting against the treatment meted out to three Muslims arrested on security grounds.

8.Misbahuddin Ahmed, the x-ray technician in an Ottawa hospital, has been described by some media reports as of Indian origin who had grown up in Canada. It is not known to which part of India he belonged and when he migrated to Canada. According to the newspaper the "Ottawa Citizen", he had taken several weeks off from work about 16 months ago. He didn't say where he was going.When he returned to work, he was sporting a full beard. The "Citizen" has reported that Misbahuddin Ahmed and Sher used to play in an Islamic charity hockey tournament in Montreal that raised money for an organisation called the RS Foundation, which claimed to be engaged in humanitarian work in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

9. The RS Foundation, which actively raised funds in Canada for quake relief in Pakistan in 2005 and is presently collecting funds for flood relief in Pakistan, was founded by one Shujaat Wasty who is also an active member of an organisation called the South Asian Research Center (CERAS) and the United Muslims Students' Association (UMSA).

10.The Wikipedia says as follows: "The Muslim Students' Association, or Muslim Student Union, of the U.S. and Canada, also known as MSA National, is a religious organization dedicated to establishing and maintaining Islamic societies on college campuses in Canada and the United States. It serves to provide coordination and support for affiliated MSA chapters in colleges across North America. Established in 1963, the organization now has chapters in colleges across the continent, and is the precursor of the Islamic Society of North America and several other Islamic organizations.....The first MSA National chapter was formed in 1963 at the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) by international students. The initial leadership came from Arabic-speaking members, with the Muslim Brotherhood help to establish the group. A Saudi Arabian charity, the Muslim World League, provided early funding for the group. Early goals for the movement included the promotion of "a self-definition [that] involves initially and fundamentally [an] Islamic identity" of its members, as well as an appropriate Islamic lifestyle while they were in the US.....Today, the organization is present in various forms on several campuses across the United States and Canada. In contrast to early membership, members are now frequently American-born Muslims....."

11.It adds: "Journalist Deborah Scroggins, in exploring how suspected al-Qaeda member Aafia Siddiqui became an Islamist extremist, wrote for Vogue that if Siddiqui "was drawn into terrorism, it may have been through the contacts and friendships she made in the early 1990s working for MIT's Muslim Students Association. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's oldest and biggest Islamist movement, established the first MSAs in the country... and the movement's ideology continued to influence the MSA long after that. At MIT, several of the MSA's most active members had fallen under the spell of Abdullah Azzam, a Muslim Brother who was Osama bin Laden's mentor.... [Azzam] had established the Al Kifah Refugee Center to function as its worldwide recruiting post, propaganda office, and fund-raising center for the mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan... It would become the nucleus of the al-Qaeda organization."Rutgers MSA co-founder Ramzi Yousef, a cousin of Siddiqui's second husband, was convicted for helping perpetrate the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.Anwar al-Awlaki, accused of being an al-Qaeda member and who declared jihad against America in 2010, was President of the MSA at Colorado State University, from which he graduated in 1994. Ali Asad Chandia, who was president of the MSA at Montgomery College from 1998 to 1999, was convicted of providing material support to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani terrorist organization, and assisting the Virginia Jihad Network, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The University of California Irvine Muslim Student Union is an affiliated chapter of MSA National, which was suspended for the 2010-2011 school year for organizing a conspiracy to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren from speaking at a university sponsored event." ( My comment: al-Awlaki is now with Al Qaeda in Yemen)

12. Some sources allege that Wasty was known for his anti-Jewish views and used to describe the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US as a Jewish conspiracy. ( 29-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Friday, August 27, 2010



The international community treats Jammu & Kashmir as a de facto----but not de jure --- part of India. Similarly, it treats Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) as de facto---- but not de jure---parts of Pakistan. In pursuance of this policy, other countries honour the Indian passports held by the residents of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and issue them normal visas on those passports when they want to travel. Similarly, they honour the Pakistani passports held by the residents of POK and GB and issue them visas on those passports.

2. China used to follow a similar policy till last year. It has now modified that policy in a significant manner. While it does not question the validity of the Indian passports held by the residents of J&K, it has stopped issuing visas on those passports.It has not debarred them from traveling to China, but they are allowed to travel only on the basis of a plain paper visa which is stapled to their Indian passport. The entry and exit stamps of the Chinese immigration are affixed on the plan paper visa and not on their Indian passport.

3. While doing so, Beijing has not changed its visa issue policy in respect of Pakistani residents of POK and GB. It is believed they are still issued visas on their Pakistani passports. Moreover, ignoring Indian protests, it is going ahead with its project to assist Pakistan in the upgradation of the Karakoram Highway which runs across GB and in the construction of hydel power and irrigation projects in GB. It has also agreed to participate in a feasibility study for the construction of a railway line to Xinjiang through GB. It has not yet agreed to assist Pakistan in the construction of an oil/gas pipeline from Gwadar to Xinjiang through GB.

4.The modifications in the Chinese policy have the following implications:

* Firstly, China has started treating POK and GB as de facto and de jure parts of Pakistan. It does not recognise Indian claims to these territories.
* Secondly, it has diluted its past acceptance of J&K as a de facto part of India. This would give satisfaction to Pakistan, which projects J&K as Pakistani territory under the illegal occupation of India. This would also lend support to the Pakistani contention that it has a political, diplomatic and moral right to support the so-called freedom struggle in J&K.
* Thirdly, by questioning the legitimacy of India's sovereignty over J&K, the Chinese may be creating a future option for themselves of questioning India's locus standi to negotiate with them on the future of the Indian territory in the Ladakh area occupied by them in the past. They could use this option in future if their relations with India deteriorate.

5. The modification in the Chinese position on J & K and its active involvement in infrastructure and other development projects in POK and GB have coincided with indicators of active Pakistani assistance to China in quelling the revolt of the Uighurs in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region which has a common border with GB. These indicators include an increase in the number of Chinese intelligence officers posted in Pakistan to keep a watch on the Uighur community living in Pakistan, Pakistani intensification of the surveillance of the members of the Uighur community and restrictions on their travel in Pakistan, rounding up of members of the Uighur community living in Pakistan who are accused by the Chinese of being members of the Eastern Turkestan lslamic Movement and their being handed over to the Chinese authorities without following the due process of law, intensification of the intelligence exchange and the recent joint counter-terrorism exercise, which was, in effect, a joint counter-Uighur exercise.

6. In the Chinese perception, their ability to pacify Xinjiang would depend on continued co-operation from Pakistan and strengthening Pakistan's control over POK and GB. Their modification of their policy relating to J&K is as a quid pro quo to Pakistan playing the role of their frontline ally in the fight against the Uighur freedom fighters represented by the Munich-based World Uighur Congress and Uighur jihadis belonging to the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement. The Chinese decision to modify their policy even at the risk of its coming in the way of their developing relations with India is indicative of their serious concerns relating to Xinjiang. The need to pacify Xinjiang has assumed primacy in Chinese policy-making over the importance of misunderstanding-free relations with India.

7.India woke up to the changes in the Chinese policy last year when it noticed that the Chinese had stopped issuing regular visas to residents of J&K and have started issuing plain paper visas. There has been a further jolt to the Government of India in this matter by the reported disinclination of the Chinese to issue a visa to Lt.Gen.R.S.Jaswal, chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army, to make an official visit to China as part of the high-level military exchanges agreed to by the two countries. The reasons for which they expressed their disinclination are not clear. Some reports say that it was because the Northern Command is responsible for external security in the J&K area along the Line of Control and the international border and they consider J&K to be a disputed territory. Some other reports attribute the Chinese disinclination to the fact that Lt.Gen.Jaswal was perceived to be a hawk who believed that China posed a military threat to India. There are still other reports claiming that Lt.Gen.Jaswal is actually a Kashmiri native and hence the Chinese objection to him. One does not know whether this is factually correct.

8. Whatever be the reason, the Chinese disinclination to issue a visa to him has to be strongly opposed by the Government of India. New Delhi has done well to suspend military-military exchanges till this issue is settled to the satisfaction of India without allowing it to affect the other aspects of the developing relations with China and come in the way of the on-going border talks. India's response has been limited to the military-military relationship.

9. The issue has tactical and strategic aspects. The tactical aspect relates to our response to the non-issue of a visa to Lt.Gen.Jaswal. We have reacted in adequate measure.

10. The strategic aspect relates to the following:

* How are we going to counter the Chinese attempts to question the legitimacy of our sovereignty over J&K and to re-open the entire issue?
* How are we going to counter the repeated Chinese actions in ignoring our protests and concerns relating to their involvement in the POK and GB?

11. Our response at the strategic level cannot remain confined to the suspension of military exchanges. It has to go beyond that. We had recognised Tibet as an integral part of China. We have shown good faith in adhering to that position. China has not shown good faith on the issue of J&K being an integral part of India. The time has come for us to re-examine our position in matters relating to Tibet. We have to make it clear to Beijing that our continued adherence to our present position on Tibet would depend on its respecting our sensitivities in matters relating to J&K, POK and GB. If it does not respect our core interests in relation to J &K, POK and GB, it cannot expect us to continue to respect its core interests relating to Tibet.

12. As a starter in the re-examination of our Tibetan policy, we should make evident the seriousness of our unhappiness with Beijing on this issue by immediately associating His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the project for the revival of the Nalanda University. ( 28-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Thursday, August 26, 2010



What is the US up to in North Korea and Vietnam? That is the most worrying question for Beijing today and not the question, what is the US up to in India. There is very little excitement and there are very few signs of concern in political and military circles in Beijing and in the community of Chinese analysts over the forthcoming visit of President Barack Obama to India in November. In contrast, every US move relating to North Korea and Vietnam and even the visits of junior US officials to Vietnam are being closely monitored and analysed.

2.Is the US trying to use North Korea and Vietnam not only to counter the emergence of China as a major military power in the Pacific, but also to weaken China politically in the same way as the US used China against the USSR? Are the US and South Korea acting jointly to bring about a regime change in North Korea and encourage the emergence of a new leadership that would be favourable to the US interests? Can China count on the loyalty to China of a new regime in Pyongyang if Kim Jong-il is succeeded --- as he is expected to be---by his youngest son Kim Jong-Un ? What would be the attitude of the North Korean military leadership if a new regime in Pyongyang wants to move closer to the US? Its attitude would be very important because in the early stages of a new leadership, the North Korean Army's role in policy-making would be important.

3. These are the questions worrying Beijing in an increasing measure. The Chinese concerns over the question"What next, after Kim Jong-il?" are reflected in the fact that Kim Jong-il, who had visited China only a few weeks ago, is reportedly again on an unpublicised visit----this time with his youngest son and expected successor--- to China. Is the visit meant to reassure Beijing that it has nothing to fear from his son?

4. The increasing bonhomie between Washington and Hanoi is another issue of immediate concern to China.How should China counter this---- by increasing pressure on Hanoi or by making overtures to it? How to counter the openly-proclaimed US assertiveness in the South China Sea? What to make of the lack of concern in the South-East Asian countries over the US assertiveness? Is there already a secret understanding between the US on the one side and Vietnam and the Philippines on the other to counter Chinese designs in the area?

5. The way Beijing has been trying to bully Manila over its mishandling of the bus hijacking incident in which eight Chinese tourists from Hong Kong died on August 23,2010, stands in sharp contrast to China's refraining from any criticism of Pakistan after the attacks on some Chinese nationals by the Pakistani Taliban after the raid by the Pakistan Army into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July 2007. In Pakistan too, there have been instances of Chinese engineers being taken hostages by different terrorist groups. The Chinese showed understanding of the difficulties faced by the Pakistani security forces and avoided any open criticism.

6. In Manila, it was not an act of terrorism. It was an irrational act of a dismissed police officer, who wanted his job back. The situation was definitely mishandled by the police. The Chinese over-reaction to the incident should be of concern to Manila. Whereas Beijing never issued an advisory to its nationals not to visit Pakistan, it has advised its nationals not to visit the Philippines. The Chinese never claimed a right to monitor the Pakistani enquiries into the incidents, but they are claiming a right to monitor the investigation in Manila.

7. Is the evident Chinese bullying of Manila an outcome of its unhappiness over the assertive policy of the Filippino Government in the South China Sea and its perceived support of the US assertiveness?

8. These are questions which need to be closely studied in the coming weeks and months. Two significant writings having a bearing on Chinese concerns over North Korea and Vietnam carried by the Party controlled "Global Times" are annexed. ( 27-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )


US-S.Korea drill aimed at fall of North

Editorial carried by the "Global Times" on August 26,2010

Signs of the ongoing US-South Korea military drill show that the joint war game is not simply a warning or a show of force after the sinking of the Cheonan, nor is it a deliberate attempt to provoke China in the Yellow Sea.

China has to be careful of the two allies' strategic goal, which is to create turmoil in North Korea in the face of a pending political power transition.

China must also be wary of the US putting the entire Korean Peninsula under its influence.

The two Koreas have been deadlocked for nearly six decades. Not many people believe the situation can last forever.

Any change will mean a massive strategic change of power in Northeast Asia, as well as a change in the global balance of power.

Washington has made plans in the event of various scenarios, and has long been trying to push the situation in the direction that favors a US global strategy.

To put it simply, the US has never changed its basic policy toward North Korea, which is to ensue a regime change.

Although Washington is not openly talking about the policy, its goal remains to overthrow the current North Korean government.

The US-South Korean joint military exercises are a move to accelerate this momentum. It is a strategy to push and prepare for change, and take the initiative if the regime change really happens.

The controversial sinking of the South Korean battleship, in retrospect, is more like a convenient excuse for the US to conduct a long-planned drill that envisions the occupation of the North, rather than a single reaction toward an emergency.

US military leaders have been drawing up such plans since the end of last year.

The South's unification ministry has also admitted that the South was practicing a "stabilization" program aimed at turning North Koreans into South Korean citizens.

The Korean Peninsula is too important to ignore in the realm of global geopolitics. US control of the peninsula will pose a realistic threat to China and Russia.

North Korean leadership is expected to change hands soon. The world is watching the change closely, as North Korea is still not back to the Six-Party Talks that aim to persuade it to drop its nuclear weapon program.

A smooth transition of power in the North is vital for the stability of Northeast Asia.

China needs to clearly realize this, and try to play an active role in preserving the peace on the Korean Peninsula, as well as look after its own interests.

Shifting Vietnam remains a partner, not a rival, to China
An article carried by the "Global Times" on August 25,2010

By Su Hao

Vietnam has been moving closer to the US recently, and conflicts between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea are moving from potential problems into serious ones.

As it grows its economy, Vietnam is looking for maritime interests for future development.

In order to strengthen its role in South China Sea and gain the power to bargain with China, Vietnam is in dire need of an external power that can offer support. The US is the best source. By chance, the US has been adjusting its strategy to strengthen the containment of China in Asia.

But we cannot simply define Vietnam as a nation that is confronting China due to its current pro-US tilt in foreign policy. As neighboring countries, China and Vietnam have built a strategic partnership and the bilateral relation is running on a sound base.

We should make full use of this sound foundation to enhance and promote the bilateral relations within a framework of friendly cooperation.

Facing a Vietnam leaning toward the US, we should try our best to rebalance its position. A Vietnam balanced between China and the US would be in China's ultimate interests.

In the past, we assumed that China and Vietnam could stand together to handle issues with the US because of our similar political systems. However, the reality contradicts with the assumption.

Although the US often criticizes Vietnam over problems of political democracy and human rights, it is not a big obstacle in US-Vietnam relations, and cannot prevent strategic coordination and cooperation between the two countries.

Vietnam has close economic ties with China. However, business conflicts go along with cooperation. In trade between China and Vietnam, one serious problem is that Vietnam has the unfavorable trade balance.

Vietnam attributes its slow economic recovery and development to the abundant cheap goods imported from China, and criticizes China for dumping goods into its market. In order to cater to increasing public demand and support construction, it has to import consumer and capital goods from aboard. And the best supplier is China.

There are structural contradictions between China and Vietnam. We should try our best to mitigate them and emphasize mutual needs.

One of the key issues in the national strategy of Vietnam is to gain the leadership of ASEAN by promoting regional integration within the organization. This is a basic strategic choice of it.

From the perspective of regional cooperation, Vietnam needs China, since China plays a prominent role in the process of ASEAN regional integration, and without China's support and coordination, the integration process will be very difficult to implement.

And from a security perspective, in addition to the traditional maritime sovereignty dispute, there are many other complex security issues that concern both China and Vietnam, such as non-traditional security issues.

Although the US is conducting military exercises with Vietnam in the name of maritime disaster relief at present, if there were a disaster at sea, the real and urgent help provided to Vietnam would be from China, not the US.

What's more, Vietnam faces the same challenges of drought and flood as China does. We could spare our attention to aid it at the same time solving our own problems.

Vietnam is an agricultural country and the second largest rice exporter in the world. Nevertheless, its agriculture is relatively underdeveloped.

As another agricultural country, China could provide valuable expertise in intensive cultivation to Vietnam. Cooperation with Vietnam in this aspect could be strengthened.

Vietnam's strategic thinking is based on challenging China, but has to depend on China out of real demands, which resulted in its ambiguous and contorted diplomatic attitude toward China. We should try to weaken the confrontation from other aspects.

The South China Sea dispute between China and the Vietnam is still manageable, and unlikely to lead to the breakdown of bilateral relations.

As the largest interested party and the most influential country in the dispute, as long as China keep calm, take the initiative and stick to the established policies to deal with the issue, the dispute will not grow beyond our control.

Global Times reporter Yu Jincui compiled this article, based on an interview with Su Hao, a professor of diplomacy in China Foreign Affair University. forum@globaltimes.com.cn

Wednesday, August 25, 2010



"The Buck Stops Here " talk show of NDTV anchored by Ms.Barkha Dutt had an interesting discussion on August 25,2010, on the passing reference to the recently noticed phenomenon of "Saffron Terror" made by Shri P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister, while inaugurating a conference of Directors-General of Police at New Delhi the same day.

2.The discussion was balanced and free of accusations and counter-accusations. It was refreshing to note that all the participants, including Shri Swapan Dasgupta, shared the concern of Shri Chidambaram over this phenomenon. There was no attempt to deny the fact that some Hindu elements, known to be close to the ideology of the Hindu nationalist group, are suspected of involvement in acts of terrorism against members of our Muslim community and that there was a need for a thorough investigation into this.

3.The debate, while refreshingly balanced and free of ideological polemic, was incomplete in some important respects. I myself , in my writings and speeches, have refrained from naming this phenomenon "Saffron" or "Hindutva" or Hindu terror since I felt that such characterisations could politicise the investigation and prosecution and aggravate the divide between the Hindus and the Muslims. I , therefore, prefer calling the phenomenon "Hindu reprisal terrorism".

4. In the relations between the Hindus and the Muslims, there have always been acts of reprisal during communal riots in different parts of the country, but those were acts of reprisal committed in the heat of the moment at the height of the riots.What we have been seeing since the Malegaon blasts on September 8,2006, are some pre-meditated acts of reprisal by some members of the Hindu community against Muslim soft targets. These are deliberate acts meant to punish Indian Muslims for the acts committed by some Pakistani terrorist organisations sponsored by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)----- with or without the help of Indian Muslims belonging to the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI).

5.The Malegaon blasts of September 8,2006, constituted in my view the first act of reprisal terrorism by some Hindus against innocent Muslims. While almost everybody was blaming the ISI and its Pakistani surrogates for the blasts, in an article written on September 10,2006---two days after the blasts--- I said inter alia: " While one should not be surprised if the Malegon blasts also turn out to be the work of jihadi terrorists, one should not rule out at this stage the possibility of the involvement of non-Muslims, keeping in view the long history of tensions between the Muslims and the Hindus in Malegaon.....It also needs to be underlined that any ill-advised actions by angry elements of the Hindu community to give vent to their anger over the continuing acts of terrorism, by indulging in reprisal attacks against innocent members of the Muslim community would be detrimental to our national interests and could contribute to an unbridgeable divide between the two communities. The Government should act with equal firmness against whoever indulges in acts of terrorism/, irrespective of the community---Muslim or Hindu--to which he or she belongs. There cannot be one law for the Muslims and another for non-Muslims ."
( http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers20%5Cpaper1945.html )

6. Subsequently, I wrote as follows in my book titled "Terrorism---Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow" published in June 2008: "The conventional wisdom was that the Muslims were now being deliberately targeted by the jihadi organizations in order to provoke them against the Government and the Hindus. I do not subscribe to this wisdom. It is important to keep an open mind while investigating these targeted attacks on Indian Muslims and one should not jump to the conclusion that the LET or the HUJI must have been involved. We owe it to our Muslims, most of whom have kept away from Al Qaeda and other pan-Islamic organizations, to see that these cases of targeted attacks on Muslims are thoroughly investigated instead of coming to a facile conclusion that jihadi organizations must be behind them."

7. Two aspects of the phenomenon of Hindu reprisal terrorism worry me. The first is the attempt of the Hindus allegedly involved to punish the Indian Muslims for the acts of the ISI and its jihadi surrogates. The second is the alleged involvement of some ideologically motivated members of the security forces in these reprisal attacks. One saw a worrisome combination of religious and military elements coming together to hit out at our Muslim community. This showed the beginning of a possible ideological penetration of sections of our security forces by Hindu nationalist elements.

8. There are many---including myself--- who have long been saying that we will not be able to deal with jihadi terrorism unless we hit out at Pakistan, but , at the same time, we have been strongly advising against any retaliatory action in our own territory against our own people who are perceived as being sympathetic to the ISI-sponsored jihadis from Pakistan. The investigations into the Malegaon blasts and some other incidents have brought out that there are possibly elements in our security bureacracy who seem to believe that acts of reprisal against our own Muslims would be as justified as retaliatory attacks against Pakistan. This is a dangerous idea that needs to be eradicated ruthlessly.

