Monday, September 26, 2011



The Chinese media have started informing the Chinese people of the tensions in Pakistan’s ties with the US without any editorial comment so far. There have been no comments from the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry either till now.

2. On September 27,2011, the “People’s Liberation Army Daily” carried a report of the State-owned Xinhua news agency datelined Islamabad stating that Lt.Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha, Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had gone to Saudi Arabia for talks with his Saudi counterparts.

3. The Xinhua despatch said that the decision to send Lt.Gen.Pasha to Saudi Arabia was taken on the recommendation of the Corps Commanders of the Pakistan Army, who met at Islamabad on September 25, “to brief Saudi leaders on the Pakistan-U.S. tension.”. However, the Pakistani military spokesman Maj Gen Ather Abbas denied that Lt.Gen.Pasha had gone to Saudi Arabia and insisted that Lt.Gen Pasha was in Islamabad.

4. The Xinhua report added: “Pakistan is likely to send envoys to other friendly countries in view of the tension with the U.S., sources said.”

5.The party-owned “Global Times” carried two reports of the AFP/Reuters news agencies relating, inter alia, to the unconnected visits of General James Mattis, the US CENTCOM Commander, and Mr.Meng Jianzhu, the Chinese Minister For Public Security, to Islamabad and the cancellation of the visit of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), to London.

6. While the Chinese media has so far restricted itself to reporting the arrival of the Chinese Public Security Minister in Islamabad, the Pakistani media has given more details of the visit.

7. Among those he has already met are President Asif Ali Zardari, Mr.Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister, Gen.Kayani and Gen. Khalid Shameem Wyne, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

8. It was reported that Mr.Jianzhu and Gen. Wynne discussed “the emerging geo-strategic situation of the region”. Mr.Jianzhu was quoted by a Pakistan Army statement as having praised “the role played by the armed forces of Pakistan in the fight against terror”.

9. Mr.Jianzhu was quoted by the Pakistani media as saying that China stood by Pakistan and reaffirming China’s support to Pakistan in the fight against militancy and for the promotion of regional peace and stability.

10.During his meeting with President Zardari on the night of September 26, officials of the two countries signed a number of agreements reportedly valued at US $ 250 million on economic and technical assistance, flood relief and rehabilitation of some damaged parts of the National Highways networks. Pakistani media reported that the Governor and the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan were among those present during the signing ceremony.

11.In reply to local journalists who asked whether the visit was connected to the tensions in Pakistan’s relations with the US, Mr.Rehman Malik said: “Let’s not talk USA here. I am here with my friend from China. China is always there for us in the most difficult moments. China has supported Pakistan at every critical juncture of its history. We are grateful to it.”

12.Mr.Jianzhu told local journalists: “We are celebrating 2011 as year of friendship following the completion of 60 years of friendship of China and Pakistan. I have come to Pakistan to further beef up ties”.

13. Thus, both sides were anxious to avoid giving the impression that Mr.Jianzhu’s visit was connected to the tensions in Pakistan’s relations with the US. According to reliable Pakistani sources, the visit had been arranged much before the eruption of the current tensions in Pakistan’s relations with the US and was connected to the year-long observance of the 60th anniversary of the setting-up of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

14.Mr.Jianzhu is in charge of China’s Police and internal security and oversees co-operation in counter-terrorism with Pakistan---particularly against the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET) operating from sanctuaries in North Waziristan.

15. China would be as much interested as the US in effective Pakistani action against the sanctuaries of the Haqqani network in North Waziristan because the sanctuaries of the IMET are also reportedly located in the same area.

16. While strongly supporting Pakistan’s counter-terrorism record as it did after the US raid to kill Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hide-out on May 2 last, China would avoid giving the impression of taking sides with Pakistan in its dispute with the US on the question of action against the Haqqani network. China will have nothing to gain by justifying Pakistan’s inaction against the Haqqani network. While avoiding any adverse ( to Pakistan) public comments on this issue, China would nudge Pakistan into acting against all terrorist sanctuaries in North Waziristan--- whether of Al Qaeda, the Haqqani network or the IMET. (27-9-11)

( 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. Twitter : @SORBONNE75)

Sunday, September 25, 2011



The search for a mutually face-saving option in the dramatic turn of events in the relations between the US and Pakistan has continued over the week-end.

2.The dramatic turn came following the testimonies of Admiral Mike Mullen, the outgoing Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mr.Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on September 22,2011.

3. In his testimony, Admiral Mullen not only repeated--- in stronger language than in the past--- US accusations of links between the Pakistani Army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) on the one side and the Haqqani network on the other, but also blamed the Haqqani network for three of the recent terrorist attacks in Afghanistan---two in Kabul and one in the Wardak province. One of the attacks in Kabul was directed at the US Embassy and the Wardak attack was directed at a NATO base in which US troops are stationed.

4. The strongly-worded allegations about the ISI-aided (according to the US) Haqqani Network’s involvement in attacks on US personnel and interests in Afghanistan, gave rise to a brief debate in the Senate Armed Services Committee on the options available to the US in the light of the new accusations against the ISI and the Haqqani network.

5. When asked about it, Mr.Panetta replied as follows: “I don’t think it would be helpful to describe what those options would look like and talk about what operational steps we may or may not take.”

6.Mr.Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Committee, then asked Mr.Panetta: “Are Pakistani leaders aware of what options are open to us so that they’re not caught by any surprise if in fact we take steps against that network?”

7.Mr.Panetta replied as follows: “I don’t think they would be surprised by the actions that we might or might not take.” In this connection, he referred to recent interactions at high levels with Pakistani officials.

8. What stood out in the Senate Armed Services Committee was the blunt allegations of Admiral Mullen against Pakistan and the more nuanced remarks of Mr.Panetta who indirectly admitted that weaknesses in physical security in Afghanistan had contributed to the successes of the Haqqani network.

9.According to agency reports of Mr.Panetta’s testimony, Mr. Panetta said the American military had a difficult job ahead and had to do better in preventing the insurgents from carrying out raids like the one on the Embassy. He added:“While overall violence in Afghanistan is trending down — and down substantially in areas where we concentrated the surge — we must be more effective in stopping these attacks and limiting the ability of insurgents to create perceptions of decreasing security.”

10. In this connection, it needs to be noted that Pakistan has been repeatedly saying that the successes of the Taliban as a whole and the Haqqani network in Afghanistan were due to weaknesses in the NATO’s counter-inurgency measures and that, instead of admitting this, the US was trying to shift the entire blame on to Pakistan.

11. A reference to possible US options also figured in the intervention of Senator John McCain, the senior Republican member of the committee, who described the Haqqani network’s attacks in Afghanistan as “the fundamental reality from which we must proceed in re-evaluating our policy towards Pakistan”. At the same time, he urged US lawmakers to recognise that abandoning Pakistan was not the answer. He added: “We tried that once. We cut off US assistance to Pakistan in the past and the problem got worse, not better. I say this with all humility, not recognising just yet what a better alternative approach would be.”

12. In his opening remarks, Mr.Carl Levin, the Chairman of the Committee, also referred to the question of US options. He said: “I was glad to read a few days ago that Pakistan’s leaders have been personally informed that we are in fact going to… act more directly.”

13. The over-all impression from the discussions in the Senate Armed Services Committee was, firstly, that since there is now evidence of the role of the ISI-supported Haqqani network in direct attacks on US nationals and interests, the US has to act against the network in a robust manner if Pakistan does not act and, secondly, any action that the US takes should not have an enduring negative effect on the over-all relations between the US and Pakistan.

14. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s discussions have not yet been followed by a discussion by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, headed by the more moderate Senator John Kerry, on the US options.

15. In the meanwhile, closely following the Senate Armed Services Committee’s debate, US CENTCOM commander General James N. Mattis visited Islamabad on September 24-25 and met, among others, Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and General Khalid Shameem Wyne, Chairman of Pakistan’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. It is not yet known whether he met any of the civilian leaders.

16.His discussions with Gen.Kayani and Gen.Wyne were followed by an unscheduled meeting of the Corps Commanders on September 25. The fact that after these meetings Gen.Kayani left for London as scheduled would indicate that in the assessment of the Pakistan Army no imminent new development is likely.

17.My sources in Pakistan project the discussions of the CENTCOM Commander as the possible beginning of a de-escalation exercise from both sides and of a search for a mutually face-saving option. The restrained language used by both sides during the visit of the CENTCOM Commander is significant. The Pakistani Army and the US Embassy issued separate statements on his visit and discussions.

18. The Pakistan Army statement on Gen Wynne’s meeting with Gen Mattis quoted the former as having spoken about “achieving enduring peace in the region… through mutual trust and cooperation”. It added that Gen Wynne expressed concern over the “negative statements emanating from (the) US” and “ stressed upon addressing the irritants in relationship which are a result of an extremely complex situation.”.

19.The US Embassy statement said: “The Generals had candid discussions about the current challenges in the US-Pakistan relationship. However, General Mattis also emphasised the vital role the Pakistan military plays in international security efforts to protect the Pakistani and Afghan people and the need for persistent engagement among the militaries of the US, Pakistan and other states in the region.”

20. It is interesting to note that the leaders of the civilian Government ---barring President Asif Ali Zardari--- have reacted much more strongly to Admiral Mullen’s allegations than the Pakistani military leadership. Gen.Kayani has restricted himself to describing Admiral Mullen’s allegations as “unfortunate and disturbing” and “not based on facts.” In an editorial, “Dawn” of Karachi has described the statements emanating from the Generals as “controlled reaction”.

21. As against this, statements emanating from the civilian leaders have been unbridled, indicating a nervousness on their part that absence of strong reactions could be misinterpreted by the Army as softness towards the US.

22. What action the Pakistan Army ultimately takes in response to the US pressure would depend not on the views of the civilian leaders, but on the assessment of the Corps Commanders. While details of the Corps Commanders’ meeting are not available, my sources say that the consensus was against unwise escalation of rhetoric.

23. “Dawn” itself ( September 26) has reported as follows on the Corps Commanders’ meeting: “A source privy to discussions at the conference revealed that de-escalation efforts were afoot. “Escalation is harmful. In the cost-benefit analysis there appears to be no benefit of a confrontation.” His claim was corroborated by another senior official. But there was nothing to suggest that the army had agreed to act against the Haqqani network under US pressure. The army is rather asking for developing strategic coherence and clarity about US goals in Afghanistan and thinks that operational differences would be addressed.”

24.There have been similar suspicions and distrust between the Armies and the intelligence agencies of the two countries in the past. The first was in 1993 when the Clinton Administration placed Pakistan on a list of suspected State-sponsors of international terrorism following suspicions that Gen.Javed Nasir, the then head of the ISI, had instigated the Afghan Mujahideen not to sell back to the CIA the unused Stinger missiles supplied by the CIA for use against the Soviet troops. The US removed Pakistan from this list after the Nawaz Sharif Government, then in power, removed Nasir and other officers named by the US from the ISI.

25. The second was after the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US and before the launch of US military operations against the Taliban in October,2001. The US alleged that Lt.Gen.Mahmood Ahmed, the then head of the ISI, and Lt.Gen.Mohammad Aziz, the then Chief of the General Staff, were instigating the Taliban not to succumb to US pressure for action against Osama bin Laden. In response to US pressure, Gen.Musharraf shifted both of them from their key posts.

26. There is so far no indication that the US has been demanding action against Lt.Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of the ISI, who is on extension after superannuation, and other ISI officers suspected by the US of colluding with the Haqqani network. Such a demand should not be ruled out.

27. The Obama Administration may not like to get involved in a messy ground operation in North Waziristan in the months before next year’s Presidential elections. It would prefer that Pakistan acts more robustly against the Haqqani network. This would involve a Swat Valley like ground operation in North Waziristan supported possibly by US air strikes from its bases in Afghanistan. Would Gen.Kayani be able to sell such an option to his Corps Commanders?

28. A concern in the minds of the Corps Commanders would be that any impression of a joint operation by Pakistan and the US could lead to desertions from the Pakistan Army, a phenomenon that has been absent till now. Past desertions were mainly from the Frontier Corps and other para-military forces. Desertions from the Army would be a serious development.

29. What the Corps Commanders would want in return for ground operations in North Waziristan is the US strengthening the air strike capability of the Pakistani military through the supply of Drones and related technology and more F-16 aircraft. If the US agrees to strengthen Pakistan’s offensive air strike capability, that would have implications for India.

30. It may be recalled that in 1999 when there was mounting pressure on the Nawaz Sharif Government for action against Arab members of Al Qaeda operating from sanctuaries near the Afghan border in the Pakistani territory, Gen.Musharraf, then COAS, suggested shifting them to new sanctuaries in the Gilgit-Baltistan area. If Gen.Kayani toys with a similar idea in respect of the Haqqani network, it could have implications for the internal security situation in Jammu & Kashmir.

31. How Pakistan reacts to the US pressure is a matter that should be closely monitored by India. It would be foolhardy to lull ourselves into complacency thinking that Pakistan is about to implode or unravel. It is unlikely to. (26-9-11)

( 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, September 24, 2011



A few days ago, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, returned to New Delhi after a month-long stay abroad ---presumed to be in New York--- for medical treatment, which necessitated a surgery. According to party spokespersons, she has recovered well from her ailment and has started the process of resuming her normal political activities. We wish her well as she resumes her normal routine.

2. The nature of her ailment, which necessitated a surgery, has not been disclosed to the public, but it is widely believed that the treatment was for cancer in an undisclosed part of her body.

3.I am writing this article as a cancer patient myself, who has been under treatment for 22 months now for metastasised (widely spread before detected) cancer in the lower part of the abdomen. Before it was detected, the cancer had affected my prostate, the urinary bladder, a nearby bone and a lymph node. Fortunately, it has not caused me any pain so far. My body has been responding well to the treatment.

4. For a month after my cancer was detected in 2009, I was out of circulation, but, thereafter, even while undergoing the treatment, I have resumed my normal physical and intellectual activities. I have been writing as regularly as before, participating in seminars and TV discussions as frequently as before and travelling inside India as often as before. The quality of my life has not changed in any significant manner as a result of my cancer and the treatment.

5. What I have learnt during this period is that cancer is like any other physical ailment. It is not a tragedy. It is not the end of the world. It is not something to be ashamed of. One can fight cancer as one fights any other ailment and still lead an active and energetic life.

6. From the beginning, I have been very transparent about my cancer. I take the initiative in sharing not only with my friends and relatives, but also with my readers and the general public news of my treatment and the progress that I have been making in my fight against cancer. After every quarterly medical check-up, I myself post in my blog details of my condition as told to me by my doctor. I have written two articles on my fight against cancer, posted them in my blog and widely disseminated them through the Internet. I have seen to it that there is no unnecessary and undesirable mystery about my cancer. Mystery gives rise to avoidable speculation, which is not advisable for a public personage.

7. The cheerful manner in which I have been fighting it and voluntarily sharing the information with others has given me a certain pride in myself. I also like to think that it has enhanced the respect in which I am held by others.

8.The alleged secrecy surrounding the exact nature of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi’s ailment and the details of the progress in her treatment were discussed in some detail and with considerable sympathy by Ms.Nirmala Subramanian of “The Hindu” in an editorial page article earlier this week. She needs to be complimented for handling a personally and politically sensitive subject with considerable understanding and seriousness ---- while taking care not to hurt the feelings of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family members.

9. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi and her family have a right to privacy in matters relating to her ailment and her medical treatment. Since she occupies an important position as the leader of a party which is leading the present coalition Government, the public too has a right to know as much as possible about her health. It is not obscene curiosity. It is a way of reassuring ourselves that Mrs.Sonia Gandhi has been responding well to the treatment and that her normal personal and political life will not be affected in any way by the treatment.

10. Till some years ago, all over the world, cancer was treated as something to be kept a secret. People diagnosed with cancer often used to disappear from public view and avoid contacts and sharing with other human beings. Now, the attitude to cancer has changed and continues to change.

11. Doctors and social activists discourage cancer patients from withdrawing into a shell. They encourage them to share freely with others the details of their ailment and the treatment and to continue to lead as active and as energetic a life as possible.

12. Cancer has to be fought and can be fought successfully without allowing your life-style to be affected significantly. In the fight against cancer, the psychological aspect is as important as the medicinal aspect. Fight, share and be active--- that is the message of today to all cancer patients.

13. In our country, many hospitals are encouraging cancer patients to develop the right mental attitude to strengthen their capability for handling the psychological dimension. A couple of days ago, a Chennai hospital had organised a get-together of cancer patients as part of such an exercise.

14.In our country, knowledge of cancer is still limited. As a result, many ---patients as well as their relatives---look upon cancer as a tragedy and as the beginning of the end of life. Doctors are trying to reassure people that it is not.

15. In the fight against cancer and in the campaign to spread awareness of the importance of will power and the right mental attitude to the ailment, Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, her children and party can play a very important role by fighting and sharing. Mrs.Sonia Gandhi is already on the way to becoming her usual active self after her return from the US.

16. She should not remain satisfied with merely resuming an active personal and political life. She should with gusto take over the leadership in public of the fight against cancer. She cannot do this effectively if she and those close to her continue to maintain secrecy about her ailment and the treatment. She must share the details with the public and contribute to the fight against cancer.

17. That’s what Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi would have done in similar circumstances. That’s what Mrs.Sonia Gandhi should do. As the opening shot of the exercise, she should let herself be interviewed on a good and responsible TV channel on her ailment and treatment . She should use this opportunity to convey to the public her determination to serve the people as before despite the ailment. ( 25-9-11)

( 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, September 23, 2011



Twenty-six Shia pilgrims belonging to the Hazara community were dragged out of a bus in which they were travelling at Mastung in Balochistan on September 20,2011, lined up and shot dead by unidentified gunmen suspected to be belonging to the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which is close to Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Three others----of unknown sectarian or ethnic origin--- were killed subsequently. They were medical attendants who were in an ambulance which was rushing to the spot of the massacre.

2. The Hazaras have been the frequent targets of attacks in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan by anti-Shia groups----by the Taliban and the LeJ in particular. One would recall the massacre of the Hazaras in Afghanistan after the Taliban captured power in Kabul in September 1996 and allowed the LeJ to operate in Pakistan from sanctuaries in Afghan territory.

3. The Hazaras of Pakistan, who were suspected by Al Qaeda and the LeJ, of letting themselves be used by the US intelligence in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, subsequently became the targets of the LeJ. There have been many attacks on the Hazaras, who are to be found in large numbers in Balochistan.

4. Surprisingly, despite the suspected hostility of the Hazaras to Al Qaeda, the Taliban and the LeJ, Osama bin Laden chose to have his hide-out in Abbottabad, where there is a sizable Hazara community. Ever since bin Laden was killed by the US Navy SEALS in his Abbottabad hide-out on May 2, the LeJ has reportedly been suspecting that some members of the Hazara community of Abbottabad might have helped the US intelligence in tracking down bin Laden.

5. Since the death of bin Laden, there have been three attacks on the Hazaras in Balochistan by suspected cadres of the LeJ. There have been fears that the LeJ might attack the Hazaras of Abbottabad too----but this has not happened so far.

6. The Shias of Pakistan in general and the Hazaras of Balochistan in particular have been living in dread ever since the release on bail by a court in July of Malik Ishaq, the leader of the LeJ, who was under imprisonment since 1997 facing charges in over 40 cases of terrorism----many of them directed against the Shias and Iranians living and working in Pakistan. He was ordered to be released on grounds of weak evidence by the same judge (Justice Asif Saeed Khosa ), who was earlier a member of the Lahore High Court bench that had ordered the release of Hafiz Mohad Sayeed of the Lashkar-e-Toiba on the ground that there was no evidence to show that the Jamaat-ud-Dawa of which Hafiz is the Amir had any links with the LET, which was involved in the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai. Justice Khosa is now in the Supreme Court.

7. Since his release, Ishaq has been touring in Punjab making venomous speeches against the Shias and justifying the LeJ’s attacks on the Shias as meant to protect the honour of the holy Prophet. In one of his speeches to his followers after his release from jail, he had said: “Prisons will not stop our mission. The LeJ is not a terrorist outfit. It was set up to ensure proper respect for the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).Our struggle will continue.”

8.Fears that his hate speeches might lead to a fresh wave of attacks on the Shias of Punjab and Sindh have not materialised so far. However, there has been a surge in the attacks on the Hazaras of Balochistan. Some reports allege that the Mastung massacre was actually in retaliation for an unsuccessful attack on a gathering of Sunni followers of Ishaq in Alipur by suspected Shia elements.

9. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had used the services of Ishaq and three others to negotiate with a group of terrorists who had raided the GHQ at Rawalpindi in October ,2009, and taken hostage a number of officers. Among others whose services were used by the ISI were Maulana Mohammad Ahmed Ludhianvi, the chief of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, from which the LeJ was born following a split, Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, the Amir of the Harkatul Mujahideen (HuM) and Mufti Abdul Rauf, the younger brother of Maulana Masood Azhar the Amir of the Jaish-e-Mohammad. They were flown in special aircraft from different places in Punjab to Rawalpindi to help the ISI in securing the release of the hostages.

10. Following the Mastung massacre of the Hazaras, the Punjab Government has placed Ishaq under house arrest for 10 days. ( 24-9-11)

( 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, September 22, 2011



The past few days have seen the US fretting and fuming against Pakistan for its use of the Haqqani network to make the US forces bleed in Afghanistan reach an unprecedented new high.

2.This has been due to the US intelligence concluding that the Haqqani network, backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was responsible for three recent terrorist strikes---two in Kabul directed against the hotel Inter-Continental (June) and the US Embassy ( September 13) and one (September 11 ) in the Wardak province against a NATO base in which many US troops were injured.

3.While the US agencies seem convinced of the ISI’s role in backing these attacks, they still do not have an answer to the question as to why the ISI has been doing this. What does Pakistan hope to gain not only by ignoring the US pressure to act against the Haqqani network, but even by facilitating the Haqqani network’s acts of terrorism directed against US troops and interests in Afghanistan.

4. The Pakistani defiance of the US pressure to act against the Haqqani network has an underlying mix of two motives---one strategic and the other tactical. The strategic motive is to make it clear to the US that the success of President Barack Obama’s plans for a thinning out of the US presence in Afghanistan well before next year’s Presidential elections would depend on the US accepting Pakistan’s strategic interests and presence in Afghanistan. The tactical motive is to give vent to its anger over the USA’s unilateral raid into the hide-out of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad on May 2 last. The ISI cannot hit out at US interests in Pakistani territory. It is, therefore, doing so in Afghan territory.

5. In Pakistan’s calculation it holds two strong cards against the US which would continue to enable it to defy the US pressure to act. The strongest of these cards is the continuing US dependence on Pakistan for the transit of logistic supplies to the NATO forces in Afghanistan through Pakistani territory. The US attempts to develop alternate options through Russia and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have not made the required headway that could enable the US to reduce its dependence on Pakistan significantly. The option to airlift the supplies directly to Afghanistan will be expensive and will result in a big surge in the cost of the US military operations in Afghanistan.

6. The other card which Pakistan thinks it holds is next year’s US presidential elections and Mr.Obama’s keenness to reduce the US involvement before the elections. Pakistan feels that this would rule out any undue escalation of US operations against the sanctuaries of the Haqqani network in Pakistani territory. As the elections approach, Mr.Obama may not want to get involved in a new bloody phase of the US operations in Afghanistan---this time directed against the Haqqani network in Pakistani territory.

7. The US operations against the Haqqani network have till now been confined to the use of Drone (pilotless plane) strikes from the US bases in Afghanistan. The Drone strikes have been effective against Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, but have been ineffective against the Haqqani network due to the poor flow of human and technical intelligence regarding the exact location of its bases in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the movements of its leaders and cadres. For reasons that are not clear to me, while the flow of HUMINT and TECHINT about Al Qaeda and its other affiliates to the US agencies has improved, they continue to grope in the dark about the Haqqani network. This is evident from their inability to prevent repeated attacks on US targets in Afghanistan and from the poor record of the Drone strikes against the Haqqani network.

8. The US has to remove from the Pakistani mind the impression that the US is pathetically dependent on the transit of logistic supplies for the NATO forces through Pakistani territory. This would be possible only by the US immediately starting an air bridge from its bases in the Gulf to Afghanistan to ferry by air the logistic supplies directly to the NATO bases. This has to be done whatever be the surge in the cost of the operation.

9. Once the US frees itself of its dependence on Pakistan, other options would be available such as declaring Pakistan a State-sponsor of international terrorism and stopping all aid and ground operations in the FATA to supplement the present Drone-dependent operations. ( 23-9-11)

( 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 )



The assassination on September 20,2011, of Burhanuddin Rabbani , a Tajik leader of Afghanistan, is of strategic significance to India.

2.Rabbani was the President of Afghanistan in the 1990s when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister ( 1993-96) of Pakistan. After the Taliban captured power in Kabul in September,1996, he became a prominent leader of the Tajik-dominant Northern Alliance motivated by the late Ahmed Shah Masood which played an active role in assisting the US post-9/11 in the defeat of the Taliban. It was Rabbani who, with Benazir’s concurrence, allowed Osama bin Laden to shift from Khartoum in the Sudan to Jalalabad in Afghanistan when the Sudan came under pressure from the US to act against bin Laden. When the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 it took bin Laden under its protection and shifted him to Kandahar where Mulla Mohammad Omar, the Amir of the Taliban, and its Shura were also based.

3. In the subsequent fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, Al Qaeda and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) helped the Taliban while a triumvirate consisting of India, Russia and Iran supported the Northern Alliance. The success of Al Qaeda in having Masood assassinated through an Arab suicide bomber a day before the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US Homeland could not dent the fighting capability of the Northern Alliance, which paved the way for the victory of the US forces, which defeated the Taliban and captured power in Afghanistan after freeing the country from the control of the Taliban.

4. Subsequently under pressure from Gen.Pervez Musharraf, who viewed the Northern Alliance as a pro-India and anti-Pakistan group, the Alliance and its leaders found themselves marginalised in the new dispensation in Kabul---with the blessings of the US.

5. The political rehabilitation of Rabbani by President Hamid Karzai and his appointment as the head of the High Peace Council to hold talks with the Taliban and wean it away from the military conflict which it had been waging from its sanctuaries in the Quetta area of Balochistan, set alarm bells ringing in Pakistan’s GHQ.

6.Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and Lt.Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of the ISI, saw in it a possible prelude to the re-emergence of the Northern Alliance as a strong force on the ground with the blessings of India in order to counter once again the Taliban and the ISI should they stage a come-back in Kabul after the US-led NATO forces thin out from Afghanistan as planned by President Barack Obama. The concern in the GHQ was enhanced when Rabbani visited New Delhi in July last to seek India’s support for the peace process. The GHQ saw in his visit a hidden objective---- to discuss with Indian leaders and officials the possible future scenarios should the Taliban stage a come-back in Kabul.

7. The assassination of Rabbani was a pre-emptive strike by unidentified elements----which could be the Taliban or the Haqqani network or Gulbuddin Heckmatyar’s Hizbe Islami or Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Al Qaeda--- to prevent the re-emergence of the Northern Alliance as a strong force capable of standing up to the Taliban and its affiliates. It was a warning to Karzai against any future alliance with the Tajijks. It was meant to drive a wedge between the Pashtuns and the Tajijks. There is no other way of explaining the assassination.

8. The explanation advanced by some analysts that the assassination was meant to derail the peace process and indicated the presence of elements in the Taliban which are opposed to the peace talks, does not sound convincing. If the Taliban wanted to derail the peace process, all it had to do was to withdraw from the talks with Rabbani and his Council. It did not have to kill Rabbani. He was killed not because he posed a danger immediately, but because he was viewed by the Taliban and its affiliates as likely to pose a danger in the future should the Taliban stage a come-back in Kabul. His assassination could weaken the support of the Tajiks for Karzai and make Karzai even more vulnerable to pressure from the Taliban than he has been till now.

9. The assassination has strategic implications for India. It could weaken the Tajik leadership, which has been an objective ally of India. It could weaken Karzai with whom India has built up an excellent working relationship. In the uncertain period after the thinning out of the US presence starts, India would need strong allies in Afghanistan--- in all the communities. It is likely that in the months to come more of the leaders who are perceived by the Taliban and the ISI as well disposed to India might be eliminated one by one.

10. What options would be available to India? This is a question that needs to be discussed by New Delhi with those in Afghanistan with whom it has a close relationship as well as with the US. Russia and the Central Asian Republics (CARs) have been cultivating Pakistan and vice versa. It is doubtful whether Russia would be amenable to the kind of co-operation that India and Russia had developed after the Taliban captured power in Kabul in 1996. Iran is out of question now in view of the hostility of the US to the present Iranian regime.

11. Co-operation with the US is the only strategic option we have. The US is now as concerned as we are over Pakistani machinations in Afghanistan. It could be more amenable to feelers from India for joint moves by India and the US to prevent a return to power of the Taliban with the ISI’s backing. Till now, the US has been hesitant to let India play any major role in training and equipping the Afghan security forces due to a fear over its adverse fall-out in Pakistan. We should persuade the US to get rid of its hesitation and let India play a more important role in this regard. This is the first step that would be called for. Others have to be identified. India and the US should not hum and haw and wait till the events overtake them. ( 22-9-11)

( 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, September 21, 2011


(Joe Dassin’s song of 1975)

You know, I have never been as happy as I was that morning
We were walking along the beach a bit like this,
It was autumn, an autumn when weather was nice
A season that exists only in North America
Down there one calls it the Indian Summer
This one was simply ours
With your long blue dress you resembled a watercolor by Marie Laurence.
And I remember, I remember very well
What I told you that morning
A year, a century, an eternity ago.

I told you: We will be going, where you want to go, whenever you want to
We will be loving each other still even when love will be dead
And all of life will be like the shades of the Indian Summer.

Today I'm far away from that morning of autumn
But it's like I am still there
I'm thinking of you
Where are you?
Do I still exist for you?
I'm watching this wave that will never reach the sand
You see, I'm lying down on the sand
And I'm remembering the rising tide flowing in, the sun and happiness drifting away into the sea
An eternity, a century, a year ago

We will be going, where you want to go whenever you want to
We will be loving each other still even when love will be dead
And all of life will be like the shades of the Indian Summer

Monday, September 19, 2011



I grieve over the death of Shri Ashok Chaturvedi, who headed the Research & Analysis Wing ( R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency, in his capacity as Secretary ( R ) during 2007-09, on the night of September 18,2011, in a Delhi hospital due to a multi-organ failure. He was 63----12 years younger than me.

2.Ashok and I had the privilege of belonging to the Indian Police Service Cadre (IPS) of Madhya Pradesh. He was from Uttar Pradesh and I from Tamil Nadu, but we both loved the State and had pleasant memories of our stay in the State.

3.Ashok joined the R&AW some years after I did. He twice served under me----- in the 1980s as an Assistant Director in the Division that dealt with Khalistani terrorism and again in the 1990s as a Deputy Director in the same Division. He was posted to a Western country which was a hotbed of Khalistani activities and developed a wide network of contacts through whom he collected valuable information on the activities of the Khalistani terrorists in the West. I had inspected his Station and recorded my kudos on his very good operational performance.

4.In any objective account on the role of the R&AW in the fight against Khalistani terrorism, the contribution of Ashok’s many successful operations should find prominent mention.

5.He became somewhat controversial as the head of the R&AW. Sections of our media repeatedly carried negative reports about him. I am not in a position to vouch for the correctness of those reports sine I had retired in August 1994----13 years before he became the chief. However, these negative reports did not affect my regard and affection for him.

6.Bye,Ashok.I still remember the wonderful time I spent with you and your family on a heavily-snowing evening in a far-away land. How amazed I was by the large circle of friends you had in that country. You remembered my love for France and, the next day, you drove me to a city where French of a different kind was spoken.

7. We were always kind to each other. I knew how attached you were to me. And you knew how attached I was to you. Those memories do matter as we leave this world one by one.

Friday, September 16, 2011



( To be read in continuation of my article of September 2,2011, titled “INS Airavat Incident: What does it Portend?” at )

China has reacted ---moderately through a spokesperson of its Foreign Office and somewhat virulently through the Party-controlled “Global Times”--- to reports that India has been considering an offer from Vietnam to award oil and gas exploration bids over two blocks in the South China Sea to India’s ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL). These blocks presently come under the de facto control of Vietnam, which also claims de jure sovereignty over the blocks under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982.

2. Vietnamese claims of de jure sovereignty have been rejected by China, but accepted by India as would be evident from the following reported comment of a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India : “The Chinese had concerns but we are going by what the Vietnamese authorities have told us and have conveyed this to the Chinese.”

3. The Chinese spokesperson, without referring to India by name, has stated as follows: “ China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea and the island. China's stand is based on historical facts and international law. China's sovereign rights and positions are formed in the course of history and this position has been held by Chinese Government for long. On the basis of this China is ready to engage in peaceful negotiations and friendly consultations to peacefully solve the disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights so as to positively contribute to peace and tranquillity in the South China Sea area. We hope that the relevant countries respect China's position and refrain from taking unilateral action to complicate and expand the issue. We hope they will respect and support countries in the region to solve the bilateral disputes through bilateral channels. As for oil and gas exploration activities, our consistent position is that we are opposed to any country engaging in oil and gas exploration and development activities in waters under China's jurisdiction. We hope the foreign countries do not get involved in South China Sea dispute.”

4. The “Global Times” (September 16 ), which does not necessarily represent the views of the Chinese Government and reflects more the views of conservative sections in the Communist Party of China, has been less measured in its comments and has talked of the need to confront the Indian move more vigorously.

5. As I had pointed out in my article cited above, there are two issues involved in the so-called South China Sea dispute.The first is its status as international and not Chinese waters and the second is the conflicting claims of sovereignty made by China, Vietnam, the Philippines and other countries in the region over the island territories found in the Sea.

6. The US has so far been following a policy of rejecting Chinese claims of sovereignty over the entire Sea while not getting involved in the various disputes over the claims of sovereignty over the island territories. Indian policy closely converged with that of the US. It rejected the Chinese projection of the Sea as a whole as Chinese waters. It took steps to develop its strategic relations with Vietnam. It asserted the rights of the ships of the Indian Navy to transit the South China Sea during their visits to Vietnamese ports without the need to inform China beforehand or ask for Chinese permission.

7. At the same time, India rightly observed a nuanced silence on the dispute over the island territories. Now, for the first time, India is seeking to take a position on the island territories under the de facto control of Vietnam by accepting Vietnamese claims of de jure sovereignty over them.

8. This is a position with inherent seeds of an undesirable military confrontation between India and China in the South China Sea itself and subsequently or simultaneously across the land borders between the two countries. India is still in the process of strengthening its military-related infrastructure near the Chinese border. In my assessment, it will take India from five to 10 years to bring its infrastructure on par with that of China in Tibet.

9.The reach and strength of the Indian Navy in the South China Sea is far behind that of the US. The US is in a position to engage China in a naval confrontation in the South China Sea, but it realises that such a confrontation could be counter-productive. That is why it has been observing a neutral stand on the island territories.

10. The implications of the reported Indian move to accept Vietnamese claims of sovereignty and to consider favourably the Vietnamese invitation to undertake oil and gas exploration do not appear to have been carefully considered by the Government of India. China has been opposing with determination repeated Vietnamese moves to undertake explorations for natural resources around the island territories under its de facto control. It is likely to oppose any move by the Indian company to undertake exploration in the area.

11. We have seen that Vietnam has not been able to counter effectively Chinese disruptions of its exploration activities. It will not be able to provide adequate protection to the Indian company. Will we be able to keep a permanent presence of the Indian Navy in the area to protect the operations of the Indian company? Will it be able to counter Chinese attempts to disrupt the operations of the Indian company?

12. The ultimate result may be a confrontation with China in the seas adjacent to the Chinese mainland which India cannot hope to win and an over-all deterioration in Sino-Indian relations at a time when India is not yet prepared for a full-blown confrontation with China.

13. Some analysts have projected the Indian move as a tit-for-tat response to Chinese troops moving into the Gilgit-Baltistan area of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistani occupation to assist Pakistan in the development of its infrastructure in an area over which India claims sovereignty.

14. The Gilgit-Baltistan area is legitimately ours. The Chinese have no business to be there. We have many options for countering them and for making their foray into the area prohibitively costly and bloody for them. Instead of identifying those options and undertaking them, we should not try to confront the Chinese in the South China Sea, which is not India’s cup of tea. ( 17-9-11)

( 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, September 15, 2011



There has been a debate on the respective leadership qualities of Shri Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, and Shri Rahul Gandhi of the Congress (I) in the wake of two recent developments. An objective of the debate is to assess which one of them stands a better chance of becoming the Prime Minister after the next elections to the Lok Sabha, which are scheduled to be held in 2014---unless the Congress ( I ) facing a series of political crises decides to go for an earlier poll or is forced to do so due to a re-alignment of the coalition headed by it.

2. The first development is a report dated September 1,2011, released by the USA’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) on India titled “India: Domestic Issues, Strategic Dynamics, and U.S. Relations”. The report discusses in detail on the basis of media reports India’s external relations---including ties with the US--- and the domestic political developments for the information of Congress members.

3. Three aspects of the discussion on the domestic political situation in the report are significant:

(a). Of the Indian political leaders discussed by name, only Shri Modi and Shri Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, come for positive mention. The references to Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh and Shri Rahul Gandhi are negative. The ineffective management style of Dr.Manmohan Singh and the faltering political image of Shri Rahul Gandhi are underlined. As against this, the report looks positively at the leadership styles of Shri Modi and Shri Nitish Kumar.

( b). The report has been impressed not only by the remarkable economic progress made by Gujarat under the decade-long Chief Ministership of Shri Modi, but also by his efforts to reduce corruption and red tape in the governance of the State. It says of Shri Modi: “Controversial Chief Minister Narendra Modi has streamlined economic processes, removing red tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth.” In contrast, the references to Dr.Manmohan Singh’s role in the fight against corruption are negative. A perusal of the entire report would indicate the extent of the concern in the minds of the CRS researchers who drafted the report over the large-scale corruption in India as revealed by recent scandals. In this connection, the fact that Shri Modi has been judged positively and Dr.Manmohan Singh negatively could have a significant impact not only on Congressional opinion, but also on policy-makers in the Executive.

( c ).While judging Shri Modi positively for his post-2002 governance, the report continues to look upon him as a controversial political leader because of allegations of his inaction during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the State. While it has taken note of Shri Modi’s Prime Ministerial aspirations, it feels that the continuing allegations regarding his 2002 role might stand in the way of a concretisation of his aspirations. In one of its explanatory notes based on two articles written by Indian columnists, it says: “Modi continues to be haunted by the 2002 Ahmadabad riots, a topic he has never fully addressed in public. Although he is a safe bet to win a third term in 2012 state elections, his aspirations to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate face significant obstacles, not least the likelihood that Muslims and liberal-minded Hindus would represent an anti-Modi bloc at the national level, and the BJP’s key ally in Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), could be expected to abandon the alliance in protest.”

4. The report thus draws the attention of Congress members to the post-2002 positive image of Shri Modi as well as to the lingering allegations about his negative role in 2002. Shri Modi is seen as a positively evolving leader with a negative historical background. Unless he is able to rid himself of the negative memories evoked by the ant-Muslim riots of 2002, any exercise mounted by his followers and party to rehabilitate his image abroad will be problematic.

5.In the short and medium terms, the CRS report could have two fall-outs in respect of US policy. Firstly, a dilution of the decision of the US State Department in 2005 not to issue a visa to Shri Modi and, secondly, a greater readiness on the part of the US diplomats posted in India to interact with Shri Modi, his ministers and officials. Some of the WikiLeaks documents already indicated a developing view in the State Department that the policy of avoidance of interactions with them could prove inadvisable. This view is likely to be strengthened in the months to come and before the next elections. Whether the US likes Shri Modi or not, he is there to stay. Better take cognisance of him.

6.The second development is the order passed by the Supreme Court of India in a case in which it had been monitoring investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into allegations in a petition regarding Shri Modi’s role in the 2002 riots. The petition alleges wilful inaction by the administration headed by Shri Modi. The SIT investigation has not been able to find any substantive evidence in support of the allegations. At the same time, non-Governnmental activists carrying on a decade-long campaign against Shri Modi on this issue have not been able to produce any concrete evidence in proof of their allegations. Thus, Shri Modi stands in a position where he can neither be proved guilty or established to be innocent.

7. The Supreme Court has decided to discontinue the monitoring of the investigation in view of the completion of it and has referred the results of the investigation made so far to a trial court for further action as warranted in accordance with the law. It is doubtful whether the court will be able to come to definitive conclusions. The claims made by the supporters of Shri Modi and his party that he has been vindicated are premature.

8.If Shri Modi wants to pursue his Prime Ministerial aspirations, the only option available to him is to make public and sincere amends to the victims of the anti-Muslim riots and persuade them to forget and forgive. His continuing reluctance to do so is evident from his subsequent comments and actions. He and his supporters seem to believe that if they continue to stonewall the allegations against him, public memory would fade away. This may not happen as we had seen in the case of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi under the rule of the Congress.

9. This may please be read in continuation of my article of September 15,2011, titled “CRS OBSERVATIONS ON INDIAN DOMESTIC SCENE BASED ON MEDIA REPORTS. “ (16-9-11)

( 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)



The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the public policy research wing of the US Congress. It works exclusively and directly for Members of Congress, their Committees and staff on a confidential, nonpartisan basis.

2.It used to be known as the Legislative Reference Service. It was renamed as the CRS under the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 which directed the CRS to devote more of its efforts and increased resources to doing research and analysis that would assist Congress in direct support of the legislative process.

3. The CRS makes no legislative or other policy recommendations to Congress; its responsibility is to ensure that Members of the House and Senate have available the best possible information and analysis on which to base legislative decisions. The CRS reports are based on open source information. It rarely does field research.

4. A review done in 1996 by the US Centre For Democracy and Technology described the reports prepared by the CRS as among the “10 most wanted Government documents” in the US.

5. In a report dated September 1,2011, titled “India: Domestic Issues, Strategic Dynamics, and U.S. Relations”, the CRS has made the following observations on the Indian domestic scene based on reports largely collated from Indian media:

“Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv’s Italian-born, Catholic widow, refrained from active politics until the late 1990s. She later made efforts to revitalize the party by phasing out older leaders and attracting more women and lower castes—efforts that appear to have paid off in 2004. Today, Congress again occupies more parliamentary seats (206) than any other party and, through unprecedented alliances with powerful regional parties, it again leads India’s government under the UPA coalition. As party chief and UPA chair, Gandhi is seen to wield considerable influence over the coalition’s policy making process. Her foreign origins have presented an obstacle and likely were a major factor in her surprising 2004 decision to decline the prime ministership. Her son, Rahul, is widely seen as the most likely heir to Congress leadership.”

“With the rise of Hindu nationalism, the BJP rapidly increased its parliamentary strength during the 1980s. In 1993, the party’s image was tarnished among some, burnished for others, by its alleged complicity in serious communal violence in Mumbai and elsewhere. Some hold elements of the BJP, as the political arm of extremist Hindu groups, responsible for the incidents (the party has advocated “Hindutva,” or an India based on Hindu culture, and views this as key to nationbuilding; Hindutva can at times take an anti-Western cast). While leading a national coalition from 1998-2004, the BJP worked—with only limited success—to change its image from rightwing Hindu fundamentalist to conservative and secular, although 2002 communal rioting in Gujarat again damaged the party’s credentials as a moderate organization. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was overseen by party notable Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee, whose widespread personal popularity helped to keep the BJP in power. Following its upset loss in 2004 and even sounder defeat in 2009, the party has been in some disarray. While it continues to lead several important state governments, its national influence has eroded in recent years. Party leader Lal Krishna Advani, who had served as Vajpayee’s deputy and home minister while the BJP was in power, apparently sought to transcend his Hindu nationalist roots by posturing mostly as “governance, security, development” candidate in 2009; the party’s loss likely ended his political career. At present, the BJP president is Nitin Gadkari, a former Maharashtran official known for his avid support of privatization. Although still in some disorder in 2011, there are signs that the BJP has made changes necessary to be a formidable challenger in scheduled 2014 polls. These include a more effective branding of the party as one focused on development and good governance rather than emotive, Hindutva-related issues, and Gadkari’s success at quelling intra-party dissidence and, by some accounts, showing superior strategizing and organizing skills as compared to his predecessors.”

“Yet among the party’s likely candidates for the prime ministership in future elections is Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has overseen impressive development successes in his state, but who is also dogged by controversy over his alleged complicity in lethal anti-Muslim rioting there in 2002 (Modi has in the past been denied a U.S. visa under an American law barring entry for foreign government officials found to be complicit in severe violations of religious freedom).

“Despite his clear political and economic successes in Gujarat—in his ten years as Chief Minister the state has led the country on many development indicators—Modi continues to be haunted by the 2002 Ahmadabad riots, a topic he has never fully addressed in public. Although he is a safe bet to win a third term in 2012 state elections, his aspirations to be the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate face significant obstacles, not least the likelihood that Muslims and liberalminded Hindus would represent an anti-Modi bloc at the national level, and the BJP’s key ally in Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), could be expected to abandon the alliance in protest. ( My comment: This assessment is based on the following two articles: (Geeta Anand, “Give Us Your Account, Mr.Modi” (op-ed), Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2011; Karan Shah,” Narendra Modi, Prime Minister?” (op-ed), Outlook (Delhi), April 5, 2011).

“Corruption has long been a serious problem in India .Pervasive, major, and high-level corruption and iniquity is now identified as a central obstacle to India’s economic and social development, and is seen as a key cause of a steep decline in foreign investment in late 2010 and early 2011. November 2010 witnessed a baring of two major Indian scandals that have left the national government largely paralyzed and unable to effectively govern to date. The first involves apparent corruption and gross negligence by officials overseeing the October 2010 Commonwealth Games hosted by New Delhi; the second relates to the government’s sale of broadband licenses at far below market prices, costing the government many billions of dollars. “

“While it has benefitted from the UPA’s woes, the main opposition BJP has not escaped culpability in recent corruption scandals. In July 2011, Karnataka’s ombudsman issued a report implicating the state’s BJP chief minister, B.S. Yeddyurappa, in a $3.5 billion scandal involving the illegal mining of iron ore. Yeddyurappa, accused of receiving a $2 million illicit payment from a mining company and selling state land at an inflated price, quickly lost the support of his party and resigned. “

“In addition to the major incidents of graft and corruptions discussed above, reports of large-scale political bribery sparked much outrage in early 2011 when U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reportedly described an American diplomat’s eyewitness mid-2008 account of being shown chests containing about $25 million in cash that a Congress Party aide allegedly said was to be used as payoffs to secure Parliament’s endorsement of the controversial U.S.-India civil nuclear deal. Although Prime Minster Singh himself denied that his party had paid any bribes or broken any laws, and described the account as “unverified and unverifiable,” the episode has led to at least two arrests in an ongoing probe and provided further fuel for opposition party attacks on the UPA government.179 Moreover, in the current year, new attention also has focused on hundreds of billions of dollars in funds illicitly stashed by Indians abroad. In July 2011, India‘s Supreme Court requested that the government find and repatriate this so called “black money,” adding new pressure on the Congress-led coalition to combat high-level corruption.”

“While Prime Minister Singh is not accused of personal wrongdoing, he has come under fire for an allegedly inattentive management style that, for some observers, facilitated an environment in which corruption could spread. In the face of mounting pressure to act, Congress President Sonia Gandhi acknowledged that problems existed “at all levels” of society, but she squashed rumors of any rift between herself and the Prime Minister, expressing full confidence in Singh’s leadership. Soon after, Singh himself offered to appear before any investigative body, declaring he had nothing to hide about his actions. Yet, as his government continued to be paralyzed by scandals and infighting into 2011, speculation about Singh’s status mounted, and in February the Prime Minister gave a nationally-televised interview in which he defended his own actions, promised to crack down on corruption, and called the related scandals the greatest regret of his term in office. Days later, Singh dropped his longstanding resistance and acceded to opposition demands for a parliamentary investigation of the telecom scandal in return for an end to their filibuster that had paralyzed the legislature for two months.”

“By the spring of 2011, negative emotions sparked by months-long revelations of high-level corruption reached the point where mass public mobilization could occur. Two figures were notable in initiating this development: In early June, prominent yoga guru Swami Ramdev—his television program attracts about 30 million viewers—staged a major anticorruption protest in the Indian capital, and launched his own mass hunger strike to demand government action to recover “black money.” That night, after apparently inaccurate reports that the government had acceded to Ramdev’s demands, hundreds of police swept through the protesters, using tear gas and batons to disperse them; at least 30 people were injured. Government officials explained that Ramdev’s permit allowed only for yoga and not a political demonstration; police said that permit was for a maximum of 5,000 attendees and some 40,000-60,000 showed up. Critics accused the government of using unnecessary force against peaceful protesters.”

“Over following days, Ramdev’s fast attracted thousands of participants across the country. Public officials were discomfited by the exercise of political influence through a perceived “publicity stunt”; other observers were alarmed that hardline Hindu nationalists were at times sharing the stage with Ramdev. There was thus relief felt across India’s political spectrum when, in mid-June, Ramdev called off his fast.”

“Yet a previously unknown figure has assumed far more influence at the national level. Two months before the Ramdev-led protest, social activist Anna Hazare, an uneducated 72-year-old from an indigent Maharashtran family, had set himself up at a New Delhi tourist sight and vowed to “fast unto death” unless the central government moved to toughen its anti-corruption laws, in particular by establishing a new “Lokpal” (ombudsman) post to review corruption complaints reaching to the highest levels of government. Less than a week later, after many thousands in cities across India had taken up his cause, Hazare ended his strike and declared victory upon the government’s announcement that it would form a committee to draft Lokpal legislation. The composition of that committee—five government officials and five nongovernmental activists—quickly became a matter of controversy, with critics questioning why members of civil society groups, with no standing as elected representatives of the people, should be involved in a process with major political implications. Moreover, the government representatives found themselves in serious disagreement with “Team Anna,” as the civil society members and other Hazare supporters came to be known. In the end, the government officials produced one version (the Lokpal bill) and civil society members produced another (the Jan Lokpal bill). Opinion surveys have found huge majorities (80%-90%) of Indians favoring the civil society version.”

“Top Congress Party leaders, including Prime Minister Singh, have argued that multiple tactics to combat corruption are required, and that no single group could claim to represent the whole of civil society. Still, the government has come under fire for failing to open lines of communication with alternative civil society groups, leaving an impression that Hazare’s movement speaks for the entire nation. Meanwhile, “Team Anna” itself has been criticized for allegedly dividing poorer minority communities, and for signs that Hindu nationalists are providing the bulk of its organizational muscle.”

“On July 28, 2011, 43 years after the first draft was conceived, India’s federal cabinet approved a Lokpal bill that did not include serving prime ministers or the higher judiciary under its purview.185 The bill did, however, incorporate some minor provisions of the Jan Lokpal bill and had the support of all but one of the Congress Party’s coalition partners. Nevertheless, Hazare called the bill “unacceptable,” and the opposition BJP joined him in expressing disappointment that the prime minister was excluded from oversight. To express his dissatisfaction with the government’s actions, Hazare vowed to begin another fast “unto death” in New Delhi on August 16. On that morning, as thousands of supporters began to gather at a city park, plain-clothes police arrested Hazare and took him away. At this point, his supporters released a pre-recorded videotape in which Hazare, anticipating his own detention, announced the start of a “second independence campaign” for India. By jailing Hazare, the government looked both inept and undemocratic, and united a wide range of otherwise reluctant actors in support of Hazare’s movement. In a further twist, Hazare refused an offer to be released until he was given permission to launch a 15-day hunger strike without any restrictions on crowd size at the anticipated protest site.”

“In late August, a parliamentary committee began considering the Jan Lokpal bill submitted by Hazare and his supporters, thus meeting a central demand of the protestors. Yet Hazare rejected a personal plea from the prime minister to end his fast until being guaranteed that certain key provisions of the bill would be enacted. On August 27, the 13th day of his latest fast, Hazare declared victory when negotiations among government ministers, opposition lawmakers, and civil society representatives resulted in an agreement.”

“Even before major corruption scandals broke in late 2010, the Congress-led UPA was under considerable criticism for drift and ineffectiveness. Since that time, the decline of the Congress Party’s standing has been precipitous: less than two years after the party won a convincing 2009 national reelection victory, opinion polls showed a majority of Indians believing the UPA coalition had lost its moral authority to rule. Many analysts identify the slow response to corruption scandals as having been particularly damaging.”

“In the face of growing public anger, Prime Minister Singh made changes to the federal cabinet in January, demoting several ministers who had been tainted by scandal or criticized for ineffectiveness. Yet the changes were relatively minor, leaving most commentators unimpressed, and the opposition BJP accused the government of lacking enough courage to remove the corrupt figures.”

“Over the course of recent political upheaval, Singh’s mild, nonpolitical bearing, once considered part of his appeal, has for many become a liability, especially as the Indian leader has appeared slow-footed in reacting to national outrage over increasing evidence of high-level corruption. In June, he publically denied charges that he had become a “lame duck” leader.”

“Meanwhile, Congress President Gandhi is suffering from an unknown illness, and in early August virtually disappeared from India’s political stage, having left the country for surgery at an undisclosed U.S. hospital. Moreover, as key Congress figures express support for the future leadership role of Sonia Gandhi’s youthful son, parliamentarian Rahul Gandhi, Manmohan Singh’s political authority is correspondingly undermined. The 2009 polls may have represented a coming out party of sorts for the younger Gandhi, who many expect to be put forward as Congress’s prime ministerial candidate in scheduled 2014 elections. Yet this heir-apparent remains dogged by questions about his abilities to lead the party, given a mixed record as an election strategist, uneasy style in public appearances, and reputation for gaffes.”

“Perhaps India’s best example of effective governance and impressive development is found in Gujarat (pop. 60 million), where controversial Chief Minister Narendra Modi has streamlined economic processes, removing red tape and curtailing corruption in ways that have made the state a key driver of national economic growth. Seeking to overcome the taint of his alleged complicity in deadly 2002 anti-Muslim riots, Modi has overseen heavy investment in modern roads and power infrastructure, and annual growth of more than 11% in recent years. The state has attracted major international investors such as General Motors and Mitsubishi and, with only 5% of the country’s population, Gujarat now accounts for more than one-fifth of India’s exports.”

“Another positive example in 2011 has been Bihar (pop. 104 million), one of India’s poorest states, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has won national attention through his considerable success in emphasizing good governance over caste-based politics; he is credited with restoring law and order across much of the state, as well as overseeing infrastructure and educational improvements of direct benefit to common citizens projects.”

“Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) party, in alliance with the main national opposition BJP, won an overwhelming reelection majority in November 2010 state elections. The examples set in by Chief Ministers Modi and Kumar may have inspired the popular leader of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (pop. 200 million). Chief Minister Mayawati, who is widely believed to maintain national political ambitions”

( 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, September 14, 2011



To you
To the way that you're beautiful
To the way that you are to me
To your slightly artificial, tender words

To you
To the little girl that you used to be
To this same girl that you often still are
To your past, to your secrets
To your old Prince Charmings

To me
To my madness for which you are the reason
To my fits of anger with you for no reason
To my silences and to my unkindness to you

To me
To the time I spent searching for you
To my qualities that you make fun of
To the faults that I've hidden from you

To us
To the memory that we're going to make
To the future and above all, to the present
To us
To our hopes and to our illusions
To our next first meeting
To the happiness of the millions
That are in love just like us

----From Joe Dassin’s A Toi ( To you).A French singer of US Jewish parents. He died young of a heart attack at 42 in 1980.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011



Come, come, it is a prayer
Come, come, not for me my father
Come, come, come back for my mother
Come, come, she dies for you
Come, come, so that life can re-start
Come, come, without you there
Come, come, it is a long silence
Come, come, it is a silence never-ending.

I know this girl she is pretty
That for her you forget your family
I'm not here to judge you
But to take you back
It seems that her love is your soul
Do you think it's worth the love of your wife
Who shared your sorrows

Come, come, as before
Come, come, you will sleep as before
Come, come, it is a prayer
Come, come, not for me my father
Come, come, come back for my mother
Come, come, she dies for you
Do you know that John is back at school
He already knows the alphabet, it's funny
When he pretended to smoke
He really looked like you

Come, come, it is a prayer
Come, come, you smile, my father
Come, come, you will see my mother
Come, come, she is more beautiful than before
Before, before, before, before
Come, come, say nothing, my father
Come, come, kiss me, my father
La la la la ... La la la la ...



According to an analysis by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the Afghan Taliban and its affiliates such as the Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Heckmatyar’s Hizbe-Islami (HI) attempted to launch three big attacks on strategic targets in Kabul since the responsibility for the internal security of Kabul was transferred by the US-led NATO forces to the Afghan security forces three months ago. In two of these attacks, the Afghan security forces were taken by surprise. Only in one, they were able to thwart the attack.

2. The two successful attacks by the Taliban and its affiliates were one in June when seven people were killed in an attack on the Inter-Continental Hotel and another in August when insurgents stormed the British Council HQ, killing 12 people.

3. There was a third attack on September 13. It began at about 13:30 local time when a car carrying insurgents was stopped at a checkpoint about 300 metres from the US Embassy. There were several large explosions and the insurgents, who were thwarted from raiding the US Embassy, entered a nearby nine-storey building under construction and from there opened fire with rockets and mortars.

4. Haroun Mir, Director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies, has been quoted as saying that it was the first time that four groups of militants had attacked in four different places--- near the US Embassy, on a Police Station and an attempt at forced entry into the airport which was foiled. The identity of the fourth target is not clear.

5.The insurgents used a mix of modus operandi consisting of commando-style attacks with explosives and hand-held weapons near the US Embassy and suicide attacks in the other three places. While the attacks were spectacular in their planning and execution, they were not very lethal as seen from the low figures of fatalities---less than 10, four of them policemen. No casualties were reported from the US Embassy. The total number of insurgents involved in the attack in the US Embassy area is estimated at around 10.

6. In view of the location of the US Embassy in the area attacked, it is saturated with state-of-the-art CCTV cameras given by the US, but these were of no help in detecting the arrival of the insurgents. It is suspected that the insurgent had cached the hand-held weapons beforehand in the building under construction and launched their raid only with explosives. In the confusion caused by the explosions, they entered the building, retrieved the hand-held weapons and started exchanging fire with the security forces posted in the area.

7.The reports on the attacks received so far reflect somewhat poorly on the Afghan and NATO intelligence both of which failed to give advance warnings, but speak well of the reflexes of the Afghan security forces, which recovered quickly from the initial shock and managed to deny a strategic victory to the insurgents.

8.Tactical surprise scored by the insurgents due to poor Afghan and NATIO intelligence, but a successful fight-back by the Afghan Security Forces after recovering from the initial surprise and shock have been a defining characteristic of recent attacks in Kabul. Till now, the largely US-trained Afghan Security Forces have been able to stand up to the Taliban and its affiliates much better than the US-trained forces of South Vietnam were able to do against the Vietcong in the 1970s.

9. However, what should be of real concern is not the reach of the Taliban and its affiliates into Kabul, but their continuing hold in the interior areas despite the counter-insurgency operations with modern weapons and technology launched by the US last year.

10.The Afghan Taliban managed to carry out a catastrophic attack on a US helicopter on August 5,2011, carrying 30 US troops including 22 Navy SEALS, belonging to the same unit which had killed Osama bin Laden in a raid at Abbottabad in Pakistan on May 2 ---killing all of them. It was the largest fatality in a single incident ever suffered by the US during its military operations in Afghanistan launched in 2001 and the largest fatality ever suffered in a single incident by the Joint Special Operations Command, which controls the operations of the Navy SEALS since the JSOC was set up. Seven Afghan troops and an interpreter also died in the incident.

11. Subsequently, at least two Afghan civilians were killed and up to 77 non-Afghan soldiers - thought mostly to be American - were injured when a suicide bomber in a lorry attacked a NATO base in the Wardak province on September 11, the 10th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland.

12. These incidents in Kabul and the interior underline the continuing ability of the Afghan Taliban and its affiliates to take NATO/Afghan forces by surprise. The US intelligence capability vis-a-vis Al Qaeda in the Af-Pak region might have improved, but not its capability vis-a-vis Taliban and its allies or affiliates. The US ground intelligence inside Afghanistan---preventive as well as disruptive--- is as poor as ever. HUMINT in particular is weak quantitatively as well as qualitatively. The Afghan intelligence has not been able to compensate for the USA's poor HUMINT capability.

13. The USA’s analysis and assessment capability is below par. It does not have a correct measure of the Taliban and its affiliates. The US may be making headway against Al Qaeda, but it is not against the Taliban. If one considers the totality of the picture in the Af-Pak region---anti-terror, anti-insurgency---- the US is far from prevailing in Afghanistan.

14. The US troops after 10 years in Afghanistan are in the same position as the Soviet troops after eight years were in 1987---victory increasingly elusive.

15. The US strategy in Afghanistan needs a re-visit. So too the Indian strategy. Despite all our support, the Najib Government in Kabul collapsed in April 1992.A similar fate might befall the Karzai Govt.

16.We had a Northern Alliance option after Najib fell. We do not have a similar option in Afghanistan today. Post-1992, India, Russia and Iran jointly countered Pakistani machinations. Today, Pakistan has moved closer to Russia and the Central Asian Republics in an attempt to prevent a convergence of Indian and Russian objectives in Afghanistan. The implications for the security of this region and for our internal security if the Taliban and its affiliates, with Pakistani support, manage to impose a no-win situation on the US-led NATO forces need to be carefully examined by us and necessary correctives introduced in our Af-Pak policy. (14-9-11)

( 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 )


( I am reproducing below an article written by me on June 25,2006)



By B.Raman

We saw in Vietnam a clash of wills between a low-tech Vietcong and hi-tech Americans.

Low-tech ultimately prevailed over hi-tech.

Hi-tech taught the Americans how to kill----more and more.

One lost count of the body-counts projected by the US Army officers in South Vietnam and by Mr.Robert McNamara, the then US Defence Secretary, in Washington DC as indicators that the US was winning the war.

If body-counts alone could win a war, the Americans should have won in Vietnam. They did not.

There is something more to battles than body-counts-----morale,motivation, determination, ability to improvise and faith in oneself. The Vietcong had them in plenty.

In addition, the Vietcong had something more, which ultimately made the difference-----the ability to recover and fight again and again undeterred by all the losses suffered by them at the hands of the American troops, artillery and air force.

The Vietcong were like ants. They kept coming more and more. The more the Americans killed, the more they came. They kept coming out of dozens of ant holes located in foreign territory----in North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China.

You cannot destroy ants unless you locate and destroy the ant holes. The American air strikes could not destroy all the ant holes in foreign territory.

They did not even try to destroy those in China lest they provoke Beijing. Their air strikes against those in North Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were ineffective due to the complicity of the local authorities with the Vietcong.

Ultimately, the hi-tech Americans were overwhelmed by the low-tech ants. They called it quits.

We are seeing in Afghanistan a clash of wills between a low-tech Taliban and the hi-tech forces of the US-led coalition.

The hi-tech of the US-led forces is enabling them to kill more and more.

Body-counts reminiscent of the Vietnam days are back in vogue.

20 Taliban killed, 40 killed, 65 killed, 149 killed......

It goes on and on.

Every time you watch the TV, listen to the radio or read a newspaper, you see or hear only body-counts.

To whom did those bodies belong?

To the Taliban as claimed by the US-led forces? Or

To innocent civilians as alleged by the Taliban?

Definitely both.

The more the civilians you kill, the more the alienation.

The more the civilians you kill, the more the anger against you.

It is a vicious circle.

The Taliban are like ants. They keep coming more and more. The more the Americans kill, the more they come. They keep coming out of ant holes located in the Wairistan and Balochistan areas of Pakistan.

Instead of focussing on the ant holes from which the ants are entering Afghanistan, the Americans are focussing on the places in Afghanistan which are being invaded by the ants----killing many innocent civilians and driving others to join the ants.

This is like damaging or destroying your house because it is invaded by ants instead of locating the ant holes and destroying them first.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is right.

The US-led forces have to change their methods. They have to attack the sources of terrorism.

They have to destroy the ant holes instead of keeping themselves confined to chasing the ants after they enter Afghanistan.

The American-led forces cannot be successful, despite all their resources and fire power, in destroying the ant holes unless they have the genuine co-operation of the military-dominated Government in Pakistan.

Expectations of such genuine co-operation have proved themselves to be illusory.

The Americans have only one option. Facilitate the coming into power of a genuinely democratic Government, which might co-operate sincerely.

It is better to have a sincere ally, even if it be only half effective, than to have an insincere ally, who feeds the ants while pretending to destroy them.

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

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Monday, September 12, 2011


Juliette Greco

Tell me again tender things
Your beautiful speech
My heart is not weary of hearing
Provided always
You repeat these wonderful words
I love you

You know
In reality I dont think so
But yet I still want
Listen to this word that I adore
Your voice sounds caressing
And in spite of myself I want to believe

It is so sweet
My dear treasure, to be a little crazy
Life is sometimes too bitter
If one does not believe in dreams
Grief is quickly appeased
With a hug and a kiss
The word that heals the wound in the heart.

---From Juliette Greco's Parlez-moi d'amour

Saturday, September 10, 2011




Between November 2007 and September 13,2008, the group calling itself the Indian Mujahideen (IM) had sent five E-mail messages to sections of the media.

2.The first message was sent a few minutes before the serial blasts in three towns of Uttar Pradesh on November 23, 2007. The second was sent after the blasts in Jaipur in May, 2008. The third was sent before the blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26, 2008. The fourth was sent after the press conference held by the Gujarat Police in August, 2008, in which they claimed to have solved the case relating to the Ahmedabad and Jaipur blasts, identified the perpetrators and arrested many of them. According to the Gujarat police version, it was the Students' Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), which was operating as the IM. The firfth message was sent before the blasts in New Delhi on September 13, 2008.

3.The first, second, third and fifth messages claimed responsibility for the blasts and the fourth debunked the claims of the Gujarat Police of having solved the case and tried to convey the impression that the arrested persons had nothing to do with the blasts. Surprisingly, the IM did not send any E-mail message claiming responsibility for the serial blasts in Bangalore on July 25, 2008.

4. Intriguingly, the IM described its E-mail message on the New Delhi blasts of September,2008, as "our third consecutive E-mail ". It said: "The INDIAN MUJAHIDEEN accepts the sole responsibility of Delhi serial blasts, and we claim this, through our third consecutive email, which is, unfortunately, still a mystery for you. It is very sad to see the bad condition of your cyber forensics who have still failed to find out our technique of sending the “Message of Death”."

5.Why did the IM, after the Delhi blasts, talk of only three E-mail messages, when the media had received five , all purporting to be from the IM?

6. A study of the five E-mail messages made by me in September,2008, indicated the following:

a).While the first two E-mail messages were virulent in their content, they were not obnoxiously abusive in their language. The last three messages were not only virulent in their content, but also obnoxious in their language. In the message about the Ahmedabad blasts, they had used the word bastard which normally Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations are not known to use. The message on the New Delhi blasts was even more abusive than the two messages regarding the blasts in Ahmedabad. P. C. Pandey, the DG of Police of Gujarat, was called a rascal, a bastard, a corrupt old hag, a base-born criminal and a filthy loyal dog of Narendra Modi. As pointed out by me at that time, such abuses were typical of the Mafia underworld of Mumbai and Gujarat.

(b).The Gujarat Police and the Rajasthan Police and their Police chiefs were severely condemned and a specific threat of terrorist attack was also held out against A.K.Jain of the Rajasthan Police. But, significantly, there was no criticism of the Karnataka Police and its chief. There was not even a reference to the investigation by the Bangalore Police, whereas the investigations by the Ahmedabad and Jaipur police were debunked and their claims of having solved the cases were questioned. Similarly, there was no reference to the UP Police investigation of the blasts of November 2007.

(c ).The language used in the third and fourth messages about the Ahmedabad blasts and the fifth message about the New Delhi blasts, which were very abusive, differed from the language used in the first message about the UP blasts and the second about the Jaipur blasts.

7.I had commented as follows in my assessment of these messages : “Why such discrepancies ( in language)? It is important to find answers to them before we come to definitive conclusions about the IM. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of the terrorist is in the catching. Unless and until we are able to identify and neutralise or arrest the right persons, who are the brains behind the IM, we will have more surprises. We have arrested many perpetrators of individual blasts, but I am not sure we have arrested the brains. By thinking and prematurely projecting that we have identified and arrested the brains, we will make ourselves liable for more surprises, which could damage the credibility of the police in the eyes of the public.”

8. In the message after the Delhi blasts of September,2008, many State Governments were criticised for their alleged harassment of the Muslims, but the main brunt of the criticism was against Maharashtra and the Mumbai Police.

9. I had then assessed as follows: “ From these messages, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective such as the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate or the "liberation" of the Muslims of India. Its objective till now is purely tactical to wreak vengeance on the Hindutva organisations and the various State Governments accused of harassing the Muslims. New Delhi seemed to have been targeted not only to exhibit their capability for action in the capital, but also to wreak vengeance on the Government of India for its failure to prevent the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992. The message says: "Babri Masjid was and will remain to be our glorious self esteem and Inshallah, we will prove it to you a hornet’s nest in which you have immersed your bare hand, unaware of the pain to come. If you are prepared to suffer the results of this issue, then by the will of Allah, verily! We will make you face it, and if you feel you are wise enough, then here we announce our ultimatum: Vacate the land of Babri as soon as you can."

10.The Mumbai Police announced on October 6,2008, the arrest of 20 suspected members of the IM, who had played a role in the serial blasts in Ahmedabad on July 26,2008, in the abortive attempt to organise similar blasts in Surat the next day and in the serial blasts in New Delhi on September 13,2008.

11. Among those arrested were four IT-savvy members of the IM, who had played a role in sending the E-mail messages in the name of the IM before and after the Ahmedabad blasts and before the New Delhi blasts by hacking into Wi-fi networks in Mumbai and Navin Mumbai. These were :

Mohammed Mansoor Asgar Peerbhoy aka Munawar aka Mannu. A 31-year-old resident of Pune, who was reportedly working for Yahoo, India, on an annual salary of Rs. 19 lakhs (US $ 45,000).

Mubin Kadar Shaikh, a 24-year-old graduate of computer science from Pune.

Asif Bashir Shaikh, a 22-year-old mechanical engineer from Pune. In addition to helping in sending the E-mail messages, he also reportedly played a role in planting 18 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in Surat, all of which failed to explode.

Mohammed Ismail Chaudhary, a 28-year-old computer mechanic, who was also suspected to have helped in planting the IEDs in Surat.

12.After these arrests in Mumbai, the IM stopped disseminating messages. There were no more terrorist stikes in which its involvement was established .There was almost total silence by the IM.

13.The IM started messaging again on September 19,2010, after a silence of nearly two years after the Delhi blasts of September,2008. A statement purported to have been issued by the IM was disseminated by E-mail on September 19,2010. It referred to certain anti-Muslim incidents which allegedly took place in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on the day of Eid (September 11). It also referred to the day when the total number of people allegedly killed by the security forces in Jammu & Kashmir during 2010 crossed 100 (September 17).

14.The statement was in good English with very few grammar or typing mistakes and had few of the kind of obnoxious abuses seen in the messages of 2007-08. It had been drafted by one well-versed in the Holy Koran.

15.Many of the religious allusions in the message had been taken from some past messages of Osama bin Laden, but bin Laden was not mentioned anywhere by name. The last para of the message had been borrowed almost word for word from a message against Gen. Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani Army issued by bin Laden in September 2007 calling for the wrath of Allah on them for the raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July, 2007. It read: "O,Allah, deface them, break their backs and heads, split them up and destroy their unity; O, Allah, afflict them with the loss of their near and dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our near and dear ones; O, Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O,Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O,Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O,Allah, destroy them for they cannot escape You; O, Allah, count them, kill them and leave not even one of them. " There were only two minor changes. bin Laden had not said "deface them". He had also not said "and heads". One did not know wherefrom bin Laden had originally taken his curse against Musharraf and the Pakistani Army. bin Laden's curse against them was converted by the IM into a curse against the Indian people and officials.

16.The statement did not directly claim responsibility on behalf of the IM for the attack in Delhi on September 19,2010, in which two Taiwanese tourists were injured by motor-cycle-borne individuals. However, it indirectly hinted at IM’s responsibility by saying: "In the name of Allah we dedicate this attack of retribution...."

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

18.It had highlighted in red ink the following words: "Our bands of Mujahideens love death more than you love life." While over 75 per cent of the statement was about alleged atrocities against Muslims in Jammu & Kashmir, there were also condemnatory references to the death of two IM suspects during a raid by the Delhi police on September 19,2008, to the arrests of some alleged members of the IM by the Anti-Terrorism Squad of the Maharashtra Police in connection with the Pune Bakery blast of February 13 2010 and some alleged anti-Muslim incidents in Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Eid day. The IM was not able to carry out its threat against the Commonwealth Games.

19.A message dated December 6, 2010, purporting to be from the IM indirectly claiming responsibility for the explosion in Varanasi on December 7,2010, was received by the media outlets to which it was addressed after the explosion had taken place. It differed from the message of the IM sent on September 19, 2010, in one significant aspect. It avoided any allusions to the messages of Osama bin Laden and was free of bin Laden like language and rhetoric. It had not borrowed from the past messages of bin Laden. It sought to project the IM as a purely indigenous movement, but needing the support of the Islamic world.

20.It warned the Hindus of continued attacks on Hindu holy places till all Masjids (mosques) belonging to the Muslims were restored to them. It was critical of the Indian criminal justice system, which was projected as anti-Muslim. This has been a recurring theme of all IM messages disseminated since the explosions in Uttar Pradesh in November, 2007. It warned moderate Indian Muslim leaders not to barter away the rights of the Muslims on the Babri Masjid issue. The salient points in this IM message, which was quite detailed, were as follows:

Criticism of the Judiciary: "The Supreme Court, the high courts, the lower courts and all the Commissions have utterly failed to play an impartial role regarding Muslim issues. Narendra Modi who presided over the 2002 massacres of Muslims in Gujarat is given a clean chit whereas the victims still run from pillar to post for justice. Even the 92 Mumbai culprits roam freely and enjoy Government security. All the anti-Muslim pre-planned riots, arson, rapes, losses of lives and properties are still awaiting justice. The list is endless!"

Criticism of the Congress (I): "It needs no mention that time and again the Congress party with its hidden agenda has shown its true colors. Be it the inaction over the planting of the idol in 1949 or the shilanyaas, the ground-breaking ceremony of 1989 and finally the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992. For all practical reasons the Masjid site has since been transformed into a Mandir (temple), thanks to the Supreme Court order to maintain Status-quo."

Warning of More Attacks on Hindu Holy Places: "Our memories are still fresh and our hearts still bleeding over every Muslim brother and sister who was hacked to death after the demolition of Babri masjid. Indian history is decorated with countless state-sponsored terror and state-managed riots. Indeed every martyr enlivens the ummah. We will not budge until every inch of the Masjid is regained and lives of our martyrs avenged. We will strike terror in the hearts and minds of these idol worshippers until the mountain of injustice is undone. We will leave no stone unturned come what may till the anger of believer’s hearts is removed and a Magnificent Masjid is built at the same spot. We are fully aware of your preparations at the Babri Masjid site for the construction of a ‘grand temple’ over the corpses of our martyrs all over the country. The Indian Mujahideen warn these filthy Hindu zealots that even if a Grand Temple of Gold is built over the Babri Masjid we will destroy it at all costs. Remember! It was a Masjid, It is a Masjid and It will always remain a Masjid. At this juncture Muslims are silent due to their state of affairs. We hereby invite all our Muslim brethren to never be weak-hearted over the designs of these idolators and urge them to strengthen their faith in Allah and unite for the cause of Islam. Surely, victory is awaiting us. Be assured that Indian Mujahideen, the sons of Mahmud Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, Firuz Shah Tughlaq and Aurangzeb have resolved that none of your Mandirs will remain safe until and unless all our occupied Masjids throughout India are returned back to the Muslims with honour. "

Caution to Indian Muslim Leaders: "Neither the All India Muslim Personal Law Board nor the Babri Masjid Action Committee nor the Sunni Waqf Board nor any litigant has any right to alter or compromise on any of these aspects whatsoever regarding the Babri Masjid. All sorts of bartering and bargaining is totally unacceptable to Allah and thus to the Muslims. We urge those ulema to behave sensibly, change their attitude towards this Holy Cause, fear Allah alone, come forward, inspire and motivate the people and thus appease none but Allah alone. We hereby declare that even if all the ulema, scholars and Muslim leaders collectively deviate from or refuse Allah and Prophet’s Verdict, their decision will be right beneath our feet."

The Kashmir Issue: "The manhandling and heckling of Kashmiri leadership in Indian cities is not at all a minor issue. These insane and cowardly Saffron Hindus on the behest of the IB (Intelligence Bureau) and the administration pounce upon weak people. As usual we are going through minute details of the matter and have obtained vital clues of the mischief which we presume to be inappropriate to be divulged at this point of time. Meanwhile we request the respected Syed Ali Shah Geelani Saheb and the Mirwaiz to maintain their self-respect and dignity. These sons of monkeys and snakes will never heed to sensible arguments and historical facts. Please don’t waste your time with these lowly creatures as they will never understand!"

Appeal to the Islamic World to Support Indian Muslims: "We appeal to all the Muslim countries to voice their concerns regarding oppression and injustice done by India upon their fellow brethren. It is their duty to pressurize this ‘Empire of Falsehood and Tyranny’ regarding the longstanding Kashmir issue where world’s largest concentration of armed forces in an occupied territory stands. This ‘Hollow superpower’, needs to be told loudly and clearly that it should get over its obsession with Muslims in India and that the Global Muslim Ummah is seriously concerned about the issues like Babri Masjid and Kashmir."

21.From this, it is apparent that the IM does not as yet have a strategic objective. It is still an organisation of tactical, reprisal terrorism determined to avenge the destruction of the Babri Masjid, the alleged atrocities against Muslims in different parts of India, including J&K, and what it sees as the unfair attitude of the judiciary towards Muslims.

22.I have not covered in this note the latest messages purporting to be from the IM received after the blast outside the Delhi High Court on September 7,2011, since their authenticity has not yet been established. ( 11-9-11)

( 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 )