Thursday, September 30, 2010




Mr.Leon Panetta, the Director of the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), arrived in Islamabad on September 29,2010, for talks with Lt.Gen.Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). He was also scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff ( COAS).

2. Ever since he took over as the head of the CIA last year, Mr.Panetta had been periodically visiting Pakistan for talks with Pakistani leaders and officials on action against Al Qaeda, the Afghan and Pakistani Talibans and other affiliates of Al Qaeda operating from Pakistani territory. He has also been utilizing these visits for discussing with his own officers based in the Af-Pak area the operations of the Drones (pilotless planes), which are co-ordinated by the CIA.

3. His latest visit is, therefore, not a matter for surprise. However, it has assumed more than the usual significance because of indicators that the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, which has been the bete noire of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been operating increasingly from new sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This area, which has seen some bloody fighting between the Shias and the Sunnis during the last two years, has not been the focus of the intensified Drone strikes, which have been confined to North Waziristan ( an estimated 64 strikes this year) and South Waziristan (an estimated six).

4.Because of the sensitive Shia-Sunni angle in the Kurram Agency, the US has till now left the responsibility for action against the Taliban sanctuaries in the Agency to the Pakistan Army, which has been claiming to have mounted ground and air strikes against them. Despite the Pakistani claims, there has been no reduction in cross-border raids into Afghanistan by well-trained elements of the Afghan Taliban, including the Haqqani network, from sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency.

5. It is dissatisfaction with the operations which the Pakistan Army claims to have launched in the Agency which has resulted in the decision of the NATO forces in Afghanistan to exercise the right of hot pursuit against the Taliban and Haqqani network elements fleeing back into the Kurram Agency after ambushing/attacking the NATO forces in Afghanistan. This hot pursuit is being exercised in helicopters and not through ground operations. In one such hot pursuit this week, a Pakistani checkpost came under fire from a NATO helicopter resulting in the alleged death of three Pakistani security personnel.

6. According to well-informed Pakistani sources, one of the purposes of the latest visit of the CIA chief is to remonstrate with the ISI and Pakistani Army officials over their failure to act against the sanctuaries in the Kurram Agency and caution them that continued inaction or inadequate action by the Pakistan army could force the US to extend its Drone strikes to the Kurram Agency.

7.According to the same sources, the US continues to be unhappy with the Pakistani inaction in North Waziristan and inadequate action in South Waziristan. The stepped-up Drone strikes have disrupted the functioning of Al Qaeda from North Waziristan, but have not had much of an impact on the operations of the so-called 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), another Uzbek group, which has been drawing followers from persons of Turkish origin, including Kurds, living in Germany.

8. Ever since the publication of some cartoons of the Prophet by a Danish paper in 2005, Al Qaeda and its associates based in Pakistan’s tribal belt have been exploring ways of mounting terrorist attacks in reprisal against Western targets in Europe. Ilyas Kashmiri has been playing an important role in this regard. Evidence of his role in looking for opportunistic attacks on behalf of Al Qaeda in Europe came from the interrogation of David Coleman Headley of the Chicago cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), who was arrested by the FBI in October last year.

9. His interrogation brought out that he had helped the LET in preparing the groundwork for the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai and was similarly helping Ilyas Kashmiri in preparing the groundwork for terrorist strikes in Denmark. In fact, Ilyas Kashmiri was reported to have told Headley that he controlled operational assets in Europe whom Headley could use without having to depend on the LET for the European operations.

10.A Press release issued on January 14,2010, by the Public Affairs Division of the US Justice Department had said as follows: “Headley allegedly traveled in January 2009, from Chicago to Copenhagen, Denmark, to conduct surveillance of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper offices in Copenhagen and Aarhus and to videotape the surrounding areas In late January 2009, Headley traveled to Pakistan and met separately to discuss the planning with Abdur Rehman and Lashkar Member A. In February 2009, Abdur Rehman allegedly took Headley to meet with Kashmiri in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. During the meeting, Kashmiri allegedly indicated that he had reviewed the surveillance videos made by Headley and suggested using a truck bomb in the operation. Kashmiri further indicated that he could provide manpower for the operation and that Lashkar’s participation was not necessary, the indictment alleges. Subsequently, in March 2009, Lashkar Member A advised Headley that Lashkar put the newspaper attack on hold because of pressure in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, according to the charges. In May 2009, Headley and Abdur Rehman met again with Kashmiri in Waziristan and Kashmiri allegedly directed Headley to meet with his European contacts who could provide Headley with money, weapons, and manpower for the newspaper attack. In late July and early August 2009, Headley traveled from Chicago to various places in Europe, including Copenhagen, attempting to obtain assistance from Kashmiri’s contacts and, while there, made approximately 13 additional surveillance videos, according to the charges.” ( My comment: Abdur Rehman is a retired Major of the Pakistan Army, who was acting as a cut-out between Headley and Ilyas Kashmiri)

11.The Islamic Jihad Union or Group (IJU), an Uzbek group based in North Waziristan and closely allied to Al Qaeda, has some followers in Germany among persons of Turkish origin as well as white German converts to Islam. Some arrests were made in Germany in August-September 2007 in connection with investigations into the activities of the IJU and its suspected plots for terrorist strikes in Germany against German as well as American targets.

12. The Norwegian police announced on July 8,2010, the arrest of three men suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda on charges of preparing terrorist attacks. One of them is a Norwegian citizen of Uighur origin. The other two are permanent residents in Norway of Uzbek and Iraqi-Kurdish origin. Two of them (the Uzbek and the Uighur) are reported to have been arrested in Norway and the third (Iraqi-Kurd with a permanent residence permit of Norway) in Germany. The Norwegian police had been keeping them under surveillance for investigation for about a year. The arrests appear to have been made even though the investigation was incomplete because of the leakage of the news about the investigation against them to the media. They apparently decided to arrest them before the media came out with the news. Media reports indicated that the arrested persons were suspected of involvement in plots for terrorist strikes in Norway and of having links with some terrorist suspects under investigation in the US and the UK.

13. The latest reports emanating from the US and the UK about the alleged plans of Al Qaeda to mount Mumbai-style terrorist strikes in the UK, France and Germany have come in the wake of these developments relating to the use of Headley by Ilyas and the arrests in Norway and Germany. The same sources as mentioned above say that the US feels that the ISI has been dragging its feet in taking action against Ilyas and his contacts in the Pakistan Army. Sections of the Pakistani media have been alleging since 2008 that Ilyas had served for some time as a commando in the Special Services Group of the Pakistan Army before drifting into the world of terrorism. He, therefore, enjoys protection from the ISI. Like the Haqqanis father and son, Ilyas is another valued operational asset of the ISI, which uses the Haqqanis in Afghanistan and Ilyas against India.

14. Growing indicators of the role which Ilyas has been playing as facilitator for the Euopean operations of Al Qaeda and its Uzbek associates have made the US step up pressure on the ISI for neutralizing Ilyas and his 313 Brigade. The sources say that this is another important reason for the visit of the CIA chief to Pakistan.

15. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier articles cited below:

(a). Article of September 18,2010, titled HAQQANI NETWORK IN PARACHINAR at

(b).Article of July 9,2010, titled “Al Qaeda In Norway” at


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

Wednesday, September 29, 2010



In a dispatch from Pyongyang, the Capital of North Korea, the Government and Chinese Communist Party controlled Xinhua news agency of China reported on September 29,2010, that a one-day conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) held on September 28, 2010, had taken the following “significant decisions” regarding the party leadership:

* Kim Jong Il, who had served as the General Secretary of the Party since October 1997, was reelected to the post.
* It elected a 124-member Central Committee, which included among others, Kim Jong-il himself, his 27-year-old youngest son Kim Jong Un ( pronounced Kim Jong-Woon) and Kim Kyong Hui, the 64-year-old sister of Kim Jong-Il.
* At a plenary session of the new Central Committee, attended by Kim Jong Il, the party's innermost leading core, the Presidium of the Politburo of the WPK Central Committee, “came into being”. Beside Kim Jong Il there are four other senior members in the Presidium, known as the Standing Committee of the Politburo, including Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the DPRK, and Ri Yong Ho, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army (KPA). Choe Yong Rim and Jo Myong Rok would be the other members of the Presidium. The Politbureau includes these five members of the Presidium plus Kim Kyong Hui, Kim Yong Chun, Choe Thae Bok, Yang Hyong Sop and eight others. The alternate members include Jang Song Thaek, Kim Yong Il and 13 others. Kim Jong-Un has not been elected to the Polibureau, but his aunt Kim Kyong Hui has been.

