Sunday, July 31, 2011



The Chinese Government is organising what has been called the 1st China-Eurasia Expo in Urumqi, the capital of the Chinese-Controlled Xinjiang province, from September 1 to 5,2011.The arrangements are being co-ordinated by an organizing committee with Vice Premier Wang Qishan as honorary chairman.

2.The Government has described the aim of the Expo as “to boost the regional economic cooperation among Central, West and South Asian and European countries, and to promote the all-round development of Xinjiang area.”

3.A month before the inauguration of the Expo, security has been stepped up all over Xinjiang and particularly in Urumqi. Border controls have been intensified on the border with Pakistan to prevent the entry of Uighur dissidents from Pakistan to create disturbances during the Expo. Many preventive arrests have been made in Xinjiang and the Government of Pakistan has reportedly been requested to keep under preventive detention some Uighur suspects named by the Chinese Government.

4.A special anti-terror exercise was held in Urumqi on July 28,2011 by the Local Public Security Bureau. The aim of the exercise was described as “ to train police officers in the rescue of hostages, removal of explosives, and dealing with violent acts and to improve the capability of the anti-terror forces and to prepare for the upcoming China-Eurasia Expo”.

5.Despite stepped-up security in the province to prevent any untoward incidents that might discourage foreign business and industrial establishments from participating in the Expo, there were two major incidents in the interior areas bordering Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan in July coinciding with the first anniversary of last year’s disturbances in the province.

6. In the first incident more than 20 people were killed in a violent clash with the police in the remote city of Hotan on July 18,2011. State media had quoted an official in Xinjiang as saying that the clash was a "terrorist" attack, in which four persons including a police officer were killed when a crowd raided a police station. ( Please see articles at and )

7. In the second incident, seven persons were killed in an alleged knife attack by two persons in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar on July 30. One of the attackers was later reported to have been killed by a mob.

8. The Agence France Presse has quoted, a website run by the regional government as saying that the suspects had hijacked a truck that was waiting at a traffic light at the food market in Kashgar, not far from the border with Kyrgyzstan. They allegedly killed the driver, ploughed the vehicle into passers-by on a nearby pavement, then got out of the truck and stabbed people at random, leaving six bystanders dead before the crowd turned on them and killed one attacker.

9.An English-language report from the official Xinhua news agency said two blasts were heard before the incident. The first came from a minivan and the other was in the market. The Chinese-language Xinhua report made no mention of the blasts.

10.On July 31, an explosion reportedly killed three persons, including a police officer in the same town. The local police have reportedly arrested over 100 Uighurs in connection with the investigation. They have not so far blamed any organisation in particular.

11. These incidents have demonstrated the capability of dissident elements ---probably based in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan—to stage violent diversionary attacks in the interior areas in the days before and during the Expo. Urumqi itself has been free of any major incidents, but there has reportedly been tension in the local public over the possibility of violent incidents even in the capital in the days to come.

12. The authorities seem to be greatly worried over the danger of a violent Han reaction to any Uighur attack as had happened last year. They have been appealing to Han community leaders not to get provoked by any incident of violence staged by the Uighurs and to let the security forces deal with the situation. ( 1-8-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E[-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



Ms.Hina Rabbani Khar, the young and seemingly forward-looking Foreign Minister of Pakistan, brought in a breath of fresh air during her short visit to New Delhi on July 26-27,2011, for talks with her Indian counterpart Mr.S.M.Krishna to review the progress in the dialogue process covering various issues since the last meeting of Shri Krishna with her predecessor, Mr.Shah Mehmood Qureshi at Islamabad in July last year.

2. What a near diplomatic disaster the previous meeting between Shri Krishna and Mr.Qureshi was due to the totally negative and undiplomatic attitude of Mr.Qureshi who used the joint press conference at the end of the talks and another interaction with the media subsequently to talk disparagingly of the Indian Foreign Minister and in unduly critical terms on India’s attitude to the dialogue process--- particularly on the Kashmir issue!

3. The set-back that the dialogue process suffered due to the attitude of Mr.Qureshi has since been set right as a result of the positive outcome of the subsequent meetings between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries at Thimpu in Bhutan in February,2011, in the margins of a SAARC meeting and between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousef Raza Gilani at Mohali in Indian Punjab in the margins of the World Cup cricket Semi-final between India and Pakistan in the last week of March and the more businesslike attitude adopted by the senior bureaucrats of the two countries from the Interior/Home Ministries, the Foreign Offices and other concerned Ministries involved in the dialogue process during the interactions that followed the departure of Mr.Qureshi from the Pakistani Foreign Office in February last.

4.Ms.Khar,a hand-picked choice of President Asif Ali Zardari initially as the Minister of State for External Affairs and subsequently elevated as the Foreign Minister on the eve of her visit to India, is a Multani ( a Seraiki) like Prime Minister Gilani. She has sought to bring in a new mindset and impart a new stamp to the way Pakistan handles the dialogue process---- reducing the atmosphere of contention which has been the bane of the dialogue process and injecting an element of decency in the way the Pakistani interlocutors interact with their Indian counterparts.

5. The various issues bedevilling the bilateral relations---Jammu & Kashmir, cross-border terrorism, Siachen, bilateral trade, water-related differences--- remain stuck up where they were stuck up when she took over the responsibility for the conduct of Pakistan’s diplomacy, but she has sought to change the ambiance of the bilateral interactions by introducing an element of decency in discourse that was markedly absent under her predecessor.

6. Her visit has given rise to hopes for a change in the mind-set as a result of a new generation of policy-makers coming to the fore in the Pakistani Foreign Office under her youthful leadership and guidance. Whether she ultimately succeeds in changing the mind-set or not would depend on the attitude of the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which must be watching her moves. Her elevation as the full-fledged Foreign Minister and her being put in charge of the dialogue process with India was a carefully-calculated, but subtle attempt by Mr.Zardari to regain civilian autonomy in policy-making towards India.

7. Whether he succeeds or not would depend on how well Ms Khar conducts her diplomacy----by keeping up the slow but steady forward momentum in the relations with India without creating undue alarm in the General Headquarters. There is a need for a new mind-set not only in the Pakistani Foreign Office, but also in its Army and the ISI. Changing the mind-set of the Army and the ISI is not in the hands of a youthful Minister like Ms.Khar who is taking her first steps in the tricky world of Indo-Pak diplomacy. The Army has to realise the need for a change in its mind-set towards India.

8.Normally, one would have been highly skeptic about the possibility of a change of mind-set in the Army and the ISI. But the Army and the ISI are highly chastened as a result of their humiliating experience at the hands of the US since the beginning of this year. There has been an introspection going on in Pakistan at various levels on the wisdom of continuing its past policies of over-dependence on the US and unnecessary confrontation with India. If this introspection leads to a realisation in the Army of the need for a change in the mind-set towards India, one can hope to see the breath of fresh air introduced by Ms.Khar gain strength and speed.

9. This article may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of July 9,2011, titled INDIA-PAKISTAN: LEARNING TO LIKE EACH OTHER at
( 27-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )


( From the web site Pakistani Leaders Online ( )

Federal Minister for
Foreign Affairs

MNA, NA-177 (Muzaffargarh-II)

Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians


Hina Rabbani Khar

Hina Rabbani Khar was born on January 19, 1977 in Multan. Proud of her ancestral village and all that life gave her, Hina is a buoyantly zestful lady. A graduate of ‘University of Massachusetts - USA’, she has all that it takes to be a leader. A businesswoman by profession, she graduated with a B.Sc. (Hons) from Lahore University of Management Sciences in 1999, and received her M.Sc. degree in Management from University of Massachusetts, U.S.A in 2001.

She has her roots in Village ‘Khar Gharbi’ located in Tehsil Kot Addu, and politically affiliated now with PPPP. She got elected as Member of National Assembly (MNA) in 2008 elections from NA-177, Muzaffargarh-II for the second time. Earlier, she won the elections in 2002 from the platform of PML-Q and was the Parliamentary Secretary for Economic Affairs and Statistics.

Hina Rabbani Khar remained Pakistan’s State Minister for Economic Affairs. The State Ministers report directly to the Prime Minister and hold specific portfolios. In Hina’s case, she was responsible for international (multilateral and bilateral) grants and loans. Her Ministry’s the official signatory for any project that is launched in Pakistan with foreign financial assistance. Her father, Ghulam Rabbani Khar, drove Hina into politics, setting her on a different path from the hotel management career she had been pursuing with great zeal. She is a co-owner of the Polo Lounge, an upscale, popular restaurant located on the Lahore Polo Grounds.

She feels that being in the Federal Government is as good as it can get. She has no issues, whatsoever, with being a woman. In fact, she feels that it is more positive than negative as one gets a lot more recognition and opportunities, and a lot of it has to do with how professional the person is. Her age did matter at times, because by any standard, she is quite very young to be in such a position. However her rich work experience and on-the-job training helped her and above all she took herself seriously; so did everyone else. She regards President Musharraf and Ex-Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz as leaders of great worth. To her both these leaders are highly educated and professional and they surely made a difference.

Elaborating on the policies of President Musharraf, she expressed her regard for President Musharraf as a visionary leader. She acknowledged the people of Pakistan as resilient and strong but detested few segments of our society: who adopt a western culture and regard it as something good. She feels that there has been a huge revolution in the last few years. She graduated in 1999 from LUMS and then left for USA. In these six years, she feels that there has been a paradigm shift. The society has moved towards modernization and westernization. Hina Khar feels that today it is hard to distinguish Pakistan's urban citizens from the Westerners. However, she opined that it can be done with sophistication, if at all it’s necessary. She cannot stand people who are not proud to be Pakistanis, whether they are here in Pakistan or settled abroad. She hates people changing their names to be ‘vilayati’ (foreign) and acquired accents and other things of the sort. She believes we have to understand and accept the culture we're living in and be proud of it to really stand out on our own. Emulating selective aspects of another culture doesn't really translate into true social progress.

She is a proud Pakistani and regards this very feeling as her most treasured asset. She really feels proud of whatever God has given her: her family, her village, her background, and everything. She feels that Pakistan has a great deal to offer. She loves trekking. She recollected her visit to Nanga Parbat and K2 (with the ‘LUMS Adventure Society’) with joyfulness; nostalgia gripped her and she appreciated the diversity of the landscape and the hospitality of people as enough to warm one’s heart towards this country. In Pakistan, people and places make you feel welcome. Freedom of expression is also a thing, unique to Pakistan. She said that even in the remotest areas, one can sit at a railway station to have tea with the porters and have a real conversation with them. Then, during the elections process, when she visited her constituents, she found them to be hospitable in spite of their limited means. A guy earning Rs.3000 a month will lay out a feast for his guests. It all speaks to the generous and warm nature of our culture, which is definitely something we should be proud of!

She considers herself extremely lucky. She is happy for the way her mind is constantly challenged in terms of working hours, the changes she can make, and the room for innovation is just tremendous. She has been able to make some changes that aren’t very popular, but in the long term they are great for Pakistan, e.g. in the telecommunications and banking sectors. However she feels that on the flip side, there are no guarantees in the political field, so she did not comment on how much control she has over making it a lifelong career. She regards working with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and President Musharraf as one of the biggest factors in her sense of pride for Pakistan.

Hina Rabbani Khar has travelled to USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, U.A.E, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. She is single and enjoys riding, reading and travelling. She is also a member of the Young Parliamentarians Forum (YPF) Pakistan.

She is articulate, brilliant, enterprising, and very far-sighted even at such a young age. Moreover, she is humble, approachable, professional, and knows her job very well. At the end of the day, if we have more people like her in our government, perhaps Pakistan’s positive image won’t need any marketing beyond simply introducing them to the world!

She is the first woman to present the budget speech in national assembly on 13 June, 2009.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011



Right-thinking Hindus would feel puzzled and concerned over media reports regarding the many references to the Hindutva movement allegedly contained in the writings of Anders Behring Breivik, the 32-year-old Norwegian who carried out an immense carnage in Norway on July 22,2011, resulting in the massacre of nearly 80 Norwegians, many of them young.

2. He had not come to the adverse notice of either the Police or the society before he carried out his carnage. Official investigation and private research after the carnage have brought out that seeds and thoughts of irrationality have been present in him for some time without being noticed by anyone. He had given web expression to his thoughts over a period of time.

3. Irrational thoughts are partly spontaneously born and partly externally stimulated. External stimulation often provides evil addition to such thoughts. Breivik’s thoughts were no exception to this law of nature. He appears to have developed an irrational mind despite his having had the benefit of a good education. This irrationality in him seems to have been aggravated and not diluted by his exposure to religious and cultural influences of other countries through the Internet.

4. One of the many external stimulators to his thinking process seems to have been his exposure to Hindutva thinking and arguments regarding the allegedly negative face of Islam. There were two intense angers gnawing inside him----an anti-Islam one and an anti-liberal one for not seeing through the dangers ---in his perception---posed by Islam.

5. His attempts to convince himself of the dangers allegedly posed by Islam seem to have led him into the web world of Hindutva organisations and ideologues. Their arguments over issues such as the alleged sufferings of Hindus at the hands of Muslims, the dangers of illegal Muslim migration etc appealed to his mind which was already convinced that Islam was evil and he started looking upon the Hindutva ideologues as objective analysts of the evils of Islam.

6. It would be incorrect to jump to the conclusion that his flirting with Hindutva thinking exacerbated his anti-Muslim anger. But it seems to have at least partly convinced him of the rightness of his own analysis. He found justification and rationalisation for his irrational analyses in the thoughts expressed in some of the Hindutva web sites that he frequented.

7. In India, we have had instances of mob irrationality at Ayodhya in 1992 and in Gujarat in 2002, but, fortunately, no instances of irrationality of isolated individuals that led to the kind of carnage witnessed in Norway. With determination, it should be possible to prevent and deal effectively with mob irrationality. We failed to do so at Ayodhya and in Gujarat because the determination to deal effectively was lacking.

8. Even determined Government response may not be able to deal effectively with unexpected outbursts of individual irrationality in moments of real or imaginary anger. This underlines the importance of not propagating and projecting ideology in lingo and terms that could wittingly or unwittingly induce irrationality in individual elements of society by feeding anger instead of diluting it.

9.Instead of rejecting with indignation insinuations of a possible impact of Hindutva thoughts on the mind of the Norwegian, Hindutva ideologues should ponder over their present methods of propagation of their thoughts and arguments and see how ideological arguments can be couched and propagated in a manner that would add to sanity in discourse and not irrationality. ( 27-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, July 25, 2011



Karachi continues to bleed more and more as a consequence of Pakistan’s self-inflicted thousand cuts.

2. At least 27 people have been killed in fresh clashes and targeted attacks since July 23,2011, taking the number of total fatalities this month to 200.Whereas previously, Mohajirs and Pashtuns were killing each other, now Mohajirs have been killing Mohajirs----Mohajir migrants from India’s Uttar Pradesh and those from Bihar killing each other.

3.The Mohajirs from Bihar have generally collaborated with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). They did so in the pre-1971 East Pakistan and let themselves be used by the ISI and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) for the massacre of the Bengali nationalists, setting in motion the train of events that led to the birth of Bangladesh.

4.When Karachi burst into anti-Government and anti-Sindhi violence in the late 1980s due to the activities of the Mohajir Qaumi Movement (since renamed the Muttahida Qaumi Movement), the ISI sought to drive a wedge between the migrants from Uttat Pradesh, who dominated the leadership and cadre strength of the MQM, and those from Bihar who had grievances against the leadership style of Altaf Hussain, the head of the MQM, whose family had migrated to Pakistan from UP.

5.The ISI encouraged the migrants from Bihar to form their own organisation under the leadership of one Afaq Ahmed called MQM (Haqiqui), the real MQM. The ISI trained and armed the MQM (Haqiqui) to counter the MQM of Altaf.

6. When Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a Mohajir from Delhi, came to power he made peace with Altaf’s MQM by stopping the ISI’s support to MQM (Haqiqui).

7. Recent reports indicate that concerned with growing violence in Karachi, the ISI has reverted to its old policy of using migrants from Bihar to counter Altaf’s MQM. The leaders and cadres of MQM (Haqiqui) arrested and jailed when Musharraf was in power, are being released and encouraged to counter the activities of Altaf’s organisation.

8. This has led to a recrudescence of violent clashes between the migrants from Uttar Pradesh and those from Bihar---thereby further complicating an already complicated situation in Karachi.

9. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of July 9,2011, titled KARACHI, BEIRUT OF SOUTH ASIA at

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: .Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Sunday, July 24, 2011



Q.Terrorism analysts have come in for criticism in connection with the carnage in Norway on July 22,2011.Any comments?

A.Initial reports were of a car bomb explosion outside the office of the Norwegian Prime Minister in Oslo. Norway has had no major terrorist strikes in the past, but has had at least two terrorism alerts---in 2003 when Ayman Al-Zawahiri of Al Qaeda had included Norway in the list of countries targeted by Al Qaeda in the wake of the US-led occupation of Iraq and in 2010 when three jihadi suspects ---an Uighur, an Uzbeck and a Kurd---- were arrested as part of an on-going investigation extending across a number of Western countries, including Norway. In the absence of any other indicator, the minds of most analysts recalled these two alerts.

Most analysts, including this writer, in their initial analysis recalled these two events of 2003 and 2010. In the meanwhile, reports started coming in of the attack by a gunman on a youth camp of the ruling Labour Party on an island called Utoeya. The analysts fell into two groups in reacting to these reports. Some, including this writer, refrained from connecting the two incidents and waited for further details of the attack on the youth camp. Some connected the two and put out stories of a major attack by Al Qaeda in Norway.

When the gunman was ultimately arrested by the police and interrogated, it turned out that he had carried out the explosion in Oslo as well as the attack on the Labour Party youth camp in which nearly 85 participants were reported to have been massacred and that jihadi terrorist organisations were not involved in any of these incidents.

Q.What details are so far known of the perpetrator of the two attacks?

A.His name is Anders Behring Breivik, 32. He has reportedly admitted to carrying out both the attacks, which he described as "gruesome but necessary". Breivik's lawyer Geir Lippestad told Norwegian media: "He thought it was gruesome having to commit these acts, but in his head they were necessary. He wished to attack society and the structure of society," Mr Lippestad said. He added that the actions had been planned for some time.

The BBC has reported the following details of the suspect: Describes himself as a Christian and conservative on a Facebook page attributed to him. Grew up in Oslo and attended the Oslo School of Management. Set up a farm through which he was able to buy fertiliser, which may have been used to make a bomb. He is reported to have had links with right-wing extremists. Still pictures of him, wearing a wetsuit and carrying an automatic weapon, appeared in a 12-minute anti-Muslim video called Knights Templar 2083, which appeared briefly on YouTube. A 1,500-page document written in English and said to be by Breivik - posted under the pseudonym of Andrew Berwick - was also put online hours before the attacks, suggesting they had been years in the planning. The document and the video repeatedly refer to multiculturalism and Muslim immigration; the author claims to be a follower of the Knights Templar - a medieval Christian organisation involved in the Crusades, and sometimes revered by white supremacists. Police have not speculated on motives for the attack but the bomb in Oslo targeted buildings connected to Norway's governing Labour Party, and the youth camp on Utoeya island was also run by the party. In the document posted online, references were made to targeting "cultural Marxists/ multiculturalist traitors".

From the available details, it would appear that in his mind, the suspect looked upon himself as a Crusader carrying on a Crusade not only against Muslims, but also against those failing to act against Muslims. His primary anger seems to have been against the Muslims and his secondary anger against the Norwegian Labour Party for failing to act against the Muslims. It is this secondary anger which has led to the carnage.

Q.Was he acting alone or did he have accomplices?

A. The police believe that he was acting alone, but have been checking whether he had accomplices since some of the inmates of the camp had expressed the suspicion that he probably had an accomplice.

Q. On what basis the police have concluded that he was responsible for both the incidents?

A. The suspect has confessed to both the incidents. It is not yet clear whether the police have found any other corroborative evidence other than the fact that he had bought a large quantity of fertiliser for his farm.

Q. It has been reported that there was a delay of about 90 minutes in the police intervening in the island to arrest and disarm the suspect. What was this delay due to?

A. Initial reports had said that the police were preoccupied with preventing any more explosions in Oslo and did not give priority to intervention in the island. Subsequent reports disseminated by the BBC have indicated as follows: Local police said a boat they wanted to use to get to the island was too small and leaky to carry personnel and equipment, and they decided to wait for a special unit from Oslo. And asked why a helicopter was not used, police chief Sveinung Sponheim said this would have taken longer as the nearest police helicopter was at a base in the south.

Q.Would this be categorised as terrorism?

A. So far, there is no evidence to show that he carried out the carnage at the instance of any organisation in fulfilment of its political or ideological or religious objective. It looks like the acts of an angry individual mind, which was partly irrational and partly rational. The irrationality is seen in the gruesome nature of the acts committed and in the absence of any post-facto feelings of remorse. The rationality is seen in the methodical manner in which the irrational acts were planned and carried out.

Q.Will it be possible to anticipate and prevent such irrational acts of individuals?

A.Very difficult unless someone notices the initial signs of preparation for the gruesome acts and alerts the police. The Norwegian Police cannot be blamed for not preventing the gruesome acts, but they could have reduced the gruesome nature of his acts if they had provided physical security to the camp or had the means of quick intervention. It is difficult to say in the absence of details whether the police could have prevented the explosion in Oslo. Norway has had no tradition or culture of high-grade physical security since it is a fairly balanced society with no previous history of large fatality terrorism or carnage. It was not a self-complacent society. But, it was a society which thought it was at peace with itself and hence did not have to dread such incidents. These assumptions and perceptions will change now. ( 25-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, July 22, 2011




According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, a large bomb blast has hit near government headquarters in the Norwegian capital Oslo, killing at least one person. The offices of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg were damaged extensively, but he was described by a government spokeswoman as safe.

2.Police said a number of people were injured in the city centre explosion. Television footage from the scene showed rubble and glass from shattered windows in the streets - smoke was rising from some buildings. The wreckage of at least one car was on one street.

3.All roads into the city centre have been closed, said national broadcaster NRK, and security officials evacuated people from the area, fearing another blast. "Police can confirm there were deaths and injuries following the explosion in the government quarter this afternoon," the police said in a statement.

4.Oistein Mjarum, head of communications for the Norwegian Red Cross, said fires were burning in the 17-storey building housing the Prime Minister’s office. An NRK journalist, Ingunn Andersen, said the headquarters of tabloid newspaper VG had also been damaged.

5.A message of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's then No. 2, who has taken over as the head of Al Qaeda after OBL’s death on May 2,2011, in a US Commando attack at Abbottabad in Pakistan, broadcast by Al Jazeera on May 21, 2003, had called for reprisal attacks against the US and some of its allies for occupying Iraq.

6. The message, inter alia, said: "O Muslims, take matters firmly against the embassies of America, England, Australia, and Norway and their interests, companies, and employees. Burn the ground under their feet, as they should not enjoy your protection, safety, or security. Expel those criminals out of your countries. Do not allow the Americans, the British, the Australians, the Norwegians, and the other crusaders who killed your brothers in Iraq to live in your countries. Wreak havoc on them."

7. While the calls for attacks on the US, the UK and Australia were not a surprise, the call for reprisals against Norway was, since Norway was not one of the allies of the US in Iraq. It was not clear why Zawahiri included Norway in the list.

8.The Norwegian police announced on July 8,2010, the arrest of three men suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda on charges of preparing terrorist attacks. One of them was a Norwegian citizen of Uighur origin. The other two were permanent residents in Norway of Uzbek and Iraqi-Kurdish origin. Two of them (the Uzbek and the Uighur) were reported to have been arrested in Norway and the third (Iraqi-Kurd with a permanent residence permit of Norway) in Germany. The Norwegian police had been keeping them under surveillance for investigation for about a year. The arrests appeared to have been made even though the investigation had not yet been completed because of the leakage of the news about the investigation against them to the media. They apparently decided to arrest them before the media came out with the news.

9. Media reports indicated that the arrested persons were suspected of involvement in plots for terrorist strikes in Norway and of having links with some terrorist suspects under investigation in the US and the UK. It was not clear whether the arrested belonged to Al Qaeda or its ally the Islamic Jihad Union , which has many Uzbek and Uighur members.

10.It is not clear whether the targeting of Norway has anything to do with its role in Afghanistan as a member of the NATO forces fighting against the Taliban.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter : @SORBONNE75)

Thursday, July 21, 2011



There are two aspects to L’Affaire Fai, the case relating to the arrest earlier this week and the proposed prosecution of Ghulam Nabi Fai, the head of the Washington DC based Kashmiri American Council (KAC) on a charge of working as an agent of influence of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

2. It has been alleged that his organisation was in receipt of large funds over the years from the ISI for making contributions to the electoral funds of some US politicians and for holding international seminars on the Kashmir issue some of which were attended by journalists and other opinion-makers from India. It has also been alleged that their travel and stay expenses were met by his organisation out of the funds received by him from the ISI.

3. The first aspect relates to the US angle---why did the USA’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department choose to act against him now after having closed their eyes to his apparently illegal activities for many years? Does the US have an agenda in proceeding against him now? I have covered these questions in my earlier article on this subject. ( )

4. The second aspect relates to the Indian angle. Many questions arise here. The first is, have the Indian participants in Fai’s ISI-funded seminars violated any Indian law calling for any legal action against them. No, they have not. Their claim that they were not aware of his ISI background can’t be just dismissed as an after-thought.

5.The second is, was it wrong or unwise on their part to have participated in the ISI-funded seminars organised by him? Yes, their actions do show a lack of wisdom. While his ISI background may not have been known to them, his reputation as a person of dubious credentials with a Pakistani agenda was widely known for years.

6.There have been detailed reports on him carried by the Indian print media itself over the last 20 years. Their own journalist colleagues based in Washington DC had been reporting about Fai from time to time. Here is a man promoting the agenda of Pakistan, India’s adversary with which we have fought three wars and which has been sponsoring terrorism against Indian citizens, inviting Indian opinion-makers to his seminars in an ill-concealed attempt to use them to earn respectability for himself and his organisation.

7. Was it wise on their part to have let themselves be thus used by him? It was definitely not. Any right-thinking person should have no difficulty in admitting this. The third question arises from this. Do the Indian participants owe an explanation to the public of this country regarding their actions? The word explanation is strong and inappropriate, but they definitely have an obligation as Indian citizens to welcome and facilitate a detailed enquiry into the matter in order to see whether their unwise actions have in any way compromised national interests.

8. The last question that arises is, whether the fact that they are journalists gives them any protection from public and legal scrutiny of their actions. It does not and should not. They did not attend the seminars at the instance of their media houses to cover them as an event for their media houses. They went there as individual Indian citizens and hence their actions should be subject to the same public and legal scrutiny as those of any other Indian citizen. They cannot claim and should not be allowed to claim any special protection from such public and legal scrutiny by virtue of the fact that they are journalists.

9. The arrest of Fai and the filing of an affidavit against him by the FBI is only the beginning of L’Affaire Fai. More details regarding his and the ISI’s methods of operation could come up during the trial if he does not make a plea bargain with the FBI. The Indian participants in his seminars should seek to avoid any future embarrassment by taking the initiative in informing the public and the Government about the details of their participation. Such actions are normally not required in respect of participation in foreign seminars. But once it turns out that a seminar was funded by the ISI and organised at the instance of the ISI by one of its agents of influence, prudence demands that one takes the initiative in informing the public and the Government of the details.

10. Times Now and the CNN-IBN news channels need to be complimented for throwing the spotlight on this important development. Times Now had a detailed debate on this anchored by Arnab Goswami and the CNN-IBN by Suhasini Haidar.It is time for NDTV to follow their example. (22-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



The practice of intelligence agencies floating and funding non-Governmental organisations and even publishing houses for using them for PSYWAR purposes was born during the Second World War and extensively used during the subsequent cold war against the USSR and its communist allies.

2. In the 1960s and the 1970s, the US media highlighted this practice and revealed the links of many supposedly prestigious US non-Governmental organisations to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).One of these organisations used to fund the visits of many senior Indian Government servants to the US for some purpose or the other.

3. A senior official of our Ministry of Home Affairs, who was on a Congressional fellowship in the US at the invitation of a highly prestigious non-Governmental organisation, was embarrassed when the US media identified it as funded and used by the CIA for softening public opinion moulders in other countries.

4. He immediately drew the attention of the Government of India to this report and asked for instructions whether he should terminate his fellowship and return to India. The Government of India advised him not to do so. It felt that he had not done anything wrong since he had no way of knowing that the CIA was behind that organisation.

5.This practice was also followed by the MI-6, the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, its external intelligence agency. In fact some years ago, in reply to a question in the House of Commons, the British Government admitted that some of the anti-communist best-sellers were sponsored and funded by the MI-6.

6.After the end of the cold war, this practice has come down but has not been abandoned. Intelligence agencies continue to float and fund non-governmental organisations, seminars etc for PSYWAR purposes. In addition, they also seek to soften political leaders by making contributions to their election funds.

7.In the 1980s, during the jihad against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan, considerable money was spent by the CIA and the Saudi intelligence for carrying on a PSYWAR against the Soviet troops through non-governmental organisations. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which played a role in assisting in these PSYWAR activities, which were often in the Pashtun language, acquired considerable expertise in this field.

8. It has since been using this expertise for achieving its-Kashmir-related objectives. Since 1989, the ISI has either floated a number of non-Governmental organisations or has been funding organisations which already existed in order to use them against the Government of India. There are many such organisations in the West floated and/or funded by the ISI.

9. The more active amongst them is the Kashmiri American Council (KAC) of Washington DC headed by Ghulam Nabi Fai , a US resident of Kashmiri origin. For nearly two decades, the KAC has been organising activities such as printing and disseminating propaganda pamphlets and other literature on alleged human rights violations in Jammu & Kashmir, holding national seminars in the US to which only residents in the US are invited, holding international seminars to which the participants are invited from many countries including India, lobbying against the Government of India in the US Congress and in the margins of international human rights conferences and softening US politicians by contributing to their election funds.

10. There were strong indications for many years that Fai and his organisation were promoting such activities at the instance of the ISI with funds provided by it. His activities were against US laws, but the US agencies chose to close their eyes to them and refrained from taking any criminal action against him because of what the US perceived as the useful role played by Pakistan as a frontline ally in the war against terrorism.

11.There are two kinds of activities which intelligence agencies indulge in foreign territory--- secret, but declared and secret and undeclared. The liaison relationships for intelligence co-operation would come under the secret, but declared category. Unilateral HUMINT operations such as the one which ultimately led to the killing of Osama bin Laden and other clandestine activities, which are kept deniable, would come under the secret and undeclared category.

12. Since the beginning of this year, there have been complaints in Pakistan that since 9/11 there has been a mushrooming of the US intelligence presence in Pakistan due to an increase in secret and undeclared activities of the US agencies. After the Raymond Davis affair of January last, the Pakistan Government has been trying to keep a greater check on such activities through measures such as asking the US to reduce its intelligence presence and tightening the procedure for the issue of visas to suspected, but undeclared intelligence personnel.

13. The activities of Fai and his organisation came under the category of secret and undeclared activities of the ISI in US territory. In return for the Pakistan Government closing its eyes to the secret and undeclared activities of the US intelligence in Pakistani territory, the US closed its eyes to the secret and undeclared activities of the ISI in US territory so long as those activities were directed against India and were not considered detrimental to the national security of the US.

14. Now that there has been a change in Pakistan’s policy and it has abandoned its hitherto permissive attitude to the secret and undeclared activities of the US intelligence in Pakistani territory, the US has decided to retaliate by giving up its permissive attitude and putting an end to the secret and undeclared activities of the ISI in US territory. That is the message from the arrest on July 19,2011, of Fai and another person for indulging in illegal activities as undeclared foreign agents and the decision to prosecute them.

15. While we should be gratified over the US action, we should avoid over-assessing its significance as an indicator of US solidarity with India or as a precursor to a possible change in the US attitude to Pakistani claims and designs relating to J&K. It is an opportunistic and tactical action to exercise pressure on Pakistan and its ISI to do the US bidding and nothing more. ( 21-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



The situation in the Chinese-controlled Xinjiang region of China and in the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region continues to haunt the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which has been observing the 90th anniversary of its formation this month, and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which has been observing the 60th anniversary of its occupation of Tibet.

2. For the last four weeks the Chinese authorities have considerably stepped up security in Xinjiang and Tibet to prevent any mass protests. July is a sensitive month for both regions---- for Xinjiang because it marks the first anniversary of the violent incidents of last year and for Tibet because it marks the 60th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet by the PLA. The reluctance of the Uighurs and the Tibetans to join in the celebrations of the 90th anniversary of the CPC has been an added cause for tension.

3. More by unintended coincidence than by design, the visit of Mrs.Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to India from July 19,2011, fell on the 60th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet by the PLA. Before her departure from Washington for New Delhi, two worrisome developments for the Chinese relating to Tibet had taken place in Washington DC. Firstly, despite Chinese objections, President Barack Obama received His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who happened to be on a visit to the US on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the PLA’s occupation of Tibet, in the Map Room of the White House for a discussion to underline continuing US interest in the human rights of the Tibetan people.

4. Secondly, of equal concern to the Chinese was the reported visit of His Holiness to the Washington Headquarters of the US State Department funded Radio Free Asia (RFA), which was started under the Bill Clinton Administration to make broadcasts ,inter alia, to the people of Tibet and Xinjiang.

5. The Chinese remember the role played by the US-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty in encouraging political dissidence in the erstwhile USSR and other communist countries in East Europe. Radio Free Asia has been allegedly broadcasting to the people of Xinjiang and Tibet not only the latest news about developments in their region to which they are denied access by the Chinese censors, but also instructions on how to circumvent the various curbs imposed by the Chinese authorities on microblogging and other social media networks to prevent a copy-cat emulation of the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia and Egypt by the people of not only Xinjiang and Tibet, but also other parts of China.

6.The Chinese authorities, who view the recent mass demonstrations in support of electoral reforms in Kuala Lumpur as inspired by the Jasmine Revolution, take seriously the danger of the Jasmine effect creating political dissidence in China during the year of its celebration of the 90th anniversary of the CPC.

7. In view of these factors, there has been palpable nervousness in both Xinjiang and Tibet resulting in many preventive arrests and seizure of the belongings of many suspected political dissidents. While these measures have not so far led to the outbreak of any violence in the Tibetan areas, protests staged by the Uighurs against the preventive arrests, which have been taking place for the last two weeks, led to a major clash between the protesting Uighurs and the Chinese security forces on July 18 resulting in the death of over 20 persons---the majority of them Uighurs plus at least two members of the security forces.

8. According to reports from reliable Uighur sources, the trouble started in the central bazaar of the Hotan town in the Xinjiang province when the Chinese security forces opened fire on a group of Uighurs demanding the release of arrested relatives. Enraged by this, the protesters attacked a nearby police station and took some policemen hostage. The Chinese security forces used more force to drive the protesters out of the police station and rescue the hostages taken by them.

9. The Chinese authorities have depicted the incident as a terrorist attack on the police station without giving details of the initial incidents in the central bazaar. The situation is tense all over Xinjiang, but there have been no reports of violence from other parts of the Chinese-controlled province.

10. The Chinese authorities have noted with concern an interview given by His Holiness in the US in which he was quoted as saying that it was he and not the CPC who would determine the selection process for choosing his successor after his death. They view this as a pre-emptive attempt by His Holiness to deny legitimacy to any selection process initiated by the CPC and to prepare the ground for a protest by his followers against any selection process imposed on the Tibetan people by the Han-controlled CPC.

11. The Chinese have sought to counter the attempts of His Holiness to influence his succession in two ways. Firstly, they have sought to discredit His Holiness by projecting him as an old man, who does not know what he is talking about. Secondly, the “People’s Daily”, the newspaper of the CPC, has come out with a detailed article on July 20 on how the successor of a Dalai Lama has to be chosen according to Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

12. The “People’s Daily” article said: “The Dalai Lama recently showed special attention to his reincarnation, which is understandable as he is already an old man. The problem is that the more he talks, the crazier he looks, and the further away he is from his religion. He is like an actor or a politician, often leaving people wondering about the credibility of his words.”

13. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao, visited Lhasa on July 19 to participate in celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the “liberation” of Tibet by the PLA. Speaking at a public function on that occasion, he said: “Tibet serves as an important national security screen for the country. It also constitutes an important ecological security screen, a major base of strategic resources reserve and a major production area of special highland agro-produce. It is home for the preservation of a unique culture of the Chinese nation and a major international tourism destination.” (20-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: . Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, July 18, 2011



The following three events have contributed to the growth of militancy, often amounting to terrorism, in the Indian Muslim community, particularly among its young members:

(a).The demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, by some Hindus in December,1992.

(b).The incidents of violence thereafter in Mumbai in which many Muslims were allegedly involved and Muslim complaints of disproportionate use of force by the Mumbai Police for suppressing the acts of violence.

( c ). The anti-Muslim massacres in Gujarat in 2002 in the wake of the alleged massacre of some Hindu pilgrims travelling by train at the Godhra railway station by some local Muslims.

2. These events contributed to the radicalisation of two Muslim organisations which had existed before the demolition of the Babri Masjid and to the birth of a new organisation after the anti-Muslim massacres in Gujarat. The two old organisations were the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which is a pan-Indian organisation, and Al Umma, which is an organisation with its following confined to South India---particularly Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

3. The SIMI and Al Umma took to organised, pre-meditated violence with the use of improvised explosive devices (IED) after the demolition of the Babri Masjid. There were a number of explosions in trains in North India allegedly organised by the SIMI. There were a series of terrorist strikes in Tamil Nadu starting from 1993.The most serious of these were the serial explosions in Coimbatore in February,1998, coinciding with the visit of Shri L.K.Advani, the leader of the BJP, to Coimbatore in connection with the election campaign. Neither the SIMI nor Al Umma claimed responsibility for the terrorist strikes organised by them due to a fear that this could lead to a harassment of innocent members of the Muslim community by the police.

4. The investigation of these incidents did not bring in any evidence of any contacts between Al Umma and Pakistan. Al Umma was a purely indigenous movement of Muslim anger with no Pakistani influence or inspiration or instigation. It had organised the explosions with IEDs fabricated out of material allegedly stolen from granite quarries. In the case of the SIMI, there was evidence of contacts with Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) and Inter-Services Intelligence even before the demolition of the Babri Masjid during the Afghan jihad of the 1980s against the Soviet troops

5. Tamil Nadu was the epi-centre of Al Umma terrorism. The Tamil Nadu Government handled it in two ways. The Tamil Nadu Police identified all those involved in terrorism and arrested and prosecuted them. The Government paid attention to the general grievances of the Muslim community and ensured that there were no instances of excesses by the Police against the Muslim community. As a result, acts of terrorism emanating from some angry elements in the Muslim community have been controlled in Tamil Nadu. The subsiding of the anger over the demolition of the Babri Masjid also helped in controlling terrorism.

6. While anger over the demolition of the Babri Masjid has generally subsided in the Muslim community, grievances or even anger arising from the perceived non-implementation of the Sri Krishna Commission report on the excesses allegedly committed by the Mumbai police against the Muslims and the anti-Muslim massacres in Gujarat and the alleged inaction of the Gujarat Government in the initial stages of the massacres persist in some younger elements of the Indian Muslim community all over India, including among some highly educated elements in the community.

7.Their main cause of anger is no longer the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Nor is it due to social or economic factors. Their anger is due to their perception that the Indian criminal justice system is anti-Muslim. When they talk of the Indian criminal justice system, they essentially mean the police and the judiciary.

8. This anger in sections of the Indian Muslim community over the alleged non-implementation of the Sri Krishna Commission report and the anti-Muslim massacres in Gujarat gave birth to the Indian Mujahideen (IM) by some members of the SIMI and others not associated with the SIMI in the past. In its propaganda, the IM projects the suburban train blasts in Mumbai in July,2006, as its first act of reprisal and has claimed responsibility for many other acts of terrorism that followed.

9.The IM projects itself as a movement of reprisal terrorism to protest against alleged injustices and excesses against the members of the Muslim community. It denies any links with Pakistani jihadi organisations or the ISI. Despite its denials, Indian intelligence and investigating agencies believe that the SIMI and the IM have clandestine contacts with the Pakistani jihadi organisations and the ISI and have had the benefit of some training assistance from them. There is some evidence of their links with Pakistan and the ISI. There is no doubt about it.

10. It is a fact that the ISI----directly as well as through the Pakistani jihadi organisations--- has been trying to take advantage of the continuing anger amongst some Indian Muslim youth to create indigenous groups in the rest of India outside Jammu & Kashmir to wage a militant struggle against the Government of India without implicating Pakistani organisations.

11. In dealing with the phenomenon of reprisal terrorism by some members of the Muslim community, we should adopt a five-pronged approach as indicated below:

(a). Avoid demonising the Muslim community.

(b).Avoid dismissing and demonising the Muslim youth who have taken to terrorism as the proxies of Pakistan. If you do it, your mind gets closed to their legitimate grievances.

( c ). Identify and address the legitimate grievances of the Muslim community and stress upon the police the need for greater sensitivity in dealing with our Muslim co-citizens.

( d). Act firmly in accordance with the law against Indian Muslims indulging in terrorism.

( e ). Be ruthless in dealing with Pakistani elements trying to exploit these indigenous elements for promoting the Pakistani agenda.

12.No organisation has claimed responsibility for the three explosions in Mumbai on July 13,2011.Till the police is able to identify the perpetrators, arrest and interrogate them, we should avoid speculating. When evidence is poor, speculation is rich. The flow of evidence in this case has been poor. This has given rise to all sorts of speculation. Let us keep our mind open and wait till the police are able to make a break-through in their investigation.( 18-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter: @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, July 16, 2011



Permit me to compliment you on your interview to Ms.Barkha Dutt, Group Editor, ND TV, telecast on July 15,2011, on the terrorist attacks in Mumbai on July 13. Like me, thousands of viewers of the interview would have been impressed by the frankness and clarity with which you spoke and by your determination to see that the right lessons are drawn and implemented to prevent a repeat of similar attacks.

2.After the Mumbai blasts of 26/11, I wrote as follows on the London blasts of July 2005: “ 243 posts of Counter-Terrorism Security Advisers have been created since July 2005 and it has been reported that each important police station in London has at least two advisers attached to it. The London Police have established a programme called “London First” in which the Police and the private sector co-operate closely to ensure better security in London. The principle underlying it is that it is the joint responsibility of every one in London to ensure its security from terrorist attacks. Let us have our own Delhi First, Mumbai First, Chennai First, Kolkata First, Bangalore First and Hyderabad First partnerships to ensure that November 26 will not be repeated again.”

3. Before the London blasts, the conventional wisdom was that an effective way of dealing with terrorism was through a good beat system. Our success in dealing with Khalistani terrorism in Punjab was due to the commendable role of the Punjab Police, ably headed by Shri K.P.S.Gill, the then Directror-General of the Punjab Police. He believed that the police should be the weapon of first resort against terrorism. He made it clear to his Station House Officers that he would hold them responsible for the successful prevention and investigation of terrorism.

4. On August 17,2006,, Mr.Gill had an interaction with a group of retired police officers living in Chennai. I happened to be present. He expressed his disquiet over the mushrooming of specialised counter-terrorism organisations which could create a wrong impression in the minds of the police officers that counter-terrorism is not their primary responsibility. A note recorded by me on the interaction is available at

5. After the London blasts of July 2005, there has been fresh thinking on the role of the police. While its role is still considered important and primary and there is still emphasis on the need for revamping the beat system, it is now admitted that the police alone will not be able to deal effectively with modern terrorism sponsored by another state and with international links unless it has the benefit of expertise from specialists and assistance from specialised units. Moreover, the security forces alone will not be able to deal with terrorism unless they receive the co-operation of the general public and the private sector, which is increasingly concerned over the spread of terrorism to urban centres of economic power. It was to meet these additional requirements that the London Police created the posts of Counter-Terrorism Security Advisers attached to police stations in vulnerable areas.

6. I was given to understand that a scheme for ensuring better security for Mumbai through the co-operation of the police and the private sector was started after 26/11, but I do not know how well it has been working. A special task force on counter-terrorism set up by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) of New Delhi---of which Shri Ved Marwah, former Commissioner of Police, Delhi, Shri A.K.Doval, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, Lt.Gen.Satish Nambiar, who was a member of the high-power panel on terrorism set up by Mr. Kofi Annan, the then UN Secretary-General, and I were amongst the members--- came out with a comprehensive set of recommendations in November 2009, which were presented to Shri P.Chidambaram, the Home Minister. One of the objectives of this Task Force was to examine how to prevent another 26/11 and better ensure the security of the metro cities.

7. The serial blasts of July 13,2011, in three sensitive areas of Mumbai would indicate that despite the measures taken by the Government after 26/11 to strengthen the security of Mumbai on its own as well as on the recommendations of others such as the Task Force set up by the FICCI, the terrorists continue to locate loopholes in the security structure of Mumbai and take advantage of them to carry out terrorist attacks.

8.The 13/7 attacks show that either the pre-26/11 cells of terrorist organisations, which had remained dormant, had been re-activated or new organisations or groups have come up with their own cells without being detected by the Intelligence Agencies and the State Police. We are not yet in a position to provide effective security to the people of Mumbai who have been attacked five times ---in 1993, 2003,2006,2008 and 2011. The people living or working in the Zhaveri Bazaar area, an important jewellery and diamond business area, have been targeted thrice---in 1993, 2003 and 2011.

9. None of the intelligence collection and physical security measures taken by us after every major terrorist strike in Mumbai since 1993 has been able to provide effective security to the people of Mumbai in general and of Zhaveri Bazaar in particular. Every successful terrorist strike speaks of loopholes in the intelligence and security cover provided to Mumbai. Otherwise, the terrorists would not have succeeded.

10. Unless we are able to identify and plug these loopholes after a comprehensive enquiry, the terrorists will continue to take advantage of them. There is a need for a comprehensive look at the intelligence and security cover provided to Mumbai in general and to some of its highly vulnerable areas such as Zhaveri Bazaar in particular. We will be badly letting down the people of the Zhaveri Bazaar area if we let them be targeted for a fourth time by the terrorists.

11. It is important to undertake urgently a vulnerability assessment of Mumbai and its sensitive areas in order to provide a scheme for a vulnerability-specific intelligent-cum-security cover. Let us make Zhaveri Bazaar the epi-centre of our counter-terrorism efforts. Let us work out, in co-operation with the public and the private business sector, a Mumbai First and Zhaveri Bazaar First intelligence-cum-security cover and implement it vigorously.

12. The plan should look at the adequacy of the existing police stations for a counter-terrorism role, the effectiveness of the existing beat and patrolling systems, the adequacy of the existing communication network, the need for counter-terrorism expertise to assist the police, the role of the public and the private sector and other related subjects.

13. We should start this exercise today. Tomorrow may be late.

With warm regards,

Yours sincerely,
B.Raman, Chennai.17-7-11
Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi


Friday, July 15, 2011



Q.Can the three blasts in Mumbai on July 13,2011, be attributed to an intelligence failure?

A.Yes. I have always held that every successful terrorist strike is due to either an intelligence or a security failure or both.

Q.But the Home Minister Shri P.Chidambaram has said that despite there being no flow of intelligence, there was no intelligence failure. What did he mean by it?

A.Many, including some foreign analysts, have been mystified by his remarks. Most of the queries that I received from abroad sought my explanation of his remarks. I replied that what he probably meant was that while there was no intelligence indicating the possibility of the blasts, he would not attribute the paucity of intelligence to any failure on the part of the agencies. They tried their best to collect intelligence, but this particular intelligence did not come their way. That is what he appears to have meant.

Q. Would you accept his explanation?

A. There was definitely a failure of intelligence. Whether this was due to any institutional failure on the part of the intelligence agencies or not could be established only by an enquiry into how the terrorists managed to carry out the successful strikes. Unfortunately, after each terrorist strike, our Government has avoided holding a detailed enquiry as to how the terrorists succeeded. The enquiry ordered by the Maharashtra State Govt after the 26/11 terrorist strikes only went into the deficiencies of the police. The deficiencies of the central agencies were not enquired into by the Government of India. The result: We have not learnt the right lessons. That is why most of our discourse on dealing with terrorism is on general terms and not in specific terms as a result of lessons drawn from each strike. In other countries, each strike involving large casualties or damage is followed by a detailed enquiry to draw the right lessons.

Q.Presuming there was an intelligence failure, where and how did it occur?

A. As of now there are four possibilities. Either the terrorist strike was carried out by a reactivated old cell of an existing indigenous organisation which had been lying dormant because of the stepped up security measures after 26/11 or it was carried out by a new cell of a new indigenous organisation or by one or more angry indigenous individuals with no organisational affiliation. If it was the first possibility, the surveillance of the old cells was apparently unsatisfactory. If it was the second or third, apparently their coming into being had escaped the attention of the agencies and the police. If these three possibilities involving indigenous elements are ruled out, there is a fourth possibility of the commission of the attack by external elements which had managed to sneak into India despite the stepped up immigration controls introduced after the 26/11 strikes.

Q.What could this be due to?

A. Poor penetration of terrorist organisations---old or new. Timely human intelligence comes through successful penetration. Good penetration comes through good contacts in the community from which the terrorist organisation or individual terrorists have arisen. There is always a reluctance on the part of the community to co-operate with the police against its members suspected of involvement in terrorism. The available means of overcoming this resistance have to be examined.

Q. How about technical intelligence (TECHINT)?

A. There does not appear to have been any TECHINT in the form of electronic chatter through telephones or the Internet. This could be due to gaps in the TECHINT capability of the agencies or the successful adoption of evasive techniques by the terrorists or their not adopting any of the technical means for communication among themselves. What exactly was the reason for the non-flow of TECHINT could be established only if and when one or more of the perpetrators are arrested and interrogated.

Q.Any other point that needs to be considered?

A. There was possibly a certain complacency on the part of the intelligence agencies since there had been no major terrorist strike for some months. The terrorists probably noticed the slackening of vigilance and struck.

Q. Could there have been a security failure that was behind the successful terrorist strike?

A. One security dimension comes into the picture in respect of the procurement of the materials required for the improvisation of an explosive device. Three kinds of materials are required for an IED--- the explosive itself, the detonator and the timer or a remote control device. The final results of the forensic examination are not yet available. The present indicators are that the terrorists had used ammonium nitrate possibly with a booster and made more lethal than normal by mixing it with projectiles and furnace oil, and a timer, possibly the alarm mechanism of a mobile telephone. The ammonium nitrate which is the ingredient of nitrogenous fertilisers is easily available for procurement in India. After the use of the ammonium nitrate in large quantities in the attempt to blow up the New York World trade Centre in February,1993, by Ramzi Yousef and its subsequent use in other terrorist strikes many Western countries are reported to have issued instructions to all wholesale and retail dealers in fertilisers that they should alert the police if any suspicious-looking person, who is not a genuine farmer, seeks to procure nitrogenous fertilisers. A terrorist cell was disrupted in Canada when one of its members tried to procure a large quantity of fertilisers and the dealer, who became suspicious, alerted the police. In India, it is difficult to impose such curbs since terrorists can easily procure the ammonium nitrate from friends in the farmer community instead of from a dealer. The alarm mechanism of a mobile telephone can also be easily procured without attracting suspicion. Procurement of detonators can cause suspicion, but here too one can easily procure from friends in the community of industrial users of detonators such as granite quarry owners. Al Umma of Tamil Nadu reportedly stole detonators from quarry owners. It, therefore, becomes difficult to detect the preparations for an act of terrorism at the stage of procurement of the IED components unless the terrorists use military-grade explosives procured either locally or from other countries.

Another security dimension arises in respect of the planting of the IEDs after they have been assembled clandestinely. The planting could be prevented in places where there is an access control. In public places, where there is no access control, it becomes very difficult to prevent the planting of an IED unless it is detected accidentally as it was in respect of the jihadi bomber who sought to plant an IED in the Times Square of New York last year. His IED, at the time of planting, reportedly started emitting smoke. An alert member of the public noticed it and he was caught and the IED neutralised. It was more luck than physical security which prevented this attempted strike.

The third dimension is about the utility of Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras. The CCTV can help prevent the planting of an IED in an infrastructure building where there is a central control room constantly monitoring the happenings with the help of CCTV images. CCTV cameras have a very limited preventive role in public places such as crowded streets. They are helpful in investigation after the blasts had taken place, but not in detecting the planting of the IEDs. The CCTV cameras in the London tube stations helped in identifying the perpetrators after they had carried out the terrorist strikes in July,2005. They could not help in prevention.

It has been reported that CCTV footages are available in respect of the Opera House scene in Mumbai where one of the IEDs was planted. Their examination could help the investigators if heavy rain during the planting had not affected the quality of the images.

The only way of detecting an IED in a public place with no access control is through the alertness of the public. They have to be constantly briefed by the police as to what to look for.

Q.It has been reported that there were heavy rains before, during and after the blasts. Any comments on that?

A. It is remarkable that despite the rains all the three IEDs detonated at the fixed time without any malfunctioning. This would indicate that the perpetrators had taken the required precautions to ensure that the rains would not affect the detonation of the IEDs at the fixed time. This speaks well of the quality of expertise of the perpetrators. They were not novices.

It has been reported that the police were facing difficulty in determining where exactly the IEDs were planted. This could have been due to the rains. After a blast, two kinds of examinations are done---the visual and the forensic. During the visual examination, one looks for indicators like craters caused by the detonation, the kind of debris at the scene including the remnants of the detonator and the timer etc. The rains would have definitely created difficulties in the visual and forensic examination. It is ironic, but normal that while the rains seem to have created difficulties for the investigators, they do not seem to have created difficulties for the perpetrators.

“The Hindu” (July 16) has reported that the police have since established that one of the IEDs was kept in a scooter.

Q. There has been talk of a wired body being found near the scene in the Zaveri Bazaar area. Could this indicate that one of the blasts might have been caused by a suicide bomber?

A. If a suicide bomber was involved his body would not have been found intact. If the IED was fixed to the upper part of the body his head would have been severed by the force of the blast and thrown far away. If the IED was fixed in the lower part of the body, the legs would have been severed. If the dead body was intact, the possibility of a suicide explosion becomes less. But, how to explain the wires around the body? The answer to this could be found only by the investigators.

Suicide terrorism is a common feature in Pakistan since 2007. In India, we have had instances of suicidal terrorism (fedayeen attacks) against heavily protected targets, but not suicide terrorism except by the LTTE when it killed Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. If it is established that one of the blasts was caused by a suicide terrorist, this would indicate the definitive involvement of jihadi terrorists.

“The Hindu” (July 16) has reported that the Mumbai Police have identified the dead body and ruled out a suicide bomber. There was no wire on his body, but only an electronic chip inside one of his injuries. This might have got embedded due to the force of the blast. However, there has been no official statement from the Police so far.

Q. Who might have been responsible for the explosions?

A. So far, there are no clear indicators. There has been no claim of responsibility. If Indigenous elements were involved there was a possibility that claims of responsibility would have been made. The Indian Mujahideen (IM) had in the past claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks carried out by it. Pakistani organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) claim responsibility when they carry out a strike in Jammu & Kashmir. When they carry out a strike outside J&K, they either do not claim responsibility or do so in the name of a fictitious organisation of India. After 26/11, the LET claimed responsibility in the name of a fictitious organisation called the Deccan Mujahideen. If individual jihadis, without organisational affiliation, who are called Jundullas (Soldiers of Allah) are involved, no claim of responsibility is made. There is no evidence so far on the basis of which a reasonable surmise could be made as to who might have been responsible.

Q. Shri Prithviraj Chavan, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, has said that mobile phone services literally collapsed for 15 minutes after the blasts making it difficult for him to communicate with the police.

A. Nothing surprising. This happened in London immediately after the blasts of July 2005. Thousands and thousands of anxious persons were trying to contact their relatives. The mobile services got jammed preventing the Police Commissioner from contacting his men in the field. The police thought of advising mobile companies to suspend their services, but did not do so due to a fear that this might add to the panic. Corrective measures were reportedly taken subsequently. I was under the impression that corrective measures had been taken in India too, because one had not heard of such collapse of the mobile services after the explosions of 2008 by the IM in Delhi, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Bengaluru or during the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Why this happened this time? This needs to be examined. ( 16-7-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: Twitter: SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, July 14, 2011


B.RAMAN,Camp Vizag

The Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh's reported decision to visit Mumbai in the wake of the new series of orchestrated and timed explosions on July 13 reflects his embarrassment and concern over the blasts.

2.The embarrassment arises from the continuing deficiencies in our counter-terrorism capability even after the much vaunted improvements introduced after the 26/11 strikes. The deficiencies relate to the preventive and surveillance capabilities of our intelligence agencies and the police. The concern should be over the likely negative political impact of the success of the terrorists in circumventing the security measures.

3. The Government's credibility in relation to counter-terrorism is likely to suffer further erosion----particularly in Mumbai, whose population has been the target of five instances of high casualty terrorist attacks ---in 1993,2003,2006,2008 and 2011. The argument about the difficulties faced by the intelligence and security agencies in preventing terrorist attacks will not carry conviction to the people. While they may accept one or two surprise attacks, they would find it difficult to accept repeated attacks not only in Mumbai but also in other cities.

4. Other cities---New York. Madrid and London---have had isolated mass casualty attacks, but the police was able to ensure that there were no more attacks. It would be natural for the public to ask why this has not been possible for our security agencies.

5 Despite arrests made after past attacks, terrorist organisations still have at their disposal a seemingly unending stream of recruits who are willing to be trained and used to carry out attacks. A worrisome aspect is that our security agencies and the police have been unable to quantify the total number of trained terrorists still available to the organizations and neutralize them. They have also been unable to identify and block the sources of recruitment.

6.The attacks of July13,2011, ----like those of 1993,2003 and 2006 and unlike those of 2008--- were multi-targeted and well orchestrated with a single modus operandi. They required good motivation and some training and not sophisticated expertise. The 2008 attacks were commando-style and multi-targeted with multiple modus-operandi---use of explosives and hand-held weapons and hostage-taking. They required considerable training and sophistication. Hand-held weapons were used in addition to explosives in 1993 too.

7.No claim of responsibility has so far been made. There has been no electronic interception of suspect messages----electronic chatter as professionals call it----which might give a clue as to who might have been responsible. The security agencies are, therefore, groping in the dark in identifying the organisation responsible.

8.Coastal security and immigration controls have been tightened up after the 26/11 terrorist strikes. The possibility of outsiders sneaking in to carry out the attacks is somewhat low. The greater possibility is that the attacks were carried out by some people normally resident in India---- maybe, Indian nationals or foreigners. The investigating agencies should keep an open mind and avoid jumping to conclusions.

9.The reports about a wired body and a separated head being found in one of the spots need to be carefully investigated. If these reports are correct, this would be a disturbing indicator of an act of suicide terrorism with possible foreign influence.

10.If these reports are ultimately ruled out as not correct, the only other possibility is of timed strikes, which might have been carried out either with mechanical (clocks or the alarm mechanism of a mobile telephone) or with chemical timers. The 1993 strikes were carried out by Dawood Ibrahim's men with chemical timers of US-origin obtained by them from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

11. The reported use of ammonium nitrate speaks of a lethargy in imposing checks on the sale of nitrogenous fertilisers despite this being repeatedly used as the explosive material by different terrorist groups in copy-cat acts in different countries of the world. Western countries have imposed checks on the sale of nitrogenous fertilisers. In Canada, sleeper cells were caught when they sought to buy nitrogenous fertilisers. It is not clear whether we have imposed similar checks.

12. Whether it is the Indian Mujahideen (IM) or any other organisation which is ultimately found to have been responsible,it wanted to disprove the official claims of having broken its back. This may not remain a one-city phenomenon. We must be prepared to prevent the danger of similar attacks in other cities.

13. We should not allow the latest blasts to disrupt the on-going dialogue process with Pakistan unless there is concrete evidence to show that either the ISI or Pakistan-trained elements were involved. (14-7-11)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi)

Sunday, July 10, 2011




China is not a South Asian power, but it has been seeking to build up for itself a strong South Asian presence which could cater to its strategic needs in the long term.

2.It has made inroads in the South Asian countries in recent years by taking advantage of their hunger for the development of their infrastructure and their requirement of financial assistance for major infrastructure projects and for the exploitation of their natural resources.

3. While India too has been helping these countries in these fields, China has definitely had an advantage over India due to its large cash reserve built up from its huge trade surpluses and the reservoir of excellent construction engineers with experience in infrastructure building which it has built up over the years.

4. The fact that China has no contentious issues affecting its bilateral relations with these countries --- as against many contentious issues in the relations of India with its neighbours--- has also worked to its advantage.

5. The Chinese policy in the South Asian region has a mix of the strategic and the opportunistic dimensions--- that is, working for carefully calculated long-term strategic objectives while not missing short and medium term opportunities that come its way. One sees the strategic dimension in the case of its relations with Pakistan. One sees a mix of the two in its relations with other South Asian countries.

6. Its relations with Pakistan, which continue to enjoy the highest priority, are driven by a strong strategic calculus. That calculus arises from its perceived need for a second front to keep India preoccupied.

7. In its strategic calculation, its ability to prevent a military conflict with India would depend on a strong military-related capability in Tibet and a strong Pakistani military capability in the nuclear and conventional fields.

8. That is what it has been trying to do. It has been trying to see that Pakistan has an edge over India in its military nuclear capability, including the delivery vehicles. It has been strengthening Pakistan’s offensive and defensive air and naval capabilities. After the recent raid by the US naval commandos in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden on May 2,2011, it has promised to expedite the delivery of aircraft needed by the PAF to strengthen its air defence capability.

9. Simultaneously, it has also been helping Pakistan in repairing and upgrading the Karakoram Highway and has promised to help in the construction of other roads. A feasibility study for the construction of a railway line from Xinjiang through Gilgit-Baltistan has been undertaken.

10. Of the various proposals received from Pakistan for the development of its infrastructure, China has given high priority to those relating to Gilgit-Baltistan and low priority to those relating to Balochistan. It has not shown an interest in taking up for the time being Pakistan’s proposals for the upgradation of the Gwadar commercial port built earlier with Chinese assistance into a naval base. Similarly, it has been going slow in follow-up action on other pending Pakistani proposals for the construction of a petro-chemical complex in Gwadar and oil-gas pipelines from Gwadar to Xinjiang.

11. The priority given by China to infrastructure projects in the Gilgit-Baltistan area is meant to enable Pakistan protect this area from any future Indian threats and give the Pakistani armed forces the capability to pose a credible threat to India, which would serve China’s strategic objective too.

12. There have been unconfirmed reports from a US journalist about the presence of a little over 10,000 Chinese troops in the Gilgit-Baltistan area. If true, these reports would further underline China’s strategic objectives in Pakistan.

13. A significant development post-Abbottabad was the strong defence of Pakistan’s counter-terrorism record by Beijing and its attempts to see that no harm came to Pakistan as a result of US suspicions regarding possible Pakistani complicity--- governmental or non-governmental--- in sheltering OBL for a little over five years in Abbottabad.

14.Thus, China’s strategic interest in protecting Pakistan, strengthening its capabilities and maintaining the effectiveness of the threat that it could pose to India in times of need remains as strong as ever. It will remain so even if there is an improvement in India’s relations with China and Pakistan.

15. The Sino-Pakistan axis means not only the need for our being able to fight on two fronts simultaneously in times of war, but also a two-front capability for the collection of intelligence in times of peace. Collection of intelligence ---human and technical-- from China requires capabilities totally different from those required for the collection of intelligence from Pakistan. Our strategic planning has to cater to requirements in times of war as well as peace.

16. Next to Pakistan, Nepal enjoys the second priority in China’s strategic calculation. The importance of Nepal to China’s strategic thinkers and planners arises not only because of its potential for being used against India in times of peace as well as war, but also because of its potential to India for being used to create instability in Tibet if there are disturbances there after the death of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In China’s calculation, Nepal can be a double-edged sword.

