Tuesday, January 31, 2012



The Press Trust of India has reported as follows on January 31,2012:

“In a significant disclosure, the Union government today told the Supreme Court that the Radia tapes broadcast by media organisations were tampered with and the government agencies were not responsible for its leakage.

“Placing a confidential report in a sealed envelope before a bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi, the government said there were eight to ten agencies, including service providers, involved in the tapping of telephonic conversation of former corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

“The bench went through a few initial pages of the report which stated there was tampering with the conversations which were released by media.

“The report says the starting and the end point of the conversation do not match with the original tapes, Justice Singhvi said referring to the report.

“He said the report also says that officers, who had conducted the probe, do not know who has leaked it.

"It is quite possible that someone else has done it," the bench said.

2.It is the final end of the agony sought to be inflicted on Barkha Dutt, the shining TV journalist, by some jealous members of Barkha’s journalistc fraternity and by some Hindutva elements which came together in an unholy alliance to damage her personal and professional reputation, demoralise her and drive her out of TV journalism.

3. Each had its own agenda for their determined pursuit of their attempt to destroy her reputation. If professional jealousy was the driving force of the Media McCarthyism unleashed against her by sections of the journalistic community, her consistent and courageous support to various causes dear to her --- whether in Jammu and Kashmir or Gujarat, whether relating to artist M.F.Hussain or writer Salman Rushdie, whether the human rights of the religious or ethnic minorities--- triggered the irrational rage of the Hindutva elements against her.

4. Even before the Government of India informed the court of its findings regarding the fabrication of the tapes, the insidious campaign against Barkha had failed. Her recent celebrated interviews with Oprah Winfrey, the US TV star, and Salman Rushdie showed---if additional proof was needed--- that her adversaries had miserably failed to tarnish her reputation and to damage her personal and professional morale, which has remained as high as ever.

5. She now has reasons to be gratified by the findings. Barkha, a true professional to her hard core, is not the person who will gloat in public over her personal and professional vindication, but if the members of this unholy alliance have even the slightest trace of decency in them, they at least owe her an apology in public even if she does not ask for it.

6.I am giving below extracts from what I had written about the insidious campaign against her since December 1,2010:

There is nothing inappropriate or unethical in Barkha's writings, reportage and actions. As regards her private conversations with Radia over phone she has explained the background and context and denied any malafide or unethical intention. Her explanation should be accepted instead of trying to fix her through an inquisition. ( 1-12-10)---From my article of December 1,2010, titled “Fixing Barkha Dutt” at http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.in/2010/11/fixing-barkha-dutt.html

I chose to defend Barkha because I strongly feel that her hard-earned reputation as a young, courageous and successful journalist, is sought to be besmirched----wittingly or unwittingly---- on the basis of an incomplete and motivated narrative. It is incomplete because only about three per cent of the total number of about 5800 intercepts has been made public. This clearly indicates that there has been a careful selection of the intercepts to be leaked to the press. Who made the selection? With what motive? Unless one has answers to these questions, there should be a big question mark over the narrative.—From my article of December 7,2010, titled IT'S DANGEROUS TO DEFEND BARKHA DUTT at http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.in/2010/12/its-dangerous-to-defend-barkha-dutt.html

Whatever may be the ultimate outcome of the investigation and other enquiries into the Radia tapes, one has strong reasons to believe that this shameful episode represented "Media McCarthyism" of the worst kind in order to tarnish the reputation of Barkha and ridicule and intimidate those supporting her. One would be entitled to expect that the media houses and journalists, who allegedly played a role in fanning this "Media McCarthyism" against Barkha, would now have the grace to apologise to her in public. From my article of April 19,2011, titled BARKHA DUTT : VICTIM OF MEDIA McCARTHYISM ? at http://ramanstrategicanalysis.blogspot.in/2011/04/barkha-dutt-victim-of-media-mccarthyism.html

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, January 27, 2012



I have been a strong critic of the media shyness and media silence of the Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh. I have written many articles on it and suggested a more activist media strategy marked by a more articulate MMS.

2. I have also been drawing attention to the technology lethargy of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), characterised by its hesitation to use the latest media technologies and particularly the social media outlets for interacting vigorously with our netizens.

3. I have been highlighting the unsatisfactory state of the PM’s interactions with citizens as well as netizens and comparing unfavourably his reticence with the more outgoing media policy of even the Chinese leadership, though China is not a democracy.

4. After discussions with a wide spectrum of political, bureaucratic and media observers and experts, I have realised the difficulties faced by the PM in working out a media strategy in his colours and to suit his image and interests.

5. These difficulties arise from the fact that Dr.MMS is not a PM in his own right. He owes the Prime Ministership to Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, the Congress (I) President, who renounced her right to be the Prime Minister after the 2004 elections and nominated DR.MMS to the PM’s chair.

6. This cramps his style of functioning whether in policy-making or public projection of himself either directly or through the media. All the time he has to be cautious to avoid any articulation or action that could be misread in the party as an attempt to outshine Mrs.Sonia Gandhi.

7. Dr.MMS is a shy, reticent person. His shyness and reticence are more pronounced when he is in India than when he is travelling abroad. The dangers of a misinterpretation of his articulation or action are more in India than when he is abroad.

8. This constraint will continue to inhibit and stunt his media strategy so long as he is in office without a political base and authority of his own. This has to be kept in mind while analysing his media strategy.

9. The best media strategy is through direct and frontal interactions with the media---whether print or TV or journos of the new media such as online publications. A direct and frontal projection of himself and his policies will increase the risks of misunderstanding with Mrs.Sonia Gandhi.

10. Despite this, Dr.MMS and his media advisers have to find ways of enabling him to indulge in such direct interactions without a clash of perceptions and personalities with Mrs.Sonia Gandhi. Unfortunately, there has been a reluctance even to discuss available options in the light of the political constraint faced by the Prime Minister.

11. Unless this exercise is taken up and a via media found which would enable the PM to enhance his media and public image without endangering the political authority of Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, I do not see the likelihood of any qualitative change in the PM’s media strategy.

12.The tweet-toeing of the PMO ---not the Prime Minister himself--- into the world of netizens shows a welcome realisation of the need to take advantage of the social media outlets for providing corrections to the PM’s public and media image.

13. Such corrections could be welcome, even if not total if the PM himself takes an active interest in his interactions with netizens. The apparent fact that his tweet connectivity will not be direct, but will be through his Principal Secretary, to be assisted by Shri Pankaj Pachauri, the new media adviser, will reduce the value of the attempted twitter connectivity of the PMO.

14.For a person holding the office of the Prime Minister, Twitter will not be totally shackle-free. As Shri Rajagopalan, the perceptive journalist pointed out in his intervention during a good debate anchored by Ms.Sunetra Choudhury of the NDTV on January 27, the Prime Minister has to be all the time careful to see that he does not step on the toes of the Parliament in his Twitter interactions, if there are any. Otherwise, he may unwittingly commit a breach of parliamentary privilege.

15. Making the Principal Secretary co-ordinate the Twitter strategy without the PM directly getting involved would provide a safety valve, but it would reduce any value-addition to the PM’s media strategy.

16. Instead of experimenting piecemeal as the PMO seems to be doing now, the PM should appoint a high-power task force headed by Dr.Sanjaya Baru, his first Media Adviser, to suggest a comprehensive media strategy, which would address all these factors. ( 28-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



Protests by Tibetans have spread in Western Sichuan, resulting in one more incident of firing by the local police causing the death of one more Tibetan.

2. According to my sources, there have been three incidents of Police firing since January 23,2012, resulting in the deaths of 12 Tibetans, but the Chinese authorities have admitted only three deaths in three incidents. They have strongly denied reports of larger fatalities.

3. The latest incident of police firing has been reported from the Barma township, where one Tibetan youth died on January 26 when the local police opened fire on protesting Tibetans. The Barma township is located in the Zamthang (in Chinese, Rangtang) county in Ngaba. The Tibetans were protesting against the arrest of Tharpa, another Tibetan, by the police for disseminating anti-Beijing leaflets along with the Tibetan youth (Ugyen), who was killed in the subsequent firing. The death of Ugyen led to nearly 10,000 Tibetans from the nearby areas of Dzitoe and Dzime rushing to Dzamthang to join the protest against the arrest of Tharpa and the death of Ugyen.

4.On January 26, there were also reports of protest and solidarity demonstrations by Tibetans of Qinghai’s Golog (in Chinese, Guoluo) Tibetan prefecture.

5.According to Radio Free Asia, funded by the US State Department, Chinese security forces have become more aggressive in containing the protests, with two Tibetans reported killed by official Chinese media in protests in the Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture on Monday and Tuesday.

6.The Police have tightened security in Lhasa, the capital of the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region, after one incident of anti-Beijing leaflet dissemination near the Jorkhang temple.

7.Chinese micro-bloggers have been reporting movement of trucks carrying police reinforcements to the affected areas in Western Sichuan and cancellation of the Chinese New Year leave of police personnel posted in the Tibetan areas of Western Sichuan. ( 28-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Tuesday, January 24, 2012



A curfew has been imposed and a shoot-at-sight order has been given to the police following two days of violent protests by Tibetans in certain parts of Western Sichuan, which has seen 14 instances of self-immolation since March last year following the arrests of a large number of Tibetan monks of the well-known Kirti monastery and their forcible detention in a military camp.

2.The protests by the monks of the Kirti monastery started in support of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and in opposition to the suppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese authorities. It has since spread to the general population of the area in protest against the arrest and prosecution of many bystanders, who were present at the scenes of self-immolation, on charges of abetment of suicide.

3. The anger has been aggravated by the refusal of the Chinese authorities to hand over the bodies of those who committed self-immolation to their relatives for funeral ceremonies in accordance with Tibetan traditions and by the disposal of the dead bodies by the police without allowing the relatives to be present.

4.The protests, which were peaceful till December, have since assumed a violent form with at least two attacks on police stations where, the local residents suspected, the dead bodies were kept.

5.An outbreak of widespread violence involving about 6000 Tibetans was reported on January 23,2012, from the Draggo county in Sichuan province's Kardze prefecture . According to reliable sources, the local police opened fire on the protesting Tibetans, resulting in the death of five Tibetans and injuries to 40 others.

6. The news of deaths in the police firings led to the spread of the violence the next day to the Serthar (in Chinese Seda) area of the same prefecture. The police again opened fire resulting in six more deaths.

7. Reports of demonstrations have also been received from the Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba prefecture) area where several thousand Tibetans have reportedly blocked a local road. The police forcibly dispersed Tibetans who tried to hold a special prayer meeting in the Kirti monastery in homage to those who died in the police firings.

8.It is reliably learnt that the latest violence started when the police beat up and arrested Tibetans in the affected areas who refused to celebrate the Chinese New Year’s Day in protest against the Chinese suppression. They also observed the Chinese New Year’s Day as a day of mourning in memory of all those who have committed self-immolation since March last.

9. The US , which will be hosting China's Vice President Xi Jinping at the White House next month, has expressed grave concern over the latest violence, and called upon Beijing to review its "counterproductive policies" in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and threatened Tibetans' religious, cultural and linguistic identity.

10.A statement issued by Maria Otero, US Special Co-ordinator for Tibetan issues, said: “China should resume talks with the Dalai Lama or his representatives over Tibetan grievances. We urge Chinese security forces to exercise restraint, and we renew our call to allow access to Tibetan areas of China for journalists, diplomats and other observers." (25-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



We haven’t heard the last of L’Affaire Rushdie. It will keep haunting us for some time. The following issues could have unpleasant repercussions:

(a) The act of cowardice by the Governments of India and Rajasthan in abdicating their responsibility to protect a well-known personality facing a threat to his life from some extremist Muslims. He could have been easily protected and any untoward incident in Jaipur avoided by restricting his engagements in Jaipur to the session to which he was invited by the organisers of the Jaipur Literary Festival (JLF) and requesting him to leave Jaipur as soon as that engagement was over. In view of the call by the Deobandis for demonstrations during his visit, he could not have been allowed to stay in Jaipur for the entire duration of the Festival. If the Government of India had wanted, such a restricted, sanitised visit could have been easily organised. This was not done apparently because the Congress Party did not want to displease the Muslim community even by allowing a restricted visit. The cowardice exhibited by the Government of India would encourage similar instances of intimidation in future when any community is opposed to the visits of any person whom it does not like.

(b) The action of the Rajasthan Police in allegedly fabricating intelligence reports indicating the likely possibility of an attempt being made to assassinate Rushdie if he visited Jaipur. The denials of the Rajasthan Police do not carry conviction. This will severely damage the credibility of the Indian Police and other counter-terrorism organisations in the eyes of the counter-terrorism agencies of the world. Even in the past, agencies of other countries suspected that the Indian agencies were not beyond such attempts at fabrication of source reports in order to corroborate their allegations. These suspicions would now be strengthened and the word of the Indian agencies would carry even less conviction in future. Fabricating a source report is considered a serious act of professional misconduct and many intelligence officers have suffered in their career for indulging in it. It is shocking that an agency as a whole---and not just individuals--- had indulged in this. There would be a strong presumption that such fabrications would not have been possible without a collusion or a nod of approval from the Government of India. Unless the Government of India acts strongly against those responsible for this fabrication, the suspicion of collusion by it would be strengthened. Intelligence agencies of other countries would be hesitant in future to act on the source reports of Indian agencies which call for follow-up action by them.

(c) The action of four writers in reading out extracts from the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. This was an unwise and impulsive action. The Police may not be able to arrest and prosecute those who read out the extracts because there is no law banning it, but in the eyes of large sections of the Muslim community the Satanic Verses is a blasphemous book and reading out extracts from it is an act of blasphemy. Secret fatwas might have already been issued for carrying out Islamic punishments against these four persons and Barkha Dutt, who has interviewed Rushdie. They will have to be extra careful in future. What we see as a legitimate demand for freedom of expression from the artistic community, is seen by many in the Muslim community as a demand for freedom to indulge in an act of blasphemy against their religion. The extremist mindset of sections of the Muslim community---like the extremist mindset of sections of the Hindus and other religions--- is a harsh ground reality which is likely to continue for some years to come unless there is a better spread of education in the different communities and more enlightened leaderships emerge in them. Till then no amount of public debates and TV talk shows would eradicate this mindset. In the eyes of the Muslim community, the question is not Salman Rushdie’s right to write, but his right to write the Satanic Verses. No individual and particularly no Muslim can write a blasphemous book. By making Salman Rushdie the high point of the debate on freedom of expression, we will be adding to the strength of the extremist elements in our Muslim community and making it even more difficult to change their mind-set. The over-focus on the right to freedom of expression of Rushdie could further radicalise our Muslim community and aggravate the polarisation of the relations between Muslims and others. Rushdie’s argument in his interview to Barkha Dutt of NDTV regarding the absence of any ban on the Satanic Verses in Turkey, Egypt and Libya and other Muslim countries is misleading and irrelevant. In Muslim majority countries, the Governments do not have to be worried about the sensitivities and feelings of their majority Muslim population in the same way as we have to be worried about the feelings and sensitivities of our strong Muslim minority. The rights, feelings and emotions of our Muslim community are more important than those of Salman Rushdie who lives far away from India in the UK. In our over-anxiety to be seen as fair to Rushdie we should not end up by being seen as unfair to our Muslim community. ( 24-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, January 21, 2012



It is learnt from reliable sources that the Bangladesh authorities suspect that the Hizbut-Tahrir (HT), Party of Liberation, banned in October 2009 had links with 16 middle-level officers of the Bangladesh Army involved in the plot to stage a coup against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which was discovered in December last.

2. The discovery of the plot was announced at a press conference at Dhaka on January 19,2012, by the Bangladeshi army spokesman Brigadier General Muhammad Masud Razzaq. He said that the Army had specific evidence that up to 16 current and former Bangladeshi military officers "with extreme religious views" were involved in a "heinous conspiracy". The plot was instigated by Bangladeshi conspirators living abroad, he said.

3. He further said that two retired officers, Lieutenant Colonel Ehsan Yusuf and Major Zakir, have been arrested, but did not say when. He added that the authorities were looking for a serving officer, Major Ziaul Haq, who had fled his post after the arrests of Yusuf and Zakir.

4.Giving details about the alleged plot, Razzaq said that Ziaul Haq had circulated emails to different serving officers detailing a plan to overthrow the Government on January 9-10. The Army authorities have accused the HT of helping to circulate the messages. It has been reported that a major general (name not known), who headed one of the country's largest cantonments, was recalled to Dhaka, following the discovery of the plot. Details of his exact role in the plot are not known.

5.In a leaflet disseminated on January 20,2012, the banned HT said: “Hizb ut-Tahrir organized public speeches outside mosques across the country after Jummah prayers today where speakers called upon the people to protest against the Hasina government’s plot to subjugate the Muslim Army of Bangladesh to US-India. The speakers said Hasina was brought to power by the Americans, in partnership with India. The Americans have a design to prevent the return of the Islamic Khilafah in this region and contain the rise of China. For this purpose she prefers a strategic partnership with India in order to secure her strong presence in this region and tighten her grip over the Muslim countries within the region. These two enemy countries are using the government, the opposition, and some in the military leadership in Bangladesh as agents to solve the long standing issues with India which will free India’s hands. This will facilitate India to join hands with America in implementing her design to prevent the return of Islam and contain China. And they are working to remove all obstacles to this plan and anyone who exposes or speaks against this evil plan. It was for this reason that bright officers of our army were massacred in Pilkhana in which Hasina collaborated. It was for this reason that Hasina banned Hizb ut-Tahrir and is pursuing a policy of brutal repression against the party. And now she is executing a policy of whole sale purge of the army through abductions, arrests and dismissals of officers who stand on the side of Islam, and the country’s sovereignty and security. The speakers called upon the sincere officers in the army to remove Hasina and the current ruling regime from authority at once; and to transfer the authority to Hizb ut-Tahrir which is a sincere and aware political party. Hizb ut-Tahrir will establish the Khilafah state which will eject USA, Britain, India and their allies from Bangladesh. The Khilafah will build this country as the starting point for becoming a global super power. This is by securing the basic needs of the people and solving the long running problems faced by the people such as poverty and unemployment, industrializing the country’s economy, building the army as a strong and advanced fighting force, and unifying with the Muslim Ummah. “

6.In another leaflet addressed to the people of Bangladesh, the HT has said: “O Muslims! You have been victims of Indian aggression for decades. This enemy state killed your officers in Pilkhana, she built the Farakkah dam, she deprives you of your rightful share of water from the common rivers, and she kills your brothers and sisters in the border. And your current rulers have failed to stand up to the Indian aggression against you. There exists only one way of resisting the enemy – establishing the Khilafah state. So stop wasting your time and effort in looking for solutions from the current democratic system and the agent political parties – Awami League, BNP and others. You have to take one action and only one action – call upon the people of power to remove the Hasina overnment and hand over power to Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is the only party offering you the vision of becoming a leading state in the region and the world. We will establish the Khilafah state, and implement the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We will bring an end to your economic plight, and industrialize the economy. We will build a strong advanced military. And we have the action plan ready to regain India as a Muslim land, under the Islamic rule, which is the only true assured way of stopping Indian aggression permanently.”
7. The HT has been active among lower and middle level officers of the Armies of Pakistan and Bangladesh and has been trying to instigate a coup by them in order to introduce Islamic rule in the two countries and eradicate US and Indian influence. After establishing Islamic rule in Pakistan and Bangladesh, it wants to extend its activities to India to help the Indian Muslims. ( 21-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, January 20, 2012



1962: There were intelligence reports of likely threats to the life of John F.Kennedy, the then US President, if he visited Dallas. The US Secret Service advised him not to go. He decided to go despite the reports. He was assassinated.

1984: There were intelligence assessments of likely threats to Indira Gandhi from her Sikh security guards following the military raid in the Golden Temple. Those responsible for her security quietly removed all Sikh security guards from her house. She noticed it and ordered that they should be reposted. She said: “ How can I call myself the Prime Minister of secular India if I distrust my Sikh guards?” Her security set-up was told to ensure that no Sikh would be alone by her side. There was negligence in implementing this. She was killed by two of her Sikh guards who managed to have the duty roaster manipulated in such a manner as to ensure that they would be alone by her side.

1991: There were intelligence assessments of likely threats to Rajiv Gandhi from the LTTE during his election campaign in Tamil Nadu. The intelligence agencies and the Tamil Nadu Police failed to strengthen security for him. He was killed by a LTTE suicide bomber.

2004: There were intelligence assessments of likely threats to the security of Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister, if he went to Islamabad for the SAARC summit. Despite this, he decided to go. The intelligence agencies of India and Pakistan strengthened his security. Nothing happened.

2. Shri Salman Rushdie is a well-known literary personality--- loved and admired by many non-Muslims and hated by many Muslims whose feelings were hurt by his Satanic Verses. He was and is a highly threatened non-Government personality in the world. The threats to his life arose from individual Muslims angered by his book and from the intelligence agencies of Iran where religious clerics had announced a handsome reward for his assassination.

3.The British security agencies and Police strengthened his security and he was advised to cut down his public exposure. He complied with their advisory and had practically no social life for some years till the fatwa was withdrawn in Iran. The threat to him from the Iranian intelligence subsided, but the threats from individual Muslims remained as high as ever. Intelligence and security agencies of the world felt confident of being able to protect him from potential individual assassins with no State sponsorship. He increasingly became more active socially and started interacting with the civil society and the media in different countries. He started travelling frequently. He developed a love relationship with a woman of Tamil origin in New York and was often seen with her in public in NY. He visited Chennai with her to meet her relatives and friends. He participated in the inaugural session of the Jaipur Literary Festival in 2007.

4. Though the threats to him remained high, the intelligence and security agencies of different countries, including India, had no difficulty in ensuring his security. He and his hosts also facilitated their task by maintaining a low profile about his visits and by avoiding advance publicity. Many of us came to know of his visit to Chennai along with his Tamil woman-companion only after he had come and gone.

5. Ensuring his security for his participation in the Jaipur Literary Festival that started on January 20 became a complicated affair because the fundamentalist Deobandi group came to know of his planned visit much in advance and made a public issue of it. Statements and comments emanating from the Deobandi office-bearers and some sections of the Muslim community amounted to open, verbal intimidation meant to intimidate the Government of India into not allowing him to come and intimidate him into not coming.

6. The situation became sensitive and complex. One would have expected the Government of India to stop this intimidatory campaign initiated by the Deobandis in the bud and make it clear to them that the Government of India was determined to protect him and would not succumb to the intimidatory campaign.

7. The Government of India did nothing of the sort. It adopted what seemed to many as a deliberately ambivalent attitude by highlighting his right to visit to India as a person of Indian origin , but maintaining a political silence on the intimidatory campaign against him. The Government and the Congress seem to have seen political advantages in such an ambivalent attitude on the eve of the forthcoming elections in UP.

8. As it normally happens in such an increasingly-charged atmosphere, reports started flowing to intelligence agencies of alleged plans of some elements to assassinate him when he came to India. The open intimidatory campaign of the Deobandis was compounded by the flow of reports about the alleged clandestine plans of the Mumbai underworld to assassinate him. The reports were of a general and not specific nature.

9. These clandestine reports called for three actions by the Government of India:
(a). The Government of India taking over the responsibility for strengthening and co-ordinating his security.

( b ).Informing Rushdie of the clandestine intelligence reports.

(c ). A formal assurance to him that security for him would be strengthened and that he need not cancel his visit just because of these reports.

10. It is apparent that the Government of India only informed him of these clandestine intelligence reports. It did not take any other action to give him confidence that it would do everything necessary to protect him. The Government of India’s deliberately ambivalent attitude continued.

11. Apart from odd statements and remarks by individual spokesmen of the Government of India and the Congress Party that Rushdie would be protected, nothing was done to strengthen his confidence in the Government of India. In the face of this ambivalence of the Government of India, he decided to cancel his visit. I felt disappointed and let down by his decision which will give fresh oxygen to extremists of any persuasion. But I can understand his decision. Many of us would have probably reacted in the same manner in the face of the ambivalent attitude of the Government of India which was marked by a mix of partisan opportunism and State cowardice.

12. The ill-advised actions of some of the participants in the Jaipur festival such as reading out extracts from Satanic Verses have added to the confusion. Certain things need to be clearly stated and understood. L’Affaire Rushdie is not a moral issue. It is not a question of the right of Rushdie to freedom of expression.

13. It is pure and simple an issue of the obligation of the State to protect a highly-threatened person by whatever means possible and not to let itself be intimidated by extremists. The way the whole affair has been handled by the Government of India would legitimately strengthen the suspicion that the handling of the affair was vitiated by partisan opportunism, which encouraged the creation of a crisis in the hope of reaping electoral dividends.

14. January 20,2012, was a day of tragedy, shame and disquiet. Tragedy because the events were manipulated in such a manner as to discourage Rushdie from coming. Shame because of the opportunism and cowardice of the Indian State and political leadership. Disquiet because it showed once again that for our political class partisan interests come before national interests. ( 21-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Recording of a talk given by me at the Chennai Shala of the Taskshila Foundation on November 6,2011.



The buzz word is no longer “Breaking News”. It is “Breaking Tweets” and “Breaking Blogs”, which have started disseminating news and comments faster than the TV channels.

2. Journalists no longer first rush to policy and opinion makers to find out their views on important developments. They rush to the Twitter sites of important personalities to find out what they have tweeted about such developments. Personal interactions continue to be important for journalists, but twitter and other microblog interactions are assuming increasing importance in assessing public opinion.

3. Between the first Gulf War of 1991 when satellite TV became the first source of news and interpretation and President Barack Obama’s election campaign of 2008 when microblogs started competing with TV channels for catching public attention the “Breaking News” syndrome held sway.

4. Now, “Breaking Tweets” and “Breaking Blogs” are becoming as important as “Breaking News” for keeping oneself informed instantaneously of what is happening around us.

5.At an interaction on Media and the Internet held at Beijing on January 19,2012, officials of the Chinese Government admitted that microblogs have become an important platform for disseminating news and views and an important bridge between the State and the public.

6. There is now a recognition that public opinion is increasingly and better reflected in the TV news channels and microblogs than in the print media. For the traditional, old generation elite, the print media continues to be an important source of reliable news and in-depth analysis. But, for GenNext of the civil society and the Internet-bred elite, which have no time or patience for esoteric analyses, the TV news channels and microblogs have become the preferred tools for knowing and thinking.

7. 2011 was a turning point in the evolution of our media strategies. Those who realised the importance of TV news channels and microblogs in reaching out to the public and mobilising public opinion did better as political and social activists than those who continued to be stuck to the print media.

8. We saw dramatic evidence of this in the waves made by the Anna Hazare Movement Against Corruption. The skilful use of the new media and the TV channels by the advisers of Anna contributed in no small measure to the initial success of the movement. The movement might have since lost support on the ground, but it continues to be as popular and as vibrant in the virtual world as it was before.

9.While the non-governmental world is now making good use of the TV channels and the social media networks, of which microblogs are an important component, Governmental policy-makers still treat the growing community of TV journos and netizens with suspicion and disdain. There has been no re-thinking of media strategies appropriate to the mix of the real and virtual worlds in which we live. Even China has realised that a turning point has arrived in the evolution of the media strategies and is trying to re-shape its media strategies to make them appropriate to the rapidly changing media landscape. It has realised that the virtual public (netizens) is as important as the real public ( the man in the street) and is brain-storming on ways of dealing with this. A report disseminated by the State-owned Xinhua news agency on this subject is annexed.

10. The realisation that the media strategies of our Prime Minister’s office have become archaic in a media world which has already changed beyond recognition and continues to change is reflected in the resignation of Shri Harish Khare as the media advisor to our PM on January 19 and the appointment of Shri Pankaj Pachauri as Director (Communications) in the PMO with the task of proposing suitable media strategies to deal with the print media, the TV news channels and social media networks.

11. Any media strategy, to be effective, has to be proactive. Shri Khare was widely viewed as essentially a reactive person who was slow to take off---if he took off at all--- in crisis situations which tended to reflect negatively on the credibility of the Prime Minister. We saw this dramatically during the ill-fated debate on the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha on December 28 last.

12. There was a lively media interest in this debate--- in the real as well as the virtual worlds. There were reports flashed by TV channels of a Government stratagem to disrupt the debate by injecting controversial issues in order to avoid a vote on the amendments. After the fiasco of the debate, the TV channels went hammer and tongs at the Government for not being sincere on the Lokpal issue.

13. These charges and the resulting public perceptions had a damaging effect on the credibility of the Government and the leadership of the Prime Minister. One would have expected a senior journalist like Shri Khare to have bestirred himself and interacted vigorously with the TV channels to correct the perceptions. He did not do so. He just watched helplessly as the TV channels and the world of the microblogs went to town with one sensational report after another and with one sensational Tweet after another.

14.Unhappiness over his perceived lethargy is believed to have been one of the reasons for the induction of Shri Pachauri. But will he be any the better? One has to wait for the results. Shri Pachauri has the reputation of being a good TV professional and an excellent News Editor and anchor.

15.But to be effective as media adviser to the PM, the incumbent must have the stature that will compel attention and respect from the PM himself and the public and a vision to modernise media strategies. Does Shri Pachauri have that kind of stature and vision? It remains to be seen.

16. To be fair to Shri Pachauri, it has to be underlined that however brilliant Shri Pachauri may be, he cannot succeed unless the PM rids himself of his media-shyness, comes out of his shell and takes the lead in interacting with the media.

17. The leadership in media relations has to come from the PM. In the absence of such leadership, the role of the media adviser will remain restricted and problematic. ( 20-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )


Government "must utilize blogs better"

(Source: Xinhua) 20-1-12

  By Zhao Yinan and Wang Huazhong

  Minister stresses importance of keeping public fully informed

  BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhuanet) --The government should better utilize micro blogs to provide information and improve transparency, a senior official said.

  In the latest call for Party and government agencies to reach an increasingly Internet-savvy population, Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, said on Wednesday that agencies should open micro blog accounts to better understand public opinion and to respond to issues of public concern.

  Wang Chen, minister of the State Council Information Office, talks to reporters at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday. The coming year will see an enhancement of China's engagement with the international community so that the world can have a better understanding of the country, Wang said. [Photo/China Daily]

  Describing micro blogs as an "important platform" for information and "a bridge" between the government and the public, Wang urged officials to keep their blogs up to date.

  "Government micro blogs should provide information useful to the people, such as information about commerce, daily life and education," he said.

  Micro blogs are increasingly popular in China, which has more than 500 million Internet users, more than any other country and far greater than the total population of the European Union.

  More than 330 million Chinese people are registered micro blog users and at least 150 million entries are made daily.

  Government agencies and Party departments at all levels have opened more than 50,000 micro blog accounts, and many of them help officials communicate with the general public.

  Wang cited one particular micro blog as an example.

  Chen Shiqu, head of the Ministry of Public Security's anti-trafficking task force, "has done tangible things for the public", Wang said.

  Chen opened a micro blog on Dec 12, 2010 after being told that it would help authorities combat human trafficking, and this turned out to be true, he said. More than 2,000 tip-offs have been submitted to the blog, he said.

  Chen also used the platform to raise public awareness of various legislation and show how his office can help reunite families.

  Chen's micro blog has 1.36 million followers. These are people that he could not reach by conventional means, he said.

  Zhang Jianshu, director of information service at the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, however, said making a government micro blog popular is not easy.

  The bureau opened its micro blog in November 2010 and has so far posted about 170 articles of information and has 48,000 followers.

  Netizens don't respond much to our postings and we are trying to overcome this problem, Zhang told China Daily earlier.

  An industry expert said government agencies should not open micro blogs just for show.

  "The government should make full use of existing communication channels, while keeping pace with the latest technology," said Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

  Internet supervision

  With the growing popularity of micro blogs, Wang said regulations, such as registration, are needed to ensure the "rapid and healthy growth of the Internet".

  A policy was introduced in Beijing last month requiring the names of micro bloggers to be registered. This was later extended to other major cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou.

  Wang said the policy now only requires that new micro blog users register "backstage" with their real name. This means that website administrators will see their names instead of Net users.

  "The micro blog has changed the way we exchange information," but irrational, negative and harmful opinions can also be expressed, he said.

  "Pornography, fraud and rumors" can be found on the Net and this can harm society, he said.

  China established the State Internet Information Office in May last year to oversee cyberspace. The office, headed by Wang, aims to coordinate and supervise online content as well as investigate and punish websites violating laws and regulations.

  Zhang Yan contributed to this story.

  (Source: China Daily)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012



It is 23 years today since Jammu & Kashmir saw the beginning of the ethnic-cleansing of the Kashmiri Pandits, the original inhabitants of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), from their homeland at the instigation of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) by a group of Kashmiri jihadi elements trained, armed and motivated by the ISI.

2. The lead in this act of ethnic-cleansing was initially taken by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). Other jihadi organisations, which subsequently came into existence after having been trained and armed by the ISI, kept the ethnic-cleansing going till practically all the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out after having been subjected to numerous indignities and brutalities such as rape of women, torture, forcible seizure of property belonging to the Pandits etc.

3. The Pandits, who survived these acts of indignities and brutalities, were forced to leave their homeland and seek shelter in camps for refugees set up in Jammu and Delhi. Within a few weeks of the outbreak of the ethnic cleansing, a majority of the Pandits found themselves reduced to the miserable status of refugees in their own country.

4. As the Pandits and their wifes and children were subjected to indignities and brutalities and driven out of their homeland, the State of India totally caught by surprise watched helplessly and pusillanimously, as the plans of the ISI to change the demographic composition of the Kashmir Valley in order to make it a predominantly Muslim area were sought to be implements by the jihadis trained by the ISI.

5. Neither V.P.Singh, who was the Prime Minister when the ethnic-cleansing was carried out nor any of his successors had the least idea of how to deal with the situation. There were various options available. I would cite only two. The first option was to direct the Army to re-establish Indian sovereignty over Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Gilgit-Baltistan as a punitive measure. Pakistan had by then acquired a military nuclear capability, but not a nuclear arsenal. It did not have a satisfactory delivery capability. We could have, therefore, easily re-taken the POK and Gilgit-Baltistan without fear of provoking a nuclear war. The V.P.Singh Government did not exercise this option.

6. The other option was to train and arm the Pandits and ask them to go back and re-occupy their property and fight against the ISI-trained jihadis. This option was carefully examined and given up as not advisable. There were legitimate fears that this option could polarise for ever the relations between the Muslims and the Hindus and play into the hands of the jihadis who wanted such polarisation.

7. The option finally chosen was to look after the Pandits in the refugee camps and other areas where they had settled down with their relatives and wait for the restoration of normalcy in the Valley so that these refugees could be helped to go back, re-establish their ownership of their property and resume a life of dignity as the residents of their traditional homeland.

8. The Pandits have been waiting for 23 years hoping that the day of their return with honour and security to their homeland would come. It has not so far despite the considerable improvement in the ground situation. In the meanwhile, the plight of the Pandits has been slowly forgotten. Everybody sheds crocodile tears over their sufferings, but there is nothing more by way of action. The future of the Kashmiri Pandits as an important dimension of the Kashmir problem is less and less talked about.

9. There was one man, who spent his years of retirement in attempts to ensure that the promises made by the nation to restore the honour and dignity of the Pandits was not forgotten. He took a lively interest in their future and interacted vigorously with leaders of the Government and opposition political parties to see that this dimension of the Kashmir problem was not forgotten.

10. His name was R.N.Kao, a Kashmiri himself, who was the legendary founding father of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). The Kashmir tragedy broke out five years after he finally retired from public service in 1984. From 1989 onwards till his death in 2002, he devoted a lot of his time to his self-assumed task of restoring the honour and dignity of the Pandits.

11. Since Kao’s death in 2002, the Kashmiri Pandits find themselves orphaned. There is no one at the political or bureaucratic level, who is prepared to come to the forefront, stick his neck out and demand action to restore the dignity and honour of the Pandits. Hopes that the BJP-led Government would pay lively attention to the future of the Pandits were sadly belied. The BJP-led Government was as confused and as inactive as any of the other Governments that had held office since 1989.

12.How to move forward? Two realities have to be kept in mind. Firstly, it is too late in the day to think of identifying and punishing those who were responsible for the ethnic-cleansing. Any ill-advised attempt to do so would complicate the situation further.

13. Secondly, the return of the Pandits to their homeland cannot be enforced unilaterally by the Governments of India and the State. It has to be the outcome of a consensus among different political parties of the State and leaders of different communities. The Government of India has a moral responsibility for working towards such a consensus. Presently, it has not been doing so. It should be made to do so through public pressure. It is time to stop meaningless breast-beating on the plight of the Pandits and their future. It is time to work for concrete ways of enabling their return to their homeland in dignity and honour. ( 19-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, January 16, 2012



I had tweeted as follows last night: “Nothing dramatic likely tomorrow”

2. Nothing dramatic has happened in Islamabad today. Justice Asif Khosa, the single Judge of the Pakistan Supreme Court who has been hearing the petition relating to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), has reportedly issued a notice to Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani asking him to show cause why action for contempt of court cannot be taken against him . He has asked Gilani to personally appear before him on January 19 to give his explanation.

3. Gilani will have the following options: Either refuse to appear before the Judge on the ground that the Judge has no jurisdiction to summon him or go in appeal to the Chief Justice for the appointment of a larger bench to hear the case.

4. If Gilani refuses to appear, the single judge can pass an ex-parte order holding him guilty of contempt of court and directing him to vacate his office as the Prime Minister. Gilani can go in appeal against this order too before a larger bench. In the worst case scenario, President Asif Ali Zardari can refuse to implement this order and move for the impeachment of the Judge on grounds of violating the Constitution.

5. Mansoor Ijaz, the US citizen of Pakistani origin, who levelled the original allegations against Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, is reported to have sought time till January 25 to appear before the Commission headed by the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court, which has been asked by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, to enquire into the allegations made by Ijaz.

6. It is doubtful as of now whether Ijaz, who has reportedly been shuttling between Geneva and London without going back to the US since he levelled his allegations against Haqqani in November last, will go to Pakistan to testify before the Commission. He is a US citizen. His bread and butter and most of his investments are in the US. James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bill Clinton, is one of his business partners.

7. Ijaz is, therefore, amenable to US pressure. He is unlikely to do anything which might displease the US Government and his friends in the US Administration. Many in the US Administration and Congress have strong sympathies with Hussain Haqqani. They would not like Ijaz to do anything further that could harm Haqqani. Ijaz would be under considerable pressure not to testify before the Pakistani Commission.

8. If he finally decides not to testify, the case against Haqqani could fail. In their conduct and remarks, Zardari and Gilani are exhibiting considerable self-confidence vis-à-vis the Army. Their confidence could be attributable to their conviction that the US will prevent Ijaz from testifying. It has to be seen whether this proves to be correct( 16-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Sunday, January 15, 2012



The Killing Fields of Balochistan have started shocking the conscience of the international community. Not only non-governmental human rights organisations, but even Governmental spokesmen of other countries---including a spokesperson of the US State Department in response to Tweets on the sufferings of the Balochs--- have started getting over their hesitation in expressing their concern over the steady flow of reports from Balochistan about the atrocities committed by the Pakistani security forces on the people of Balochistan.

2. The atrocities have taken many forms. Brutal killing of the Baloch youth in false encounters for opposing State repression. Custodial deaths of Baloch youth rounded up by the security forces for interrogation on their suspected association with the on-going freedom struggle. Hundreds of missing Balochs, who were rounded up by the Security Forces for interrogation and who have since disappeared from public view and public conscience. Frequent recoveries of dead bodies of Baloch youth here, there, everywhere after they were allegedly tortured to death. Despite all this, the Baloch freedom struggle continues unabated.

3. Even the conscience of right-thinking sections of the Pakistani civil society have been shocked by the atrocities committed on the Balochs by the Pakistani security forces which bring to mind the atrocities committed on the Bengalis of the then East Pakistan before 1971.

4.Balochistan is the largest State in Pakistan with the smallest population as compared to East Pakistan which had more people than the then West Pakistan. The atrocities committed by the Pakistani Security Forces in East Pakistan led to the exodus into India of millions of Bengalis. They brought with them dramatic accounts of what was happening in East Pakistan shocking our conscience and that of the international community.

5.There has been no similar exodus of the Balochs. Balochs fleeing from the crushing boots of the Pakistani Security Forces have nowhere to go. They can’t flee into Iran which has been brutally suppressing a freedom struggle of its own Balochs. They can’t flee into Afghanistan which continues to be in a state of war. They can’t flee to other parts of Pakistan which will not accept them.

6. They find themselves bottled up in Balochistan---- slowly and brutally killed one after the other without the rest of the world coming to know about the details. The Baloch diaspora in the West is very small. It is unable to play an effective and articulate role in drawing attention to the goings-on in Balochistan. It is trying bravely to do so, but with very limited success.

7. Even though the Western world has started showing signs of being disturbed by reports suggesting a systematic genocide of the Balochs by the Pakistani Security Forces, they are unable to go beyond expressing lip sympathy for the bleeding Balochs.

8.Against this background, the Balochs have been bewildered by the silence of Governmental and non-Governmental India. The Indian Government has been understandably silent because at a time when it has been trying to improve its relations with Pakistan it would find it difficult to come out openly in moral---if not material---support of the Balochs.

9. But why is the Indian civil society silent? Why is non-Governmental India silent? Why is the world of the Indian media silent? Why are well-known TV personalities like Barkha Dutt, Srinivasan Jain, Sonia Singh, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Suhasini Haider, Rahul Kanwal, Karan Thapar, Arnab Goswami silent? Why is the Indian print media silent? Why are the opposition political forces observing a silence in the matter? Why has the Indian strategic community closed its eyes to Balochistan?

10. We do not have to be defensive just because some sections of our Jammu & Kashmir continue to be alienated. But we do not deal with the alienated sections of J & K the way the Pakistanis have been dealing with the Balochs. Despite occasional acts of violence, we have a thriving democracy in J&K. The Kashmiris are more prosperous than the people in many other parts of India. We have not imposed an Iron Curtain in J&K as Pakistan has imposed one in Balochistan. We ought to be proud of the way we have been dealing with the insurgencies in J & K and the North-East in a humanitarian manner despite occasional aberrations.

11. Let us not allow allegations that emanate from time to time from Pakistan regarding J&K inhibit us from expressing our solidarity with the suffering people of Balochistan. One understands that the Government cannot be articulate and active in this matter. But the civil society has to be articulate and active in giving vent to its shock and anguish over the reports of the suppression of the Balochs.

12. The Baloch youth have shown over the last four or five years that they are capable of keeping their freedom struggle sustained on their own without the need for external support. But they do need the moral solidarity of the Indian civil society. They deserve it.

13. The time for expressing our moral solidarity with them has come. ( 16-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, January 14, 2012



Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China, who had cancelled a scheduled visit to Nepal in December for unexplained reasons, halted in Kathmandu for a little more than four hours on January 14,2012, while on his way from Beijing to Saudi Arabia for an official visit.

2. This is the first time a Chinese Prime Minister had visited Nepal since the visit of the then Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji in 2001. There have been a number of high-level visits of political and military figures from Nepal to China since the Nepalese Maoists came overground, suspended their insurgency and joined the power structure in Nepal, but reciprocal visits from the Chinese side to Nepal were very few.

3.However, the Chinese have considerably stepped up assistance to the Nepalese since the end of the monarchy in 2008 and established a "comprehensive and cooperative partnership" with Nepal in 2009.

4. China has strong security concerns in Nepal due to the presence of about 20,000 Tibetan refugees in Nepalese territory and their support to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the radical Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC).

5. These concerns have been magnified by fresh indicators of unrest in the Tibetan community of China---particularly in Western Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai regions. There have been 16 self-immolation attempts since the beginning of last year by pro-Dalai Lama monks and others. Twelve of them were reported last year and four in the first 15 days of this year. Fourteen of these attempts were in Western Sichuan and one each in Tibet and Qinghai.

6. The large-scale round-up and detention in a special military camp of suspected pro-Dalai Lama monks of the Kirti monastery in Sichuan last year have aggravated the situation leading to frequent public demonstrations in support of those attempting self-immolation. The public demonstrations remained largely non-violent last year, but since the beginning of this year there have been two violent attacks by enraged Tibetans on Police Stations.

7. In the latest violent attack reported on January 14, a crowd of about 1000 Tibetans demanding the body of a Tibetan who committed self-immolation the same day attacked a police station where, they suspected, the body was kept. The Police reportedly opened fire to disperse the protesters killing two of them---one of them a woman.

8. The affected areas have been far away from the Nepal border. The fact that Tibet itself has remained relatively calm with only one incident last year would indicate that these self-immolations and the subsequent protest demonstrations were largely spontaneous due to local anger against the Chinese security forces and not inspired or instigated by the Tibetan refugees in Nepal.

9. The Chinese are worried over the danger of a recrudescence of unrest and violence in Tibet, particularly Lhasa, similar to the violent outbreak of 2008 and have stepped up pressure on the Nepalese authorities to tighten controls over the refugees and to allow the Chinese Ministries of Public and State Security to post more intelligence officers in the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.

10.During his brief visit to Kathmandu, Wen met, among others, Nepalese President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai.

11.Wen was quoted by the local media as saying as follows: “My trip is aimed at consolidating good-neighbourly friendship, deepening cooperation and boosting the joint development of China and Nepal.”

12. A joint statement issued at the end of his visit said: "As a close neighbour of Nepal, the Chinese side is pleased to see the progress in the peace process in Nepal and sincerely hopes that Nepal will realize peace, stability and prosperity, including the drafting of a new constitution in the near future. Nepal firmly supports the efforts of the Chinese side to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity and will not allow any force to engage in anti-China activities by using Nepali territory,"

13.Wen was further quoted as saying: “China and Nepal are good neighbours, good friends and good partners. China supports Nepal's peace and constitutional process, and its efforts to safeguard independence, sovereignty, territorial integration and national unification. China is ready to provide, within its capacity, assistance to Nepal for economic and social development and believes that Nepal can overcome difficulties to realize the goal of building a new Nepal.”.

14.Wen reportedly pledged $140 million in aid to Nepal of which US $ 20 million would be spent on consolidating the peace process and US $ two million for strengthening the police. Nepal has reportedly sought Chinese assistance for a modern airport at Pokhra, for the development of its railway network and for the construction of three hydel power stations. ( 15-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, January 13, 2012



Before 9/11, there was a counter-terrorism centre ( CTC ) in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the US, which had officers from various agencies, that formed part of the counter-terrorism community of the US. It worked under a CIA Officer. Its task was co-ordination of the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of various agencies to facilitate the analysis, assessment and fusion of the intelligence relating to terrorism flowing from different agencies and ensure effective follow-up action. Its main role was in prevention. It had no role in investigation and prosecution.

2. When it was created, this Centre was placed under the CIA for the following reasons:

(a).Before 9/11, the conventional wisdom in the US was that threats from terrorists would be mainly to US nationals and interests abroad. Since the CIA was an external intelligence agency, it was felt that the nodal set-up for the co-ordination of follow-up action should function under the supervision of the CIA.

(b). Till 2004, Director,CIA, wore two hats. He was the head of the CIA. He was also designated as Director, Central Intelligence. In the second capacity, he was responsible for the co-ordination of the functioning of all agencies of the US intelligence community. Since the Counter-Terrorism Centre was to co-ordinate follow-up action on all terrorism-related intelligence, it was felt that the responsibility for c-ordination should vest in the Director, CIA, in his second capacity as the Director, Central Intelligence.

3. The enquiry by the National Commission appointed by President George Bush into the 9/11 terrorist strikes brought home to the US the dangers posed to US Homeland security from home-grown terrorists as well as terrorists based abroad. It also revealed deficiencies in the co-ordinating roles of the Director, Central Intelligence, and of the CTC of the CIA. It was felt that there was no effective analysis, assessment and fusion of the intelligence flowing from the counter-terrorism divisions of the various agencies and no effective and co-ordinated follow-up to neutralise the threats revealed by the flowing intelligence.

4. The National Commission enquiry led to the following decisions:

(a). To create an NCTC to co-ordinate the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of all agencies which form part of the counter-terrorism community and to co-ordinate follow-up action to prevent acts of terrorism.

( b ).To divest the Director,CIA, of his responsibilities as the Director, Central Intelligence, and to create a post of Director, National Intelligence, (DNI) directly under the President to co-ordinate the functioning of various intelligence agencies.

( c ). To place the NCTC under the supervision of the DNI and not under the heads of any of the intelligence agencies which will continue to have the responsibility for the collection of terrorism-related intelligence.

5. Since 2005, the US Counter-Terrorism architecture is as follows:

(a) Each agency has its own counter-terrorism division for the collection, analysis, assessment and fusion of intelligence and follow-up action.

(b) The NCTC co-ordinates the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of all agencies and ensures co-ordinated follow-up action. Its role is preventive and not in investigation and prosecution.

(c) The NCTC functions under the DNI. The heads of the agencies have no control over its functioning.

6.The GC Saxena Task Force on intelligence revamp, set up by the Government in 2000, studied the working of the CTC of the CIA and recommended the creation of a similar counter-terrorism centre to be placed in the IB consisting of officers of various agencies and headed by an IB officer. The Government created it in the IB, but for reasons not clear to me, called it a Multi-Agency Centre and not a counter-terrorism centre. It did not get going for a long time because of the reported reluctance of the R&AW and MI to depute their officers to work in the MAC under an IB officer.

7.The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US Homeland exposed deficiencies in the functioning of the CTC of the CIA. Normally, the recommendation of the Saxena Task Force for the creation of a CTC in the IB should have been re-examined in the light of the 9/11 strikes in the US and the exposed deficiencies in the functioning of the CTC of the CIA, which led to the decision to create the NCTC under the DNI. This was not done till the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai.

8. The 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai revealed more or less the same deficiencies in our counter-terrorism architecture as the deficiencies in the counter-terrorism architecture of the US revealed by the 9/11 terrorist strikes. Namely, inadequate intelligence and lack of co-ordinated follow-up action even on the intelligence that was available. In his first statement to the Lok Sabha on the 26/11 terrorist strikes after taking over as the Home Minister, Shri P.Chidambaram said that the responsibility for follow-up action on available intelligence was found to be diffused.

9. Shortly thereafter, he had visited the US to study the working of the Department of Homeland Security and the NCTC, both of which came into being after 9/11. He came back a strong votary of two ideas: For the creation of a separate Ministry of Internal Security patterned after the Department of Homeland Security of the US and for the creation of an NCTC patterned after its US counterpart.

10. Shri Chidambaram’s ideas differed in one important respect from the Counter-terrorism architecture created in the US. In the US, the newly set up DNI oversees the functioning of the NCTC. Shri Chidambaram reportedly wanted that the entire counter-terrorism architecture, including the proposed NCTC, should function under the Minister for Home Affairs till his idea of a Ministry of Internal Security was accepted and implemented. That is, he wanted the National Security Adviser to be divested of all counter-terrorism responsibilities and the Home Minister to be made the counter-terrorism Czar of the Government of India.

11. There was speculation ( seemed well-informed) in the media at that time that Shri M.K. Narayanan, the then National Security Adviser, viewed this as a negative reflection of his handling of the 26/11 terrorist strikes and strongly opposed the ideas of Shri Chidambaram. There was a long examination of Shri Chidambaram’s ideas. What has come out on January 12,2012, as a result of this examination is neither an ass nor a mule, but something in between and not recognisable.

12. There will be an emaciated-at-birth NCTC which will not be independent , but will form part of the IB. Thus, there will be no independent supervision over the performance of the follow-up action role. The NSA will have no responsibility for counter-terrorism. As desired by him, Shri Chidambaram will be the Czar for counter-terrorism, but he will be a Czar in Indian colours, not given the necessary tools for being an effective Czar.

13. In the US too, the NSA has no responsibility for counter-terrorism. This role is performed by an Adviser on Homeland Security to the President who is commonly referred to as the Adviser on Counter-Terrorism.

14. In my view, the proposed NCTC is unlikely to improve our capability for preventive action through effective follow-up action on the intelligence collected. ( 14-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, January 12, 2012



The War of Nerves in Pakistan, which has degenerated into a War of the Institutions of the State, shows no signs of ending.

2. The lack of self-restraint on the part of the three institutions involved in the war---the elected executive, the Army and the judiciary--- has kept the country on the brink. The inflexible stand taken by the three institutions has created the danger of a possible institutional collapse, the main beneficiaries of which could be neither the elected executive, nor the army nor the judiciary, but the jihadi elements opposed to a liberal democracy who are waiting in the wings for the collapse of the State.

3.The jihadi elements, who had always advocated the end of the liberal democracy on the ground that it gives greater importance to the will of the people than to the will of Allah, are hoping that the present civil war of the institutions, might pave the way for the replacement of a liberal democratic State by a jihadi State. If this happens, the implications will be serious not only for the people of Pakistan, but for the international community as a whole.

4. There is a real danger of Pakistan becoming a failed State not as a result of a collapse of its economy and/or system of governance, but as a result of the civil war being waged by the institutions of the State.

5. The Army has united behind Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). According to reliable sources, the Corps Commanders and the Principal Staff Officers, who held a strategy session at the GHQ in Rawalpindi on January 12,2012, threw their weight behind Kayani and Lt.General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence, and decided that the ISI should provide security to Mansoor Ijaz, the US citizen of Pakistani origin, who unwittingly or deliberately triggered off the present confrontation, to enable him to testify before the Judicial Enquiry Commission appointed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury to enquire into the allegations made by Ijaz against Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to US, in connection with the so-called Memogate.

6.The same sources say that the Army is firm that Hussain Haqqani must be punished for what it looks upon as an act of treason in complaining to the US Government against the Pakistan Army and seeking Washington’s intervention in the matter. Punishment of Haqqani is the minimum that the Army demands as a price for relenting in its fight against the elected executive.

7. The seeming support of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani to Haqqani even before the serious allegations made by Ijaz against him had been formally enquired into and their action in providing security to Haqqani while dragging their feet on the question of security to Ijaz have added to the anger of the Army.

8.The judiciary’s determination to go ahead with its enquiry into the allegations of Ijaz despite the non-cooperation of the executive has encouraged the inflexible stand of the Army.

9. Despite whatever one might say about the domination of the Army in the Pakistani State, the anger of the military class against the political class in general and Haqqani in particular for allegedly seeking the intervention of the US against the Pakistan Army has to be understood instead of being ridiculed. The credibility of Kayani as the leader of the military class---in the eyes of his senior officers as well as the rank and file--- could suffer if he is seen as taking a soft line on this issue.

10. To save Pakistan from a looming institutional collapse, three steps are necessary:

(a). A statement by the Government that the law will be allowed to take its course against Haqqani and that the Government will not stand in the way of the judicial enquiry into the matter.

(b).A public assurance by Kayani that all the Army wants is action against Haqqani and that it has no intention of staging a coup to overthrow the elected Government.

( c ). A reiteration by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the judiciary’s determination not to provide ex-post facto validation to any coup staged by the Army.

11. At a time when there is a crying need for wisdom, discretion and self-imposed restraint on the part of the political class as a whole, the opportunistic attempts of Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan to exploit the situation for their partisan purposes could push Pakistan down the precipice.

12.US policy-makers, who have nothing to learn and nothing to forget from their experiences in Pakistan, are adding to the complexities of the situation by coming out with statements and remarks which are seen by the military class as sympathetic to Haqqani. The US has to realise that it no longer has the same influence over the Pakistan Army as it used to have before May 2 last when its special forces unilaterally raided Abbottabad and killed Osama bin Laden. (13-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Wednesday, January 11, 2012



There are four factors in the current War of Nerves in Pakistan which centres around mutually contradictory perceptions of the alleged unconstitutionality and illegality of the actions taken by different institutions of the state in relation to the hearing in the Pakistan Supreme Court on the veracity of the so-called Memogate.

2. To recall, the Memogate scandal refers to the allegations made by Mansoor Ijaz, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, that the civilian leadership in Pakistan apprehended a coup by the Army after the US raid in Abbottabad on May 2 last which led to the death of Osama bin Laden. Ijaz had further alleged that in the wake of these fears the civilian Government used his contacts in the US administration through Hussain Haqqani, the then Pakistani Ambassador in Washington DC, for having a memo reached to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, seeking US intervention to prevent a coup.

3. The allegations of Ijaz triggered off three parallel enquiries---- by the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), by the committee on national security of the National Assembly assisted by the Ministry of the Interior and the Supreme Court.

4. The Army was the first to move in the matter. Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), despatched Lt.Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of the ISI, to question Ijaz in Europe and take over from him his phone records pertaining to his telephone conversations with Haqqani in this matter. Kayani did not keep the Government of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani informed of his action in this matter.

5. While it would be difficult to characterise the Army’s action as unconstitutional or illegal, it was definitely incorrect. Kayani should have taken the prior clearance of Gilani before despatching Pasha to Europe for questioning Ijaz.

6. The Govt of Gilani was the second to move in the matter. It moved for an enquiry by the Committee on National Security of the National Assembly into the allegations of Ijaz, which were denied by Haqqani, who returned to Islamabad to face the enquiry and resigned. The Govt. ordered the Ministry of the Interior, which controls the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Police, to assist the enquiry by the National Assembly committee. It did not seek the assistance of the ISI in the enquiry.

7.Up to this point, the action of Gilani was constitutional, legal and correct. But after moving for an enquiry by the National Assembly committee, Gilani took another action which was incorrect and which could turn out post facto to be illegal if Haqqani is found guilty of treason for seeking the intervention of a foreign power against the Pakistan Army. Gilani took Haqqani under his physical protection instead of ordering the Police to strengthen his physical security. Initially, Haqqani allegedly lived in the house of Zardari and then moved into a building controlled by the Prime Minister’s Office and its security set-up. This was totally unwise on the part of Gilani.

8. The Supreme Court was the third to move in to add to the confusion. It received a number of private interest petitions seeking a judicial enquiry into the allegations made by Ijaz against Haqqani. One of the petitions was from Nawaz Sharif, former Prime Minister and the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz faction ). The main intention of Nawaz in moving his petition was to exploit Ijaz’s allegations in his campaign against President Asif Ali Zardari and to teach a lesson to Haqqani, who in the 1990s had betrayed Nawaz by defecting from the PML to Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

9. Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury issued notices to the various dramatis personae calling for their comments on the sustainability of Nawaz’s petition and the follow-up action to be taken by the Supreme Court on it. The Govt. of Gilani held that Nawaz’s petition for a judicial enquiry was unsustainable and that only the National Assembly Committee was competent to enquire into it. The Army took up a position which indirectly endorsed the demand for a judicial enquiry on the ground that the allegations made by Ijaz, if true, had national security implications. The Defence Secretary, in his reply to the Supreme Court, took up a position which sought to endorse the position of Kayani and not Gilani.

10. Kayani and Pasha had submitted their proposed replies to the Supreme Court to the Defence Secretary Lt.Gen. (retd) Khalid Naeem Lodhi for vetting before forwarding them to the Supreme Court. The Defence Secretary allegedly forwarded their replies in toto to the Supreme Court without telling Gilani about it and without the approval of the Cabinet as required under the rules of procedure relating to Govt. business..

11. There was a furore in the PPP and the ruling coalition over the actions of the Defence Secretary who has been removed from his post by Gilani after an enquiry into his unauthorised actions.

12. After considering the replies received from the dramatis personae, the Chief Justice rejected the opposition of the Gilani Government to a judicial enquiry and ordered a judicial enquiry by a commission headed by the Chief Justice of the Balochistan High Court and consisting, among others, of one more provincial Chief Justice. Hussain Haqqani has challenged the constitutionality of the action of the Chief Justice in appointing an enquiry commission consisting, among others, of judges of provincial courts. While the Chief Justice plays a role in the appointment of the judges of the provincial courts, under the Pakistan Constitution, according to Haqqani’s petition, the provincial High Courts are not subordinate to the Supreme Court. While the Chief Justice can appoint an enquiry commission consisting of judges of the Supreme Court, he cannot include provincial judges in it. In such matters, the power to appoint an enquiry commission with judges of provincial courts is with the Government and not with the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice has admitted Haqqani’s petition and ordered a hearing into it. But he has not accepted Haqqani’s request for a stay of the proceedings of the judicial commission till the hearing is completed and a ruling is given.

13. In the meanwhile, knowingly or unwittingly, China became a factor in the internal controversy between the Government of Gilani and Kayani. The COAS went on a five-day visit to China on January 4. During his talks in Beijing, Chinese leaders, including Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, highlighted the role of the Pakistan Army in the strengthening of the strategic partnership between the two countries. Before Kayani left for Beijing, the party-controlled People’s Daily sought an interview with Gilani on the on-going controversy. In his replies to questions from the People’s Daily, Gilani reportedly described the actions of Kayani and Pasha in submitting their replies to the Supreme Court directly without getting them vetted and approved by the Government as unconstitutional and illegal.

14. So far, my google searches have not yielded an authentic version of Gilani’s interview to the People’s Daily. The only version that is available is the one disseminated by the Pakistani media. Since Gilani has not denied Pakistani media reports of his interview to the People’s Daily, the Pakistani media reports in this regard must be taken as correct.

15.The most significant part of this injected China factor is that Beijing has praised the Army during Kayani’s visit without referring to his tussle with the Government and at the same time used the party journal for disseminating Gilani’s version of the tussle. Thus, it has sought to remove any impression that its sympathies were with the Army.

16.Kayani has reacted promptly to Gilani’s allegations made in his reported interview to the People’s Daily. In a statement issued through the media cell of the GHQ, the Army said: “There can be no allegation more serious than what the honourable prime minister has levelled against COAS and DG ISI and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country”. The statement has underlined the fact that the replies of Kayani and Pasha were forwarded to the court through the Defence Secretary and not directly and hence there is no unconstitutionality or illegality by the Army and the ISI.

17. The statement significantly added: “. Allegiance to state and the constitution is and will always remain prime consideration for the respondent, who in this case has followed the book.”

18. What are the implications? The Defence Secretary, Kayani and Pasha were enjoying an extended tenure granted by the Government. The post-retirement contract of the Defence Secretary has been terminated by the Government due to his role in the controversy. The Army and the ISI apprehend that the Government might be contemplating a similar reversal of the extended tenure granted to Kayani and Pasha.

19. The Army has conveyed a message to the civilian leadership that while it has no intention of acting against the Government at present, it may not hesitate to act if the Government humiliates Kayani and Pasha by having them removed from office by cancelling their extended tenure. ( 12-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Tuesday, January 10, 2012



All those who have faith in the future of humanity and of the long suffering people of Tibet should not fail to watch and further disseminate an extraordinary interview with an extraordinary human being, namely His Holiness the Dalai Lama, by Barkha Dutt, Group Editor of NDTV. The interview was carried out by her at Bodhgaya in India’s Bihar before the conclusion on January 10,2012, of the Kalachakra, a Tibetan Buddhist religious observance during which His Holiness conducts special teachings on Buddhism for 10 days and provides spiritual guidance to his followers.

2.Thousands of Buddhists from all over the world including the Tibetan areas and mainland China attended the Kalachakra and benefited from the teachings and guidance of His Holiness.

3.For those who were not able to watch the fascinating interview on NDTV, it is available on the web at http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/the-buck-stops-here/just-a-human-being-the-dalai-lama-in-bodh-gaya/220748?pfrom=home-lateststories.

4. The extraordinary human qualities of His Holiness as brought out in the interview were already well known. What is so gratifying in the interview is the infectious optimism of His Holiness regarding the future of the cause of his people. Ever since His Holiness transferred all his powers as the de jure head of the Tibetan-Government-in-exile to a successor elected by the Tibetan diaspora last year, a question repeatedly posed all over the world is : Is it the beginning of the end of the Tibetan cause?

5. The interview brings out very clearly the Dalai Lama’s confidence in the ultimate triumph of the cause of the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhism despite the continuing sufferings of his people in the Tibetan areas of China. The Dalai Lama rightly interprets the continuing instances of self-immolation in the Tibetan areas, particularly in Western Sichuan province---however regrettable for the loss of precious human lives--- as an indicator that the self-motivation of the Tibetan people ---monks as well as others--- and their determination to safeguard their religious, cultural and ethnic rights remain as strong as ever.

6.Neither His Holiness nor his senior advisers are happy over the loss of lives due to the self-immolations, but when people have no other way of expressing their protest and giving vent to their desperation, how can we blame them for taking this extreme step?

7. Despite the severe repressive measures of the Chinese, the attempts at self-immolation continue. There have been three more reports since the beginning of this year---two from Sichuan and one from the Qinghai province. The self-immolation of a 42-year-old monk---the oldest so far--- in the Qinghai province reportedly brought out thousands of Tibetans into the streets to express their solidarity with him.

8. However much one might regret these self-immolations, stopping them is in the hands of the Chinese rulers. Unless they stop their repression of the Tibetan people, restore their religious, cultural and ethnic rights and resume talks with officials of His Holiness for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the problems and aspirations of the Tibetans, this tragedy is likely to continue.

9.2012 is going to be a year of transition in China---with new leaderships taking over in the Communist Party of China and in the Government. This is the time for introspection by the Chinese leaders on a new and more humane way of dealing with the grievances and aspirations of the Tibetan people.

10. It is hoped that His Holiness’ interview would be seen by Chinese leaders and policy-makers and pave the way for such an introspection as a prelude to new policies meant to safeguard the dignity and culture of the Tibetan people instead of crushing them as Beijing has been doing till now. ( 10-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Monday, January 9, 2012



( Replies sent by me on January 10,2012, in response to E-mailed questions from a Japanese journalist in Tokyo working for "Newsweek")

1.The LET is very active even now in Pakistan in ideological propaganda, running of training camps and charity work. It continues to be protected by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). However, it has not carried out any act of mass fatality terrorism in the Indian territory after the 26/11 terrorist strikes of 2008 in Mumbai.In view of the adverse publicity against the ISI after 26/11, the ISI has not used it for any act in Indian territory after 26/11.

2.The LET's first target is India and Indian nationals and interests in Afghanistan and other countries. Its next target is Israel and Israeli nationals and interests wherever they are. Its third target is US nationals and interests. It has the same capability and ideological motivation as Al Qaeda, but it is not trying to replace Al Qaeda, which continues to be a largely Arab organisation. The LET is largely a Pakistani organisation.Al Qaeda and the LET help each other and co-ordinate their operations, but they maintain their respective independent existence.

3.Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed and bin Laden strongly shared the Wahabi-Deobandi ideology.They supported the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by Muslims to protect their religion.Both called for the destruction of Israel.Both called for a jihad against India and the US.But bin Laden was strongly anti-Shia and anti-Iran, but Sayeed is not.bin Laden was strongly against the Saudi monarchy and sought to organise a jihad in Saudi Arabia to overthrow the monarchy.Sayeed is supportive of the Saudi monarchy.The LET has a base in Saudi territory which has been allowed to function by the Saudi intelligence.Its operations in India are carried out some times from Pakistan and sometimes from Saudi Arabia. Its base in Saudi Arabia is used fror recruiting Indian Muslims from the large number of Indian Muslims going to Saudi Arabia for Haj/Umra pilgrimage.



Q: What is the likelihood of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), staging a coup, seizing political power and imposing the rule of the Army till fresh elections are held?

A: Little likely. The present tussle of the Pakistan Army over the so-called Memogate scandal is against Asif Ali Zardari, who is the elected Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Army has no grievance against Yousef Raza Gilani, the elected Head of Government. If Gen.Kayani wants to seize power, he has to overthrow the Head of State who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Acting against the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces would be an act of treason. In the history of Pakistan, there has been only one coup against the Head of State---- by Gen.Ayub Khan, the then COAS, against the then President Iskander Mirza. On October 7,1958, Mirza suspended the Constitution on the ground it was proving to be unworkable, imposed a martial law and appointed Ayub Khan as the Martial Law Administrator. On October 27,1958, Ayub Khan, who did not get along well with Mirza, forced him to go into exile in London and declared himself the President of Pakistan and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The coups of Zia ul-Haq in 1977 and of Gen.Pervez Musharraf in 1999 were against the elected Head of Government who was not the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Zia and Musharraf had no difficulty in getting their coup validated ex-post facto either by a compliant President or judiciary or both under the so-called doctrine of necessity.

Gen.Kayani would not like to place himself in a position where he has to overthrow the elected Head of State of Pakistan and the constitutionally designated Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, the Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court, has made it clear on many occasions that there is no question of the judiciary validating a coup ex post facto under the doctrine of necessity.

If Kayani stages a coup against Zardari and fails to get it validated by the judiciary he would have committed an act of treason on two counts---for overthrowing his Head of State and for acting against his Supreme Commander. All the other senior officers, who go along with a possible coup plot by Kayani, would be liable to be tried for conspiring and acting against their Supreme Commander. Many of them may not want to find themselves in such a situation.

Q. Does that totally rule out the possibility of an anti-Zardari coup?

A. Not necessarily. If there is a serious law and order situation in Pakistan, the Army under Kayani may still stage a coup unmindful of the post facto legal consequences. One does not presently see the possibility of such a situation arising.

Q. If an outright coup is ruled out, what is the fall-back position available to Kayani to save his face?

A.The fall-back option available to the Army is to manipulate the situation in such a manner so as to make it untenable for Zardari to continue as the Head of State and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Army could achieve this by driving a wedge between Zardari and Gilani or by undermining Zardari’s political base in the Pakistan People’s Party. Such a contingency is unlikely. Both Gilani and the PPP have remained steadfast in their loyalty to Zardari so far.

A second option available to the Army is by having the COAS declared as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. This would make it easier for Kayani to act against Zardari. In May last year, after the USA’s Abbottabad raid, a private person filed a petition before the Lahore High Court to have the COAS declared as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Such a change could be brought in only by a Constitutional amendment. With the PPP and its Allies having the majority in the National Assembly and in the provincial Assemblies of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa such an amendment is unlikely.

The other option available to the Army is to work and hope for an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court against Zardari in the Memogate case.The possibility of the Supreme Court giving a direct finding against Zardari is weak now. Even Manzoor Ijaz blames only Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, for the contents of the Memo seeking US assistance to prevent a coup after the Abbottabad raid of May 2 last year against Osama bin Laden. He has not definitively blamed Zardari for the contents of the Memo.

The best the Army can hope for from the Supreme Court is for an adverse ruling against Haqqani holding him guilty of an act of treason for having sought the assistance of a foreign Govt for acting against the Pakistan Army. If the court gives such a ruling, Zardari could become an accomplice of Haqqani’s act of treason by virtue of sheltering him initially in his house and subsequently in Gilani’s house after Haqqani returned from Washington DC to resign.

Even in such an eventuality, the Supreme Court cannot act against Zardari unless the National Assembly in which the PPP and its allies have a majority lifts Zardari’s immunity against prosecution.

Q.Is there any political and honourable way out available?

A.The only honourable way out is by dissolving the National Assembly before its term expires in March next year and calling for fresh elections later this year. However, if the PPP and Zardari return to power in that election, it will pose an embarrassing situation for Kayani as well as the Chief Justice.
Pakistan is in for a long period of an excruciating war of nerves in which there will be neither honour nor victory for any of the dramatis personae (9-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )