Wednesday, March 9, 2011




The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is on a fresh reprisal spree against the Pakistani security agencies and elements in the Pashtun population, which have been co-operating with the Government.

2.It has claimed responsibility for two spectacular terrorist strikes carried out as reprisals. The first attack ---a remotely-controlled car bomb explosion---killed 25 persons on March 8,2011, near a gas filling station in Faislabad , Pakistan’s third largest industrial town located in Punjab.

3.Faislabad has been a stronghold of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). Abu Zubaidah, then projected as the No.3 of Al Qaeda, was arrested by the Pakistani security agencies from the house of an LET personality in this town in 2002 on information reportedly furnished by the US intelligence. He is now believed to be in the Guantanamo Bay detention centre in Cuba. It was Abu Zubaidah’s arrest in Faislabad which gave the first indicator of the emerging links between the LET and Al Qaeda. Since then, the LET has continued to be active in Faislabad, but there were no fresh reports of Al Qaeda activities in the town.

4.After the TTP came into existence in the wake of the Pakistani military commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July 2007, Faislabad was one of the places where it set up a presence with the help of the LET. According to the Pakistani media, the police suspect that the Fasislabad explosion could be in reprisal for the death of Umer Kundi , a local Taliban leader, in a shoot-out on February 19 last year. The Faislabad office of the ISI, which is located near the gas-filling station, does not appear to have suffered any serious damage. A spokesmsan of the TTP has been quoted by the media as claiming that the ISI office was the target in reprisal for last year’s incident.

5. The Faislabad explosion was followed by a suicide attack on March 9 on a funeral procession for the wife of a pro-Government Pashtun leader in the village of Adezai, 15 KMs from Peshawar in the Khyber Pakhtoonkwa (KP) province. Thirty-six persons were reportedly killed. Hakim Khan, the pro-Government Pashtun leader, had helped the Government in raising a village militia to counter the TTP.

6. The two reprisal attacks in quick succession show that the TTP’s capability for suicidal and non-suicidal strikes at targets of its choosing in the KP and Punjab provinces has not been dented by the counter-terrorism operations of the Pakistan Army. The fear of further reprisal attacks by the TTP would be an important factor influencing any final decision of the Pakistan Government on the request of the US Government to hand over for trial in the US Raymond Davis, a member of the staff of the US Consulate-General in Lahore, who is facing trial before a Lahore court on a charge of killing two Pakistanis on January 27. (10-3-11)

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



There is no solution yet in sight to the Raymond Davis tug of war between the US and Pakistan. Davis, as one would recall, is the US citizen posted in the US Consulate-General in Lahore as a member of the administrative and technical staff, who shot dead on January 27,2011, two Pakistanis following him on a motor-bike. According to him, he killed them while exercising his right of self-defence since he suspected them to be armed robbers. Another Pakistani was run over and killed by a US consulate car which rushed to the scene of the incident on receiving an urgent call for help from Davis. The local police arrested him and he has been detained in the Kot Lakpat jail in Lahore while awaiting trial on a charge of murder.

2. The US has been claiming that he was a diplomatic member of the staff entitled to diplomatic immunity and hence not liable to be arrested and tried in Pakistan. It has been demanding that he should be handed over to the US authorities for being tried in the US. He has been projected by sections of the media as a former commando of the US special forces who was working for a US-based private physical security company performing physical security tasks for the US diplomatic and consular missions in Pakistan.

3. The US claim of diplomatic immunity has not been accepted by the Lahore Court before which he is being tried. It has become a sensitive political as well as public issue with opposition building up to his being handed over to the US from the political parties in Punjab as well as from the religious parties and the general public. Now that a criminal case has been registered against him and the Lahore High Court has taken cognizance of the case, he cannot be released and handed over to the US without the clearance of the court. As of now, it appears doubtful whether the court will agree to it.

4. The US Government, which has made this a prestige issue, has kept up pressure on the Pakistani leaders as well as the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to let him be tried in the US. Even if they want to oblige the US, the present public mood is against any accommodation with the US on this issue. They would find it difficult to override the public opposition to his being handed over. Despite this, it should be possible for the Pakistani political and military leadership to find a way of removing the case from the jurisdiction of the court and handing him over---provided it wants to help out the US. For reasons not yet clear, the Islamabad Government has been prolonging the tug of war.

5. It has been reported that the matter was raised with the Pakistani leaders by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Marc Grossman, who visited Islamabad earlier this week. During an interaction with the local media on March 7, he described the immediate release of Raymond Davis as the numero uno priority of the US Government. He was reportedly not successful in persuading the Pakistani leaders to hand him over by accepting his claim of diplomatic immunity.

6.In the meanwhile, during the trial, Davis has been kept in judicial custody in a jail, where there could be a serious threat to his life from the other under-trials or from the staff of the jail. .According to media reports, the US has stressed upon the Pakistani authorities the importance of strengthening physical security for Davis. Assurances in this regard from the Pakistani authorities should not be taken seriously. One had seen how extremists were able to kill Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, and Shabaz Bhatti, a Christian, who was Federal Minister for Minority Affairs, despite the high security supposedly enjoyed by them. Both of them were killed because of their opposition to the blasphemy law. Taseer was killed by one of his security guards while Bhatti was killed by unidentified persons. It has been alleged that at the time of his assassination Bhatti’s security escort party was not with him.

7. In the present anti-US atmosphere in Pakistan, anyone who kills Davis will be hailed as a saviour of Islam just as Taseer's killer was hailed. Even if Pakistan does not agree to hand over Davis to the US for trial in the US, he should not be allowed to be kept in any jail in Pakistan along with other under-trials.

8. Under Indian laws, where there could be a threat to a very important person under trial from other under-trials, there is a provision for declaring a private residence as a public jail and for detaining that person there till the trial is over. Pakistani criminal procedure laws are similar to Indian laws. It is, therefore, likely that there is a provision in Pakistani laws also under which Davis could be detained in a private residence declared as a public jail in order to prevent any threats to his security from other under-trials. He must be kept under a mixed Pakistani-US guard to prevent any threat from the prison guards too.

9. The time has come for the US to talk tough to Pakistan on the question of Raymond Davis. After 9/11, Mr.Richard Armitage, the then US Deputy Secretary of State, had issued a "you are either with us or against us" warning to Pakistan to make it co-operate with the US in its military operations in Afghanistan. The US must issue a similar warning to Pakistan in the Davis case. ( 9-3-11)

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