17.How to strengthen the potential of Nepal for being used against India? It is for this purpose that the Chinese have been trying to extend their road and rail network from Tibet to Nepal and to develop close relations with the Maoists headed by Prachanda and their cadres who are likely to be integrated into the Nepal army. Strengthening China’s political, economic and military influence in Nepal by taking advantage of the presence of the Maoists in power is an important objective of Beijing.

18. Military-military relationship has been given increasing attention since 1998, when the Nepal Army started sending officers and soldiers to study in Chinese military universities. In the academic year 2006/2007 , 21 officers and soldiers of the Nepal Army went to China for training. China has sent military officers to participate in the adventure trainings organized by the Nepal Army since 2002.

19. Addressing the Nepal Council of World Affairs at Kathmandu on August 5,2008, the then Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Zheng Xianglin said:"Nepal is situated in a favorable geographical position in South Asia, and is a passage linking China and South Asia."

20.That is the principal reason for the Chinese interest in Nepal----as a passage to South Asia and as an instrument for strengthening the Chinese presence in South Asia. China has a Look South policy to counter our Look East policy. As we try to move Eastwards to cultivate the countries of South-East Asia, it is trying to move southwards to outflank us.

21.China has already given indications of its interest in strengthening the value of Nepal as a passage to South Asia by connecting the road network in Tibet with that in Nepal and by extending the railway line to Lhasa to Kathmandu. If China succeeds in concretising these ideas, the threats to our security will be enhanced.

22.China has other reasons to welcome the rise of the Maoists to power in Nepal. It is hoping with reason that Nepal would stop the anti-China activities of the 1000-strong community of Tibetan refugees in Nepal. They have been in the forefront of the agitation against the Han colonisation of Tibet. Some of them are being used by the US Govt.funded Radio Free Asia for producing programmes directed to the Tibetans. China apprehends that if there is unrest in Tibet after the death of the Dalai Lama, these refugees might be utilised by the US----with the complicity of India--- to destabilise the Chinese presence in Tibet. It is hoping to pre-empt this with the co-operation of a Maoist-dominated Government in Kathmandu.

23.India finds itself in Nepal in a situation not dissimilar to the situation in Myanmar----all the time having to compete with China for political influence and economic benefits. Till now, India almost monopolised the strategic playing field in Nepal. Now, there is a second player in China. In Myanmar, whenever the former military Government had to choose between Indian and Chinese interests, it always chose the Chinese interests because of its fear of China and its gratitude to China for the support extended by it to the former military junta in international fora such as the UN Security Council. In Nepal whenever there is a conflict between Indian and Chinese interests, a Maoist-dominated Govt. may choose Chinese interests not out of fear or gratitude but out of considerations of ideological affinity.

24. It is in India’s interest to see that China does not succeed in its objectives in Nepal. In Pakistan, India has no cards which it can use to counter the Chinese objectives. In Nepal, India has more cards than China and it should not hesitate to use them intelligently to counter the Chinese designs. India continues to have a much stronger economic presence in Nepal than China. India still has many objective allies in the non-Maoist segment of the population and administration. It should not hesitate to use these cards to maintain its influence in Nepal and to counter the Chinese designs.

25.Bangladesh has the third priority for China. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, despite her strong friendship for India, has continued with the look East policy of her predecessor Begum Khalida Zia and strengthened the links with China. During her visit to China , an agreement was signed with a Chinese company for oil/gas exploration in Bangladesh. She also sought Chinese help for the upgradation of Chittagong into a modern deep sea port. Her Government has sought to calm Indian concerns by reassuring India that India will also be allowed to use the Chittagong port modernized with Chinese help.

26.At least, Sri Lanka and Myanmar sought to treat India on par with China by granting it equal rights of oil/gas exploration, but Bangladesh has not given any such contracts to India due to strong local opposition to India playing any role in the development of its energy resources.

27.Sheikh Hasina also reportedly discussed with the Chinese plans for linking Yunnan with Bangladesh through Myanmar by a modern road. If the Chinese company finds oil or gas in Bangladesh it is only a question of time before the Chinese production facilities in Bangladesh are connected with those in the Arakan area of Myanmar so that oil and gas from Bangladesh can flow direct to Yunnan through the pipeline connecting Arakan with Yunnan now being constructed. There has also been talk of a Chinese-aided railway line from Yunnan to Bangladesh via Myanmar

28.Bangladesh news agencies reported that during the visit of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping to Dhaka on June 13 and 14,2010, Mr.Xi “proposed to give assistance to Bangladesh for building a deep seaport in Chittagong and installing the country's first space satellite”. Briefing reporters on the outcome of the talks, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said the Chinese side assured more investment in Bangladesh, and promised to reduce the bilateral trade imbalance by allowing more Bangladeshi products to have duty-free access to the Chinese market. She added that the Chinese agreed to help Bangladesh in ensuring food security and in combating militancy and terrorism.

29.Sri Lanka occupies the fourth place in Chinese strategic planning in South Asia. More than 50 per cent of the funding received by Sri Lanka from abroad for construction and development projects since President Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power came from China. China has been assisting Sri Lanka in the construction of the Hambantota port, the Maththala international airport at Hambantota, a new container terminal in Colombo and the Colombo--Katunayake Expressway. It has also agreed to help in the modernisation of the railways.

30.There are no indications so far that China is going to help Sri Lanka in upgrading the commercial port at Hambantota the first stage of which has already been commissioned into a naval base for use by the Chinese or the Sri Lankan Navy or both. Hambantota is a good example of the opportunistic dimension of China’s strategic thinking and planning. The idea for the construction of an international port of modern standards comparable to if not better than Colombo at Hambantota was reportedly initially broached by the Sri Lankan Government with the Government of India. When New Delhi did not react positively, Colombo turned to Beijing which pounced on the opportunity to get a foothold in the port sector in Sri Lanka.

31.The indications are that China’s interest in helping the countries of the South Asian region in the development of their port infrastructure is related to its need to ensure the security of its energy supplies from West Asia and Africa. It has no naval power projection dimension at present.

32. Till now, the main driver of China’s strategic interest in Gwadar, Hambantota and Chittagong has been the perceived need for refuelling, re-stocking and rest and recreation facilities for its oil/gas tankers and naval ships deputed for anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden area. China is not yet interested in an overseas naval base, but is interested in overseas logistic facilities for its oil/gas tankers and for its naval vessels.

33. Individual retired officers of the People’s Liberation Army ( Navy) have been talking of the likely long-term need for an overseas naval base in the Indian Ocean area, but the Communist Party of China (CPC) has been discouraging such talk. Presently, the Chinese interest in playing a role in the development of the port infrastructure is not designed to place its Navy in a position as to be able to challenge the primacy presently enjoyed by the Navies of the US and India in the Indian Ocean region.

34. China has seen as to how the over-assertiveness of its Navy in the South China Sea has had a negative impact on the comfort level of its relations with the ASEAN countries. The Indian Ocean is not comparable to the South China Sea. China has no territorial claims to islands in the Indian Ocean area. It has no disputes relating to fishing and exploration of oil and gas with any of the countries of the Indian Ocean region. China and its Navy are, therefore, welcomed by the countries of the region. This comfortable position could change if China graduates from energy security to power projection in its strategic planning for the Indian Ocean region.

35. I do not expect this to happen in the short and medium terms (five to 10 years). However, if the Chinese strategic thinking changes in the long-term, what could be the new threats to India and what will be the options for our Navy? We have to start thinking on this.

36. After Pakistan, Sri Lanka provides a good example of the use of a military supply relationship by China to advance its strategic interests. Over the years, we had seen how China uses its military supply relationship with Pakistan in the nuclear and conventional fields for keeping Pakistan closely tied to it and for countering India. In recent years, we have been seeing the use of a military supply relationship with Sri Lanka for increasing the Chinese influence in Sri Lanka. The Chinese readiness to supply modern and heavy arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces without worrying about the moral implications of its actions played an important role in helping the Sri Lankan Army crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ruthlessly. Next to an infrastructure development relationship, a military supply relationship has become an important addition to China’s basket of strategic eggs.

37. I will make a passing reference to the incipient Chinese interest in the Maldives, which has emerged as a favourite tourist destination of Chinese tourists. China has been helping the Maldives in the fields of house construction and modernising some aspects of its banking infrastructure such as the installation and operation of Automatic Teller Machines for the benefit of foreign tourists. We have to closely monitor the evolution of its interest in the Maldives.

38 .It is important for India to challenge China’s monopoly in the infrastructure development sector in the South Asian region. Presence in the infrastructure sector has a strategic importance. We must be able to find the funds and the required number of construction engineers for this.

39.India has three advantages over China which it must exploit vigorously to increase its strategic presence in the region and to counter the Chinese presence.

(a).Firstly, India provides a huge market next door for the products of these countries. Their traders value the Indian market more than the Chinese market. We should be generous in our trade concessions in order to keep them attracted to India and prevent them from drifting towards China.

(b).Secondly, India could play an important role in helping these countries develop their educational facilities such as institutions for technology studies.

(c).Thirdly, culturally, the people of these countries still look up to India and not to China. India’s soft power has to be effectively utilised for strengthening our presence and influence in these countries. China is not in a position to compete with us in soft power.

40.Whether India should compete with China in selling arms and ammunition and nuclear technology to these countries has to be carefully considered keeping in view the implications of the likely use of Indian arms and ammunition by these countries against their dissident elements, which often look up to India for moral support. As regards the supply of nuclear technology, India may not be in a position to provide the kind of financial back-up that China provides.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )