Tuesday, June 1, 2010



According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, the so-called Freedom Flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza, which was intercepted by the Israeli Navy in international waters on May 31,2010,consisted of three cargo ships and three passenger ships.

2.Most of the casualties were reported on Mavi Marmara, a passenger ferry, one of three ships provided by Insani Yardim Vakfi (IHH), a Turkish humanitarian organisation,which is also known as the Humanitarian Relief Foundation, The Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief –IHH. It is banned in Israel, which accuses it of links to Hamas and Al Qaeda. The other ships were organised by the Free Gaza Movement, an international coalition of activist groups

3.The ships were reportedly carrying supplies including cement, wheelchairs, paper and water purification systems. The flotilla's nearly 700 passengers were mainly Turkish, but also included nationals of the US, the UK, Australia, Greece, Canada, Belgium, Ireland, the Swedish author Henning Mankell, two Australian journalists and three German MPs.

4.According to reports from Pakistan, there were also some Pakistanis on board the IHH ferry. The Pakistani authorities were trying to enquire what happened to them. While the Israeli authorities were prepared to allow the humanitarian supplies to reach the people of Gaza after inspecting them at a port designated by them, the organisers of the flotilla were opposed to any inspection of the cargo by the Israeli authorities.

5.Israeli fears over the passengers on board the ships and over their contents were understandable because of strong suspicions nursed by the intelligence and security authorities of many countries over the background of the IHH, which came into existence in 1992 ostensibly to provide humanitarian assistance to the Muslims of Bosnia. Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran, with the connivance of the Bill Clinton Administration then in power in the US, helped the Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs.

6.Many Bosnian Muslims were brought to Pakistan for being trained in the camps of the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad (MDI) as the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET,) was then known and then taken back to Bosnia. There was considerable flow of money and arms and ammunition to the Bosnian separatists. Many Pakistanis from Pakistan itself as well as from the Pakistani diaspora in the UK were trained by the JUD and taken to Bosnia for participating in the jihad against the Serbs. Some Indian-origin Muslims from Saudi Arabia were also taken to Bosnia.

7.All these activities for the provision of volunteers, money and arms and ammunition to the Bosnian separatists were allegedly co-ordinated by the IHH, under the cover of a humanitarian organisation, with the collaboration of the MDI. Amongst the Pakistanis who played an active role in organising assistance for the Bosnians through the IHH and the MDI were Lt.Gen.(retd) Hamid Gul and Lt.Gen (retd).Assad Durrani, former heads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the then Amir of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI, and Prof.Hafeez Ahmed Sayeed, who was then the Amir of the MDI. Lt.Gen. Assad Durrani, who was posted as the Pakistani Ambassador to Germany by Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, the then Pakistani Prime Minister, co-ordinated the assistance from the Ummah to the Bosnians.

8.All these Pakistanis frequently used to visit Bosnia. Mrs.Benazir herself made a joint visit to Bosnia along with Mrs.Tansu Ciller, the then Turkish Prime Minister, in February 1994. Among Pakistani volunteers from the diaspora in the UK who allegedly worked for the IHH in Bosnia was Omar Sheikh, who is now in jail in Pakistan after having been sentenced to death for his role in the kidnapping and execution of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, in Karachi in January-February,2002. He has appealed against the death sentence.

9.All indications from reliable Pakistani and other sources were that the IHH’s role in Bosnia was not solely humanitarian. The humanitarian cover was allegedly used for keeping alive the Bosnian jihad and enabling it to succeed against the Serbs. The IHH allegedly played a similar role in Chechnya by helping the local Muslims in their jihad against the Soviet and then Russian troops. It then turned its attention to helping the Kashmiris by funding refugee camps for Kashmiris set up by the MDI and other Pakistani jihadi organisations in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). These refugee camps also became training centres for training Kashmiri and Pakistani jihadis for fighting against the Indian security forces.

10.The IHH also played an active role, in collaboration with the JUD, in organising humanitarian relief after the devastating earthquake in the POK in 2005. The flow of money and other assistance from the Muslims in other countries for the quake victims was co-ordinated by the IHH.

11.The IHH has also been contributing funds to the International Islamic University in Pakistan, which has been providing ideological motivation to the jihadis fighting in Afghanistan. Amongst other Pakistani organisations with which the IHH has allegedly been collaborating are the Al Rashid Trust, which was designated by the US and the Terrorism Monitoring Committee of the UN Security Council after 9/11 as an organisation allegedly funding terrorism, and the Khubaib Foundation, which reportedly runs a network of orphanages. The Foundation frequently organises visits by IHH delegations to the POK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

12.The Israeli authorities have valid reasons to be concerned over the links of the IHH with the Hamas. One cannot find fault with their decision to stop the Flotilla in order to prevent its cargo from reaching Gaza uninspected. Any intelligence agency worth its salt would be concerned over the dangers of arms and ammunition and weapons of mass destruction material like material for dirty bombs being smuggled into Gaza along with the humanitarian cargo. It would have been the height of irresponsibility to have allowed the cargo to proceed to Gaza without being inspected.

