Monday, January 31, 2011



The Karmapa is the head of what is known as the Karma Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism.It is claimed that the institution of Karmapa is more than 200 years older than the institution of Dalai Lama, who is the head of all Tibetan Buddhists, wherever they may be living.

2.There has been a controversy regarding the present 17th Karmapa ever since the death of the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, in 1981.Claims were made on behalf of the following two persons that they were the real incarnation of the deceased 16th Karmapa --- Ogyen Trinley Dorje (also spelt Urgyen Trinley Dorje) and Trinley Thaye Dorje

3.Both were enthroned by their respective followers as the 17th Karmapa, and both independently started performing ceremonial duties as the Karmapa. The majority of the monasteries and lamas of this sect recognized Urgyen Trinley Dorje as the Karmapa. However, a small number of monasteries and lamas of the sect including Shamar Rinpoche, who plays an important role in the selection process, did not allegedly recognize his claim. The Chinese Communist Party recognized his claim as the 17th Karmapa.

4.Urgyen Trinley Dorje enjoys considerable support----though not total support---- among the followers of what is considered the oldest sect of Tibetan Buddhism. His support for the process for the selection of the successor to His Holiness the Dalai Lama could, in Chinese calculation, lend credibility to the child projected by the Chinese Communist Party as the incarnation of the present Dalai Lama after his death.

5. Normally, the Chinese Communist Party would have used the Panchen Lama for this purpose, but the institution of Panchen Lama has got into a controversy since the death of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1989. There are two 11th Panchen Lamas---one (Gedhun Choekyi Nyima) recognized by His Holiness and the majority of the Tibetan Buddhists as the real incarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, who was arrested by the Chinese authorities in 1995, and one (Gyaltsen Norbu) recognized and installed by the Chinese Communist Party as the real incarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama and hence the legitimate 11th Panchen Lama. Despite the best efforts of the Chinese Communist party to promote the person selected by it as the legitimate 11th Panchen Lama, his legitimacy has not been accepted by an overwhelming majority of Tibetan Buddhists, particularly by those living in exile in India and other countries of the world. They look upon him as an impostor and have been demanding the release of the person recognized by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They refer sarcastically to Gyaltsen Norbu as Panchen Zuma ( false Panchen) and not Panchen Lama.

6. As this controversy over the Panchen Zuma was picking up momentum in the late 1990s, the 17th Karmapa, who himself is a controversial figure, landed by a taxi in Dharamsala, where His Holiness lives, on January 5,2000.He claimed that he had given the slip to the Chinese and clandestinely fled to India via Nepal because he was unhappy in Tibet and was not able to get his spiritual education completed in Tibet since most of the senior religious scholars of his sect were living in India.

7. Questions arose regarding the genuineness of his claim. Did he really escape clandestinely after giving a slip to the Chinese as claimed by him or was it a choreographed escape organized by the Chinese intelligence to create a split among the followers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, undermine his authority and project the Karmapa as the interim head of the Tibetan Buddhists after the death of His Holiness till the Dalai Lama’s successor is chosen by the Chinese Communist Party by stage-managing the identification of the child who is his incarnation.

8. Faced with this skepticism, the Karmapa explained how he escaped from Tibet at a media interaction on April 27,2002. He said as follows:

“On December 28, 1999, under the cover of a dark night, my senior attendant and I escaped from my monastery in Tibet and fled to India to seek refuge. The decision to leave my homeland, monastery, monks, parents, family, and the Tibetan people was entirely my own--no one told me to go and no one asked me to come. I left my country to impart the Buddha's teachings in general and, in particular, to receive the excellent empowerments, transmissions, and instructions of my own Karma Kagyu tradition. These I could only receive from the main disciples of the previous Karmapa, Situ Rinpoche and Gyaltsap Rinpoche, who were predicted to be my teachers and who reside in India.

“There have been various reports in the press about my escape, and so I will simply and briefly tell the truth about my journey. In great secrecy, my companions and I made our plans, using various stories to cover our true activities. For example, when the preparations were complete, I announced that I was entering a traditional, strict retreat and would not come out for some days. This story worked and prevented us from being pursued right away.

“On December 28, around 10:30 at night, my attendant and I slowly climbed down from my room and jumped onto the roof of the Protector Mahakala's shrine room. From this building, we leapt to the ground where a jeep was waiting nearby with Lama Tsultrim and a driver. We left immediately. The story had been given out that Lama Tsultrim and his companions were going on a journey. As if preparing for this, they had driven in and out of the monastery several times during the day, and, therefore, everyone knew about this trip and we could easily leave. Usually, the monastery was strictly guarded, but no twenty-four hour guards were posted and we also left through a side road.

“After a while, Lama Tsewang and another driver joined us at a designated place. We decided to head directly towards western Tibet since few travelers used this road and the check posts were not so strictly guarded. Driving day and night, we stopped only to change drivers. By taking back roads through the hills and valleys, we evaded check posts and two army camps. Through the power of my prayers to the Buddha and through his compassion, we were not discovered and arrived in Mustang, Nepal, on the morning of December 30, 1999. Continuing the journey on foot and horseback, we crossed over several passes and finally reached Manang as I had planned. This part was extremely difficult and exhausting due to the poor and often dangerous condition of the paths and the freezing cold weather. During this time, I was tired and not very well physically, yet despite the difficulties, I was completely determined to reach my goal.

“Once in Manang, a close friend of Lama Tsewang Tashi helped us hire a helicopter. We landed in a place of Nepal known as Nagarkot and then went by car to Rauxal. From there, we traveled by train to Lucknow and continued with a rented car to Delhi, arriving at last in Dharamsala early on the morning of January 5, 2000. I went straight to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the very embodiment of compassion, and he received me with his great love and affection. My joy knew no bounds."

9. The skepticism regarding the genuineness of his claim has since subsided, but not completely. Some---including this writer---suspect that his “escape” to India was probably under a long-term Chinese intelligence operation to use him to influence events relating to Tibet after the death of His Holiness. It would not be correct to call him a Chinese spy meant to collect intelligence about His Holiness and his followers. The suspicion is that he could be a planted Chinese “agent of influence” to influence future events after the death of His Holiness.

10. The Government of India has allowed him to travel periodically within India to perform his religious tasks and obligations. He was also allowed to visit the US in 2008 to meet his followers there.

11. The skepticism regarding him has revived following the alleged seizure of currencies of different countries ---including China---- amounting to a total value of US $ 1.5 million from his office and from persons associated with him in Dharamsala in recent days. An investigation has been started as to how he got this money and for what purpose. The Karmapa himself and his principal aides have been questioned. They are reported to have claimed that this amount represented the cash offerings of his followers visiting Dharamsala to seek his blessings and by his followers in other parts of India and abroad during his travels. This explanation sounds plausible.

12. Shri P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister, told the media on January 31 that since the matter was under investigation, he was not in a position to come to any conclusions till the investigation was completed. His Holiness has supported the investigation without saying anything further.

13. Sections of the media as usual have gone to town with allegations of the Karmapa being a Chinese spy. The Chinese Communist Party has strongly refuted these allegations. A report on this subject carried in the “People’s Forum” section of the party-controlled “People’s Daily” of China on January 31 is annexed.

14. This is a sensitive issue which could have an impact on State-to-State relations with China and could hurt the feelings and sensitivities of the followers of the Karmapa. We should carry out a vigorous investigation, keeping the Holiness in the picture, and await the results of the investigation as suggested by the Home Minister. We should avoid speculation that could prove counter-productve.( 1-2-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabnet 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: )


( From the “People’s Forum” section of the “People’s Daily” of January 31 )

Karmapa is Chinese spy? India makes a fuss again

India's Himachal Pradesh police aided by Intelligence Bureau officials on Saturday questioned the 17th Karmapa, Ugyen Trinley Dorje, to hear his explanation on where he had got Rs 8.5 crores worth of currency in dollars and yuan that was seized from his monastery.

Dorje was questioned at his Sidhbari ashram near Dharamshala as searches continued in different monastries along Indo-China border for the third consecutive day.

"The office of the trust, backed by the Karmapa, and his ashram at Sidhbari have also been searched. Details are being shared with Enforcement Directorate officials who will probe the matter relating to seizure of foreign currency," said an official in New Delhi. The official ruled out the possibility of Karmapa's arrest. "So far nothing incriminating has been found against him. Dorje also appears to be fully cooperating with the probe," he said.

Sources said the raids would be discussed at the conference of chief ministers on internal security in New Delhi on February 1 amid reports that IB officials suspect the Karmapa was a Chinese mole and the money was part of a design to control monastries along the border.

In Shimla, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said the matter was serious although the Karmapa's office had denied any link with China.

Himachal DGP D S Minhas told TOI the Karmapa was questioned by a team headed by Kangra SP Diljeet Singh Thakur and the monk was asked about the money's source. "We are looking into what he told the team. He is not under house arrest."

All religious orders in India receive huge donations. No one has heard so far about any other religious group being targeted. It's irrational to conclude that Dorje is Chinese spy based on the recovery of a large amount of Chinese yuan in his monastery.

Dorje has been under the Indian security agencies' scanner since his arrival in India after he left Tibet 12 years ago.

The Indian government has confined the Karmapa's movements within 15 km of his home for sometime.Since July 2008, the Indian government has refused to let the Karmapa visit other monasteries in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir that are located close to the India-China border. How could Chinese government sponsor Dorje under India's tight surveillance?

China on Monday denied that Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa was its spy and claimed allegations against it showed India's "mistrustful attitude" towards Beijing. "The speculation by India's media, regarding the matter of the Karmapa as a Chinese agent or spy, shows that India is keeping its mistrustful attitude toward China," said Xu Zhitao, an official of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party Central Committee.

"The 17th Karmapa Living Buddha (Monks in Tibet are called living Buddhas) is the first reincarnated Living Buddha confirmed and approved by the Central Government of the People's Republic of China after the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951," said Xu.

"The reincarnation of holy men is a unique form of succession in Tibetan Buddhism, which has long been recognized and respected," Xu told state-run 'Global Times'.

"Karmapa left China in 1999 for the purpose of religious behaviors, just as he claimed," said Xu.

The Global Times, which published Xu's comments in a report, seemed to frown upon on the Indian media. "This is not the first time that India's media has linked 'spies' with China. Earlier this month, three Chinese citizens were arrested in India on suspicion of money laundering and spying on border security. But the Chinese foreign ministry said they were actually tourists who had mistakenly crossed the border from Nepal," it said.

Sunday, January 30, 2011



Everybody wants the discredited Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who is still tenaciously sticking to power, to go.

2. But nobody knows who can command the respect and confidence of the street protesters after he goes. The faces of the real leaders of the revolt are still hidden.

3.What are the characteristics of the revolution now sweeping across the Arab world?

4. Is it a genuinely democratic revolution? Many of us, including me, thought it was and still hope it is, but we --- at least I---are no longer certain it is.

5. Is it an Islamic Revolution with a democratic mask?

6. Many of us, including me, thought it was not and still hope it is not, but we--- at least I-- are no longer certain it is not.

7. Particularly after seeing the welcome that was accorded to the 69-year-old Rachid Ghannouchi, the Islamist leader of Tunisia, who returned to Tunisia this week-end after having lived in political exile in Europe for nearly 22 years. Thousands of people -- it is a large number for Tunisia--- welcomed him at the Tunis airport. No political ambition, he proclaimed, but nobody in Tunisia takes his proclamation seriously.

8. The democrats and secularists in Tunisia, who are concerned over his return, were also at the airport to caution him to behave and not to try to hijack the Jasmine revolution after it has succeeded and turn its white colour into green.

9. They shouted: " "No Islamism, no theocracy, no Sharia and no stupidity! " The number of people whom they could mobilise was very small. Some reports say less than a hundred.

10. Is it a harbinger of an emerging struggle between democrats and Islamists---with the Islamists ultimately expropriating the gains of the revolution and imposing an Islamic rule instead of the democratic rule hoped for by the protesters and for which many of them sacrificed their lives?

11. This is not a far-fetched scenario. It happened in Iran post-1979. The children of what seemed a democratic revolution in the beginning were devoured by the Islamists after they came to power with their help and an Islamic rule was imposed on Iran.

12. As the cliche goes, every revolution begins with noble intentions and ends up by devouring its own children.

13.What happened in Iran post-1979 could happen in Tunisia, Egypt and the rest of the Arab world in the months to come.

14. Irrespective of whether Mubarak lasts in power for a few more hours, a few more days or a few more months, he is already passee. He is already on his way to the dustbin of history.

15. How to ensure that it is democracy and religious and political moderation that will emerge as the ultimate victor? That is a question to be tackled by the people of these countries. The international community will have little role in deciding the future shape of things to come in these countries. Its options are very limited. One thing it can and should do is to refrain from supporting elements which stand discredited and which have become the anathema of the people. And hope for the best, while mentally preparing itself for less than the best. (31-1-11)

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



I have been in receipt of the following letter by E-Mail from Mr.Christophe Jaffrelot, an eminent academic and analyst from France, who analyses from time to time the various aspects of the Hindutva phenomenon in sections of the media. The letter is self-explanatory. I would like to assure him that my reference to him in my article did not mean that I agree with any criticism of him. My article summing up the salient points of the detailed comments received/ seen by me was not the outcome of any pressure on me.Those who know me well would vouch for the fact that I am an intellectually fair and courageous person who never succumbs to any pressure from any quarter---governmental or non-governmental, from any section of the political spectrum, right, left or centre . A large number of Hindutva enthusiasts--- including some personally known to me---- felt hurt and anguished by the defamatory attacks on me as well as by the strong lanugage used by me in my response to those attacks. I felt that fairness demanded that I should carry in my blog a summary of the comments from the Hindutva enthusiasts along with my further observations where needed.--B.Raman 31-1-11


I have just read your piece "Reactions to my article on Hindutva in the web world". I have been shocked to see that I was mentioned there among the foreigners who "make an earning out of denigrating the Hindutva enthusiasts". Since you make a point, in each of your written contributions, to be accurate, in addition to the spelling of my name, I would like to correct the substance of your judgement. I earn nothing - financially or otherwise - in doing what my conscience dictates and what the ethical code of my occupation requests. Being from a continent which has experimented the Nazi and Fascit episodes you referred to recently, I try to be in peace with myself and to gather the needed courage for that. I do hope that you will continue to follow the path you had taken in spite of an obviously strong pressure.

Yours sincerely,

Christophe Jaffrelot

Saturday, January 29, 2011



The people's revolt in Egypt, which has cost over a hundred lives since January 25, is showing signs of taking an anti-US turn.

2. ""Neither Mubarak nor Suleiman; we're sick of Americans." So shouted the protesters in the Tahir (Liberation) Square of Cairo on January 29. The reference was to Omar Suleiman, the head of the Military Intelligence, whom President Hosni Mubarak appointed as the Vice-President on January 29, in a desperate move to ensure the continued loyalty of the Army to him.

3. The Army has till now remained loyal to Mubarak. All the fatalities were reported to have been caused in clashes between the protesters and the riot police, which comes under the Ministry of the Interior. Mubarak seems to be hoping to save his tottering regime by projecting the riot police as the fall guy. This is unlikely to work and could prove dangerous by creating large-scale desertions from the riot police. The riot police and the Army have roughly equal strength---about 3000,000 plus. If there are large-scale desertions from the riot police, the Army may find it very difficult to control the resulting situation.

4.The US is in a quandary. The administration of President Barack Obama has as badly mis-judged the gathering storm in Egypt before the riots broke out as the administration of then President Jimmy Carter had mis-judged the gathering storm in Teheran in 1978 before the fall of the Shah of Iran. Wishful-thinking by Governmental and non-governmental analysts in the US that the Shah would somehow be able to control the situatuion contributed to a strategic disaster in Iran, with the Shia revolutionaries under Ayatollah Khomeni capturing power, the consequences of which on the strategic scenario in the region are being felt even today.

5. Similar wishful-thinking by Governmental and non-Governmental analysts in Washington DC and a similar miscalculation are inexorably leading to a situation where the people's anger, which was initially against the Mubarak regime, is turning against the US Government for continuing to support it. The strategic consequences of the emerging anger against the US will be unpredictable and the Obama Administration will find its attention increasingly distracted from the Af-Pak region. "All the way with Mubarak" is no longer a workable option. "Jettison Mubarak" could be an option, but the dilemma for the US is "Who After Mubarak?"

6. It cannot be someone associated with the Mubarak regime. It has to be a new face from amongst the growing crowds demonstrating in the streets.Even though the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is playing a behind-the-scene role in keeping the protests alive and aggravating, one has not heard of any slogans calling for power to the MB. In a situation where nobody is a leader and yet everybody is a leader, it is difficult to assess who is going to ultimately emerge as the leader to take over power.

7. The US placed so much faith in the stability and durability of the Shah of Iran that it failed to diversify its political contacts in Iran. When the Shah ultimately fell, the US suddenly found itself without any influence in Teheran and without any insights about Ayatollah Khomeni and his aides.

8. Similarly, it had such pathetic faith in the stability and durability of Mubarak that it has failed to diversify its contacts and influence in Cairo. The result: It has no contacts and friends in the people who are in the forefront of the revolt.

9.The policy and operational disasters of the Carter Administration in Iran contributed to the failure of Carter to get re-elected for a second term. Will history repeat itself? Will policy and operational disasters in Egypt contribute to a similar failure of Obama to get re-elected next year? Obama has to keep his fingers crossed. ( 30-1-11)

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



I have received/seen a large number of detailed comments (60 plus) on my article of January 28 on the above subject.

2.About 30 per cent of the articles still indulge in calumny. They accuse me of having written that article in the hope of being nominated to the Rajya Sabha or getting a Padma Sri . I am a cancer patient getting myself reconciled in advance to the days to come. Where is the question of my wangling for a Rajya Sabha seat or a Padma Sri? These people are unfortunately not prepared to accept that I might have written that article out of genuine concerns and not with an ulterior motive.

3.About 10 per cent are from RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh) functionaries---some of them personally known to me. They have expressed their pain and anguish over the kind of defamatory allegations made against me and conveyed graceful apologies. One interesting comment is that Hindutva enthusiasts in the NRI community abroad have been indulging in such tactics. They say that Hindutva followers in India respect age and experience and would never behave in that manner either to me or to any other old person----whatever be their anger.

4.The remaining 60 per cent--- while not justifying the anger and behaviour noticed in the web world--- try to explain it cogently.They say that just as the perceived softness of the Government and the Congress (I) towards jihadi terrorism has triggered the recent incidents of reprisal terrorism by some Hindus, the perceived prejudices of the traditional Indian media--- print as well as electronic--- has given rise to a wave of anger among Hindu youth against our media. According to them, this should explain the new focus of the Hindutva enthusiasts on the web world to give expression to their anger, to explain their point of view and to confront those trying to demonise the Hindutva ideology. They allege that the traditional Indian media will place columns and columns and sound bytes and sound bytes at the disposal of foreign writers like Christoph Jaffrelot who make an earning out of denigrating the Hindutva enthusiasts and their ideology, but would ignore---or worse still ridicule--- the Hindutva enthusiasts. According to them, it is anger and frustration over the attitude of the mainstream Indian media that forced them to take to the web world and use it to create for themselves a level playing field. If some of them indulge in excesses as they did towards me, it is deplorable, but understandable, they say.

5.In their expressions of anger, two Indian journalists are repeatedly mentioned by name--- Barkha Dutt of NDTV and Sagarika Ghose of CNN-IBN. They are both accused of disseminating prejudice against the Hindutva enthusiasts. They are further accused of not giving equal opportunity to Hindutva enthusiasts to explain their point of view in their programmes. There is additional anger against Barkha Dutt because many feel that she gives prominence to the views of the Kashmiri separatists, but not to those of nationalist elements.

6.I am aware of the anger in the Hindu community in general and among Hindutva enthusiasts in particular over what they consider to be the prejudices of the traditional media against them. A couple of years ago I was invited to a brain-storming discussion on various aspects of national security organised by some Hindutva enthusiasts. It was attended by many prominent personalities of the Hindutva line of thinking. One of the subjects discussed was the perceived negativism of the mainstream Indian media---print as well as electronic--- towards Hindutva enthusiasts and how to counter it.

7.It was argued by some in that panel discussion that they will never be able to change the attitude of the traditional media and that they should, therefore, focus on the new media of the web world. From that time onwards, I have been seeing an attempt by young Hindutva enthusiasts to build up a constituency for themselves in the web world. I have an impression that many young NRIs are playing a prominent role in this.

8.They have every right to do so. I bless their efforts to convert the new media into the "Great Leveller" in propagating their views and in countering the perceived prejudices against them allegedly disseminated by the traditional media. My only advice to them is---by all means do so, but in a manner that is balanced, courteous and non-defamatory. Tactics smacking of defamation and intimidation will prove counter-productive. (29-1-11)

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

Friday, January 28, 2011



" Sonia Gandhi's man".

"Rahul Gandhi's man."

"Digviay Singh's man."

" Licking shoes of Sonia Gandhi & Rahul Gandhi to get a job."

" Congressy."

"A deshbakht who has metamorphosed into a Congressy./"


"A lunatic who has escaped from a lunatic asylum."

"Courier of Niira Radia, who carries her money to Swiss banks."

"Has formed a mutual admiration club with Barkha Dutt."

Who is this guy thus abused for the last two days by the Hindutva Storm-Troopers, who have practically taken control of the web world and are misusing it for indulging in a campaign of defamation and criminal intimidation of anyone who dares to criticise the Hindutva policies on any issue?

That is me.

The unfortunate me, who was unwise enough to step into the Twitter world without understanding how it works.

I found myself surrounded, trapped and waylaid by a group of Hindutva Storm-Troopers in my own Twitter site.

What was my fault in their eyes?

Ever since the first Malegaon blasts of September 2006, I have been writing on the phenomenon of some Hindus taking to reprisal terrorism .

I remained unconvinced that the first Malegaon blasts were carried out by jihadis and expressed my doubts in my writings.

I defended Rahul Gandhi's remarks on terrorism as revealed by a Wikileaks document while criticising him for talking on the subject in this manner with the American Ambassador.

I wrote against the Bharatiya Janata Party's Flag yatra to the Lal Chowk in Srinagar and called it political opportunism and in my Twitter postings called it an attempt to divert attention from the alleged resort to terrorism by some Hindutva elements.

I expressed my skepticism regarding allegations of large-scale conversions to Christianity.

I described the BJP's anti-corruption campaign as a fraud.

I described some of the Storm-Troopers of the Twitter world as "RSS guys" and asked them to go to Bangalore and persuade Chief Minister Yeddyurappa to resign instead of harassing me in my Twitter site.

I described these "RSS guys" as living in their own make-believe world, cut off from reality.

I cautioned them that I will teach them a lesson---hopefully.

Funny people, these Hindutva guys.

I praised Narendra Modi, as I always do, for his honesty and for his administrative talents.

They hailed me as a Deshbakht and tweeted my remarks on Modi across the web world.

I described Modi's ideology as negative and divisive.

They came down on me like a ton of bricks.

I praised some of the programmes of Barkha Dutt.

They abused me as a man of poor judgement and warned that nobody will read my writings in future.

I was grateful to many visitors to my site for strongly defending me and taking objection to the vicious manner in which the Storm-Troopers were abusing me.

Some of them sent me private E-mail messages advising me to keep my cool, not to let myself be provoked by them and to ignore them.

I noticed that Twitter allows subscribers to take up sites, with assumed names & usernames.

I did so. In my confusion, I was stupid enough to send tweets ---instead of E-mails-- to my close friends informing them about the change---without realising that Twitter flashes any message to all those frequenting the site.

It thus automatically flashed my message about my taking an assumed name (R.Iyengar) and user identity (indepthstudies) to all my followers even though I intended it to be a restricted message for only some close friends and contacts.

The message went to all these Storm-Troopers. Before I could realise what was happening they were in my new Twitter site.

I am in a dilemma. Do I continue with my assumed name and user identity , which are now widely known to the Hindutva Storm-Troopers of the world or do I go back to my real name & original user identity (ramanthink) without bothering about the Storm-Troopers?

Don't worry about them. Do what you want. Block them.Ignore them. So say my well-wishers.

I can block them, but how can I ignore them? How can I refrain from drawing the attention of the Indian public to this pernicious phenomenon of misuse of the Twitter world by the Hindutva Storm-troopers for a campaign of defamation and criminal intimidation against those whom they do not like?

How can I fail in my duty of sounding a wake-up call to alert our people to the emergence of battalions of electronic Hindutva Storm-Troopers to intimidate people they don't like?

How can I refrain from drawing the attention of Shri Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the RSS, and Shri Ram Madhav, the RSS leader who has been my friend since 2003, to the worrisome direction in which the Hindutva movement has been drifting?

The intolerance of critics and the willingness to destroy them and their personality by any means demonstrated by the Storm-Troopers are dangerous not only to you and me, my dear co-citizens, but to the country as a whole.

When the Storm-Troopers and their likes made their appearance in Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy, the majority of the Germans and Italians thought the best way of dealing with them was to ignore them and remain silent.

Germany and Italy paid a heavy price for their keeping silent.

Let us not pay a similar heavy price by remaining silent on these Hindutva Storm-Troopers.


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

Thursday, January 27, 2011



In response to my article on this subject, I have been in receipt of the following comments from a well-informed reader:

"Regarding your note 'Can Tunisia happen in Pakistan', I don't think you are right in saying that 'only' East Pakistan has a tradition of mass street protests. Are you forgetting the 4 months of protests in 77, following the elections, which first forced Bhutto to declare martial law and then, eventually, brought him down?

"When you say Pakistan has never had strong student movements, are you forgetting the protests that brought down Ayub in 69?

"Things may have changed since then and terrorism and fundamentalism have become dominant but this is very much part of Pakistan's history." (28-1-11"



Many readers of my articles have asked me: Can Tunisia happen in Pakistan with all its problems and difficulties?I have posted my answers to this question in my Twitter site (ramanthink). For those, who haven't had an opportunity of seeing my Twitter postings, I am repeating them below as bullet points:

* Only the then East Pakistan had a tradition of mass street protests---not present Pakistan.
* Even angry Balochs haven't been able to organise mass street protests. Only sporadic insurgency.
* So too Pashtuns, Mohajirs & Sindhis.
* Pak never had strong students or trade union movements.
* Even Islamic fundamentalists were not able to organise sustained street protests after the Lal Masjid raid.
* When there is anger in Pakistan,it is expressed thro' terrorism & not street protests as happened after the Lal Masjid raid.
* Hence chances of a Tunisia in Pakistan are low.
* Lesson from Tunisia for Pakistanis: What a well-organised and well-led mass protest can achieve, terrorism cannot. (28-1-11)

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2011



The prairie fire of mass protests in Tunisia continues to burn and shows signs of spreading to Libya, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen. In Tunisia, protesters want the entire old leadership to be removed, arrested and prosecuted lock, stock and barrel and their illegally-acquired wealth parked in secret bank accounts abroad to be brought back. Saudi Arabia, which has been giving shelter to the discredited despots of the Arab world, has not yet been affected, but it cannot remain unaffected for long. Egypt saw massive protests on January 25 in response to tweeted calls from nowhere and everywhere for observing a day of revolt. Tweets are now calling for a "Day of Anger" as a follow-up on January 28. Libya, Algeria, Jordan and Yemen are seeing the beginnings of a protest movement. Whether the prairie fire continues to spread or subsides would depend on what happens in the coming days in Tunisia and Egypt.

2. The developing situation is very confusing. In Tunisia, the Army initially fraternised with the protesters and reportedly refused to act against them. Latest reports say it is concerned over the continuing protests over one issue or the other and might be tempted to intervene and take over power to restore law and order. In Egypt, the Army is still carrying out the orders of President Hosni Mubarak, but for how long.

3. New faces and new voices are emerging across the Arab world to take over the leadership of the protesters. Political and economic causes are behind the protests----despotism, suppression of the rights of the people, excesses of the security forces in dealing with people's movements, unemployment, inflation, corruption, opulence of the leaders etc.

4.One does not know in which direction ---- towards democratisation and religious liberalisation of the Arab world or towards more Wahabism and Salafism?---- these new faces and new voices will take their countries forward. Will it mark the beginning of the end of political Islam or will it see a new phase of it? The protesters are not inspired by Al Qaeda or other jihadi organisations, but some traditional Islamic organisations such as the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt are taking advantage of the bandwagon effect.

5. The West---particularly the US--- which hailed the East European revolt of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, is concerned because in many places the protesters are targeting Western surrogates in the leaderships of these countries. The East Europe revolt was beneficial to the West. The Arab revolt, if it succeeds, may not be so.

6. Its political and economic fall-out is unpredictable. What effect on availability of energy to keep the economies of the world going? What effect on the ideological campaign against Islamic radicalisation? What effect on the so-called war against terrorism? What impact in Af-Pak region and Iraq? US officials are travelling across the countries on fire advising the leaders and the security forces to observe restraint in dealing with the protesters.

7. The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, which is holding its annual meeting since January 26, has been fiddling while the Arab world is burning. It has created a last-minute panel to discuss Tunisia. Nothing more. Do the protests call for a re-visit of the economic model propagated in the past by the WEF? Many of the business tycoons----particularly from Europe---- who have assembled in Davos are the very same people responsible for the economic plight of the Arab protesters. Yet, the sound of silence from Davos is deafening. An obliging Swiss Government has seen to it that there are no inconvenient protests against the WEF in the streets of Davos and Zurich.

8. India should carefully monitor the protest waves in the Arab world. The protest waves in East Europe had a copy-cat effect in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The protest waves in the Arab world too could have a copy-cat effect. We should not be complacent under the illusion that this can't happen in J&K. It can --- if we do not address the anger of the people to the extent possible and if our security forces do not exercise restraint in dealing with protesters. People-friendly policies are the urgent need of the hour. ( 27-1-11)

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

As one who had lived and worked for seven years in Europe including three years in Switzerland, may I place some of my thoughts before you in relation to the present debate on action against Indian nationals parking illegally-earned money in foreign bank accounts?

2.I was prompted to write this letter after watching on NDTV on January 25 a discussion on this subject between Shri Bajaj and Barkha Dutt. Shri Bajaj made a very important point. He said instead of merely blaming foreign Governments for inadequate co-operation in this field, the first effective action has to be taken in India against "tax chors" who park their money abroad.

3.This effective action has to be in the form of identifying Indian nationals who park their money abroad, getting details of their foreign bank accounts through human sources working in their offices in India and confronting foreign governments with details collected by us in India and seeking their mutual legal assistance. If we do so, they would find it difficult to evade our requests for co-operation. Presently, they are able to evade our requests for co-operation because our requests are general and not specific mentioning the wrong-doers identified by our economic and financial intelligence agencies and details of their overseas accounts as collected in India by them.

4.After my retirement in 1994,, I had written an article pointing out the need for revamping our economic and financial intelligence set-up. It was published by the "Business Line" of the "Hindu" group. After reading that article, Shri M.R.Sivaraman, the then Revenue Secretary working under Shri P.Chidambaram, the then Finance Minister before the change of Government in 1998, wrote to me that the Government would be implementing some of my suggestions.One of the actions reportedly taken by Shri Chidambaram was to set up a revamped Economic Intelligence Council (EIC) chaired by him to monitor the collection, analysis and assessment of economic and financial intelligence and follow-up action thereon. The first meeting of the revamped EIC was held on July 22,1997. It met once a week thereafter providing some vigour to domestic investigations in India against wrong-doers.

5.In July 2000, the Government of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee had set up a Special Task Force to make recommendations for the revamping of our intelligence set-up in the light of the inadequacies noticed during the Kargil conflict of 1999. It was headed by Shri G.C.Saxena, the former head of the R&AW. Among its members were Shri M.K.Narayanan, former National Security Adviser, Shri K.Raghunath, former Foreign Secretary. Shri P.P.Shrivastav, former Special Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, and myself.

6. It came to the notice of the Task Force that since Shri Chidambaram and Shri Sivaraman left office , there was a serious dilution by their successors of the attention paid to the working of our economic and financial intelligence set-up. The EIC had not even met regularly after they left office. The Task Force, in its report, drew attention to the functioning of our economic and financial intelligence set-up and made certain recommendations for corrective action.

7. In my book titled "Intelligence---Past,Present & Future" written in 2001 and published by the Lancer Publications of Delhi, I had written, inter alia, as follows in the Chapter on "Financial & Narcotics Intelligence":

"In India, the collection of financial intelligence and the use of such intelligence to deal with organised crime groups is essentially handlled by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Narcotics Control Bureau. There was no mechanism for a co-ordinated assessment of their intelligence, identification of gaps in their coverage and initiation of steps to fill such gaps.

" This lacuna was to be filled through the setting-up of a re-constituted Economic Intelligence Council chaired by the Finance Minister. During its first meeting on July 22,1997, it was reported to have set up a core group to monitor trends in financial crime and keep the Council informed.

" The fight against money-laundering in India is complicated by the following factors:

* The politician-criminal nexus.
* The lack of effective control over contributions to political parties and election expenses.

" This enables criminal elements to use their contributions to the political process as a safe-channel for money-laundering and for gaining political influence to incapacitate the intelligence and investigating agencies so that they cannot effectively act against them.

" While the search for an entente cordiale between the States of India and Pakistan has proved elusive since 1947, there is an entente cordiale between the criminal worlds of the two countries, interacting with each other either directly or through the intermediary of their counterparts in Dubai. No study in depth has been made of this entente cordiale or, if it has been, the public has not been told of its conclusions.

" There is thus a lack of the required political will to deal with this problem in an effective manner by strengthening the capabilities of the intelligence and investigating agencies and letting them function without any political interference. There has also been a lack of interest on the part of our legislators in this subject, which has a vital bearing on our national security, economic well-being and fight against terrorism and Pakistan's proxy war. Since the NSC (National Security Council) Secretariat is designed to function as the nerve centre overseeing all aspects relating to our national security, it should have an oversight role in respect of the collection, assessmernt and utilisation of financial intelligence and evaluation of the performance of the agencies responsible for these tasks too." Citation from my book ends.

8. I understand that the Group of Ministers set up by the Vajpayee Government examined the report of the G.C.Saxena Task Force and accepted some of its recommendations for implementation. I do not have an idea of the follow-up action taken. Has there been a streamlining of our financial intelligence set-up? How satisfactory is their functioning? How many Indians having foreign bank accounts have they identified? How many of them were prosecuted? If they were not prosecuted, why not? These are important questions, which need looking into.

9. There are two aspects to action against Indian nationals parking illegally-acquired money in foreign bank accounts.The first aspect is our own action in India and the second is successfully seeking foreign co-operation. Our attention has been mainly on the second aspect of co-operation by foreign countries. The first aspect of our own sins of commission and omission has not received the attention it merited. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to Shri Bajaj for drawing attention to this during his TV discussions with Barkha Dutt at Davos.

10. This matter needs your personal attention and that of Sri Pranab Mukherjee, the Finance Minister.

Warm regards,

Yours sincerely,

B.Raman, 26-1-11, Chennai.
Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi.

Monday, January 24, 2011



Thirty-five persons are reported to have been killed in a suicide blast near the arrival area of Moscow's Domodedovo airport at 4-32 PM local time on January 24,2011. The suspected suicide bomber had taken up position along with relatives and friends of arriving passengers in an area to which they are allowed. Apparently, there was no anti-explosive check on them. While arriving passengers are subjected to anti-explosive checks before they leave the terminal, waiting relatives and friends are not. No claim of responsibility has so far been made.

2. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has postponed his departure to the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos in Switzerland, which is starting on January 26. It is not yet clear whether he will still go or will cancel his participation.

3. The blast, which reportedly involved industrial-grade explosives ( TNT?) mixed with projectiles such as nails etc to cause maximum fatalities, came three days after the departure of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan from Moscow after the first bilateral visit by an Afghan Head of State or Government to Moscow since the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in the 1980s.Karzai had, however, previously visited Moscow for multilateral meetings. During the visit of Karzai, his Russian interlocutors promised economic and military assistance amounting to half a billion US dollars to Afghanistan. Most of the proposed projects would focus on the non-Pashtun north. One of the proposals under consideration is the repair and upgradation of the road by which Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in the late 1970s. Russia has extended logistic movement facilities for the NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan.

4. The Afghan Taliban, which has close links with terrorists from Chechnya and Dagestan, and Al Qaeda and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which assist the remnants of the Chechen terrorists still living in North Waziristan in Pakistan, have not so far reacted to Karzai's bilateral visit to Moscow and to Russian promises of military and economic assistance. There is so far no evidence to connect the Moscow blast of January 24 to Karzai's visit, but this is an angle, which is likely to be explored during the investigation.

5. Presently, the investigators seem to be treating the explosion as purely-related to the anti-Russian insurgency in the Caucasus region.Pictures of a seeming return to normalcy projected by the Rusian authorities do not reflect the reality. There is still considerable anti-Russian anger and continued availability of volunteers for suicide terrorism---men and women. Money continues to flow to the terrorists from Chechen-origin residents in Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Narcotics smuggling from Afghanistan is anothert source of income. Russia has been playing a role in the anti-narcotics drive in Afghanistan, but the results have not been very significant.

6. This is the second major terrorist strike in Moscow within a year. Both targeted means of transport. A suicide attack of March 2010 (40 dead) targeted Metro traffic. The latest attack has targeted the most important airport of Moscow handling a large number of international flights.The attack of March last year was meant to impact on the mind of the Russian people not to believe the claims of normalcy of their Government. The latest attack is meant to impact on the mind of the international community, including the participants at Davos, not to believe the claims of Moscow. ( 25-1-11)

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

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Pakistan was always there for Sri Lanka: Gen. Kayani
Says arms race with Inida not option for Pakistan
By Yasasmin Kaviratne ( From "Sunday Times" dated Jan.23,2011 of Colombo )

Pakistan stood by Sri Lanka at a time of crisis and that will be the foundation of a new friendship and it will be etched in the memories of the people of the two nations, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army said.

Addressing the student officers of Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) at Sapugaskanda on Friday, the visiting Army chief said be it weapons or training for military personnel, Pakistan always came forward to help Sri Lanka.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addressing student officers at DSCSC. Pic by Sanka Vidanagama

He was here on a three day visit which ended on Friday. General Kayani said although the war against the LTTE has been won, the battle is still on as it will be won only when ex combatants are reintegrated into society. He added that a lot could be learnt from the expertise of the Sri Lankan army in fighting terrorism.

He said terrorism could be created by growing radicalism. “In the case of Sri Lanka, it grew in terms of ethnicity. But usually in South Asia radicalism grows in terms of religion,” he said adding that people are more sensitive when it comes to religion than ethnicity and that’s the situation Pakistan was facing presently.

Commenting on the relations with its neighbour country India, he said, “An arms race with India is not an option for Pakistan,” adding that the defence budget of India is nine or ten times bigger than Pakistan’s. But he said that he stands by the fact that he is India-centric as Pakistan has some unresolved issues and a history of conflicts with its neighbour.

He elaborated that there should be a right balance between defence and development and that was the way forward for the South Asia region. “Strategic stability means having stable and secure neighbours as it enhances security and peace within the country. An arms race is not an option for South Asia,” he said.

Commenting on Afghanistan and President Obama’s change in strategy to pull out of Afghanistan in 2014 instead of 2011, the General said that the question is how things are going to shape up by 2014 as no one has a clear idea of how things would turn out.

He added that what happens in Afghanistan is important to Pakistan not only because it shares a long border but because there are many tribal villages in the border for whom these don’t mater much.Moreover, he said, if Afghanistan is secure, then many border and security issues that Pakistan faces too could be solved. “One cannot isolate Afghanistan from Pakistan,” he emphasized.

The Defence College Commandant, Major General Jagath Rambukpotha, welcoming Army chief said when Sri Lanka sought Pakistan’s assistance during the war the Pakistan General’s answer was, “We are coming to help. Don’t worry, we are coming”.

Saturday, January 22, 2011




In the first week of March 2003, I had written an article titled "Mystery surrounding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed" .This was carried by on March 4,2003, and by the web site of the Global Research the next day at .

2. In that article, I had stated inter alia as follows: "Remember the Pearl case? Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence claimed to have solved the case without recovering the dead body and prosecuted Sheikh Omar and his accomplices. The court was told they were the only plotters who deserved to be convicted and sentenced to death. Even as the trial was mid-way, Pakistani security agencies, while investigating another case, fell upon a group of some other terrorists belonging to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (International). During the interrogation, they surprised Pakistani and US intelligence agencies by claiming it was they who had killed Pearl. They led the police to a spot on the outskirts of Karachi where Pearl's remains were found buried. Forensic tests confirmed their finding and the remains were subsequently handed over to his widow. Under the law, when a confession made by a suspect leads to some material recovery such as a murder weapon or a dead body, there is an automatic presumption that the entire confession is correct. So, if the Pakistani and US agencies had followed the due process of law, they should have withdrawn the case from court, re-investigated it and submitted a fresh charge-sheet. They did nothing of the sort. Instead, they kept away information about the recovery of Pearl's remains and the arrests of the new suspects from the court. When the defence counsel for Sheikh Omar asked the court to take cognisance of media reports in this regard and order a re-investigation, the court declined to do so. It sentenced Sheikh Omar to death and the other accused to life imprisonment. Their appeals have not been disposed of because Pakistani officials have not yet sorted out the confusion created by the recovery of Pearl's remains on information provided by some terrorists who had not been prosecuted in the case."

3.On March 1, 2003, a joint team of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence ) and US intelligence raided a house in Rawalpindi in an area where many retired officers of the Pakistan army and the ISI live and arrested three people. One of the arrested men was identified as Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), a close aide of Osama bin Laden and the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US. The ISI handed him over to the US intelligence, which flew him initially to Diego Garcia and then to the Guantanamo Bay detention centre for Al Qaeda and other terrorist suspects in Cuba. Shortly thereafter, rumors started circulating that KSM had claimed during his interrogation that it was he who had killed Daniel Pearl.

4. In an article titled "Musharraf's Goose Getting Cooked" written by me on October 23,2003, which is available at , I had stated inter alia as follows:

"Oct. 22, 2003 | Last Thursday, a senior White House official called Mariane Pearl and Paul Steiger, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, to report a new, key development in the investigation into the death of Mariane's husband, Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. "We have now established enough links and credible evidence to think that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed" -- the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks -- "was involved in your husband's murder," the official told Mariane.

"What do you mean 'involved'?" Mariane asked.

"We think he committed the actual murder."

"So says a sensational article on the kidnapping and murder of Danial Pearl, the US journalist, written by Asra Q. Nomani, the free-lance journalist, then living in Karachi, in whose house Pearl and his wife Mariane had stayed when he went on his ill-fated trip to Karachi from Mumbai last year to investigate a report that an e-mail which had directed Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, to carry out his operation to blow up an American aircraft had originated from Karachi and that the e-mail had been sent by the Jamaat-ul-Fuqra, a Pakistani organisation with many sleeper cells in the USA, Canada and the West Indies, including in the US Armed Forces.

"In the year 2000, a mysterious web site calling for solidarity amongst the Muslims serving in the Armed Forces of the world suddenly appeared and started registering such Muslims. While it could not be definitively established as to who was behind the web site, Police sources in Pakistan suspected that the Fuqra cells in the USA were behind it. One does not know whether Pearl knew all this when he arrived in Karachi, but his investigation, for as yet unknown reasons, was focussed on the background and activities of this organisation and its leaders.

"In the hundreds of reports -- open as well as confidential -- which had emanated from Pakistan till now on his murder, the name of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) had not figured. The Pervez Musharraf regime initially projected the murder as the work of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which continues to be active despite the so-called ban, and then the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the banned Sunni extremist organisation, and then others.

"Omar Sheikh, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, who had been working for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since the early 1990s and who used to head the Lahore cell of AL Qaeda, was ultimately blamed along with some others. The appeal filed by him against the death sentence awarded to him by the anti-terrorism court and by the other accused against the prison sentences awarded to them has not been heard so far. The hearing on the appeal is being repeatedly postponed on some ground or the other.

"Even as the hearing in the anti-terrorism court was on, the Pakistani media reported that the Pakistani authorities had in custody some other suspects, including some Yemeni-Balochis, who confessed to murdering Pearl. It was also reported that it was on their confession that the remains of Pearl were recovered by the Pakistani authorities.

"Under the law in any country, when material objects relating to a case are recovered on the basis of a confessional statement of a suspect, the confession is presumed to be correct unless proved otherwise. Surprisingly, the Pakistani authorities did not charge these new suspects with the murder of Pearl. The anti-terrorism court, under pressure from the Musharraf regime, refused to take cognisance of the media reports in this connection and call for the production of the new suspects before the court. It accepted the denial of the state that any such confession had been made.

"While the fact that it was an Yemeni-Balochi, who had slit the throat of Pearl before a video camera, had surfaced before, none of the reports so far had identified KSM as the man who did it. The revelation of KSM's role, if correct, raises a host of intriguing questions for which there are no answers at present:

* Did the Yemeni-Balochi suspects, referred to by the Pakistani media, speak about the role of KSM? If so, did the Pakistani authorities tell the US about it?

* Did Omar Sheikh mention KSM when he was in the informal custody of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for some days after his voluntary surrender to a retired officer of the ISI, who was functioning as the Home Secretary of Punjab in February last year?

* Did Omar Sheikh tell the Karachi Police about the role of KSM when he was subsequently interrogated by them?

* Did KSM tell the ISI about his role when it interrogated him for some hours after his arrest at Rawalpindi in March last before handing him over to the US authorities?

* Was KSM's role independently known to the Pakistani authorities? If so, up to what level?

* Did Musharraf himself know about it? Was the US kept informed?

* If the Pakistani authorities knew about it, why did they readily hand him over to the US whereas they have not only adamantly refused to hand over Omar Sheikh, but even declined to allow the British to independently interrogate him, as reported by the Daily Times of Lahore?"

5.A report carried by the "Guardian" of the UK on March 19,2007, under the title "Confession triggers appeal in Daniel Pearl case" stated as follows:

" Lawyers for British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who is under a death sentence for the murder of the US journalist Daniel Pearl, are planning an appeal based on a confession last week by a top al-Qaida figure.

"Sheikh, originally from Wantstead, east London, was sentenced to death in 2002 for the kidnapping and beheading of Pearl, a Wall Street Journal reporter abducted in Pakistan while researching a story on Islamist militants.

"But Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks on the US of September 11 2001 - said in a confession released by the Pentagon last week that it was he who killed Pearl.

"Sheik's lawyer, Rai Basheer Ahmed, who described his client's conviction as "a gross miscarriage of justice", said he planned to make an appeal based on Mohammed's confession.

"In the next court hearing, I am going to submit the recent statement by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in which he said he himself beheaded the US journalist," Mr Ahmed told Reuters. "From day one, my contention was that the evidence presented in court was not strong enough to lead to the conviction of my client."

"Mohammed (KSM) admitted involvement in more than 30 attacks or plots during a hearing at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

"I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl," Mohammed said, according to a transcript of his statement.

"But intelligence experts are skeptical of Mohammed's confession. Robert Baer, a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East, said Mohammed, described as KSM by the US authorities, came across as "boasting, at times mentally unstable".

"Writing in Time magazine, Mr Baer said: "I'm told by people involved in the investigation that KSM was present during Wall Street Journal correspondent Danny Pearl's execution but was in fact not the person who killed him. There exists videotape footage of the execution that minimises KSM's role."

"Mohammed, 42, a Pakistani brought up in Kuwait, was arrested in Pakistan in March 2003 and handed over to the Americans.

"In the transcript Mohammed claimed that Pearl, who had been investigating a trip made by Richard Reid, the would-be shoe-bomber, to Pakistan, had been working for the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

"Pearl disappeared in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in January 2002.

"The video of the killing, entitled The Slaughter of the Spy-journalist, the Jew Daniel Pearl, shows a man cutting Pearl's head off. His severed head is then held up by the hair. In the transcript Mohammed says: "For those who would like to confirm, there are pictures of me on the internet holding his head."

"Sheikh, who attended the private Forest school in Snaresbrook, east London and who dropped out of the London School of Economics, was sentenced to death while three co-accused were jailed for life.

"The convicts appealed to the Sindh provincial high court in July 2002. The government also appealed to the same court, asking for more severe penalties for the co-accused.

"But court hearings have been repeatedly postponed, mostly because of the absence of lawyers representing the convicts. Under Pakistani law, a convict has the right to appeal in superior courts but no case can be heard if lawyers of the convict are absent."

6.In a report titled "Suspects in Pearl case yet to be tried over fears of damaging testimonies", the "Dawn" of Karachi reported as follows on September 23,2008:

"KARACHI, Sept 22: Two high-profile militants of the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti, who were picked up under suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping and murder of US journalist Daniel Pearl, have remained in the custody of police and intelligence agencies for over six years without being charged, reportedly because their testimony may lead to a retrial of Shaikh Omar and his associates, who were found guilty of the kidnapping and murder in 2002.

"Sources in the intelligence agencies said that in addition to having been involved in several sectarian killings, Rehman (alias Naeem Bukhari) and Bhatti (alias Zubair Chishti) were believed to have arranged a location on the outskirts of Karachi, where they kept Pearl after he was kidnapped in January 2002, and subsequently handed the victim over to some Arabs who eventually killed him.
The two militants were picked up from the Nazimabad area in June 2002 but none of the law-enforcement agencies acknowledged their arrest until 2007. On June 29, 2002, the Sindh home department published an advertisement declaring Rehman and Bhatti to be most-wanted terrorists and announcing a collective reward for Rs6 million for their arrest.

"The pair’s relatives went to the Sindh High Court to challenge their illegal detention but the government insisted that neither of the men were under its custody. At the time these petitions were being heard, lawyer Aamir Mansoob Qureshi had quoted reports from the media that referred to the arrest of the men and the recovery of a large quantity of arms and ammunition from them. He had requested the court to bring the alleged recovery on the record so that if the police claimed the arrest of the suspected detainees in the future, the weapons’ cache could not be attributed to them.

"Nevertheless, it was eventually on June 2, 2007, that the Kashmor police claimed to have arrested Rehman and Bhatti for possessing illegal weapons and explosive materials. The announcement of their arrest was made in order to escape action by the Supreme Court, which was hearing cases of ‘missing persons’ amongst whom the two militants were counted. At the time, Kashmor police chief Noor Ahmed Paichuho and other officials claimed that Rehman and Bhatti were being interrogated with reference to the Pearl murder case.
Neither of the men have, however, been produced so far in any court of law in connection with the Pearl case. The outcome of their interrogations was never made public and they are currently being held in Sukkur Prison.

"Senior security officials told Dawn that the trial regarding Pearl’s kidnapping and murder was at its final stages when Rehman and Bhatti were arrested. Had the arrests been shown, they claimed, it would have ruined the prosecution’s argument that Ahmed Omar Saeed Shaikh, aka Shaikh Omar, and his accomplices were involved in the kidnapping and killing of the Wall Street reporter.

"We held day-long discussions with intelligence and government officials and prosecutors in order to decide whether or not to acknowledge the arrest of Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity. “The common view was that the acknowledgement would ruin the prosecution’s argument and would lead to the acquittal of Shaikh Omar and his associates, so we decided not to announce their arrest.”

"A month after Rehman and Bhatti were arrested, on July 15, 2002, an Anti-Terrorism Court in Hyderabad handed down a death sentence to Shaikh Omar, and life terms to his three associates, for the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl.

"The official said that as a result of an unusual delay in the hearing of the appeals filed by the men convicted in the Pearl case, the police were forced to refrain from acknowledging the arrest of Rehman and Bhatti. “They were held secretly at different locations but it was the missing person’s case that forced the government to finally acknowledge their arrest in 2007,” he explained.

“Once the arrests were acknowledged, a fresh petition was moved in the Sindh High Court through which the petitioner asked the court to record the statements of both Attaur Rehman and Faisal Bhatti, in order to ascertain where they had been kept in illegal custody between 2002 and June, 2007.

"At a recent hearing, the additional advocate-general of Sindh presented a statement on behalf of the Sindh home department, which said that Rehman and Bhatti were wanted in eight criminal cases. However, the list of cases did not include the Pearl murder case.

"The petitioners’ counsel Aamir Mansoob told Dawn that his clients should be given the chance to appear before the court and record statements, so that it could be ascertained where they have been for the five years before their arrest was acknowledged by law enforcement agencies. “This is my sole plea to the court,” he said.

"However, a source maintained that since the government was in no mood to reopen the Pearl murder case, it was unlikely to allow Rehman and Bhatti to record statements and apprise the court of their story, since that would go in favour of Shaikh Omar and his associates.

“We would face a nightmarish situation if either of the two militants confessed before a court of law to involvement in the Pearl murder case,” said a senior security officer. “I advised the government not to charge them in the Pearl case since otherwise, this would lead to a retrial of Shaikh Omar and his associates, and the acquittal of all the men already convicted. And if that had happened, our credibility would have been questioned by the whole world.”

"According to this officer, this was also the reason why the government did not initiate prosecution proceedings against one of the absconders in the Pearl murder case, Hashim Qadeer (alias Arif), who was formally arrested in August 2005 under suspicion of involvement in the Pearl case. Since then, however, he has remained incarcerated in a Karachi jail without having faced trial."

7.A report titled "US Journalist Daniel Pearl was Killed by 9/11 Mastermind" carried by the "Epoch Times" of the US on January 20,2011, stated as follows:

"The four men convicted in the murder of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded in Pakistan nine years ago, were involved but were not the killers, a report released on Thursday (January 20) says.

"The three-year-long probe into the Feb. 1, 2002 murder, conducted by Georgetown University’s The Pearl Project, concluded that in all, 27 men played a role in the capture and murder of the former Wall Street Journal bureau chief. Fourteen of them are still at large have taken part in other terrorist activities since, the report said. Another four of the 27 men are now dead, and five are detained or missing.

"The report concludes that Pakistani officials used false testimony to try and quickly close the case by pinning the actual murder on Omar Sheikh, who was the mastermind behind the operation but not the actual killer.

"British-born Sheikh and three other men were convicted of Pearl’s killing, but according to the Georgetown team, they were actually not present when he was slain. However, they are still implicated in the crime.

“The Pearl Project reveals that justice was not served for Danny,” former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani stated. “We couldn’t save him, but we have uncovered the truth left behind. Through his death, Danny teaches us important lessons about the reality on the ground in Pakistan regarding militancy, Islamic extremism and terrorism.”

"Alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s interviews with FBI agents in Guantanamo were examined by researchers. KSM, as he’s known, told the FBI that he personally slit Pearl’s throat and severed his head. He may have been assisted by two of his nephews, Musaad Aruchi and Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.

"Aruchi’s whereabouts are unknown. Ali, according to Human Rights Watch, was reportedly arrested in 2003 and held by the CIA until being transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006 where he remains.

"Pearl was kidnapped when he was on his way to interview alleged “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, the man who attempted to blow up a passenger jet over the Atlantic Ocean.

“Pearl’s sad fate is well known, but details about the many players who perpetrated the crime have been shrouded—until now,” said William E. Buzenberg, the executive director of the Center for Public Integrity according to the report.

"Former Wall Street Journal reporter Asra Q. Nomani and Georgetown University Journalism Director Barbara Feinman Todd together with 32 students conducted the research for the report."

8.It is learnt that Ms.Nomani's family had migrated to Pakistan from Hyderabad in India after 1947. She subsequently went to the US and reportedly worked for some months with Pearl in the New York office of the "Wall Street Journal." She subsequently resigned from the WSJ and went to Karachi to work on a research project. She continued to be in touch with Pearl and his wife Mariane. Pearl was transferred from New York to Mumbai to report for the WSJ from there. He, along with his wife, went to Karachi from Mumbai in January 2002 on a reporting assignment. It is believed they stayed with Nomani and that Pearl went for his ill-fated meeting with some individuals with whom he was in touch through E-mail from Mumbai but whom he had not known in a taxi. He never returned from the meeting. He fell into a trap, was kidnapped and then murdered.

9.After his kidnapping, Omar Sheikh surrendered to Brig. (retd) Ejaz Shah, then serving as the Home Secretary of the Government of Punjab in Lahore. When he did so, Pervez Musharraf was on a visit to the US. During his interactions with officials and the media in the US Musharraf did not mention about the surrender of Omar Sheikh. Ejaz Shah handed over Omar to the ISI, which, in turn, handed him over to the Karachi police. The indications from Pakistani sources have been that while Omar orchestrated the trapping and kidnapping of Pearl, he was already in the custody of the Pakistani authorities when Pearl was allegedly murdered in custody by KSM.

10.There were thus two sub-conspiracies in the main conspiracy against Pearl. The first related to his kidnapping in which Omar was involved and the second relating to his murder which was carried out by KSM. Ejaz Shah was subsequently appointed by Musharraf as the head of the Pakistani Intelligence Bureau. He left that post after Musharraf's exit as the President in 2009. Before Benazir Bhutto returned from political exile in October,2007, she had reportedly expressed fears that there could be a threat to her life from Ejaz Shah and Qari Saifullah Akhtar, the head of the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJ). While no investigation was ordered by the Government of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani into the alleged role of Shah, Qari Akhtar was taken into custody by the police and interrogated. He was released on the ground that there was no evidence against him.

11.Despite the painstaking work by Nomani and her colleagues, the mystery surrounding the kidnapping and murder of Pearl still remains unresolved. Many questions remain unanswered satisfactorily: Why was he targeted? Which individuals and organisations were involved in the conspiracy to kidnap him and in the subsequent conspiracy to kill him? Why they killed him? When did the ISI, the IB, and the Karachi Police come to know of the conspiracy---- before the kidnapping at the stage of planning or after he was kidnapped, but before his execution or after his execution? What was the role of Ejaz Shah in the case? Was Musharraf aware while he was in the US of the surrender of Omar to Ejaz? If so, did he inform the US authorities about it? If not, why not? Why the Pakistani authorities are silent on the involvement of KSM and others? Why are they against a re-investigation of the case? Why did Benazir fear a threat to her life from Ejaz Shah? Why the US has not been pressing Pakistan for a re-investigation? Why a retired US intelligence official has cast doubts on the credibility of the confession of KSM?

12.It is important to revisit the investigation made so far and go into all these questions, but one has an impression that neither the US nor Pakistan is interested in a re-investigation.

13.Nomani is a very well-informed person on terrorism emanating from Pakistan. She had contributed a detailed article on the recent murder of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, by one of his security guards to the online edition of "Foreign Policy" on January 5. It is annexed.( (23-1-11)

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


Salmaan Taseer and the Punjabi Taliban
By Asra Q. Nomani, January 5, 2011

The brutal assassination of Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer by a man in his security detail is being tied to a courageous stand he took opposing the nation’s antiquated blasphemy laws and supporting a Catholic woman, Aasia Bibi, accused of blasphemy.

But there is another important position Taseer has taken that should be emphasized: he was one of very few Pakistani politicians who honestly and openly recognized the existence of the “Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab,” sometimes called the “Punjabi Taliban,” comprised, through the years, of an alphabet soup of sectarian militant organizations: Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) Harkat-ul Mujahideen (HUM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), among others, inspired by an intolerant brand of Sunni Islam called Deobandism.

This past June, Dawn, a leading English language daily in Pakistan, carried this headline: “Punjabi Taliban are a reality: Taseer.” The governor of the province of Punjab was taking a brave stand because the militants of these groups were born in his state in towns with names such as Bahawalpur and Raheem Yar Khan. But, with attacks on mosques, bazaars and police stations in Punjab, they were also killing his innocent citizens. Aasia Bibi, the Catholic woman sitting in jail for blasphemy, was one of the citizens of Punjab, and the call to kill her comes out of supporters of the Punjabi Taliban.

The best way for Pakistan to honor Taseer is to admit its homegrown militancy and destroy it. America and the West must also recognize that the problem of militancy in South Asia isn’t restricted to Afghanistan or the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan. It’s also in the very heartland of Pakistan.

Later this month, on the ninth anniversary of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping in Karachi on January 23, 2002, my co-professor at Georgetown University, Barbara Feinman Todd, and I will publish a report at the Center for Public Integrity, describing the findings of the Pearl Project, a faculty-student investigative reporting project into Danny’s murder, and we will chronicle how Danny’s case was an early harbinger of the problems Pakistan — and the world — face today from militants in the Punjab.

For America, the threat from the Punjabi militants is not just something far away. The militant groups that make up the Punjabi Taliban have been tied to the 2008 Mumbai attacks. David Headley, the Pakistani-American who changed his name from Daood Sayed Gilani, was a point man for the Mumbai attacks and trained by Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the Punjab-based militant groups. Also, Pakistan security experts say the Punjabi Taliban work closely with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a group linked to the attempted 2010 Time Square bomb attack by U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad, as well as with al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The sad tale of the Punjabi Taliban and its destructive force is yet another story of Frankenstein’s monster returning to kill its creator. In the 19th century novel, Henry Frankenstein, the scientist who created the monster, is only saved when villagers destroy the monster. Similarly, the Punjabi militant groups are the creation of Pakistan, and the nation’s salvation rests only in the people of Pakistan destroying them.

Sadly, instead of a nation denouncing the alleged killer, Malik Hussein Mumtaz Qadri, lawyers in Pakistan showered rose petals upon him when he appeared in court, supporters kissed him on the cheek, and he wore a garland of roses and jasmine usually worn by bridegrooms to celebrate weddings.

After the Mumbai attacks Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a South Asia expert formerly on the U.S. State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, said that “Pakistan’s government may be unable to control the ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ it created when it helped train terrorists to infiltrate and fight against Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region.” Taseer’s assassination indicates that is true now more than ever before.

It’s a long history that brings Pakistan to this moment. In 1947, Pakistan was born out of the independence of India from the British. For 30 years it experienced a mostly moderate expression of Islam. In 1977, however, General Zia ul-Haq took over Pakistan and brought an Islamist revolution to the country, including support for the nation’s blasphemy laws. To counter the 1979 Shia revolution in Iran, the hard-line Sunni government of Saudi Arabia pumped millions of dollars into Pakistan, turning it into a proxy state for its rigid, fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. The Islamic fervor fueled the mujahideen who battled against the Soviet Union with U.S. covert aid when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. With the 1989 withdrawal of the Soviets from Afghanistan, the Pakistani military and its intelligence unit, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate or ISI, redirected the Islamist fervor for jihad in the 1990s into the creation of militant organizations with their eyes set on liberating Kashmir from Pakistan’s enemy, India.

The home base for these groups: the province of Punjab, the military, religious and cultural heartland of the country.

Taseer’s alleged assassin, Qadri, was born in 1984 or 1985 outside Islamabad in the Punjab province, according to Pakistani media. Qadri grew up during the rising tide of militancy, becoming a member of Punjab’s elite force commandos. He had some telltale physical signs of a rigid practitioner of Islam. At such a young age, he had a darkened spot on his forehead, usually a sign of piety from a lifetime of praying and touching your forehead to the ground. (It took my father, 75, a lifetime of praying to get that spot.) Hardcore youth sometimes rub rocks on their foreheads to get that mark at a young age. Qadri also had a beard of the length worn by practitioners of hardline interpretations of Islam — not that all are violent, of course, but it can be an indicator. In handcuffs, he smiled happily at his achievement.

A Facebook page went up hours after the assassination with messages of support for Qadri. One message: “nation hero u win a hearts of All muslim umaah……..Saluteeeee You……..!!!!” (“Umaah” is a reference to “ummah,” or “community.”) It’s not clear if the assassin was directly linked to any militant groups, but his sympathies most certainly would have been with them.

It’s an even more alarming testimony about the spread of militancy in Pakistan that Qadri is believed to be Barelvi and it is Barelvi religious leaders who are telling Pakistanis not to pray for Taseer. The Barelvis have traditionally had a more Sufi, moderate interpretation of Islam than the Deobandis. When Danny was kidnapped in 2002, a Pakistani police officer didn’t believe that the man Danny was supposed to meet, Sheik Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani, could have entrapped him, because he said, “He’s Barelvi.” The descent of Barelvi practitioners into militancy is frightening.

In the decades since militancy took root in the nation, Pakistan has mostly refused to admit the extent of the dangers of the Punjabi militants, as Taseer bravely did. This summer, Taseer accused leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-N political party, run by former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, of having ties with the “Tehrik-i-Taliban Punjab.” Sharif, a native of Punjab, considers the province his base.

Around that time, Interior Minister Rehman Malik denied he had accused the Punjabi Taliban of involvement in the attacks that month on two mosques in Lahore where members of the minority Ahmadi sect prayed. He denied he alleged that the provincial Punjab government was linked to the Punjabi Taliban. “I have never used a terminology which reflects provincialism, but people know with which names terrorists are being recognized. One can see these names on the internet and in national dailies,” Pakistani media quoted Malik as saying.

In fact, Pakistani media quoted him talking about the “Punjabi Taliban,” and earlier, Rehman had said the Punjabi Taliban support the TTP. Malik specifically identified Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, one of the militant organizations that falls under the umbrella of the Pakistani Taliban. It took responsibility for the attacks, as well as earlier attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009 and the Punjab police headquarters in the city of Manawa, as well as other attacks. As our Pearl Project report will show, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was intricately involved in Danny’s kidnapping.

To be sure, Pakistan faces domestic political backlash if it attacks the militant organizations too aggressively because they have some support among the population. In a Pew survey, released just as Taseer and his fellow politicians debated whether the Punjabi Taliban even exist, Pakistani citizens said they increasingly view terrorism as a significant problem. But they said they have become “less concerned” that extremists might take control of the country. Just 51 percent said they are concerned about an extremist takeover. Who were they most threatened by? India. Shockingly considering that the survey was taken in urban centers, 76 percent of those surveyed said that there should be a death penalty for people who leave Islam, and 82 percent believed in “stoning adulterers.”

The fact that Taseer’s killer came from his security detail is troubling, but not surprising, because of a wider phenomenon: much of Pakistan’s military and intelligence rank-and-file and officers come from the province of Punjab, and there has been growing concern among analysts about the influence of militancy on recruits and about the growing reach of the Punjabi militants.

As a politician, Taseer was courageous in speaking the truth about the enemy that is the Punjabi Taliban. It’s long overdue for more of Pakistan’s politicians to wake up to the country’s homegrown terrorist problem. If they don’t, Frankenstein’s monster will destroy its creator — the nation of Pakistan.

Asra Q. Nomani, a former reporter at the Wall Street Journal, is the author of Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam. She teaches journalism at Georgetown University.

Friday, January 21, 2011



I e-mailed the following letter to Ms.Saba Naqvi, Journalist of the "Outlook", on the night of January 21,2011, in response to an E-mailed letter which I had received from her earlier in the evening, which is also reproduced below.Her letter was in response to a letter written by me to the Editor of the "Outlook" drawing his attention to a distortion of my view on some recent alleged incidents of some Hindus taking to anti-Muslim terrorism in an article by her titled "Swami And Friends?" which was carried by the print and online editions of the "Outlook" ( ). My original e-mailed letter to the Editor of "Outlook" is available at I had marked a copy of my letter to Shri Vinod Mehta, Editor of the "Outlook" as well as to Shri Sundeep Dougal, Editor of its online edition. An article titled "Agenda Journalim" written by me after e-mailing my letter to the two Editors is also relevant to this debate. It is available at

2.I am a proud Hindu. At the same time, I have been a strong critic of some aspects of Hinduism and sections of the Hindutva cadre, including the suspected resort to anti-Muslim reprisal terrorism by some members of my community. People who know me well will testify that normally I do not make a prestige issue of small things and am generous in overlooking acts of unkindness by others to me. I did not overlook Ms.Naqvi's action in attributing to me a view which is not mine because I saw it as an attempt by her to use my name in an exercise to project the Hindu community in negative colours. I have a terrible feeling that she rang me up not to get facts or insights, but to use my name in her article in a manner that would project the Hindu community in a bad light.


Dear Ms.Saba Naqvi,

I greatly appreciate your kind courtesy in writing to me.

2.I would appreciate it, if my letter to the Editor, Outlook, is published as written by me with whatever comments you may have.As mentioned in my letter, I did not make the statement which you have attributed to me.My attention to the quote attributed by you to me was drawn by some of my senior journalist friends in Delhi, who have known me for many years.They were taken by surprise by the quote since they knew well my views on the subject about which I have been writing and speaking since the first Malegaon blasts of September 2006.They strongly advised that I should draw attention to the incorrectness of the quote and not let it pass.I did so.

2. I was happy to have spoken to you over phone even though I did not know you because I have always had implicit trust in the journalists of the "Outlook". This was my first interaction with you. I would prefer that this remains the last since it has left a bad taste in my mouth.

3. I am taking the liberty of marking a copy of this to Shri Vinod Mehta, Editor, and Shri Sundeep Dougal, the Editor of the Online edition, who had also carried your article. I am proud to have had a long association with the "Outlook" for over a decade. I have been interviewed off and on by its journalists and its online edition has published many of my articles. I have never complained before during the last 10 years or so because I never had this kind of unhappy experience before.

4. I have always held the "Outlook" and its wonderful team of journalists in very great esteem. This unhappy experience with you will not change that esteem.

5.You are welcome to publish this letter to you too in full, if you so wish.If you decide not to do so, so be it.I will not look reduced in the eyes of people who have known me for years.

Warm regards.



Dear Mr Raman

Your letter has been forwarded to me by Mr Vinod Mehta, editor, Outlook. He has requested me to inform you that if you want the letter to be published we shall do so in next week's issue along with a reply from me.
We are also aware that the letter has been circulated on the internet. As this is the first time I am being accused of misquoting someone I have gone through my notes and really do not find any discrepency that should merit this response. Also you suggest that I have passed of your views as my own along with misquoting you. I recall discussing the fact that Indian Mujahideen was blamed for many incidents now being attributed to so called Hindu groups. You mentioned that the group responsible for the Coimbatore blasts appears to have lost its fire-power. Such routine information has been written as facts in the copy as they indeed are.
Although I remain an admirer of your no nonsense views these are hardly original ideas that I would pilfer from someone else.
Please do let me know if you would like your letter to be published.
All the best
Saba Naqvi
Bureau Chief (Delhi)



It is hoped that good sense will prevail on the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and they will give up their plans to hold their own flag-hoisting function in the Lal Chowk of Srinagar on the Republic Day on January 26.

2. They, like any other Indian, have a right to hold a flag-hoisting function anywhere in the country where Indian citizens are allowed to hoist the national flag without disturbing public peace. Under certain circumstances, this right, however legitimate, cannot be exercised. For example, when there is a curfew at the place where the flag is proposed to be hoisted.

3.One can understand the BJP's determination to go to Lal Chowk to hoist the flag if the local Government or the Government of India or the nationalist political parties of the State refrain from observing the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag.

4. That is not going to be so. The Governments----the State as well as the Central--- the various national institutions such as the Armed Forces and the central para-military and police forces and the nationalist political parties are going to observe the Republic Day by hoisting the national flag.

5. Only separatist elements, which challenge the unity of India, will not be doing so. The successful holding of the flag-hoisting functions by those mentioned in the previous para would be a fitting reply to the attempt of the separatists to organise a boycott of the Republic Day.

6. Yet one more function by BJP elements from outside the State is not going to add to the sanctity and the nationalist significance of the day. On the contrary, it is going to add to the difficulties of the security forces in maintaining law and order in view of possible attempts by separatist elements to disrupt the BJP's Lal Chowk function. If the BJP wants to help the security forces in maintaining law and order, it should refrain from actions such as holding a function of its own in the Lal Chowk.

7. Moreover, the ground situation in the Valley, which looked so pessimistic till a few months ago due to violence by stone-pelting elements in separatist processions, is showing some positive signs. Such incidents have come down. People are once again going about their normal tasks. There is a greater willingness to join the police instead of boycotting it as was often done in the past.

8. It is not yet normalcy in Srinagar, but a trend towards it. All right-thinking nationalist elements, whether resident in Jammu & Kashmir or outside, have a patriotic responsibility to contribute to a strengthening of this trend in order to convince the separatist elements that the time has come for a re-thinking on their objectives and tactics.

9. The separatists and the instigators of violence from Pakistan will be looking for an opportunity to create a set-back for the nationalist forces in order to revert to the kind of situation that prevailed till some months ago. The security forces are hoping against hope that they will be able to sustain the present trend towards an improvement and that political leaderships will come out with appropriate policies, gestures and actions towards the same end.

10. When almost all other political parties sense the delicate nature of the present situation and are conducting themselves with political maturity and a sense of nationalist responsibility, it is a pity that the BJP alone should conduct itself with unwise political opportunism in utter disregard of the advice and entreaties from others to give up the proposed course of action and should refuse to desist from actions that carry the risk of causing a set-back to the improving trend.

11.It is the bounden duty of all of us outside the State to strengthen the hands of the nationalist elements in the State which have been countering the separatists with great courage. By their unwise obstinacy, the BJP elements could end up be creating a situation that could weaken the hands of the local nationalist elements.

12. It is not the time for the BJP to flaunt its patriotism. All of us are patriots. It is time for it to conduct itself with wisdom and a sense of responsibility. ( 21-1-11)

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