* Also at the Central Committee meeting, Kim Jong Un was elected to the 19-member Central Military Commission.
* Kim Jong Un will serve as one of the two Vice-Chairmen of the powerful commission, headed by his father. Ri Yong Ho will be the other Vice-Chairman. A day earlier, Kim Jong Il had issued an order in his capacity of the supreme commander of the KPA promoting Ri Yong Ho to the rank of Vice- Marshal and Kim Jong Un to that of General, a rank below Vice- Marshal and above Colonel- General.
* In the amendments made to the WPK Charter, "the duties of a party member and the contents of the work of party organizations at different levels are comprehensively revised and supplemented." The revision also adds a new charter to the current charter regulating the party's logo and flag and further stresses the need to strengthen the party's leadership over the civilians as well as the military. The participants in the conference were convinced that the modifications "will provide a sure guarantee for strengthening and developing the party ... and victoriously advance the revolutionary cause."
* In a report seemingly indicating that the WPK conference has concluded, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that the conference "was held with success in Pyongyang on Sept 28" and that "Kim Yong Nam made a closing speech."

2. The Xinhua dispatch added: “The historic gathering was the third of its kind in the party's history and the first in 44 years. Outside the country, the international community is also closely watching the development in the DPRK, as the country is trying to secure a peaceful international environment for its economic development and has recently repeated its intent to resume the Six-Party Talks for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Contributing to the wariness of international players are the high tensions that have clouded the region since the March sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors. Seoul accuses Pyongyang of torpedoing the vessel and has since carried out several military drills with the United States off the Korean coast, while the DPRK denies any involvement and has repeatedly warned that the "provocative" exercises would threaten regional security. “

3. According to the Wikipedia, the Conference also re-constituted the National Defence Commission as follows:

* Chairman: Marshal of the DPRK Kim Jong-il (1993-)
* 1st Vice Chairman: Vice Marshal of the KPA Ri Yong-ho, Chief of the KPA General Staff
* 2nd Vice Chairman: General of the Army Kim Jong-un
* Assistant Vice Chairmen:
o Chang Sung-taek, Secretary, WPK Administrative Department. He is the husband of Kim Kyong-Hui.
o Vice Marshal of the KPA Kim Yong-Chun, Minister of the People's Armed Forces
o Vice Marshal of the KPA Ri Yong-mu
o General of the Army O Kuk-ryol, Secretary, WPK Department of Operations
* Members of the Commission
o General of the Army Ju Sang-song, Minister of People's Security
o General of the Army Kim Jong-gak, 1st Deputy Director, KPA.
o Colonel General U Tong-chuk
o Jon Pyong-ho, Secretary of Military Industries
o Ju Kyu-chang, 1st Deputy Secretary, Department of Military Industries
o Paek Se-bong, Chairman, WPK 2nd Economic Committee.
o Pak Myong-chol , Councillor of the Commission.

4. The Xinhua dispatch, which was based on the press releases issued by the KCNA, did not report the reconstitution of the National Defence Commission. The National Defense Commission (NDC) of the State, which is different from the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the WPK, is defined by the 1998 constitution as “the highest guiding organ of the military and the managing organ of military matters.” The chairman of the NDC controls the armed forces. It is responsible for the management and direction of all military affairs and defense projects under the commission's authority. The NDC, though nominally under the Supreme People's Assembly, is the highest state body, with ultimate executive power (including responsibility for the armed forces) resting with its chairman, Kim Jong-il. It takes all decisions relating to nuclear and missile development.

5. The Central Military Commission is an organ of the WPK and is responsible for coordinating the Party organizations within the Korean People's Army. Its full and official name is the Commission for Military Affairs of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea. Its functions are similar to those of the Communist Party of China's CMC. In addition to Kim Jong-il and Kom Jong-Un, the Commission has another 16 members, including Kim Yong Chun, Kim Jong Gak, and Jang Song Taek.

6. The elevation of Kim Jong-un to the rank of a General and his election as a member of the Party Central Committee and as one of the two Vice-Chairmen of the NDC of the State and the CMC of the party clearly places him in a position to succeed his father as the ruler of North Korea. Kim Jong-il suffered a stroke in August 2008 and has reportedly been in poor health since then. Since January last year, the South Korean intelligence agency and media have been saying that after the stroke Kim Jong-Il had decided to groom Kim Jong-Un as his successor after superseding his two elder brothers and as the first step towards this, a special party conference would entrust him with important responsibilities relating to the State and the Party.

7. They have been proved right. However, there are still certain questions to which even the well-informed South Korean Intelligence agency and media do not have answers: Why did Kim Jong-il send Kim Jong-Un to Switzerland for three years of schooling? According to one unconfirmed report, all the three brothers had done part of their schooling in Switzerland. Did Kim Jong-Un study in China too, where Kim Jong-Il was himself educated? What impact his three-year stay in Switzerland have on his thinking? Would his exposure to the Swiss society, political system and economy have any influence on his policies? Would he gradually open up North Korea and take it on the road to economic liberalization and eradicate its image of a “rogue state” and a “state of concern”?

8. Kim Jong-Un was reportedly in Berne, the capital of Switzerland, from the age of 12 to 15 studying in the local international school where he was, according to some media accounts, enrolled as the son of the chauffeur of the North Korean Embassy in Berne. He returned to North Korea in 1998 and subsequently attended the Kim Il-sung Military University. He was reported to have accompanied his father to China in August 2010. Apart from that, it is not known whether he had ever stayed in China and if so, in what capacity.

9. The fact that China itself may not be well informed about the happenings in the North Korean Government and Party became evident from two factors. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was earlier this year reported to have dismissed South Korean and Western speculation that Kim Jong-Il had decided that Kim Jong-Un should succeed him. Chinese newspapers such as the “Global Times” have often been reporting on North Korea on the basis of South Korean and Western speculation.

10. Chinese views over what could happen in North Korea after Kim Jong-il were reflected in a “Global Times” article of September 28, which said: “Despite varied versions of the successor choice and to which post the figure will be elevated to at the meeting, some analysts are dismissing the possibility of political chaos as a result of such a transition, saying the country won't undergo any significant policy change that could pose downsides on the security situation of the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia. A stable North Korea is in China's national interests, regardless of who will be the next leader, experts say. Some cautious analysts also suggested that Jong-un's ascendancy could still be undone by political infighting, The New York Times reported. Xu Baokang, an expert on Korean Peninsula issues, told the Global Times that "any major shifts in its existing economic, social or foreign policies look impossible to take place." "North Korea's policies will remain to be strictly in line with Kim Il-sung's ideas. Intensive speculations in Western media that Pyongyang is likely to adjust its policies dramatically are incorrect," he said, adding that North Korea "can't endure risks stemming from major reforms." While predicting that the north will be politically stable, Lü Chao, a researcher of Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that "China supports North Korea to be part of the international community, and the Chinese side will actively create favorable conditions so as to help the North get rid of its isolated situation in the world, which also serves China's national interests."

11.Will Kim Jong-un be able to consolidate his position and emerge as the unquestioned leader of North Korea? The answer to this question will depend on how soon his father leaves the political scene----either due to death or poor health. If his father manages to continue in power for some years, that could enable Kim Jong-Un to consolidate his position in the Army and the Party. If his father leaves earlier than expected, he may find it difficult to deal with his potential adversaries in the army and the party. Among his adversaries will be his two superseded brothers and Chang Song-Taek, the husband of his aunt, who is today reputed to be the second most powerful man in North Korea after Kim Jong-il. Other Army officers may not like working under a 27-year-old person with very little exposure to the army and the world of diplomacy. Any infighting in the party and/or the army could lead to an active Chinese involvement in internal politics to prevent the country coming under the influence of elements not well-disposed towards China.

12. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier articles cited below:

(a). Article dated August 27,2010, titled “Chinese Concerns over North Korea & Vietnam” at

(b).Article of August 31,2010, titled “Visit of Kim Jong-IL to China---An Assessment “ at


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

Tuesday, September 28, 2010



Like a homing pigeon, China is pressing ahead with the implementation of its plans for railway link-ups with Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal. It is only a question of time before Chinese railway planners and strategic thinkers come out with a plan for a railway link-up with Bangladesh via Myanmar. The initiative for these link-ups came not from China, but from these countries. Once their interest in a railway link-up with China became evident, Beijing pounced on the opportunity and seriously took up a feasibility study and came up with ideas regarding the implementation if the projects were found feasible.

2. It has projected these projects as dictated by purely economic requirements and not by strategic or geopolitical intentions. Though these projects, when finally implemented, would have an enormous military significance, the military aspect is played down and their economic benefits are highlighted. A study of the evolution of the ideas for railway link-ups across India’s periphery shows that while China does not seek to create for itself a capability for the strategic strangulation of India, it never misses an opportunity to develop such a capability if it presents itself.

3. I have already written separately about the feasibility studies that have been initiated regarding railway link-ups with Pakistan and Afghanistan. This article is about a possible railway link-up between Tibet and Nepal. On January 18, 2008, less than two years after China commissioned the railway line to Lhasa, its online Tibet news service ( quietly announced that the Lhasa-Xigaze Section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway's extension line “is expected to start construction this year”. The next day, the Government and party-controlled Xinhua news agency quoted the then Chairman Qiangba Puncog of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region as stating that it would be one of the region’s ten key construction projects involving an investment of 28 billion yuan ($3.7 billion). The Xinhua further quoted him as saying as follows: “"Experts are still working on the designs and environmental assessments of the extension line and government officials have started calculating compensations to those who will lose their land and properties to the railway." It added that the 254-km Lhasa-- Xigaze will be the first feeder line for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway and would cost 11 billion yuan and be completed in 2010. As pointed out by the “Tibetan Review” of January 23,2008,Xigaze is located 280 km southwest of Lhasa and borders Nepal, Bhutan and India.

4.Mr.Cheng Xia Ling, the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, said in an interview the same day: "The China -Tibet railway link will not end in Lhasa, as we have plans to expand it up to the Nepalese border." He added that he was aware of the difficulty of supplying oil to Nepal from China. “It is not an easy task to supply petrol from China as we need to cross thousands of kilometres of distance and Tibet having border with Nepal is at an altitude of 4,000 metres." In an interview to “Nepal Weekly”, he said : "We are even planning to link it to Kathmandu in not too distant future." The “ China Daily” said on January 23, 2008,that a Sichuan-Tibet Railway would be built to create a network linking Sichuan's western passageway with Tibet, Qinghai province and Chinese-controlled Xinjiang. It said that it would be part of China’s six new railway projects costing 140 billion yuan ($19.3 billion) to be included in the national railway network plan. An agreement for this purpose was signed on January 10,2008,by Sichuan’s party secretary Mr. Liu Qibao and Governor Jiang Jufeng with China’s Railway Minister, Mr. Liu Zhijun.

5.In the last week of April,2008, the Chinese told the Nepalese authorities about their plans for extending the railway line to Lhasa inaugurated in 2006 up to Khasa a town on the Tibet-Nepal border. Mr.Aditya Baral, Adviser on Foreign Policy to then Nepalese Prime Minister Mr.Girija Prasad Koirala, told the media as follows: “Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala was told by a visiting Chinese delegation during a meeting that the Chinese Government has begun a railway extension project on its side to link with the Nepal-China border." According to Mr.Baral,the Chinese Communist Party delegation told Nepalese officials that the railway link would be ready in five years time. The Nepal border town of Khasa lies some 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Kathmandu. "The railway network will be important for increasing trade and tourism for both countries," Mr.Baral added. The delegation reportedly told Mr. Koirala that Beijing had included the railway line extension in its ongoing eleventh five-year plan.

6. On August 17, 2008, a spokesman of the Chinese railways confirmed plans to add six more rail lines to the Qinghai-Tibet railway. Of these, one will be from Lhasa to Nyingchi and one from Lhasa to Xigaze, both in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region. Three lines will originate from Golmud in the Qinghai province and connect Chengdu in the Sichuan province, Dunhuang in the Gansu province, and Kuerle in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang. The sixth will link Xining , capital of Qinghai, with Zhangye in the Gansu province. He said that the six lines were expected to be completed and commissioned before 2020.

7. Subsequent reports indicated that under the Development Strategy for Western China, the Chinese were planning to connect Lhasa to Zhangmu vis Xigaze to the West and to Dali via Nyingchi to the East and that they were planning further to link Xigaze with Yadong near the Sino-Indian border . Inaugurating a Chinese cultural festival at Kathmandu on October 10,2009, then Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal requested China to extend the Beijing-Lhasa railway line to Kathmandu. He said: "The economic ties between Nepal and China could be taken to a new height if the railway line that has reached upto Lhasa from mainland China could be extended upto Kathmandu, and economic infrastructure could be developed on the Himalayan transit points between Nepal and China."

8. In the wake of these reports has come a report about the beginning of the construction on the extension of the railway line beyond Lhasa towards Tibet’s border with Nepal, India and Bhutan. The “China Daily” of September 27,2010, has reported as follows:” “China on Sunday ( September 26) began construction on an extension to the world's highest rail link, the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. The construction will connect the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to Xigaze, Tibet's second largest city. The extension, in the southwestern part of the autonomous region, will create a 253-km railway line. The work will take four years, with a budget of 13.3 billion yuan ($1.98 billion), Zhang Ping, head of the National Reform and Development Commission, said at Lhasa.

9. It further reported: “The extension from Lhasa to Xigaze is the first extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which opened in July 2006. The new section will pass through five counties and over the 90-km long Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, to reach Xigaze, a city with a history of more than 600 years and the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas. "It will play a vital role in boosting tourism in the southwestern part of Tibet and promoting the rational use of resources along the line," Liu Zhijun, Minister of Railways, said at a conference. The extended rail line will be a single line with a speed of 120 km per hour. Nearly half of the line, or 115 km, will be laid in tunnels or on bridges. "Laying rail tracks in tunnels in the mountains can avoid passing through the fragile natural reserves in Tibet," Wang Mengshu, a railway tunnel expert and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told “China Daily”

10. It added: “A news release from the Ministry of Railways said that the extension line avoids four natural reserves in the area. In addition, using tunnels can help reduce damage to the railway by earthquakes, since Tibet is prone to earthquakes, Wang said. "But the tunnels will add to the difficulty of construction, as it will be impossible to lay the tracks as fast as in the previous construction of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which was built on top of permafrost," he said. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the world's highest railway. Some 960 km of its tracks are located 4,000 meters above sea level. About 550 km of the tracks run on frozen earth, the longest of any of the world's plateau railways. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway's first section from Xining, capital of Qinghai province, to Golmud of Qinghai was completed and opened to traffic in 1984. Its second section from Golmud to Lhasa started construction in 2001 and opened to traffic in 2006.

11. It added further: “A spokesman with the Ministry of Railways said that the future railway network in Tibet will have a "Y" shape, with two extensions planned. In addition to the extension from Lhasa to Xigaze, the other is from Lhasa to Nyingchi in the southeastern part of Tibet. Previous media reports said construction will begin in 2013 at the earliest. Xigaze city is the administrative center of the Tibetan prefecture of the same name, a 182,000-sq-km area that neighbors India, Nepal and Bhutan. It is also famous for Qomolangma (known as Mount Everest in the West), which rises up from it.”

12. Former Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Khadga Prasad Oli, had indicated that the Government of Nepal would undertake a feasibility study on a possible railway link from Xigaze to Panchkhal of Kavre or Trishuli of Rasuwa. He said that the Government was thinking of developing Panchkhal or Trishuli as a special economic zone and added, "I am optimistic that the railway line will link Nepal via Kerung."

13. Only when the new line reaches Xigaze are the Chinese expected to take up the question of its further extension to Nepal’s border and possibly from there to Kathmandu. This could materialize only by about 2020.

14. The extended railway line from Lhasa and its projected further extension into Nepal would have the following implications:

* Stengthen the Chinese capability for continued suppression of the Tibetans.
* Strengthen the military-related infrastructure in the region which would enable rapid movement of troops in the event of a military confrontation with India.
* Give the Chinese a third military pressure point against India in addition to the direct pressure point across the Sino-Indian border and a second pressure point across Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
* Strengthen China’s economic links with Nepal at the expense of its links with India.

15. The Chinese concept of comprehensive national security regards infrastructure as an important component of national security. Hence, the Chinese emphasis on the development of road, rail and air infrastructure. The Chinese are worried about the security of their peripheral areas---particularly Tibet and Xinjiang---- ever since the fresh Tibetan revolt in 2008 and the revolt in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang last year. Infrastructure development in the peripheral areas has been receiving high priority.

16. Their interest in infrastructure development now extends to areas in Nepal and Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir beyond their periphery. The Governments of Nepal and Pakistan are not in a position to find the necessary funds for infrastructure development. Hence they look up to China for financial and technical assistance in this regard. The Chinese are taking full advantage of this to get actively involved in infrastructure development in POK and Nepali areas bordering India.

17. While the question of India competing with China in the POK does not arise, India could have competed with China in Nepal provided it had the necessary funds and technical capability. India is already involved in road development in certain areas of Nepal, but there is considerable fascination not only in Nepal, but also in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for the Chinese engineering skills for the development of infrastructure. This fascination has increased further after the Chinese construction of the railway line to Lhasa.

18. Even in the past, the reputation of Indian engineers in this region was not as high as that of their Chinese counterparts. Now, these countries are seeing that India itself has been importing an increasing number of Chinese engineers for infrastructure development. How can we object to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka seeking the assistance of Chinese engineers when we are ourselves doing so.

19. India is finding itself in a position where its infrastructure development has not been able to keep pace with that of the Chinese and its ability to compete with China in neighbouring countries has been diminishing. How are we going to get out of this situation? The crash development of our own infrastructure and making it of a quality which would impress the countries of this region should receive immediate priority. An outcome of our fascination with the information technology sector has been a decline in the number and the quality of the construction engineers produced by us. Unless this is reversed, China will continue to score over us in the field of infrastructure. ( 28-9-10)

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

Monday, September 27, 2010



The humiliating embarrassment faced by us due to the unsatisfactory state of preparations for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) starting on October 3 could be attributed to the failure of the political leadership to realise the importance of well-conducted CWG from the point of view of our national pride and image; corruption and cronyism; a casual approach to the preparations; lack of supervision at all levels; the national inability to stick to time-schedules; over-confidence; and denial of the existence of serious problems when those problems were exposed by the media.

2. When Beijing was chosen as the host of the 2008 Olympics and Guangzhou as the host of the 2010 Asian Games being held in November, the Communist Party of China and their Government saw it as an opportunity to show-case China and its organising skills to the world and to convince the world that China has arrived as a major power. The self-confidence gained by the Party and the Government as a result of the spectacular success of the Olympics is partly behind China's increasing assertiveness in the world stage after the Olympics. All sections of the Chinese civil society and Government worked together with total dedication to demonstrate that China can do it. And China did it.

3. In India, the political leadership and the Government totally failed to grasp the political significance of New Delhi being chosen to host the CWG. The world, which has been keenly watching the competition for regional leadership between India and China, wanted India to be given an opportunity to show that what China can do, it can do equally well, if not better. Let there be no mistake about it. The good wishes of the democratic world were with India. It wanted India to make a success of the CWG and would have helped India in any way it could to make a success of it.

4.The political significance of the CWG from the point of view of our national stature, pride and image was not grasped in time by the political leadership. The CWG was treated by the political leadership as one more mega sports event to be handled by the Organising Committee with the help of the Delhi Government. It failed to look upon it as a national task requiring the active involvement of the Government of India. Only in the last few days the political importance of the Games as image-builder and projector has been realised by the Government of Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and it has been moving heaven and earth to make the CWG a success even at this late hour. Even if we succeed, it will not erase from the minds of the international community and our own citizens the extreme embarrassment and humiliation that we had to face due to the images of a "Filthy and Incompetent India" and not a "Shining and Leading India" that were transmitted across the world. What we saw was not "Chindia In Action" with China and India in a friendly competition to project to the world the best in each of them, but "India In Inaction" like a python after a heavy meal.

5. The Government of India left everything in the hands of the Organising Committee, which was packed with people without a sense of pride. If they had national pride, they would not have allowed corruption and cronyism take hold of the Committee and come in the way of timely and effective preparations. The Committee projected to the outside world not only the image of a "Filthy and Incompetent India", but also a "Corrupt India" for whose political and bureaucratic class acquiring money by hook or by crook was more important than preserving national honour.

6. The preparations were politicised. The head of the Organising Committee and of the Delhi Administration were both blue-eyed individuals of the ruling Congress (I). For the Congress (I), they can do no wrong. The Congress party and its Government failed to take notice of even the most serious allegations being made against them. Even today after all the national humiliation and embarrassment, the Government and the Congress (I) are not prepared to act against them. They have been marginalised, but an exercise is on to preserve their honour despite their misdeeds and failures.

7.Many national deficiencies, which have become part of our psyche, made matters worse. The Organising Committee had about seven years to prepare for the Games. It did nothing for nearly four years and stirred itself up only after much time had been wasted. There was a plethora of organizations to attend to various aspects of the preparations, but no co-ordination among them. The Government failed to appoint a high-power apex body to co-ordinate as Indira Gandhi had done to make a success of the 1982 Asian Games. She did not see the Asian Games purely as a sports event. She also saw it as an event which could make or mar India’s prestige if not properly managed. She was not interested in how many medals India would win. She was interested in ensuring that the Games were conducted with clock-like precision without worrying about who won and who lost.

8. Despite the late start of the preparations for the CWG and despite serious failures to adhere to time schedules, an over-confident Organising Committee sought to give the impression that like the proverbial tortoise, Indians would somehow make a last-minute dash and make the Games a resounding success. Their over-confidence might prove misplaced.

9. The supervision, as always it happens, was shoddy. The impressive Games Village was completed in time, but many of the apartments were apparently left unlocked and unguarded. The bathrooms were misused by strangers making them filthy. One does not seem to have realized the serious security implications of leaving the apartments unlocked and unguarded.

10. For the annual Republic Day parade, we hold rehearsals every alternate day for two weeks so that everybody is familiar with his or her security duties and the participants in the parade gain confidence. It is stated that China, which does not face a serious problem of terrorism in Beijing, started holding rehearsals of the opening and closing ceremonies and the security drill six months before the Games. It initiated many security measures like bans on the sale and carriage of substances such as nitrogenous fertilizers which could be used as explosives a month before the Games.

11. There are five days to go before the Games and we are yet to hold a single comprehensive rehearsal. Our over-confidence is not only in respect of administrative matters, but also security matters. We are supremely confident that we will be able to prevent any security breaches. Most probably, we will, but we are taking unnecessary risks by not following in a timely manner the drill necessary for such events.

12. Once the Games are over ----hopefully successfully---- the Government should hold a detailed enquiry into the sins of commission and omission and take corrective measures to ensure that such deficiencies are not repeated in future.( 27-9-10)

( 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: )

Sunday, September 26, 2010




I have been writing for nearly two years that the so-called community of strategic analysts in Delhi has come to be dominated by a group of wishful-thinkers totally cut off from ground reality and that they have been creating an illusion in our minds about the emergence of India as a major power. My mind goes back to 1962 when a small group of officials, including B.N.Mallick. the then head of the IB, created illusions of our capabilities in the minds of our leaders and people. We paid a heavy price. The current events show we have not learnt the appropriate lessons.I shudder to think what could be the real state of our infrastructure in the North-East. I hope illusions of our strength are not being created there too. The PLA must be closely watching.Moments of humiliation are moments of weakness in the history of a nation.One has to closely watch what the PLA does.

Why India cannot be an Asian power like China ( ARTICLE WRITTEN BY ME IN REDIFF.COM ON NOVEMBER 20,2009)
November 20, 2009 14:39 IST

Power and influence are not given. They are taken. China knows how to take it, India does not, says strategic expert B Raman.

A few observations on the eve of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh visit to the United States from November 23 to 26.

No thinking has been ever done in India as to what it expects out of a long-term strategic relationship with the US. It is always the US which decides what it will give to India and it is New Delhi which accepts.

It was so with the nuclear deal which was offered by then US President George W Bush in July 2005. Manmohan Singh was pleasantly surprised when Bush offered it and then we followed it up. India's expectations from the US in the past were limited to US pressure on Pakistan to stop using terrorism against India, removal of restrictions on the supply of modern dual-use technology to India and US support for India's permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council.

They remain the same. Any strategic relationship has to be a quid pro quo relationship. Since the US has hardly any dependence on India in any matter, there is no scope for any quid pro quo.

India visualises itself as an Asian power on par with China. Beijing does not see it this way. China views India as a sub-regional Asian power and wants to keep its influence restricted to its immediate neighbourhood. US president Barack Obama's visit to China has uncomfortably brought out to India that there is a convergence of perceptions between China and the Obama Administration on the limited regional role of India.

China's pre-eminence has been recognised by Obama. Obama has re-hyphenated India-Pakistan relations and quietly relegated India to the role of a sub-regional power whose aspirations of having a status on par with China are unrealistic.

In geopolitical matters, there is no futuristic thinking in India. The quality of Indian thinking and analysis -- strategic and tactical -- is poor. What passes for analysis in India is just wishful-thinking.

Nobody in India has realised and brought out that for the first time the US, Japan and Australia have a leadership which does not rate highly India's potential as an emerging power. There is less and less talk of Chindia. Even today, many in India are not aware that the new Japanese government is not as enthusiastic about India as the previous government was. There has been no exercise in India to analyse future scenarios in US-Japan relationship.

Someone once said that power and influence are not given. They are taken. China has shown how to take it. India does not have the political will and courage to fight for it and take it. It is hoping that the US will give it. Bush and Condoleezza Rice seemed inclined to bestow on India the status of an Asian power on par with China. The Obama Administration does not seem to be so inclined.
B Raman



The Chinese authorities have been highlighting two path-breaking aspects of their assistance for flood relief to Pakistan, which started on August 1,2010, and continues since then.

2. The first is the value of the assistance, which has already reached US $ 250 million (pledges plus actuals). This includes a sum of US $ 200 million pledged by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York on September 22. According to Chinese officials, this is the largest humanitarian relief commitment overseas ever made by China.

3. The second is the deployment of humanitarian relief teams by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for assisting the Pakistani army in its aid efforts. According to Chinese officials, this is the first time that the PLA’s specially-trained disaster relief teams have been deployed abroad in large numbers. The PLA has deployed three teams----two in Sindh and one in Gilgit-Baltistan. Mr. Huang Xilian, Deputy Chief of the Chinese mission in Islamabad, told a media briefing in Islamabad on September 23 as follows: “ It is for the first time in history that China has sent so many rescue and medical teams across its borders. The Chinese government sent a 55-member international search and rescue team, including 36 doctors and 19 technical support personnel, to the worst-hit region of Thatta in Sindh province late last month (August), which was the first international team to reach flood-hit areas of Thatta region. They brought with them 25 tons of high-tech medical equipment and medicine worth RMB 8 million. The second medical team of PLA, comprising 68 members along with relief goods including medicines weighing 80 tonnes, came to Pakistan and were deployed around the Sehwan area of Sindh province. Twenty members of this team are female, providing medical care to women and children. This is a record high in the history of PLA’s foreign medical aid. The fact that China has sent some 200 doctors and paramedics in three medical rescue teams by now is a record high in China ‘s foreign medical rescue history.”

4.The third disaster relief team has been deployed in the Hunza area of Gilgit-Baltistan since January when large areas were flooded following a burst of a large artificial lake created by a huge landslide.

5. The PLA command in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang despatched four military helicopters to carry out rescue and relief missions around the Hyderabad area of Sindh. A press release by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said: “It is the first time Chinese military helicopters carry out an overseas mission. The four military helicopters from China’s Xinjiang military area command took off from a military airfield in the western region along with ground support and relief supplies. They were previously engaged in transportation and search and rescue operations in the wake of several major natural disasters in China.” The helicopters are being flown by Chinese crew with one or two observers from the Pakistani army traveling in each flight.

6. The Chinese have mentioned the total PLA disaster relief personnel deputed to Sindh as about 200. They have not mentioned the total number sent to Gilgit-Baltistan, which includes disaster relief teams as well as engineering teams for repairing the badly damaged Karakoram Highway. Independent sources say that the total number of PLA personnel in the Gilgit-Baltistan area would be about 500.

7.The Chinese have been emphasizing that the assistance given by them till now is in the way of emergency relief and that they will be giving separate assistance later for the reconstruction of the damaged economy.

8. It is noticed that security considerations have played an important role in deciding the deployment of the deputed Chinese personnel. They have been deployed mostly in Sindh and Gilgit-Baltistan where, in the perception of the Chinese, there are unlikely to be any serious threats to the Chinese personnel. In the rest of the country (Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas ) their assistance has been in kind. They seem to have avoided deputing any Chinese personnel for participating in ground operations . In the past there had been attacks on Chinese engineers in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa and FATA. In Punjab, there are pockets of Uighurs from the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang studying in madrasas or working. Many of them are suspected to have links with the so-called Punjabi Taliban organizations. Hence, the absence of Chinese relief teams in Punjab.

9. Despite the damages suffered by the Karakoram Highway due to the landslide of January and the floods of August, the Chinese engineers from the PLA have managed to keep the traffic moving. While the initial assistance in the beginning of August was airlifted to Islamabad from Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, the subsequent assistance has been coming by road along the Karakoram Highway. 101 Chinese trucks reached the Sust Dry Port via the Khunjerab Pass on Sept. 1, carrying flour and cooking oil. In fact, since the landslide and floods of January, the people living in the Hunza area are being kept largely sustained by the PLA in the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang region since the Pakistan Army is not able to reach them. ( 26-9-10)

( 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: )

Saturday, September 25, 2010



According to the Reuters news agency, Mr.Qiu Jiangang, Vice-President of the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), told a conference at Beijing on September 20,2010, that China and Pakistan had signed contracts under which two more nuclear power stations of 300 MWs each (Chashma III and Chashma IV) would be set up by the CNNC at Chashma in Pakistan’s Punjab.These would be similar to Chinese-constructed Chashma I, which is already operating, and Chashma II which is under construction. This was already known.

2.What was new in his statement was his disclosure that the CNNC was holding talks with the Pakistani authorities for the supply of a bigger nuclear power station of one gigawatt capacity. He did not indicate when the talks started, at what stage are the talks presently and where it is proposed to set up the new bigger power station if the talks end in an agreement.

3.The Reuters news agency has quoted the CNNC as stating as follows in a recent article carried by the journal “Seeking Truth”,published by the Communist Party of China: "We must rely on the Pakistan Chashma nuclear power project to improve our ability to contract for nuclear power projects abroad, and to open up the foreign market for nuclear energy."

4. The Chashma technology is Chinese. China has, therefore, the right to export it, but in the case of Pakistan, it needs the clearance of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG), since Pakistan is not a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Beijing has been trying to circumvent the need for prior clearance by the NSG by projecting Chashma III and IV as coming under the purview of the original agreement on Chashma I ( the grand-father provision ). Its contention has not yet been accepted by some NSG member-countries, including the US. Despite this, Beijing has hinted on more than one occasion that it will go ahead with the supply of Chashma III and IV even without the approval of the NSG.

5. However, China's one gigawatt technology is not indigenous. China bought it from Areva, a French company formed by the merger of Frematome, Cogema and Technicatome.In November 2007, AREVA agreed to a €8 billion deal with the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group to supply them with two EPRs (European Pressurised Reactor) in Taishan, Guangdong. Under the terms of the agreement, AREVA will also help operate the plant, including the reprocessing of the spent fuel.

6. Based on the EPR technology of French origin,the Chinese claim to have developed a technology of their own called CPR--1000 (Chinese Pressurised Reactor). According to the magazine "Nuclear Engineering International, "the CPR-1000 is a Generation II, 1080MW pressurized water reactor, based on French- three-loop design. Over 60 design improvements have been made by the Chinese, including modifications to the control room, fuel, and the introduction of half speed turbo generators (supplied by Alstom). However, Areva retains intellectual property rights for the CPR-1000, which constrains overseas sales. To sell abroad the Chinese would need agreement from Areva on a case-by-case basis, which seems unlikely as the CPR-1000 could be in competition with the Areva/MHI Atmea 1 design."

7. It is understood Pakistan has been trying to get from the Chinese the CPR--1000 reactor.This would require two approvals---- from the Areva of France which sold the technology to the Chinese while retaining the intellectual property rights and the NSG. Even if one accepts the plausibility that Chashma III and IV could be grand-fathered under the original agreement relating to Chashma I, the grand-father clause cannot apply to the CPR--1000 reactor, which will have three times the capacity of Chashma I and whose technology was acquired by the Chinese three years after China joined the NSG after accepting its safeguards against sales to non-signatories of the NPT.

8. The matter needs to be strongly taken up by the Government of India with the French and the NSG members. ( 25-9-10)

( 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: )

Friday, September 24, 2010



The Chinese Air Force has tested its strategic air power capability for air strikes and bombing against long-distance targets in the counter-terrorism exercise under the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO) being held at Matybulak in Kazakhstan between September 9 and 25,2010. About 5,000 troops from China, Kazakhstan,Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan are taking part in the exercise. Uzbekistan is not participating.

2. The contingent of about 1000 Chinese troops participating in the exercise is commanded by Gen.Ma Xiaotian, Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Since its birth, the SCO had held seven joint counter-terrorism exercises code-named “Peace Mission”. In the previous exercises, the focus was on the use of ground troops, tanks, missiles and helicopters in counter-terrorism operations. In Peace Mission 2009 held last year, the theme was counter-terrorism operations to rescue hostages taken by an armed terrorist group in an urban setting which threatened to blow up a chemical plant. The terrorists were projected last year as armed with man-portable surface-to-air missiles and having an unspecified capability for an attack mounted from air. For the first time since these exercises started. PLA and Russian forces were required last year to integrate air and air defense operations, including the use of their own surface-to-air missiles.

3.The theme of the Peace Mission 2010 exercise currently being held is not known, but it is noticed that the Chinese have tested during the exercise their capability for mounting long-distance air operations involving the use of bombers and fighter planes. A Xinhua report of September 21 on this part of the exercise stated as follows: “Six warplanes took off from within China and launched long-distance "sudden attacks" in neighboring Kazakhstan in the on-going anti-terror drill of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, said a Chinese General. The simulated cross-border strikes were the first by the Chinese Air Force, according to Major General Meng Guoping, deputy commander of the Chinese military participating in the drill. The six warplanes --- four H-6H bombers and two J-10 fighter jets --- were split into two missions. They were supported by an air early warning aircraft and were refueled by a flying tanker before they crossed the border into Kazakhstan, said the General. Although the drill venue is within the range of both warplanes, they were refueled in the air to ensure a complete success of their missions, said General Meng. Meng said by carrying out such a move in the war games, the Chinese Air Force is trying to build an integrated air battle group encompassing early warning, command, long-distance bombing, escort and air refueling. “

4. Gen. Ma Xiaotian has reportedly described the exercise as purely a strategic action against terrorism not directed against any country. The Chinese media has quoted him as saying : “The ongoing exericse never targets or constitutes a threat to any country.”

5. The capability for long-distance air operations of the kind tested by the Chinese would have little use against urban terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan (IMET) operating in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang. They would be more relevant for possible use against India in the event of a military conflict. The indications are that the Chinese have tested their capability for strategic air strikes against Indian positions across the Tibetan border by making use of the current SCO counter-terrorism exercises in Kazakhstan. The Indian observer to the exercise, if there is one, should be able to throw more light on this. India is an observer of the SCO.

6. Simultaneously with strengthening its strategic air power projection capability demonstrated during the current SCO counter-terrorism exercise, China has expanded its civil aviation infrastructure in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region. It already has five modern airports in Lhasa, Qamdo, Nyingchi, Ngari and Xigaze. A new one is under construction in Nagqu. Lhasa is being developed as western China's air hub.

7.The "China Daily" reported as follows on August 26: " The Tibet Airlines is planning to launch routes to Europe within five years and expand its fleet to 50 by 2020. Liu Yanping, general manager of the State-owned airline, told China Daily that the carrier plans to build Lhasa Gonggar Airport, where it is based, "into an aviation center that not only links various parts of the autonomous region but also Tibet and other areas". He said that the carrier plans to make Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, western China's "air hub".
The carrier is a 280-million-yuan ($41 million) joint venture between Tibet Autonomous Region Investment Co Ltd, holding a 51 percent stake, and Tibet Sanli Investment and Tibet Ruiyi Investment, owning 39 and 10 percent stakes. It will make its maiden flight next August, when three Airbus A319s ordered this month arrive. "We plan to have 20 aircraft by 2015," Liu said. As the first Tibet-based carrier, the airline plans to have routes serving the autonomous region and key cities across the nation by 2012. Flights to South Asia and Southeast Asia are expected by 2013. "We hope to have direct routes to European nations in 2015 or 2016," said Liu, who has worked in the civil aviation industry for 25 years and used to be employed by Air China's southwestern branch. "We will help relieve long-existing transport capacity pressures in Tibet, said Liu. He added that the problems presented by slack off-season demand "will be resolved with the development of Tibet's tourism industry". So far, six airlines operate 16 routes in Tibet, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Air China has a more than 50 percent market share, followed by Sichuan Airlines with 30 percent. The balance is shared between China Southern, China Eastern, Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines."

8. The development of the civil aviation infrastructure in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region has been projected as meant to promote domestic and foreign tourism in the area. The newly-built infrastructure would also place at the disposal of the Chinese Air Force a capability for tactical and logistic air operations against Indian positions in the event of a military conflict. ( 24-9-10)

( 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: )

Thursday, September 23, 2010



China has shown interest in the construction of two railway lines----one in Pakistan via the Gilgit-Baltistan region and the other in Afghanistan. While the railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan, ultimately extending up to Gwadar on the Mekran coast, will meet the external trade requirements of Chinese-controlled Xinjiang and other regions of Western China, the proposed line in Afghanistan will meet the requirements of a copper mine which China is developing in the Aynak area in Afghanistan. A pre-feasibility study by a Chinese company has already been done in respect of the railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan and an agreement was reached during the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to China in July to undertake a joint feasibility study by the railways of the two countries. In Afghanistan a joint feasibility study is to be undertaken by the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), which is developing the copper mine, and the Ministry of Mines of the Government of Afghanistan.

2. On September 22,2010, representatives of the Afghan Ministry of Mines and the MCC signed at Kabul an agreement to undertake the feasibility study. The MCC has, however, cautioned that a final decision on the construction of the railway line would depend on the security situation in Afghanistan. If the security situation deteriorated, the MCC may not go ahead with the proposal. While the Chinese do not anticipate any security problem in the Gilgit-Baltistan area, they do anticipate problems in Afghanistan.

3.Till now, the Taliban has not come in the way of the development of the copper mine. But, in January last, the Taliban kidnapped two Chinese road construction workers. One does not know what happened to them. Probably, the Chinese got them back after secretly paying a ransom.

4. The Chinese Communist Party-controlled “ Global Times” wrote on January 19 last as follows: “The situation in war-torn Afghanistan is deteriorating as Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers attacked buildings across the heart of Kabul , killing at least five people and claiming that they had kidnapped two Chinese engineers working in the country. The kidnappings indicate that China must prepare to cope with crimes targeting overseas Chinese citizens as the country's presence expands worldwide, especially in some trouble spots, experts say. The engineers, who had been helping to build a road, were seized in the northern province of Faryab with four Afghans. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the abductions. A spokesman of the militia said that a Taliban Islamic court would decide their fate. ….The Taliban's demands for the latest kidnapping are not clear. Reuters reported that the Taliban often kidnap foreigners as part of their campaign against coalition forces, but abductions have also become a lucrative business for criminal gangs and rival tribes.A Chinese observer with years of experience working in Afghanistan told the Global Times that Chinese nationals had not been specifically targeted by the Taliban and the kidnapping may be in response to growing Chinese economic interests in the neighboring country. "Chinese enterprises have hired many armed security guards and tightened security measures to ensure safety for Chinese employees there," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. "However, potential threats cannot be eliminated amid such a chaotic situation in the country." As China builds up its interests in Afghanistan, it faces a dilemma, the observer suggested. "Western nations raised their voice to call on China to offer military assistance. Afghanistan is a thorny issue for the US. It might be one for China in the future," he warned. Afghan Minister for Mines Muhammad Ibrahim Adel told the Daily Telegraph in November that China has a growing role in the country. He said Chinese projects are likely to triple the Afghan government's revenues within five years. China Metallurgical Group and China's top integrated copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Corporation, in July started work in Logar, a province southeast of Kabul, to explore and develop the vast Aynak copper mines. The $4 billion investment was the biggest in Afghanistan's history and provided thousands of Afghans with jobs.”

5.A question worrying the Chinese is whether the Taliban, which has close relations with the Islamic Movement of East Turkestan (IMET), will honour the agreements signed by the Hamid Karzai Government with China if it comes to power after the withdrawal of the US-led NATO troops. The Chinese are hoping that the Pakistan Government would persuade the Taliban to honour the agreements.

6. It has been stated that the railway line proposal is to connect China with Uzbekistan through Kabul and Aynak, which is to the south of Kabul. It is not clear wherefrom the proposed line will enter Afghanistan from China. The construction of the line, which is unlikely to start for another three years, might require the stationing of troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Afghanistan to protect the Chinese construction personnel. It is not clear how this could affect the functioning of Indian-aided projects in Afghanistan.

7. Speaking on the occasion of the signing of the agreement on the feasibility study, Mr.Zou Jianhui, President of the MCC, is reported to have stated as follows: . “We are still at an early stage. This feasibility study will take two, or two-and-a-half years. If over this period the Afghan security situation gets more stable, and the feasibility study results are good, then we can move ahead with the investment immediately. If the security situation gets worse, then at that time the investors will have to assess how to go forward. The MCC has to ensure the security of investors’ assets, but felt the project would help Afghanistan’s stability and economic development, and is keen to push ahead.”

8.According to the Reuter’s news agency, a commitment to building the railway was included in a contract that the MCC won in 2008 to develop the Aynak copper deposit. China’s top integrated copper producer Jiangxi Copper has a 25 per cent share holding in the project and the MCC the remaining 75 per cent. The two firms started construction of the project in July last year and expect it to produce 320,000 tonnes of copper concentrate annually, with production to begin in 2013 or 2014.

9. In his address to the London Conference on Afghanistan held in the last week of January,2010, Mr.Yang Jiechi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, said that since 2002, China has provided more than 900 million RMB yuan (132 million U.S. dollars) in grants to the Afghan Government and canceled all its mature debts. China announced in 2009 that an additional 75 million U.S.dollars in concessional loans which it had previously committed would also be converted into grants, to be provided over a five-year period. The first instalment of 15 million dollars was given in 2009.The remaining 60 million U.S. dollars will be made available in the coming four years. By the end of 2009, China had trained over 500 Afghan government officials in areas such as diplomacy, economy and trade, medical and health care, finance, tourism, agriculture and counternarcotics. On August 16,2009, Mr.Karzai inaugurated at Kabul a 350-bed hospital called the Republic Hospital costing US Dollars 25 million constructed by the Chinese.

10.Since 2002, President Hamid Karzai has visited China four times. He paid his fourth visit in March last, accompanied by 20 businessmen. Premier Wen Jiabao reportedly told Mr. Karzai in their meeting that China would continuously provide aid to Afghanistan and pledged to enhance security and economic cooperation. In a joint statement issued at the end of the visit, China reiterated its support for peaceful reconstruction in Afghanistan. The two countries also agreed to expand economic cooperation and trade, increase mutual investment and technology transfer, and deepen cooperation in areas of transportation, agriculture and irrigation, energy, mining and infrastructure. During the visit, Mr.Karzai and President Hu Jintao witnessed the signing of three documents on economic and technological cooperation, favorable tariffs for Afghan exports to China and bilateral training programs. The two way trade between the two countries reached 155 million US dollars in 2008.

11 The total value of the Chinese investment in the copper mine alone will be almost three times the total value of the Indian investments in all projects in Afghanistan. Pakistan, which has been repeatedly expressing concern over the Indian role in helping the Karzai Government, welcomes the Chinese role and would like it to increase further. It even wants the Chinese to join in training the Afghan National Army. The US, which has strongly opposed any Indian role in training the ANA, has no such objection to a Chinese role. But, Beijing itself, despite prodding from the US, is reluctant. It wants to see how the ground situation develops. It does not want to incur the wrath of the Taliban by any major role in training the ANA despite Pakistani assurances that there would be no retaliation from the Taliban.

12. Addressing a meeting at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington DC on September 20, Mr.James Steinberg, the US Deputy Secretary of State, reportedly said that China could play a role in bringing stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

13. Indian role in Afghanistan----yes, but. Chinese role in Afghanistan---yes, absolutely. That is the policy of the Obama Administration. The Chinese policy in Afghanistan has two objectives----to enhance its strategic presence and influence and to checkmate the Indian strategic presence and influence. The US support for the Chinese policy will be to the detriment of India. ( 27-9-10)

( 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: )

Wednesday, September 22, 2010



Our hopes and wishes for a spectacular CWG have been dashed to the ground due to alleged mismanagement by the organising committee headed by Mr.Suresh Kalmadi. A relentless monsoon, the like of which New Delhi has not seen before, has added to our woes.

2.One is helpless before the monsoon, but one was not before the alleged mismanagement of the Organising Committee. If one had acted in time against the Organising Committee-----if necessary, by having it replaced---- when the initial signs of the accumulating mess appeared three months ago, one might have saved our national honour.

3. The Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh, whose responsibility it was to assert his captaincy of a sinking ship and stop it from sinking, dithered as he generally does when faced with a crisis----hoping that somehow things will turn out to be all right.

4.He did take some corrective steps like asking a group of senior officials enjoying his confidence to do a day-to-day monitoring of the preparations for the Games and make sure that the mismanagement was rectified. The group has not been able to assert itself effectively against an over-confident Organising Committee.

5. The result----12 days before the Games, renowned athletes whom we were hoping to see in action in New Delhi have started deserting the Games.The sports federations of some of the member-countries are under pressure to desert the Games too, but their Governments, which have considerable goodwill for India and its Prime Minister, have been urging them to stay on board.

6. A disastrous failure of the Games would not be just a failure of an incompetent India. We as a nation are not incompetent.It would be the failure of an emerging India and the damaging of its image as a democratic nation worthy of emulation due to the alleged incompetence of a small group of people who had the control of the Organising Committee. The world would not want India to be seen as a bungler in the face of an authoritarian China which made a spectacular success of the Olympics of August 2008.

7. Thanks to the dithering by the Prime Minister, we seem to be left with no other option but to sink or swim with Mr.Kalmadi and his Organising Committee. Swim we must and swim we can, if the Prime Minister gives up his bureaucratic ways of dealing with a crisis, steps on to the deck and takes control of the damaged ship. Only he can save the ship of our national honour at this late hour. No one else can. He has to take control now without further delay.

8. India is not bereft of managerial wizards in the Government and the private sector. The Prime Minister should set up a committee of consequence managers chaired by him to mount an exercise for the salvage of the national honour. Specific responsibilities should be allotted to the members of the committee relating to the venues of the games, the maintenance of the Games Village, the welfare of the participants, the physical security and public relations. The Organising Committee should be told to carry out its instructions. Any attempt by the Organising Committee to undermine or sabotage its functioning should be ruthlessly put down. The Committee should be given all the powers and resources it needs. The young and enthusiastic officers of the police and the Armed Forces, who passed out last year, should be placed at the disposal of the Committee to have its instructions carried out. The Prime Minister should hold meetings of the Committee every evening to review its work and give appropriate follow-up directions. The Prime Minister should make himself available for instant meetings with the members of the Committee.

9. It is too late for us to hope for a spectacular CWG, which could compare with the spectacular Beijing Olympics. We could even now make it a decent CWG and salvage our national honour if the Prime Minister acts and acts decisively and makes it clear that hereafter he will be in charge till the Games are over.

10. The salvaging of our national honour depends on one man, the Prime Minister. Will he step onto the deck?

11. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of August 6 titled "Olympics—2008, C’wealth Games 2010 & Asian Games—2010 " at (23-9-10)

( 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: )

Tuesday, September 21, 2010




The use of motor-bikes for committing acts of terrorism, including suicide terrorism, is a modus-operandi that was first seen in Pakistan in the 1980s. This MO involves two terrorists sitting on a motor-bike approaching their target and the one in the pillion seat either firing at the target with a gun or throwing a hand-grenade and then getting away through small lanes where police patrol cars may not be able to enter. Targeted firing from a moving motor-bike is not easy. It requires some training and practice.

2. This MO was frequently used in Karachi in the 1980s and the early 1990s by the then Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) and its rival called the MQM (Haquiqi) against each other. It was also used by the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) to kill their Shia targets. The SSP and the LEJ continue to use this MO in addition to other MO. The Pakistani authorities have tried to deal with this by banning pillion-seat riding in some of their cities.

3.The MO varies depending on whether it is an act of non-suicide terrorism or suicide terrorism. For acts of non-suicide terrorism, two persons are used, with the person sitting at the back opening fire on the target. For acts of suicide terrorism, only one person will do. He will activate an explosive device while crossing the target.

4. The Haqqani network in Afghanistan has reportedly been using this MO.According to the “Guardian” of UK, one of the documents of 2007 recently leaked through Wikileaks claims that the Pakistani intelligence had given some motor-bikes to the Haqqani network for use in acts of terrorism.

5. From the Af-Pak region, this MO spread to Southern Thailand and Yemen. In Southern Thailand, Muslim separatists have been using this for killing government officials, security forces personnel and Muslims co-operating with the Government. In Yemen, this MO was used by Al Qaeda to kill public servants.

6. Benjamin Joffe-Walt of “The Media Line”, which disseminates news about the Middle East, had reported recently as follows: “Authorities in Yemen’s Abyan Governorate, a growing stronghold for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have banned motorcycles from cities in the region. “Using motorbikes in terrorist operations to assassinate intelligence officers and security personnel have been massively mounted over the past nine months in the province,” a Yemeni Interior Ministry official told the Xinhua news agency. The news, first reported in the pan-Arab London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, follows a series of recent assassinations by Al Qaeda militants throughout Abyan and will affect some 5,000 two-wheeled vehicles, according to local media. Militants on motorcycles have killed at least 30 Yemeni soldiers, intelligence officers and security personnel over the last three months alone, using the bikes to make a quick escape.”

7. The report added: “Motorcycles are typically used by terrorists and insurgents to deliver weapons directly if it is a suicide attack or to make a quick getaway,” Dr Theodore Karasik, director for Research and Development at the Institute for Near East Gulf Military Analysis told The Media Line. “The banning of motorcycles is indicative of how the government, with help from US officers, is trying to cut down on the movements of Al Qaeda members and tribal members who support them.”

8. It said further: “Brig Gen (Ret) Musa Qallab, the former programme manager of Gulf Defence Issues at the Gulf Research Centre, said motorcycles are the ideal tool for a terrorist attack. “They are easy to rent, easy to buy and easy to use,” he told The Media Line. “So many people drive motorcycles so it’s easy to hide, easy to cheat and more importantly very easy to escape from the scene through narrow passages. It’s very hard to stop them in a crowded area full of traffic.” Dr Stephen Steinbeiser, resident director of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies in Sanaa, said the move showed that the government was taking the threat seriously. “Motorcycles and scooters are easy to manoeuvre and to get around roadblocks, so I’m surprised they didn’t think of this earlier,” he told The Media Line. “I don’t think its a sign of desperation, I see it as a sign that the government is taking this seriously, doing anything it can to protect themselves, and is taking practical and creative ways to change the way they do business and tackle a rising threat.”

9.Two as yet unidentified assailants, allegedly belonging to the Indian Mujahideen (IM), used this MO near the Jamma Masjid in Delhi on September 19, and injured two Taiwanese tourists and got away. If it is established that they are from the IM, it is the first time it has used this MO. The use of motor-bikes by the IM could enable it to target the buses carrying the participants in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Pillion-riding needs to be banned at least in the core areas where the venues and the Games village are located till the Games are over and the participants leave India.

10. Indian intelligence and security officials should not fight shy of consulting their US counterparts on how they counter this MO. ( 22-9-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (red), 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: )

Monday, September 20, 2010



A major sports event that will be watched by million of persons provides theater for terrorist organizations. It is to be expected that many terrorist organizations would be tempted to explore the possibility of organizing terrorist strikes during the forthcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) in New Delhi from October 3.

2. Organizations such as the Indian Mujahideen (IM), the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) and others would have an anti-Indian motive. Others such as Al Qaeda, the Talibans and other affiliates of Al Qaeda would have an anti-West motive. Though the US and Germany are not participants, the UK, Canada and Australia are. They have incurred the anger of these organizations because of their role in the fighting against Al Qaeda brand terrorism and the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and would be tempting targets. Any nervousness in these countries about the state of physical security before and during the Games is natural and should be understood and appreciated by the Indian authorities.

3. What will give confidence to them is our seriousness in threat assessments, thoroughness in physical security and competence in investigation of threats. If they get an impression that we are trying to play down threats and cover up incidents which indicate security inadequacies, their confidence in us will be damaged. Keeping this in view, one has to deplore the seeming attempts of the Delhi Police to play down the seriousness of the incident of September 19,2010, in Delhi in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured by two assailants on a motor-bike. Instead of treating it as a possible terrorist incident which could have implications for physical security before and during the CWG unless and until proved otherwise, the Delhi Police have started projecting it as an ordinary criminal incident with no implications for the CWG even before any progress had been made in the investigation. This is totally unwise.

4. It is said that those in charge of physical security are fully prepared against possible acts of catastrophic or mass casualty terrorism involving weapons of great lethality, but they seem to be ill-organised to deal with small acts of terrorism where the objective is not mass casualties or catastrophic damages, but psychological consequences creating nervousness and panic. The attack on the Taiwanese tourists on September 19 has to be treated as one such incident with a psychological objective and not a catastrophic one.

5.The objective of any anti-India terrorist group targeting the CWG would be two-fold. Firstly, to embarrass the Government of India and its security agencies by disrupting the games through panic and loss of faith in the ability of the security agencies to protect the foreigners. Secondly, to highlight that the security conditions for major sports events in India are as bad as they are in Pakistan.

6. Pakistan has gone through a humiliating experience following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team last year. The anti-India, Pakistan-aided terrorists would want to make India go through a similar humiliating experience.

7. To achieve these objectives, the terrorists do not have to organise spectacular acts of mass casualty terrorism like 9/11 in the US or 26/11 in Mumbai. A series of small incidents with limited casualties, which show the Indian security agencies in a poor light and erode the confidence of foreigners in their ability to ensure effective security, would be adequate for this purpose. If they are able to repeat small acts similar to the one staged on September 19 it would have a ripple effect on the morale of the participating teams and other foreigners. It is, therefore, important to ensure that there would be no repetition of such acts.

8. The Government should immediately hold a brain-storming session of the security agencies and senior Police officers of all States to discuss what further steps to prevent a repetition need to be taken. Examples of such steps are a ban on pillion riding and repeated appeals to the public to report cases of theft of motor vehicles and follow-up action to trace those vehicles. All hotels and guest houses should be advised to keep the police informed of all suspicious-seeming persons staying in their establishments. The police should prepare a list of suspicious indicators and circulate it to them.

9.Any comprehensive security plan for an event like the CWG has to have three components covering the core area, the peripheral areas and measures to prevent diversionary attacks such as the hijacking of planes to divert the attention of the authorities. The Munich Olympics of 1972 saw a penetration of the core area (the games village).The Atlanta Olympics in the US in 1996 saw an explosion when the games were in progress in a park in a peripheral area. The Beijing Olympics of 2008 were preceded by diversionary attacks in Chinese-controlled Xinjiang, Yunnan and Shanghai.

10. The Delhi incident of September 19 show inadequacies in the peripheral areas. The manpower available to the Delhi Police would have to remain focused on the core area. They would need additional manpower for the peripheral areas from other States. They have to be drawn from the adjoining States and deployed immediately so that they become familiar with the topography.

11. Measures to prevent diversionary attacks have to be in place all over India. Steps to prevent an act of aviation terrorism should receive high priority. All the States should be in a high state of alert with effective co-ordination.

12. One can be certain that our intelligence and security agencies would have prepared comprehensive plans covering all these components. They would have been under constant pressure from their counterparts in the participating countries to do so. These plans need to be constantly revisited to identify and remove deficiencies.

13. We should not hesitate to seek the co-operation of Pakistan to detect and pre-empt any conspiracies hatched in the Af-Pak area to disrupt the CWG. We should not stand on false prestige or prejudices against Pakistan and avoid seeking the co-operation of Pakistan. It is not too late to invite Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, for a discussion on this subject. ( 21-9-10)

( 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: )




The statement purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen (IM) disseminated by E-mail on September 19,2010, is shown as having been signed by one Al Arbi the same day. It refers to certain anti-Muslim incidents which allegedly took place in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on the day of Eid (September 11). It also refers to the day when the total number of people allegedly killed by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir crossed 100 ( September 17). This would indicate that this message must have been drafted between September 17 and 19.

2. The statement is in good English with very few grammar or typing mistakes. It has been drafted by one well-versed in the Holy Koran. Many of the religious allusions have been taken from some past messages of Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden has not been mentioned anywhere by name. The last para of the message has been borrowed almost word for word from a message against Gen.Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Army issued by bin Laden in September 2007 calling for the wrath of Allah on them for the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007. It reads: "O,Allah,deface them, break their backs and heads, split them up and destroy their unity; O, Allah, afflict them with the loss of their near and dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our near and dear ones;O, Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O,Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O,Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O,Allah, destroy them for they cannot escape You; O, Allah, count them, kill them and leave not even one of them. " There are only two minor changes. bin Laden had not said "deface them". He had also not said "and heads". One does not know wherefrom bin Laden had originally taken his curse against Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. bin Laden's curse against them has been converted by the IM into a curse against the Indian people and officials. I had referred to bin Laden's message of September 2007 in my book "Terrorism---Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow--Page 234.

3. The statement does not directly claim responsibility on behalf of the IM for the attack in Delhi on September 19 in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured. However, it indirectly hints at its responsibility by saying: "In the name of Allah we dedicate this attack of retribution...."

4. In its reference to the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, it says: "On the one hand Muslim blood is flowing like water, while on the other hand you are preparing for the festival of games. This is surely not a Child's play. Mind you this is the initiative from the Lions of Allah and we warn you to host the Commonwealth Games if you have a grain of salt. We know that the preparations for the Games are at its peak. Beware we too are preparing in full swing for a Great Surprise. The participants will be solely responsible for the outcome as our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life."

5. It has highlighted in red ink the following words: "Our bands of Mujahideen love death more than you love life." This could be a hint or threat that it is planning to commit an act of suicide or suicidal terrorism. The IM has not so far indulged in either.

6. While over 75 per cent of the statement is about alleged atrocities against Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir, there are also condemnatory references to the death of two IM suspects during a raid by the Delhi police on September 19,2008, to the arrests of some alleged members of the IM by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Pune Bakery blast of February 13 last and some alleged anti-Muslim incidents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Eid day. While the IM has threatened to launch a campaign of reprisals in solidarity with the Muslims of Kashmir, its initial attacks could be in Delhi, Mumbai and Ratlam. ( 20-9-10)

( 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: )

Sunday, September 19, 2010



Two Taiwanese tourists are reported to have been injured outside the Jama Masjid in New Delhi on September 19,2010, when they were attacked with a hand-held gun by two unidentified persons on a motor-cycle.

2. The British Broadcasting Corporation has quoted an eye-witness as stating as follows: "The two terrorists came on a motorcycle and the man riding pillion first fired randomly at the mosque and then fired in the air and at the people, and then he fired on the bus in which the tourists had come.After emptying his gun, the terrorist replaced the magazine and began firing again."

3. The assailants then got away.It has been reported that the assailants dropped their gun on the road before fleeing.

4.A news channel is reported to have received an E-mail purporting to be from the Indian Mujahideen (IM) claiming responsibility for the attack. The mail had reportedly been sent from the address .The word al-arbi had figured in the E-mail sent by the IM on July 26,2008, after the terrorist attacks in Ahmedabad.

5. The attack on the Taiwanese tourists took place on the second anniversary of an incident in which two suspects of the IM were killed in an exchange of fire during a raid by the Delhi police at a hide-out of the IM. A Police Inspector too died as a result of injuries sustained during the exchange of fire.

6. The E-mail received by the news channel tried to portray the shooting incident of September 19,2010, as in memory of the two IM suspects killed during the police raid of September 19,2008.

7. While the authenticity of the E-Mail is still to be established, some of these details would lend credence to the possibility of some still absconding members of the IM having been involved in the incident. However, the past incidents organised by the IM involved the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) against soft targets and not hand-held weapons. In the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, the LET had used explosives as well as hand-held weapons.

8. The modus operandi (MO) of two assailants approaching a target on a motor-cycle, with the man in the pillion seat opening fire is often followed by the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan and by jihadi terrorists in Southern Thailand. Some Khalistani terrorists in Punjab had used this MO in the 1980s. In Pakistan, there is a ban on pillion riding because of the use of this MO by the LEJ.

9. The LEJ is close to Ilyas Kashmiri of the so-called 313 Brigade based in North Waziristan in Pakistan, who had issued a threat earlier this year to disrupt the CWG (Commonwealth Games). According to the media, the E-mail warned the Government not to hold the Games and added: "We know the preparations are on in full swing. Be prepared, we are preparing a shocking event and those participating in the games will hold themselves responsible for the consequences."

10. The incident and the E-mail message should not be dismissed lightly until the assailants are arrested and interrogated. One should avoid over-confidence regarding the security arrangements and minutely re-visit the security drill to identify and remove any deficiencies. While there is no need for any panic, any casual approach to the incident would be unwise. ( 19-9-10)

( 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: )