9. As I had pointed out in a recent article, US investigators seem to believe that jihadi organizations from Pakistan were involved in the terrorist attacks in the Mecca Masjid of Hyderabad and on the Samjotha Express. If they are correct, the contention of our investigators that some of the arrested Hindus were involved in the Mecca Masjid blast stands disproved. Our investigators are still to make a headway in the Samjotha express case. The contradictions in the conclusions of the US and Indian investigators show that while there may be prima facie evidence against the arrested Hindus in some of the cases, there are others in which the evidence is not strong enough.

10.There is a need for a three-pronged action by the Government----- firstly, a thorough investigation of the pending cases against the arrested Hindus and their prosecution, if warranted; secondly, reconciliation of the differences in the Mecca Masjid case and , thirdly, action against serving and retired members of the security bureaucracy who encourage openly or covertly acts of reprisal against our Muslim co-citizens. ( 26-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )



The secular Awami National Party (ANP) led Government of Khyber Pakhtunkwa and the nationalist organizations of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan have issued separate appeals to the international community for assisting them to meet the tremendous loss of lives and economic damages suffered by them due to the current floods in Pakistan.

2. Their direct appeals to the international community were triggered off by their fears that the bulk of the assistance amounting to US $ 800 million pledged by the international community at the special session of the UN General Assembly on August 19,2010, would be utilized by the Pakistan Government to assist the flood victims in Punjab and Sindh to the detriment of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan.

3. There are already indications of discrimination against the people of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan. While the Federal Government in Islamabad has been liberally issuing visas to volunteers of Western humanitarian relief organizations to do flood relief work in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunwa, severe restrictions have been imposed on the issue of visas to foreign relief workers wanting to work in Balochistan and Gilgit- Baltistan. The presence of a large number of foreign relief workers on the ground will ensure that an independent estimate of the damages suffered by the people and the assistance required by them will reach Western Governments and audiences so that they can ensure that the needs of these areas are not ignored by the Federal Government. In the absence of independent foreign humanitarian workers in Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, the international community will not be able to correctly assess their requirements and assist them.

4. While there is some understanding in the international community of the need to monitor the utilization of the aid being given to ensure that all the affected areas get their due share, no proper mechanism has been laid down for this purpose. The Western preoccupation has been on three pre-requisites. Firstly, to ensure that there is no corruption in the handling of the aid amounts. Secondly, to prevent the flow of any part of the assistance into the coffers of the terrorist organizations. And, thirdly, to pay adequate attention to the needs of Khyber Pakhtunkwa and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which constitute the Pashtun belt, in the hope of thereby weaning the local people away from Al Qaeda and the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans. Aware of the interest of the West in assisting the affected people of the Pashtun belt, the Federal Government has so far not imposed any curbs on foreign humanitarian workers enjoying the confidence of their Governments going to these areas.

5. Despite this favourable attention to the Pashtun areas from the West---particularly from the US--- there are strong fears even in Khyber Pakhtunkwa that the Federal Government might divert the bulk of the assistance to Punjab and Sindh. It is for this reason that the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkwa has made a direct appeal to the international community to take note of its requirement and to directly assist the people of the State. The “Dawn” of Karachi wrote on August 21: “It is the first time after the adoption of the 18th Amendment that a provincial government totally bypassed the Federal government in seeking direct foreign assistance. The move also exposed differences between the centre and the province over the rehabilitation plans.”

6. As part of this exercise to seek direct assistance from the international community over the head of the Federal Government, the ANP-led Government of the province convened on August 20 a conference at Peshawar attended by representatives of many foreign diplomatic missions in Islamabad and non-Governmental humanitarian relief organizations. The “Dawn” has quoted Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the provincial Information Minister, as saying as follows: “It is our prerogative as the 18th Amendment has given us constitutional powers to undertake this initiative.” The paper has quoted another ANP representative, who has not been named, as saying: “The provincial government has been pushing federal authorities to hold this conference immediately, but they appeared reluctant.”

7.Taking advantage of the interest of the West in assisting the Pashtun victims, the Government of the province has directly contacted the representatives of the Western Governments and non-governmental organizations and sought relief and reconstruction assistance worth US $ three billion.

8. The affected people of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan find themselves ignored by the international community. The Western non-governmental workers have been kept away from these areas by the Federal Government. Since the Balochs and the people of Gilgit- Baltistan, who are largely Shias, have kept away from Al Qaeda and its affiliates, their plight has not evoked much interest in the international community.

9. In a direct appeal to the international community, Mr.Abdul Hamid Khan of the Balawaristan National Front of Gilgit-Baltistan has stated as follows: “ 52 people have died and 160 rendered homeless in the village Qamrah of occupied Gilgit Baltistan region, and 22 have died, 40 rendered homeless in village Talas, 45 died and 70 injured in Giyes of Diamar. Similarly, in Talas 22 people were killed and 40 houses destroyed while in Hotoo, Rondu, Darel, Tangir, Botogah, Khinar, Thor, Hoodoor,Babusar, Gini, Hunza Nagir, Chhamoogardh Colony of Konodas and Skarkooi, Gilgit, Ghowadi Baltistan, Yasen, Gulaper, Isshqaman, Damas, Ginday, Sandhi, Hondoor, Dahrkoot, Mastuj, Booni, Garam Chashma, Yarkhoon in Chitral, and Koli and Pattan in Kohistan over 500 people have lost their lives whereas, more than half a million have become homeless and nearly 50,000 families have completely lost everything, including land, shelter, livestock and all means of living".

10. The Army, which maintains an iron hold over Balochistan despite the supposed presence of an elected Government there, has seen to it that Balochistan would not be a beneficiary of the assistance funds and that the real extent of the damages in Balochistan would not be known to the outside world. It thus wants to punish the Balochs for waging their freedom struggle.

11. It is important for the Government of India to take the following steps:

* Participate actively in UN and other international conferences to mobilize assistance for Pakistan in order to highlight the damages suffered by the people of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan and stress the importance of assisting them adequately.
* Interact with non-Governmental organizations from these areas and assist them.
* Establish contact with the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkwa and offer to make a contribution to their flood relief fund.
* Encourage non-Governmental humanitarian relief organizations of India and the Indian diaspora abroad to assist the people of these areas and make suitable contributions to these organizations . ( 25-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Tuesday, August 24, 2010



Acting jointly, China's Ministry of Public Security and the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China have tightened up their control over the Buddhist monasteries in the Tibetan areas of China and over the mosques in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. While the tightened supervisory measures over the mosques in Xinjiang have preceded the onset of the holy fasting period of the Muslims, the measures in the Tibetan areas have followed the recent high-profile visit of the Party/Government designated Panchen Lama to Lhasa and other areas in Tibet. A note recorded by me on June 17,2010, on the Panchen Lama's visit to Tibet under the title "Bringing up their Panchen Lama" is available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers39/paper3864.html .

2. To discuss the tightening of supervision over the monasteries, the United Front Work Department, which, inter alia, is responsible for organising the periodic talks between the party and senior representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, organised a meeting on August 14 and 15, 2010, at Shigatse. Heads of all Buddhist monasteries in the Tibetan-inhabited provinces were required to attend the meeting. An official of the United Front Work Department has been quoted as saying in connection with the responsibility of his Department to ensure better supervision over the monasteries: "Competent Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns who are politically reliable, extraordinarily learned and widely respected should be selected to monastery management committees through thorough democratic consultation." There has, however, been no reference to the envisaged role of the Panchen Lama in this regard.

3. Subsequently. the Ministry of Public Security held a conference of senior officials of the branches of the Ministry in the Tibetan-inhabited provinces. These branches are called Public Security Bureaus. This was held at Lhasa on August 18 and 19,2010.The objective of this conference was described as "to assess the results and experiences of upholding public security, struggle against the current separatist movement, and identified current challenges facing stability in Tibetan areas.” It was reported by local Chinese officials that the conference discussed future action plans “to step up the fight against separatists; build bodies to protect social security; increase border security; and improve communication infrastructure, uniform and skills of the public security bureaus”. An official of the United Front Work Department briefed the conference on the deliberations of the meeting held by his Department.

4.The tightening of supervision over the Buddhist monasteries by the Party as well as the Government indicates their continuing nervousness over the loyalty of the local monks to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and their reluctance to support the Panchen Lama nominated by the Government and the Party. The Ministry of Public Security and the United Front Work Department were even earlier holding so-called re-education classes for the monks to stress the importance of patriotism and loyalty to the party and the Panchen Lama. Such re-education is likely to be stepped up in the wake of these two conferences.

5. A project for the re-education of the Muslim clerics in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region has simultaneously been undertaken. Its object is to underline the importance of patriotism and party loyalty as in the case of the monks. It has the additional objective of ridding Islam as practised in China of any vestiges of extra-territorial loyalty. Encouraging Islam in Chinese colours is the main objective. This drive has created some resentment among the Muslims because some of the meetings under this drive were held in the premises of local mosques and these were attended by non-Muslim officials and party cadres. While the Buddhist monks have not objected to non-Buddhist functionaries holding party meetings in their places of worship, the Uighur Muslims have strongly resented such practices.

6. Local Uighurs and members of the Uighur diaspora have strongly protested against a meeting organized by the Party’s Peyziwat (population 330,000) County Committee at a village mosque in the Kashgar prefecture on July 24 to hold a speech contest on the topic “Love the Country, Promote the Homeland” in the presence of 35 religious leaders.

7. Mrs.Rebiya Kadeer,President of the Munich-based World Uighur Congress, who lives in the US, has stated in an interview that she was shocked by the pictures of the party meeting held in the mosque.Mr. Abdukadir Asim, an Uighur cleric based in Turkey, has said: “It is a common principle among all religions that the privacy of the place of worship is fundamental. It is a strange and abhorrent event that communist propaganda was conducted in a mosque. I don’t believe it has ever happened before, anywhere else in the world.” He has criticized the General Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Mr.Ekmelledin Ihsanoglu, who visited China recently for not raising with the Chinese authorities the question of the violation of the religious rights of the Uighurs in China. He added:“The action of holding a communist activity in a mosque ridicules not only Uighurs but also the whole Islamic world. The international community should speak out about this event.”

8. Addressing a meeting of Muslim clerics at Hetian in Xinjiang on August 21, Mr. Jia Qinglin , Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), called for greater efforts by local religious circles to contribute to the long-term stability and development of Xinjiang. He praised the contribution of patriotic religious personalities and claimed that the Government and the party attached great importance to the education and cultivation of religious believers, showed care for their lives and work, and supported their religious activities. He appealed to the clerics to help consolidate national unity and harmonious religious relations and to resist and eliminate the influence of religious extremism.

9. Simultaneously with action to tighten control over the mosques, the Government has initiated a programme for the demolition of exclusively Uighur residential areas in Urumqi, the capital, and forcing the displaced Uighurs to re-settle in apartments built for them in the residential areas of the Han Chinese. This has also been resented by the leaders of the Uighur community who look upon it as an attempt to destroy the ethnic identity of the Uighurs. In this connection, please see my article dated June 23, 2010, titled “China to De-Emphasise Uighur Identity of Xinjiang” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers39%5Cpaper3886.html

10. There is considerable unhappiness among the Uighurs of Xinjiang over the fact that the Islamic world, which never misses an opportunity to protest over the violation of the human rights of the Muslims in other countries, remains silent on this issue in China. (25-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )



The following comments of President Benigno Aquino, the Manila Police Commander and some non-governmental security experts on the way the Manila Police handled the hostage-taking crisis on August 23,2010, have been extracted from despatches of the Agence France Press (AFP) :

* President Aquino: The tragedy highlighted many flaws in the ability of Philippine security forces to handle hostage situations. "There are a lot of things (that) resulted in a tragedy. Obviously we should be improving." One of the problems was the way the crisis played out through the media, with the gunman being allowed to speak on radio and watch events live on the bus's television, giving him insights into police actions. Waiting more than 10 hours before storming the bus was the right course of action, because police believed until that point they could convince the gunman to stand down.
* Mr.Leocadio Santiago, Manila Police Commander: "We saw some obvious shortcomings in terms of capability and tactics used, or the procedure employed and we are now going to investigate this."
* Mr.John Harrison, Assistant Professor and homeland security analyst at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore:"The fact that there was essentially live video was mistake number one." There should have been a media blackout to deny the hijacker feedback on what was going on around him. Instead, he was able to follow events -- including frenzied speculation by serving and former police chiefs appearing on Philippine networks -- via the bus' internal TV.
* Mr.Dennis Wong Sing Wing, an Associate Professor of applied social studies at the City University in Hong Kong:The police operation was "really shocking" to watch as it unfolded live on TV. "I am very angry about their unprofessional performance.They are indirectly responsible for the deaths of the Hong Kong people." The policemen assigned to end the hostage-taking appeared to lack modern weapons and communication equipment, and as a result were hesitant to attack the gunman, who was armed with an M-16 assault rifle. The Police failed to calm the hostage-taker down and hear him out.
* An unnamed retired Philippine military official who wrote a counter-terrorism manual and now runs a security consultancy:The police had enough expertise and equipment to deal with such an incident, but they were not put to use. "We have everything, except the execution was poorly done." He was critical of the stop-go negotiations and "tentative" assault launched after gunshots rang out from inside the bus, adding that the police should have disabled the TV monitor early on."Contact (by negotiators) should have been constant. It's the talking that does a lot.When you order an assault, it has to be an assault. There is no such thing as a tentative assault.If 10 policemen have to die, they have to die in that assault." Many of the policemen on the scene, some of them seen crouching without any body armour behind patrol cars, did not appear to be fully trained Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) personnel. "They just put helmets on certain people."
* Trial judge Jaime Santiago, a former SWAT officer:The police failed to impose crowd control in the hostage site and panicked after hearing gunshots from the bus. "They should have put a tactical force, SWAT snipers and an assault team on standby during the negotiation so that if the hostage-taker started harming people, they would act."
* Mr.Lionel de Souza, a former officer of Singapore's Criminal Investigation Department, recalled a similar hijacking of a bus in Singapore.
"I think that was in 1978 in Seng Poh Road in Tiong Bahru. The police were chasing some robbers and they jumped onto an SBS bus which was (carrying) passengers. (The robbers) sort of held them hostage. At that time, hostage negotiation was not well known. Nevertheless, the retired assistant commissioner - Tan Kah Wan - I think he did a good job. There was no loss of lives but there was the arrest of the hostage takers." In the Manila hostage tragedy, one image that left many doubting was the action of armed police who had crept up around the bus."They started smashing the windows with the sledgehammer, trying to wrench open the door with a rope. That by itself is a provocation to the criminal, and because he is already agitated, adding more pressure to his already troubled mind would entail him to sort of do things that a person with a proper frame of mind would not do. He may be a decorated police officer, he may know the law, but these tensions were building within him." Negotiations could have gone on longer as it was important to wear down the hijacker in such a crisis. Singapore is well-poised to handle a similar crisis, with hostage negotiators being well-trained. (24-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Monday, August 23, 2010

MUNICH--1972; MUMBAI--26/11 AND MANILA--23/8


The facts of the tragedy in Manila on August 23,2010, which led to the death of eight tourists from Hong Kong due to the irrational behaviour of a dismissed Manila police officer as reported by the Agence France Presse (AFP) are as follows: Eight Hong Kong tourists were killed when police stormed a bus that had been commandeered 12 hours earlier by a disgraced ex-police officer demanding he get his job back. Seven other Hong Kong tourists were injured. One of them is still in a critical condition more than 12 hours after the bloody rescue attempt while the others sustained only slight injuries.The ordeal began when the suspect, armed with an M-16 assault rifle and dressed in combat pants, hijacked the bus with 25 people aboard in Manila's tourist district. He later freed seven Hong Kong tourists and two Filipinos. But negotiations broke down after nightfall when the gunman, former senior police inspector Rolando Mendoza, began shooting and commandos were forced to storm the bus, firing dozens of bullets of their own into the vehicle. The Filipino driver escaped just before the shooting.

2. The incident was telecast live by many TV channels of the world. We were thus able to see what was happening.Certain important points about the incident need to be underlined:

* First, it was not an act of terrorism. It was a criminal act committed by a recently dismissed police officer who had been rendered irrational by the dismissal. He was acting alone.
* Second, his grievances were purely personal. He just wanted his job back.
* Third, he took his victims hostage in a bus which was halted in the middle of the road.He was in a position to see all that was happening around the bus through the bus windows. As a result, the advantage of stealth in operational planning and execution was denied to the police. A similar thing happened during the Munich massacre of 1972 by some Palestinian terrorists and during the 26/11 terrorist strike in Mumbai. In Munich and Mumbai, the live telecasting of the security movements by TV channels enabled the hostage-takers to see what the police and other security agencies were doing. In Manila, his location inside a bus enabled the hostage-taker to see what was happening around him. The most important requisite in an operation against hostage-taking is operational stealth. This requirement was denied to the police and other security agencies in Munich, Mumbai and Manila by circumstances beyond their control.As a result, all these three incidents resulted in tragedies of various proportions.
* Four, the fact that the hostage-taker was writing out his demands on pieces of paper and pasting them on the windows for the police outside to read indicates that the communication set of the bus driver with his control station or the mobile hand-sets of the police and the hostage-taker were not being used throghout the incident. It is not known why. When the negotiators communicate with a hostage-taker orally it has a better impact than when they communicate with written notes. Persuasion is possible. It was reported that the brother of the hostage-taker and other relatives did try to persuade him----unsuccessfully--- to surrender. One does not know how they did so--- orally throgh mobile handsets or in writing,.
* Five, it has been reported that as a result of the negotiations, the hostage-taker did release nine passengers because of their age and health. This might have enabled the police to make a forcible entry into the bus by taking advantage of the opening of the door to allow these persons come out. Why they could not use this opportunity? It is not clear.
* Six, the bus was so air tight that the police had difficulty in making an opening through a sledge-hammer. After plane hijackings started, aircraft are so designed as to enable forcible and stealth entry by the special intervention forces. Buses are not so designed.The police have no way of making a forcible entry except by breaking the glasses in the full view of the hostage-taker.
* Seven, the police apparently prolonged the negotiations till nighfall hoping this would make some stealth movement possible. But, unforunately, the bus under the control of the hostage-taker was in a brightly-lit area of Manila and the police had not got the electricity to that area switched off before launching their attack on the bus.
* Eight, a basic principle in dealing with hostage-taking situations is, do not concede the demand of the hostage-taker. This could create more such incidents. In this case, some flexibility in the adherence to this principle was called for. The police could have tactically conceded the demand of the hostage-taker by agreeing to reinstate him and then sacked him again after he had released the passengers. A rigid adherence to the principle was unwise. Why the police did not consider this alternative?

3. The Filipino authorities would be making a detailed enquiry into the deficiencies, if any, in the handling of the situation and drawing lessons for the future. To prevent such incidents during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, the Government of India should immediately send a joint team consisting of senior officers of the Intelligence Bureau, the Research & Analysis Wing, the National Security Guards and the Delhi Police to Manila for detailed discussions with their Filipino counterparts so that the lessons drawn by them could be incorporated into the security planning for the Delhi games. One can envisage two kinds of situations:

* Firstly, hijacking a normal bus or vehicle used by the public. It will be difficult to make anti-hijacking changes in them.
* Secondly, hijacking of buses used by the participants in the Games. Would it be possible at this late stage to provide them with remote control mrchanism for opening the doors from outside?

4. The Chinese authorities, who would be organising the Asian Games in November,2010, should also draw appropriate lessons and incorporate them in their security planning. We should also have an exchange of notes with the Chinese security agencies on how to prevent such incidents during the Commonwealth and Asian Games. (24-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )




According to Garowe Online, a Somali news web site, some members of Al-Shabaab, the Somali associate of Al Qaeda, were killed during an accidental explosion on August 20,2010, in a house in the Hawl-Wadaag district of Mogadishu, where members of Al-Shabaab were preparing two explosive-laden vehicles for use as car bombs. The news web site claimed that the house belonged to Sheikh Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansoor, the deputy leader of Al-Shabaab.It was not clear whether he was present in the house at the time of the explosion and, if so, what happened to him. It did not give details of those killed except to say that there were both foreigners and Somalis.

2. Citing “security sources”, the local Ministry of Information and Radio Mogadishu reported on August 21 that at least 10 persons were killed in the accidental explosion-----three Pakistanis, two Indians, one Afghan, one Algerian, and two Somalis including a cleric who was in charge of praying for suicide bombers before they were dispatched. They did not indicate the nationality of the 10th person.Nor did they identify the Indians and Pakistanis killed or say as to how the security sources established that they were Indians and Pakistanis. Al- Shabaab has not so far admitted that the killed persons belonged to it. The local authorities claim to have established that the cleric killed in the explosion was Awais Abu Yusuf, a local Imam.

3.The Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan has been quite active in Somalia since the early 1990s. Despite a local ban on its activities, persons recruited by it in Pakistan have been visiting Somalia for religious preaching. The Somali authorities suspected that the TJ was in touch with local Wahabi/fundamentalist elements and that Pakistani jihadi organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul—Mujahideen (HUM) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) were active in the local Muslim community under the cover of TJ volunteers. Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM, had spent some months in Somalia in the 1990s when he was a member of the HUM. Al-Shabaab is believed to have a small component of Pakistani volunteers.

4. No Indian Muslim component of the organization had come to notice in the past. Till 2003, there were about 200 Bohra Muslims from India working in Somalia in the business of textiles dyeing. Many of them have since re-settled in Mombasa in Kenya. They had not come to notice for any association with extremist elements. If it is established that Al-Shabaab has a component of Indian origin, its members are likely to have been recruited either from the Indian Muslim diaspora in East Africa or the UK. In the past, there were instances of individual Indian Muslims from the diaspora in the UK either gravitating towards Al Qaeda or its associates or being influenced by its ideology. So far, there has been no confirmed instance of India-based Muslims joining Al Qaeda or pro-Al Qaeda organizations such as Al-Shabaab.

5. Indian intelligence and investigative agencies should seek more information from the local authorities in Mogadishu. This may please be read in continuation of my article dated July 13,2010, titled "KAMPALA BLASTS: Indian Casualties?" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/%5Cpapers40%5Cpaper3922.html and article of December 4,2009, titled "The Somali Front of the Global Jihad" available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers36/paper3534.html. (23-8-10)

( 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: seventyone2@gmail.com )