13.It is tragic that there were casualties among the passengers of the ferry hired by the IHH, which was boarded by Israeli commandoes following resistance put up by the passengers of the ferry, but this could not have been helped. Israel exercised its right of self-defence to protect the lives of its citizens from any dangerous cargo carried by the ships. India should refrain from criticising Israel for its action. ( 2-6-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )




In a daring attempt to free a captured terrorist Moaz alias Amir Muavia, who was undergoing treatment for injuries in the Jinnah Hospital of Lahore, a group of at least four terrorists wearing police uniforms raided the hospital on the night of May 31,2010, and killed three policemen guarding the terrorist and a woman. The police claim that they could not succeed in freeing the injured terrorist and withdrew from the hospital after an exchange of fire lasting about 90 minutes with police reinforcements, which were rushed to the hospital. The terrorists managed to flee from the hospital in an armoured personnel carrier belonging to the police. After driving the APC for some distance, the terrorists abandoned it and escaped on foot.

2. Moaz alias Amir Muavia, whom they wanted to free, belonged to two groups of terrorists which had raided two mosques of Ahmadis on May 28 during which they killed over 80 Ahmadis praying in the mosques. Moaz, believed to be a Pashtun, was injured and was captured by the police. Another terrorist, reported to be a Punjabi, was also captured, but he was not admitted in hospital as he did not sustain any injuries. On coming to know of the admission of Moaz in the Jinnah Hospital, the terrorists raided it, but could not succeed in freeing him, if the police version is to be believed.

3. Even if the raid did not achieve the objective of the terrorists, the fact that they were able to get information about where the injured terrorist had been admitted for treatment, organize a raid within three days of his admission, engage the police in an exchange of fire and escape in an APC captured from the police speaks disturbingly of the high level of motivation and training of the terrorists and the poor motivation and training of the police.

4.Talking to pressmen before the incident in the hospital, Mr.Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, had blamed the so-called Punjabi Taliban for the massacre of the Ahmadis and talked of a possible military action in Southern Punjab, which is their stronghold, in order to neutralize the growing threat from them.

5. When he talked of the Punjabi Taliban, he meant the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SES), the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). He did not speak of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri as part of the Punjabi Taliban.

6. The SES and the LEJ are Sunni extremist organizations which have been attacking the Shias for over 20 years and have now been operating jointly with Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). They have shifted their bases from Southern Punjab to North Waziristan in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The JEM was born in 2000 as the result of a split in the HUM. It used to be close to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), but fell out with the Pakistan Army because of the support extended by Gen.Pervez Musharraf to the US. It was suspected of involvement in the two unsuccessful assassination attempts on Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December,2003. After the raid into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad by commandoes of the Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army in July 2007, it has started operating jointly with the TTP. It has also shifted its bases from southern Punjab to North Waziristan.

7. Though these three organizations now operate from North Waziristan, they continue to get a regular flow of Punjabi volunteers and funds from the mosques and madrasas controlled by them in Southern Punjab. They also get sanctuaries in these mosques and madrasas whenever they organize attacks in Lahore and other places in the Punjab.

8. The Government of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of Mr.Nawaz Sharif, which has been in power in Punjab under the Chief Ministership of Mr.Shabaz Sharif, a brother of Mr.Nawaz, has allegedly not been co-operating with the federal Government in Islamabad headed by the Pakistan People’s Party of President Asif Ali Zardari in taking action against the elements of the Punjabi Taliban which have been collaborating with Al Qaeda and the TTP.

9. One is seeing a situation similar to what one had seen between 1988 and 1990 when Mrs.Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Mr.Nawaz Sharif was the Chief Minister of Punjab. The anti-Shia terrorists against whom Mrs.Benazir sought to take action were given shelter by the Punjab Special Branch allegedly on the orders of Mr.Nawaz Sharif. It was during that period that the LEJ evolved into a dreaded anti-Shia organization without any action being taken against it by the Punjab Police. Though there is no evidence of any nexus between the JEM and the PML (N), there has been a long history of nexus between elements in the PML (N) and the LEJ. It is suspected that this nexus continues even now and that is how the LEJ is repeatedly able to operate in Punjab with impunity.

10. The FATA comes under the direct control of the federal Government, which is able to undertake military operations there without having to rely on the consent from any local administration. The federal Government has to depend on the consent and co-operation of the PML(N) Government in Lahore for undertaking any major operation in Southern Punjab. It is alleged that this co-operation has not been forthcoming in adequate measure.

11. Mr.Zardari’s efforts to strengthen the role of the police and the Intelligence Bureau in internal security matters have made some headway in Sindh, but not in Punjab where the local police, controlled by the PML (N), has frustrated the efforts of the IB to develop a good network of agents capable of collecting intelligence about the Punjabi Taliban.

12. The result: Punjab in general and Lahore in particular continue to bleed ( 1-6-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )