Saturday, February 25, 2012



The “Dawn” of Karachi reported on February 25,2012, that the Government of Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani has reportedly decided against extending the tenure of Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, who has been the Director General (DG) of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate since October,2008. According to it, he may reportedly be transferred to the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) as its head.

2.Pasha reached the age of superannuation in March last year. On the recommendation of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Prime Minister Gilani, who is the appointing authority of all intelligence chiefs, granted him one year’s extension in service as well as in his tenure as the DG of the ISI.

3.When he was appointed as the ISI chief in succession to the controversial Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj, who was distrusted by the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which suspected him of being the brain behind the explosion outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul and the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, Pasha had the unique advantage of enjoying the confidence of his Army Chief, the elected civilian Government and the US.

4.After his extension, his image has taken a beating due to the unilateral US raid in Abbottabad on May 2,2011, which led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, the subsequent Memogate scandal relating to a Memo allegedly passed on by Mansoor Ijaz, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, to Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the alleged instance of Hussain Haqqani, then Pakistani Ambassador to the US, seeking US intervention to prevent a feared coup by Kayani, and a serious disruption of military-military and intelligence-intelligence relations between the US and Pakistan following an alleged US/NATO raid on a Pakistani border post in the last week of November in which many Pakistani military and para-military personnel were killed.

5.There has been an undeclared cold war between the military and intelligence services of the two countries since the last week of November resulting in a disruption of exchanges of visits, meetings at senior levels, and NATO logistic supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistani territory.

6.There have been reliable indications that the elected civilian leadership ----particularly President Asif Ali Zardari--- has been unhappy over the turn for the worse in the bilateral relations, but has been unable to override the objections of the Army and the ISI to a premature mending of the relations with the US.

7.So long as Pasha is the head of the ISI, in view of his total identification with the post-May 2011 policies of Kayani, a reversal of the downslide in the relations with the US is unlikely. But the exit of Pasha from the post of DG of the ISI might provide the civilian leadership with an opportunity to appoint a successor who can try to reverse the downslide.

8.The appointing authority for the post of the DG, ISI, is the Prime Minister. Though the Prime Minister generally appoints an Army officer recommended by the COAS, there have been three instances in the past when an elected Prime Minister had appointed someone to whom the COAS was opposed. These were retired Major-Gen. Shamshur Rehman Kallue, who was recalled from retirement by Mrs.Benazir Bhutto in 1989 and appointed as the DG of the ISI, Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir and Lt.Gen.Ziauddin, who were appointed by Nawaz Sharif during his first and second tenures as Prime Minister respectively. Piqued by these appointments, the Army boycotted Kallue, Nasir and Ziauddin thereby reducing their effectiveness and increasing the importance of the Directors-General of Military Intelligence, who were relied upon by the COAS for carrying out his orders.

9.The “Dawn” has also reported as follows : “In what may come as a surprising development, the Government may appoint a non-military official or a retired military officer as the new chief of the ISI. At least four senior military officers, including the Corps Commander Lahore Lieutenant General Rashid, Corps Commander Karachi Lieutenant General Zaheer-ul-Islam, Deputy Director General ISI Major General Asfandyar Pataudi and the incumbent DG Military Intelligence Major General Noshad Kayani are also being considered for the slot to be vacated by Pasha.”

10. Last year, after the Abbottabad raid, there was speculation in Pakistan that Maj-Gen Pataudi may replace Pasha as the ISI chief, but this did not happen. Pataudi will still be an attractive candidate for the US and the Pakistani civilian leadership because of his reputation as a liberal and clean officer, but he is still only a Major-Gen and may have to be promoted as Lt.Gen. superseding his seniors before he can take over as the DG,ISI. Moreover, Kayani may not like his being preferred to others who are known to be close to him. Sections of the Pakistani media had speculated last year that he was related to the Nawab of Pataudi family in India. If this is correct, it is doubtful whether the Army would want someone with links to India as the ISI chief.

11. It is very doubtful whether the civilian leadership would appoint a civilian to this post. It could provoke the Army and add to the confrontation between the civilian leadership and the Army. Since there is a precedent of a retired Army officer enjoying the confidence of the elected leadership being recalled and asked to take over as the DG,ISI, one should not rule this out.

12. Among names of retired officers that come to mind are Lt.Gen. Asad Durrani, who was the DG of the ISI during Nawaz Sharif’s first tenure as the Prime Minister, and Maj-Gen.Mahmud Ali Durrani, former Ambassador to the US before Haqqani. Asad Durrani was close to Nawaz, but had subsequently ingratiated himself with Benazir Bhutto. He is presently very active in the Track-2 circles trying for a dialogue between India and Pakistan.

13. When Gilani took over as the Prime Minister in 2008, he appointed Mahmud Ali Durrani as his National Security Adviser, but he was removed following a controversy over his confirming in public that Ajmal Kasab, the sole survivor of the Lashkar-e-Toiba group that carried out terrorist strikes in Mumbai on 26/11, was a Pakistani national.

14. Despite his unceremonious exit, he maintains good relations with Zardari, the US and serving Army officers who are supporters of Pervez Musharraf. He had played an active role in bringing about an understanding between Musharraf and Benazir which led to her return from political exile in October, 2007.

15. Among other retired officers with an intelligence background known to Zardari are Lt-Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi and Lt-Gen Naseem Rana, both of whom had headed the ISI during Benazir’s second tenure as the Prime Minister. Lt-Gen. Qazi is now a member of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam) and represents it in the Senate. That might rule him out from consideration. Rana is from the Signal Corps and was not known as a heavy weight. His chances should, therefore, be low. ( 26-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



In a letter to the Chief Ministers, who have expressed their reservations over certain features of the proposed National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Shri P.Chidambaram, the Union Home Minister, has stated, inter alia as follows: “Before we take the next steps, I have asked the Home Secretary to call a meeting of the Directors General of Police and the Heads of the Anti-Terrorist Organisations/Forces of the State Governments and discuss in detail the scope and functions of the NCTC.”

2. This tends to confirm the claims of Ms.Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who had met the Prime Minister at New Delhi on this subject that the Government has decided to withhold further follow-up action on the NCTC till there were prior consultations with the States. The Government of India needs to be complimented for not standing on false prestige and agreeing to hold consultations with the States “before we take the next steps”

3. With his letter, Shri Chidambaram has enclosed a note giving the background to the proposed creation of the NCTC and its salient features. The note states inter alia: “A body mandated to deal with counter terrorism must have, in certain circumstances, an operational capability. This is true of all counter terrorism bodies in the world. When engaged in counter terrorism operations, the officers must have the power to arrest and the power to search which are the bare minimum powers that would be necessary. Besides, the powers conferred under section 43A must be read with the duty under section 43B to produce the person or article without unnecessary delay before the nearest police station (which will be under the State Government), and the SHO of the Police Station will take further action in accordance with the provisions of the CrPC.”

4. The claim made in the summary regarding the position in other countries does not seem to be factually correct. In the US, the NCTC,created under law in 2004, as an independent institution to function under the supervision of Director, National Intelligence, has not been given any executive powers. Its charter says: “NCTC assigns roles and responsibilities to departments and agencies as part of its strategic planning duties, but NCTC does not direct the execution of any resulting operations.”

5. In the UK, the powers of arrest are still exclusively vested in the police. The Secret Service, known as MI-5, which is responsible for secret intelligence collection and covert action against terrorism, does not have these powers. A paper on Counter-Terrorism Strategy submitted by the British Government to their Parliament in July 2006 says as follows: “Covert operational counter-terrorist activity in the United Kingdom is conducted by the
Security Service in close collaboration with police forces across the country and the Anti-Terrorist Branch of the Metropolitan Police. The police are responsible for taking executive action, such as arrests, and conducting the investigation against those suspected of involvement in terrorism. The SIS and GCHQ, in collaboration with intelligence and security partners overseas, operate covertly in support of the Security Service to disrupt terrorist threat.”

6. SIS is the Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI-6, which is the UK’s external intelligence agency. GCHQ is the General Communications Headquarters which is the UK’s TECHINT agency. It is the UK’s equivalent of the USA’s National Security Agency and our National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO).

7.The Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), created in pursuance of the recommendation of the Task Force set up by the Atal Behari Vajpayee Government in 2000 under the chairmanship of Shri G.C.Saxena, former head of the R&AW, has tasks of joint analysis, joint assessment, joint identification of follow-up action required and assigning responsibilities for follow-up action. It will get its follow-up operations executed by other empowered agencies and the State Police. It has no executive powers of its own.

8. The NCTC is proposed to be given executive powers of follow-up action on its own on the basis of its assessment and informing the State Police thereafter. At present, the MAC alerts the State Police and suggests arrest of a suspect by them. In future, the NCTC can arrest a suspect on its own, hand him over to the police and direct it to start an investigation.

9. This is apparently meant to deal with contingencies where the State Police drag their feet in making an arrest--- for example a BJP Government in respect of a suspected Hindu terrorist or some other Government in respect of a Muslim terrorist. The MAC is at present without powers to deal with such instances. The NCTC can, in future, arrest the suspect without alerting the police, take his house search, hand him over to the police and then direct it to start an investigation.

10. This is a power with serious implications for misuse, with the NCTC, taking its orders from the Intelligence Bureau, arresting a person in a State without keeping the Police in the picture and then confronting the Police with a fait accompli.

11. In other countries, the NCTCs or their equivalent came into being as part of a detailed National Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which was formulated after extensive political consultations and debate in the Parliament. In India, 41 years after terrorism made its appearance and over three years after the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, we still do not have a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy drawn up in consultation with the political parties and States.

12. Without such a strategy, attempts are being made to smuggle through a mechanism with executive powers to enable the IB to make arrests in certain cases on its own through the NCTC without the prior knowledge of the States.

13. A note on the NCTC of the US taken from its web site is annexed.( 25-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was established by Presidential Executive Order 13354 in August 2004, and codified by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA). NCTC implements a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission: “Breaking the older mold of national government organizations, this NCTC should be a center for joint operational planning and joint intelligence, s
staffed by personnel from the various agencies.”

The Director of NCTC is a Deputy Secretary-equivalent with a unique, dual line of reporting: (1) to the President regarding Executive branch-wide counterterrorism planning, and (2) to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) regarding intelligence matters. NCTC follows the policy direction of the President, and National and Homeland Security Councils.

NCTC is staffed by more than 500 personnel from more than 16 departments and agencies (approximately 60 percent of whom are detailed to NCTC). NCTC is organizationally part of the ODNI.

NCTC’s core missions are derived primarily from IRTPA, as supplemented by other statutes, Executive Orders, and Intelligence Community Directives. NCTC’s mission statement succinctly summarizes its key responsibilities and value-added contributions: “Lead our nation’s effort to combat terrorism at home and abroad by analyzing the threat, sharing that information with our partners, and integrating all instruments of national power to ensure unity of effort.”

“Analyzing the Threat”

By law, NCTC serves as the primary organization in the United States Government (USG) for integrating and analyzing all intelligence pertaining to counterterrorism (except for information pertaining exclusively to domestic terrorism).

NCTC integrates foreign and domestic analysis from across the Intelligence Community (IC) and produces a wide-range of detailed assessments designed to support senior policymakers and other members of the policy, intelligence, law enforcement, defense, homeland security, and foreign affairs communities. Prime examples of NCTC analytic products include items for the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) and the daily National Terrorism Bulletin (NTB). NCTC is also the central player in the ODNI’s Homeland Threat Task Force, which orchestrates interagency collaboration and keeps senior policymakers informed about threats to the Homeland via a weekly update.

NCTC leads the IC in providing expertise and analysis of key terrorism-related issues, with immediate and far-reaching impact. For example, NCTC’s Radicalization and Extremist Messaging Group leads the IC’s efforts on radicalization issues. NCTC’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Counterterrorism Group pools scarce analytical, subject matter, and scientific expertise from NCTC and CIA on these critical issues.

NCTC also evaluates the quality of CT analytic production, the training of analysts working CT, and the strengths and weaknesses of the CT analytic workforce. NCTC created the Analytic Framework for Counterterrorism, aimed at reducing redundancy of effort by delineating the roles of the IC’s various CT analytic components. NCTC also created a working group for alternative analysis to help improve the overall rigor and quality of CT analysis.

“Sharing that Information”

By law, NCTC serves as the USG’s central and shared knowledge bank on known and suspected terrorists and international terror groups. NCTC also provides USG agencies with the terrorism intelligence analysis and other information they need to fulfill their missions. NCTC collocates more than 30 intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security networks under one roof to facilitate robust information sharing. NCTC is a model of interagency information sharing.

Through the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), NCTC maintains a consolidated repository of information on international terrorist identities and provides the authoritative database supporting the Terrorist Screening Center and the USG’s watchlisting system. The Center also produces NCTC Online (NOL) and NCTC Online CURRENT, classified websites that make CT products and articles available to users across approximately 75 USG agencies, departments, military services and major commands. NCTC’s Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) facilitates information sharing between the IC and State, Local, Tribal, and Private partners – in coordination with DHS, FBI, and other members of the ITACG Advisory Council.

NCTC also provides the CT community with 24/7 situational awareness, terrorism threat reporting, and incident information tracking. NCTC hosts three daily secure video teleconferences (SVTC) and maintains constant voice and electronic contact with major Intelligence and CT Community players and foreign partners.

“Integrating All Instruments of National Power”

By law, NCTC conducts strategic operational planning for CT activities across the USG, integrating all instruments of national power, including diplomatic, financial, military, intelligence, homeland security, and law enforcement to ensure unity of effort. NCTC ensures effective integration of CT plans and synchronization of operations across more than 20 government departments and agencies engaged in the War on Terror, through a single and truly joint planning process.

NCTC’s planning efforts include broad, strategic plans such as the landmark National Implementation Plan for the War on Terror (NIP). First approved by the President in June 2006 and then again in September 2008, the NIP is the USG’s comprehensive and evolving strategic plan to implement national CT priorities into concerted interagency action.

NCTC also prepares far more granular, targeted action plans to ensure integration, coordination, and synchronization on key issues, such as countering violent extremism, terrorist use of the internet, terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction, and counter-options (after an attack). NCTC also leads Interagency Task Forces designed to analyze, monitor, and disrupt potential terrorist attacks.

NCTC assigns roles and responsibilities to departments and agencies as part of its strategic planning duties, but NCTC does not direct the execution of any resulting operations.

NCTC monitors the alignment of all CT resources against the NIP and provides advice and recommendations to policy officials to enhance mission success.

The Director of NCTC is also the CT Mission Manager for the IC, per DNI directive3. Thus implementing a key recommendation of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. In that role, NCTC leads the CT community in identifying critical intelligence problems, key knowledge gaps, and major resource constraints. NCTC also created the CT Intelligence Plan (CTIP) to translate the NIP and the National Intelligence Strategy into a common set of priority activities for the IC, and to establish procedures for assessing how the IC is performing against those objectives.

NCTC, in partnership with NSC and HSC, is leading reform of CT policy architecture to streamline policymaking and clarify missions.

Friday, February 24, 2012



According to Radio Free Asia, funded by the US State Department, Zhu Mingguo, deputy leader of the Guangdong provincial Government in China, which witnessed a people’s revolt in the village of Wukan towards the end of last year in protest against arbitrary land acquisitions, told a conference of the labour department of the Government on February 20,2012, that the provincial Government planned to train 10,000 "public opinion guides" in the coming months to correct public misperceptions about Government and Party policies.

2. He stressed the need for Government and party officials to keep pace with the new generation of Chinese society, which is Web-savvy and is able to use the Net for propagating criticisms of Government and party policies.

3.According to the “Guangdong Daily”, as cited by RFA, Zhu told the participants in the conference that they should ensure that the voice of the Communist Party continued to be heard in an age of social networking. They should take opinion formation and education to the next level, Zhu reportedly told the meeting, and "guide society to an ardent love of the Party and of socialism."

4. The RFA has reported as follows in a commentary on the conference: “Guangzhou-based Internet commentator Ye Du said the report had sparked considerable discussion in some quarters of the Chinese Internet, with posts announcing that "the 50-cent army is hiring again," in a reference to netizens' satirical name for the government's battalion of paid opinion-makers. The fact that the villagers of Wukan kept going with the struggle to protect their rights has set a huge example to rural communities and petitioners all over China," Ye said. "In recent days, there have been a number of demonstrations by large numbers of retired military personnel who have used the same methods in their petitioning."

5.The RFA commentary further quoted Ye as saying as follows: “Now that rural residents know how to use the Internet and microblogs as channels to release information, the authorities must boost their workforce by hiring even more people to curb them. They want to prevent negative news from getting out and circulating."

6.According to Ye, as cited by the RFA commentary, the Government's strategy is now focused on influencing public opinion rather than on the impossible task of censoring every microblog posting on the massively popular Sina Weibo service. "News gets out on Sina Weibo very fast indeed," Ye said. "Within one or two minutes, your news can reach several million people, and the authorities can't keep up with blocking all of it." (25-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, February 23, 2012



Some developments of recent months have highlighted the need for a tight control over electronic snooping by intelligence and security agencies.

2.The Kargil Review Committee (KRC) stressed the need for improving our technical intelligence (TECHINT) capabilities by setting up an Indian equivalent of the USA’s National Security Agency (NSA), which is exclusively responsible for the collection of communications intelligence.

3.Thus came into existence the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) as the primary TECHINT agency of the Government of India. Simultaneously, since the Kargil conflict of 1999 and the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US,TECHINT capabilities have been strengthened in individual agencies of our intelligence community.

4.This period has also seen a mushrooming of private telecommunication companies. Some of them are of foreign origin, including from China. As a result, the weak architecture and dos and don’ts laid down before 1999 for a strict, centralised control over the snooping process have been further weakened---with agencies not authorised to do snooping managing to do so by various means such as allegedly using their contacts in the private telecom companies.

5.Private telecom companies have been doing their own snooping of each other to meet the requirements of competition. Thus, snooping capabilities have expanded beyond imagination over the last 10 years. The evolution of the centralised control architecture has not kept pace with the expansion of the snooping capabilities.

6. As a result, one finds that the protection of the right to communications privacy of the citizens of this country no longer receives the kind of attention that it used to receive before 1999. A wake-up call on the dangers of unbridled electronic snooping was sounded in the case of the so-called Niiru Radia tapes. One saw the worrisome phenomenon of a multiplicity of agencies doing snooping in total violation of the do’s and don’t’s laid down and leaking out tampered versions of the intercepts in total disregard of the right to communications privacy of innocent citizens.

7. Recent reports in the media indicate that there has been no attempt to draw the right lessons from the Radia tapes controversy. It would seem that more and more capabilities for snooping on communications of the citizens are being acquired by different agencies, without strengthening the safety precautions to ensure that the capabilities are used only against established or strongly-suspected wrong-doers in accordance with a laid-down procedure approved at the highest level.

8. If the Government does not immediately act to strengthen the mechanism for preventing the misuse of these capabilities, we may find that there is no longer any restraints in the matter of interception of communications and that electronic snoopers of Indian and foreign origin have been running amok across our communications spectra.

9. More violation of the rights of the citizens and weakening of our national security may be the ultimate outcome. It is worrisome that none of these issues receives the attention of our political class, which is more interested in playing partisan politics than in debating issues relating to our national security--- in a professional manner without politicising the debate. The tendency of our political class to politicise every debate on security issues has been the bane of our national security management.

10. The debate should also focus on the need for setting up at least a modicum of parliamentary oversight over our intelligence community and over the way they are using their newly-acquired capabilities and technologies.

11.The question of introducing some kind of parliamentary oversight has been debated from time to time since 1989 when V.P.Singh, the then Prime Minister, raised it for the first time.

12.There has been no forward movement since then due to lack of interest in our political class and resistance from the intelligence agencies which fear – not without valid reasons—that in the era of coalition politics and increasing nexus between sections of the political class and the criminal world, it would be inadvisable to introduce the same methods of parliamentary oversight as in Western countries, particularly in the US and the UK.

13. However strong and valid the reservations of the intelligence agencies, we should not take their no as the final answer. It is important to devise ways of parliamentary oversight which would suit the conditions in the Indian political landscape. This is a matter that needs to be examined by a high-powered committee.( 23-2-2012)

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2012



( An edited version of this has been carried by “The Hindu” on February 23,2012, )

Before 9/11 the assessment in the US was that terrorist threats to the US from abroad would be more serious than home-based threats. The responsibility for co-ordinating preventive action was, therefore, vested in the Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA), which handles external intelligence.

The CIA had a Counter-terrorism Centre (CTC) to perform tasks of co-ordination and follow-up action on the intelligence collected by the various agencies. The CTC had officers taken on deputation from different agencies. They worked under a CIA officer.

The Government of Atal Behari Vajpayee set up in May 2000 a Task Force for the Revamping of the Intelligence Apparatus headed by Shri G.C.Saxena, former head of the R&AW and the then Governor of J&K. Among its members were Shri M.K.Narayanan, former Director, Intelligence Bureau, Shri K.Raghunath, former Foreign Secretary, Shri P.P. Shrivatsava, former Special Secretary, Home Affairs, and myself.

Its report recommended, inter alia, the setting-up of a CTC on the US model with deputationists from different agencies to improve co-ordination and follow-up action in counter-terrorism. Since in India, the IB had the over-all responsibility for counter-terrorism and liaison with the State Police it suggested that the CTC should be part of the IB and should work under the DIB.

It looked upon the CTC as a clandestine wing of the IB, which itself is a clandestine intelligence collection organisation. It, therefore, did not recommend any legal powers for the CTC so that the clandestine nature of its operations was not affected.

The Vajpayee Government set up the CTC, under an executive order, as part of the IB but, for reasons not clear to me, it named it the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) and not the CTC.

The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US brought out serious gaps in the functioning of the CTC of the CIA. It was, therefore decided by the Bush Administration in 2004 to set up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) as an independent institution not under the control of any of the existing agencies. It was placed under the Director, National Intelligence, who is one of the personal staff of the President.
Whereas the US model of the CTC was given up after 9/11 due to inadequacies in its functioning, the Indian model of the MAC, patterned after the US CTC model, has continued functioning. Neither the Vajpayee Government nor the Manmohan Singh Government revisited the recommendations of the Saxena Task Force in the light of the 9/11 lessons.

The 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai brought out gaps in the functioning of the MAC. Flow of preventive intelligence and follow-up action on even the limited intelligence that was available were unsatisfactory. In a statement in the Lok Sabha after taking over as the Home Minister, Shri P.Chidambaram admitted that the responsibility for follow-up-action on the available intelligence was diffused.

He, therefore, decided to set up the NCTC after a visit to the US. His model of the Indian NCTC differed from the US model in two respects. The US NCTC is an independent institution not coming under the control of any of the existing agencies. In India, it is proposed to be made a wing of the IB and will work under the DIB.

In the US, the NCTC is a legal institution set up under a Congressional legislation after bipartisan consultations, but it does not have any legal powers to act on its own in matters such as arrest, detention, interrogation, searches etc.

The Indian model has been set up under an executive notification under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967. This has obviated the need for fresh legislation for its creation and for fresh political consulations at the Centre and with the States.

More seriously, the Indian NCTC is sought to be given powers of arrest and searches as part of its preventive operations.

The granting of these powers to the IB through the NCTC mechanism could have two undesirable consequences. Firstly, allegations of misuse of the IB for harassing political opponents. Secondly, it will affect the role of the IB as a clandestine intelligence collection organisation. It will be preoccupied defending its arrests before the courts and against allegations of human rights violations. Moreover, presently the IB enjoys protection from the Right to Information Act. If it has these powers and starts functioning as an intelligence collection agency cum central police, it may no longer be able to enjoy this protection.

The Home Minister had two options: Either make the NCTC an independent institution if he felt that it must have the powers of arrest and searches . Or if he felt that it must work under the IB, make it a division of the IB without giving it these powers.

His unwise action in making it part of the IB with these powers could prove counterproductive. He should not stand on false prestige. He should re-visit the proposed NCTC architecture in consultation with political parties and the States.

It needs to be underlined that there is no opposition in the country to the NCTC concept, which is necessary. The opposition is to the manner in which it has been set up without adequate consultations and to some of its features.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Research & Analysis Wing,Govt. of India )

Friday, February 17, 2012



The recent hardline statements from the Han rulers of Tibet expressing concern over the situation in Tibet and their determination to crush the so-called splittist movement is a reflection of their nervousness. This nervousness is the result of their inability to understand what has been going on in the Tibetan areas of China and to crush the post-2008 Tibetan emulation of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent strategic resistance movement called the Satyagraha meaning the struggle for the truth.

2. The Chinese managed to crush the violent uprising of 2008, but they have not been able to crush the Tibetan yearning for freedom. They have not been able to eradicate the Tibetan love for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and their devotion to their Buddhist religion. They have not been able to destroy the Tibetan pride in their identity.

3. The Tibetans---particularly the GenNext--- realised that a better way of asserting their pride and independence and keeping alive their hopes for the end of what they consider as the Han colonisation of Tibet would be to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent struggle against the British colonial regime in India.

4. Thus was born the Lhakar movement. Lhakar means White Wednesday---- a day associated, in their eyes, with the soul of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Every Wednesday, thousands of Tibetans---men, women and children---- are meeting in their villages and towns to take the following pledges:

I am Tibetan. This is my national flag.

I am Tibetan. I wear Chupa(tibetan dress).

I am Tibetan. I eat dried cheese.

I am Tibetan. I work for Tibetan Struggle.

I am Tibetan. I eat Tsampa (Tibetan staple food).

I am Tibetan. I drink Tibetan salted butter tea.

I am Tibetan. I speak Tibetan.

I am Tibetan. My parents are Tibetan. My leader is His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I am Tibetan. I am a disciple of His Holiness.

I am Tibetan. My father is a Tibetan.

I am Tibetan. Tibetan blood flows in my body.

I am Tibetan. I will continue to work for Tibet's Struggle.

I am Tibetan. I am proud of being Tibetan.

I am Tibetan. I am Thangka painter and an activist for Tibet's Independence.

5. They express their determination to preserve their Tibetan identity and their refusal to be assimilated into the Han culture and identity. Eat Tibetan, Speak Tibetan, Dress Tibetan, Think Tibetan, Live Tibetan, Die Tibetan--- that is their motto.

6. The Tibetans themselves describe the Lhakar movement as follows: “ Lhakar is a homegrown, Tibetan self-reliance movement that started in the aftermath of the 2008 uprising. In spite of China’s intensified crackdown, Tibetans have embraced the power of strategic nonviolent resistance. Every Wednesday, a growing number of Tibetans are making special effort to wear traditional clothes, speak Tibetan, eat in Tibetan restaurants and buy from Tibetan-owned businesses. They channel their spirit of resistance into social, cultural and economic activities that are self-constructive (promoting Tibetan language, culture and identity) and non-cooperative (refusing to support Chinese institutions and businesses).”

7. The Lhakar movement has unnerved the Chinese. They do not know how to stop its spread. The resistance movement has taken other forms too---- self-immolation by Tibetan monks---- since March last year, there have been 24 self-immolation attempts, of which 22 ended in fatalities--- insistence on keeping the pictures of His Holiness in the monasteries, refusal to fly the Chinese flag and exhibit the pictures of Chinese leaders in the monasteries, refusal to observe the Chinese New Year’s Day, refusal by monks to perform their religious duties in monasteries in which Chinese security forces are posted, refusal to attend the so-called re-education camps organised by the Chinese Government and party authorities.

8. The Chinese have sent reinforcements of their security forces to the Tibetan areas and cut off all Net connections. Despite this, the movement is showing no signs of abating. On the contrary, it is gathering strength.

9.Gandhiji’s non-violent struggle finally succeeded against the British and forced them to quit India. Will the Tibetan non-violent struggle succeed against the Han Chinese? The Han Chinese are more ruthless than the British. The Tibetans would need the moral support of the international community---particularly India--- to keep their struggle alive and triumph finally. Even if considerations of RealPolitik prevent the Government of India from extending moral support to the Tibetans, Indian public opinion should not let them down. They are emulating our own freedom struggle. They are following in the footsteps of our own legendary leaders who fought against the British. The Indian public opinion has a moral obligation to empathise with the Tibetan satyagraha and support it morally. ( 18-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



Of all the Chief Ministers, who have protested against the proposed creation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) in the Intelligence Bureau of the Government of India with effect from March 1,2012 without consulting the State Governments, only J.Jayalalita, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, has got it right.

2. She has made it clear that her objection is not to the creation of the NCTC to strengthen our counter-terrorism capability. Nor is her objection based on fears of dilution of the principle of federalism.

3. Her objections are to two features of the proposed NCTC mechanism--- the powers of arrests and searches sought to be given to the NCTC, which will be a division of the IB, a clandestine intelligence organisation, and the provision for the setting-up of inter-State intelligence teams by the NCTC.

4. She has reportedly described these provisions as highly objectionable and said that the powers of arrest and searches given to the IB through the mechanism of the NCTC under Section 2 ( e ) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967 “can be misused to suit ends that are motivated by reasons other than fighting terrorism. Moreover, setting up of inter-state intelligence teams by the NCTC is tantamount to usurping the legitimate rights of the States.”

5. I would not agree with her fears regarding the proposed inter-State intelligence teams. Such teams may be necessary to deal with pan-Indian terrorist groups such as the Indian Mujahideen which have their sleeper cells right across India in many States.

6. But, I do share her fears about the possible misuse of the powers of arrest and searches by the NCTC Division of the IB against political opponents by branding them as associated with terrorism. During the emergency of 1975-77, Indira Gandhi had many of her political opponents arrested by having them branded as threats to national security.

7. A Government with authoritarian reflexes in future may be tempted to misuse the powers of arrest given to the IB through the NCTC for having political opponents arrested by having them branded as associated with terrorism.

8. The IB is a secret intelligence organisation. It has no accountability to Parliament in respect of its work. We do not have a system of parliamentary intelligence oversight committees. We depend on the executive without any checks and balances to ensure that the IB functions according to the law of the land.

9.The British, during their colonial rule, did not consider it necessary or wise to give the powers of arrest and searches to the IB for any purpose. They observed the sacred principle that a clandestine intelligence collection agency should not have the powers of arrest. None of the Governments that had held office in New Delhi since our independence had considered it necessary or wise to give such powers to the IB.

10. The practice of giving powers of arrest to the intelligence agencies was started by Lenin and Stalin when they set up the KGB, the all-powerful Soviet intelligence agency, in order to enable it to deal with so-called counter-revolutionaries. Many other authoritarian countries have since given these powers to their intelligence agencies.

11. The IB has till now not had these powers. In spite of that, during the Emergency there were serious allegations of the misuse of the IB and the CBI by the Indira Gandhi Government to harass the opponents of the emergency. Instances of such misuse were documented by the Shah Commission and the L.P.Singh Committee set up by the Morarji Desai Government to enquire into them.

12. If there could be such gross misdeeds when the IB did not have any powers of arrest, imagine how much more could there be when a clandestine organisation, not accountable to Parliament, is given such powers on the ground that those powers would be required to deal with terrorism.

13. Congress spokesmen defending the NCTC mechanism have sought to ridicule those criticising the objectionable provisions of the NCTC as opposed to strengthening our counter-terrorism capability. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The opposition is not to the NCTC as such, but to some objectionable features of it.

14. Instead of standing on false prestige, the Government of India should have a re-look at some of the worrisome features of the NCTC mechanism in consultation with other political parties and State Governments. It is not just a question of respecting the principles of federalism. It is a question of adhering to the principles of a genuine democracy. ( 18-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



( To be read in continuation of my article of January 13,2012, titled “ a Counter-Terrorism Czar In Indian Colours” at )

There has been an avoidable and unfortunate controversy over the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC), which, according to the media, is to become operational from March 1,2012.

2. Going by the media reports on it, the NCTC, which is meant to co-ordinate intelligence collection, analysis and assessment and follow-up action in matters relating to terrorism, will differ from the NCTC set up in the US after 9/11 in two important respects.

3. In the US, the NCTC is an independent institution functioning under the supervision of the Director, National Intelligence (DNI). It co-ordinates the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of the various agencies of the Intelligence Community. The chiefs of the various intelligence agencies having any role in counter-terrorism do not have any powers of supervision over it. The idea of making it independent was to ensure that it would take an objective view of the functioning of the counter-terrorism divisions of different agencies and ensure proper-coordination. The expectation was that being an independent agency, its functioning will not be affected by inter-agency clashes and egos.

4. As per the media reports, the NCTC being set up in India will not be an independent institution. It will be part of the IB and Director, IB, will supervise its functioning. This could come in the way of an independent audit and supervision of the functioning of the counter-terrorism division of the IB. Whatever deficiencies are there presently in the exercise of the counter-terrorism functions of the IB will get duplicated and magnified instead of being identified and rectified.

5. The post-9/11 creation of the NCTC in the US was meant to strengthen the preventive capability by improving the collection, analysis and assessment of terrorism-related intelligence and effective follow-up action. The 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US were attributed to inadequate intelligence and unsatisfactory follow-up action even on the intelligence that was available. The same was the case in India in respect of 26/11.

6. The NCTC in the US has no powers of arrest, interrogation, investigation and prosecution. The responsibility in these matters continues to be that of the FBI. In India, if media reports are to be believed, the NCTC has been given the powers to arrest and carry out searches under Section 43 (A) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

7.Till now, in India, these powers belong to only the National Investigation Agency (NIC) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at the Centre and the Police in the States. By giving these powers to the NCTC too, we are going to create confusion in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases.

8. Moreover, the IB does not have such powers. It is a clandestine organisation for the secret collection of intelligence. In all genuinely democratic countries, intelligence agencies are not given powers of arrest, searches and interrogation due to fears that such powers may be misused under pressure from the political leadership against political opponents. Only in authoritarian countries do intelligence agencies have powers of arrest and searches.

9. In India, the IB informally associates itself with all terrorism-related interrogation, but the arrests and searches are made either by the Police or by the NIA or the CBI. By creating a multiplicity of organisations having such powers and by giving these powers to the NCTC which will work under the DIB, we will be taking an unwise step which could further politicise our handling of counter-terrorism. (17-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Thursday, February 16, 2012



Since 2007, five Iranian nuclear scientists have been killed in Iranian territory. In some of these instances, the terrorists had attached small magnetic bombs to the exterior of the victims’ cars.

2.The latest attack took place on January 11, 2012, when Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan, described by Western sources as a Deputy Director in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, died in a blast in Tehran shortly after two assailants on a motorcycle placed a small magnetic bomb on his car.

3. It was reported by Iranian sources that the bomb was probably a shaped charge that directed all the explosive power inside the car, killing its occupants without causing any collateral damage to bystanders in the area. The explosive device was meant to kill the occupants without resulting in a blowing up of the car which could have led to a large number of casualties from the splinters of the exploding car.

4. It has been reported that Iranian investigators have been able to collect considerable details regarding this modus operandi, the kind of device used and the organisation behind these attacks from a terrorist who was caught along with the device towards the end of 2010 before he could carry out the attack. On the basis of his interrogation details of which were telecast by the Iranian TV, the Iranian security agencies have alleged that these attacks are being carried out by terrorists of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK), an anti-regime terrorist organisation, motivated, funded, trained and equipped by Mossad, the Israeli external intelligence agency.

5. From the media reports of the February 13,2012, terrorist attack at New Delhi on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle, it is apparent that it had features similar to the attacks on the vehicles of Iranian nuclear scientists--- a shaped uni-directional instantaneous explosive charge meant to kill only the occupants of the car without causing collateral damage and stuck to the rear of the car by a speeding motor-cycle borne terrorist, who managed to get away after his act.

6. This MO, meant to kill targeted individuals with an explosive device by a motor-cycle borne terrorist without killing innocent civilians, would call for a re-visit to our security procedures for the protection of high-value individual targets of terrorists.

7.Access control and prior sanitisation through anti-explosive checks are the two basic procedures followed for protecting high-value targets of terrorists. The use of a speeding motor-cycle borne terrorist to attach an explosive device to a car is meant to circumvent access control and prior sanitisation procedures.

8. The MO of using a motor-cycle borne terrorist to beat access control has been followed by terrorists in many countries, including Pakistan, for the last 30 years. In the past, terrorists using this MO used either a hand-held weapon fired by a terrorist sitting in the rear or a hand-grenade. When a hand-held weapon or a hand-grenade is used chances of success are not always guaranteed unless it was a suicide attack.

9. In the case of magnetic bombs stuck to the metallic portion of a car by a speeding terrorist, chances of success in killing or maiming targeted individuals increase without adding to innocent civilian casualties.

10. The Israeli diplomat attacked was a high-value target of the terrorists, but not a VIP protectee. She, therefore, did not enjoy the benefit of access control through the use of pilot and escort vehicles. It was easy to attack her from a motor-cycle.

11.Is it possible to devise new security procedures by which high-value targets of terrorists, who do not enjoy the benefit of VIP protection procedures, can be better protected? This is a question which needs to be examined by our security experts. ( 17-2-2012)

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

Wednesday, February 15, 2012



( Written at the request of “The Times of India”--- )

One has to take seriously the Israeli suspicion that Iran and the Hizbollah terrorist organization supported by it probably had a hand in the terrorist attack with a magnetized improvised explosive device (IED) on an Israeli diplomatic vehicle at New Delhi on February 13. However, it is going to be difficult to establish the veracity of the Israeli suspicion unless the terrorist responsible for the attack or any of his accomplices is arrested and interrogated.There is so far no smoking gun pointing in any definitive direction.

The Israeli suspicion is strengthened by the fact that there was a similar attempt---but unsuccessful--- in Tibilisi in Georgia the same day and other attempts in Bangkok the next day. It is not yet clear whether Israeli nationals were the targets in the Bangkok attacks. Presuming they were,the series of attempted attacks on Israeli targets in three different cities indicate a State-sponsored orchestration of the planning and execution.

Iran has been having a war of nerves with Israel over its nuclear programme and has been the suspected target of Israeli covert action for over a year now to disrupt its nuclear programme.It has the required motive and covert capability to make Israel pay a price for its actions directed against Iran.It would look upon terrorist attacks directed against Israeli nationals and interests as justified acts of reprisal to protect its nuclear programme. As a result,the world is likely to see a covert war with no holds barred between the two countries.

While Israel has been able to wage its covert warfare against Iran in Iranian territory, the effectiveness of Israeli security agencies in their territory will come in way of Iran confining its reprisal attacks to Israeli territory. It will, therefore, try to extend its attacks on Israeli targets to other countries with an Israeli presence. Countries with a weak preventive security set-up will be its battlefields of choice for hitting back at Israel.

If it is established that Iran was behind the New Delhi attack, it would indicate that India has been chosen as a suitable territory for the Iranian reprisal attacks even at the risk of such attacks having an adverse impact on Iran’s hitherto friendly relations with India. In the eventuality of the Iranian hand being proved, a question of serious concern to the Indian counter-terrorism agencies would be whether it would remain a sporadic attack with no follow-up attempts or whether more attacks are likely.

The February 13 attack was well-planned and well-executed.This would have been possible only with painstaking collection of information regarding the movements and activities of Israeli diplomats and a capability for undetected clandestine activity in Indian territory for the procurement of explosive material and the fabrication of the IED.

The fact that all such preparatory activities went unnoticed and undetected by the Indian agencies would indicate that Iran probably already has a strong intelligence presence in the Indian territory in the form of intelligence officers working under cover and sleeper cells in the Indian Shia community as well as in the large number of Iranians studying in India. Detecting and neutralizing the Iranian network in India is going to be a difficult task. Till now, the focus of our agencies has been on detecting and neutralizing the pro-Pakistan networks, which operated mainly through sympathisers in the Sunni community.

The Iranian networks, if they are found to be already operating in Indian territory, would most probably consist of Shias----Indians as well as Iranians.The Indian Shia community has till now been peace-loving and has kept away from jihadi terrorism of Pakistani inspiration. Even if Iran looks upon its recruitment of persons from the Indian Shia community as directed against Israel and not India, the involvement of some Shias in acts of terrorism sponsored by Iran against Israel could sow the seeds of a possible radicalisation of sections of the Shia community.Moreover, the involvement of the Shias recruited by Iran either directly or through the Hizbollah in acts of terrorism against Israel could make expertise in matters such as fabrication of IEDs available in the Shia community.This could add to the problems already faced by our agencies due to the availability of such expertise in the Sunni community.

If Iran continues to use India as a clandestine base for its anti-Israel covert actions, the difficulties faced by our counter-terrorism agencies will acquire a new dimension.There is practically no Pakistani student community in India.Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), therefore, have to depend on sympathetic members of the Indian Muslim community and Pakistanis clandestinely infiltrated into India for their acts of terrorism.

Iran will enjoy an advantage over Pakistan due to the presence of a large number of Iranian students in different cities of India.Recuitment from their ranks would enable Iran to operate with ease from Indian territory.

If the Iranian hand is finally established, the Indian intelligence has to pay greater attention and devote greater resources for the coverage of the activities of the Iranian intelligence and its links with the Hizbollah and the Iranian student community in India.

We should make it clear to Iran that its use of Indian territory for terrorism against Israel could affect bilateral relations. Suspicion and distrust do not contaminate our relations.If Iran uses Indian territory for terrorism against Israel, such a contamination could be an unfortunate outcome.

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

Monday, February 13, 2012




The wife of the Israeli Defence Attache in New Delhi, her Indian driver and two bystanders on the road were injured on February 13,2012, when what was believed to be an explosive-cum-incendiary device attached to the rear of her car as it stopped or slowed down near a petrol service station about a km from the Israeli Embassy exploded. The scene of the blast is located in a high-security area where the tightly-guarded house of the Indian Prime Minister is located. The car---a sports utility vehicle—was engulfed in flames, but did not explode into pieces, thereby indicating that the incendiary effect was more than the explosive effect.

2. Access control in front of the Israeli Embassy is generally very tight. It would, therefore, be very difficult for a terrorist to approach the vicinity of the Embassy and plant a bomb on a vehicle or otherwise cause an explosion. The wife of the Defence Attache is also a diplomatic member of the staff of the Israeli Embassy. She was reportedly going to the American School to pick up their children when the explosion took place.

3. The police believe, on the basis of eye-witness accounts, that a motor-cycle borne terrorist neared the car as it stopped or slowed down, attached the improvised explosive device (IED) to the rear of the car and sped away before the explosion took place. The indications till now are that only one terrorist was involved.

4. Since the blast took place almost instantaneously after the terrorist attached the IED to the rear of the vehicle, the IED would appear to have been triggered off by an instantaneous timer or a mobile phone.

5.The car did not enjoy any protection. Nor was there any Israeli security guard inside the car. Since the driver was an Indian, it is unlikely that he was an Israeli security guard. In view of the tight security outside the Israeli Embassy, it would have been difficult for the terrorist to have waited on his motor-cycle outside the Embassy and then followed the car. He must have waited at a point where he could not be observed by the Israeli security personnel posted outside the Embassy and neared the rear of the car as it approached the scene where the blast took place.

6.The incident had not been planned as a mass fatality attack. It was more a targeted attack to kill an Israeli diplomat. It is not clear whether the terrorist knew that the car belonged to the Israeli Defence Attache. Possibly not. It appears to have been a random attack on a car bearing the CD number plate of the Israeli Embassy.

7. The attack coincided with the fourth anniversary of the assassination of a senior leader of the Hizbollah in Damacus and the first anniversary of the death of two Iranian nuclear scientists in Teheran due to a similar explosion caused by a sticky bomb. Iran had blamed the Israeli intelligence for these incidents and had threatened revenge. A similar explosion due to an IED attached to the car of an employee of the Israeli Embassy in Tibilisi, capital of Georgia, was averted the same day due to the timely detection of the IED and its neutralisation before it could explode.

8. Israeli leaders and officials have blamed the Iranian intelligence and the Hizbollah for the successful attack in New Delhi and the attempted one in Tiblisi. They have claimed that these two incidents came in the wake of two other thwarted attempts a few days earlier in Bangkok and Buenon Aires. They have threatened reprisals against Iran and the Hizbollah.

9. The Hizbollah had operated in the 1990s in Bangkok and Buenos Aires and was known to have a local support base in Tibilisi. But it had neither operated in New Delhi in the past nor was it known to have sleeper cells in India.

10. Unless the terrorist involved is arrested and interrogated, it would be difficult to say whether he had come into India from outside to cause the blast or whether he is an Indian Muslim recruited by the Hizbollah for the attack.

11.In the 1990s, there were instances of Shia terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir, but there had not been an incident of Shia terrorism in Indian territory outside J&K in the past. In the past, there was no evidence of any plans of the Hizbollah to attack Israeli nationals and interests in India, but Al Qaeda was known to have planned to carry out an attack on the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi before 9/11, but it could not carry it out. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), who had orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes for OBL, had reportedly told the US interrogators that before 9/11 he had visited New Delhi to explore the possibility of attacking the Israeli Embassy.

12. The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba’s attack on the Narriman House in Mumbai, housing an Israeli religious-cum-cultural centre, during its terrorist strikes in Mumbai on 26/11, was the first instance of a terrorist attack on Israeli targets in Indian territory outside J&K. In the early 1990s, there was one attack on Israeli tourists in Srinagar by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF).

13. David Coleman Headley, of the Chicago-based secret cell of the LET, who is a US citizen of Pakistani origin, was reported to have told his US interrogators that at the instance of the LET in Pakistan, he had visited the Narriman House to collect operational intelligence to facilitate an attack. He also reportedly said that during a subsequent visit to India after 26/11, he had recceed other possible Israeli/Jewish targets in India for possible future attacks.

14. All such past evidence was attributable to the interest of Al Qaeda and the LET, both Sunni organisations, to carry out terrorist strikes against Israeli/Jewish targets in India.

15. There had been no evidence in the past of similar interest of Shia elements in India in carrying out attacks on Israeli nationals and interests. There is no Shia terrorist organisation in Indian territory outside J&K. Even the one in J&K has been dormant for some years. It had never come to notice for any contacts with the Hizbollah.

16. While there has been no Shia terrorism in Indian territory in recent years, there is Shia terrorism in Pakistani territory carried out by an organisation called Sipah Mohammad and by another organisation also called the Hizbollah in the Kurram agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Kurram has had a history of violent incidents between Sunni terrorists supported by the Taliban and Shia terrorists allegedly supported by Iran. None of these groups had so far come to notice for any links in the Shia community in India.

17. In June 2010, there were unconfirmed reports attributed to Pakistani security agencies that Mohammadi Ali Hammedei, a Hizbollah terrorist who had spent some years in jail in Germany for his suspected involvement in a hijacking incident before he was released, was killed in a US Drone strike in the FATA. However, the US did not confirm this incident. It was not clear whether he was living in Kurram or elsewhere in the FATA after his release from jail in Germany.

18.If it is finally established that Iran, through the Hizbollah, was involved in the terrorist attack of February 13, it would have two implications for India. Firstly, it would indicate that the Hizbollah probably now has support elements in the Indian Muslim community. Secondly, it would indicate the involvement of the Iranian intelligence in orchestrating terrorist attacks on Israeli targets in India.

19.Till now, the attention of Indian counter-terrorism agencies was mainly focussed on Pakistan-based Sunni terrorist organisations and their supporters in the Indian Muslim community and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which was supporting them. Hereafter, they also have to focus on the Hizbollah and the Shia terrorist organisations of Pakistan and their contacts in the Shia community in India and the Iranian intelligence (mainly of the Revolutionary Guards) which possibly uses them. ( 14-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Sunday, February 12, 2012



After having fairly successfully defied the Army over the so-called Memogate affair, the elected Pakistani Executive headed by President Asif Ali Zardari has now chosen to defy the judiciary on the question of its refusal to write to the Swiss Government requesting it to re-open the investigation into some Swiss bank accounts allegedly belonging to Zardari and the late Benazir Bhutto.

2. The directive to write to the Swiss Government came from the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury. The Executive could have easily written to the Swiss Government and avoided a confrontation with the judiciary. It was very unlikely that the Swiss Government would have re-opened the investigation. Once the Executive wrote this letter, there would have been no more grounds for the court to proceed against Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani on a charge of contempt of court.

3. Instead of choosing this easier option, the Executive has chosen the more difficult and complex option of refusing to write to the Swiss Government on the ground that Zardari as the President enjoyed immunity from investigation and prosecution.

4. Faced with a defiant Executive, a seven-member bench of the court, headed by the Chief Justice, has framed an indictment ( US expression ) or a charge-sheet ( a sub-continental expression inherited from the British) against Gilani on February 13,2012.What this means is that from being a man under investigation as he was till now, he has become an accused in a criminal prosecution, but he is not yet a convict. The question of his resignation from office and arrest would arise only if after the trial, the charge of contempt of court against him is held to have been proved and he is convicted.

5. At the pre-trial stage of framing of the charge-sheet, there was no scope for a compromise or flexibility in the judiciary’s handling of the case. The court had no other alternative but to charge-sheet and Gilani has no other alternative but to stand trial. The question of a possible Presidential pardon would arise only after conviction and not in the pre-conviction stage

6. The intriguing question is what accounts for the apparent confidence of the Executive that it can defy the Judiciary and still escape negative consequences. There are three plus points for the Executive--- firstly, the solidarity between Zardari and Gilani continues; secondly, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and its coalition allies remain united behind the Zardari-Gilani combine; and thirdly, there has been no public reaction against the Executive for defying the judiciary similar to what one saw against Pervez Musharraf when he defied the judiciary and had Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury dismissed.

7. Another important plus point is that Aitzaz Ahsan, the celebrated lawyer belonging to the PPP, who was in the forefront of the “Back Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury” movement formed by the public and the lawyers community, is now supporting the Executive against the judiciary and defending Gilani. He seems to have lost his influence with the Chief Justice, but it is likely that he still has a good equation with some other judges of the bench that would try Gilani.

8.If the trial goes ahead as expected, three alternative scenarios are possible:

(a). Scenario 1: A split develops in the Bench and a majority verdict convicting Gilani eludes it, thereby forcing a compromise.

(b).Scenario 2: The Bench remains united and reaches a majority, if not unanimous, verdict convicting Gilani who is then pardoned by Zardari.

( c ). Scenario 3: Gilani is convicted and chooses to resign and go to jail in order to highlight excessive judicial activism.

9. If Zardari does not exercise the right of presidential pardon and if Gilani chooses to go to jail, there will be a new phase of aggravated political uncertainty in Pakistan. ( 13-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



Many TV channels, including the NDTV today, have held Town Hall style debates on the controversy relating to the date of birth of Gen.V.K.Singh, our Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).The facts of the case are well-known. It should not, therefore, be necessary for me to repeat them here. All that I need to underline is that Gen.Singh failed to get a directive from the Supreme Court before which he articulated his grievances through his lawyer because of its reluctance to intervene in the matter,
thereby making him withdraw his petition.

2.Many of us, in retrospect, will question the wisdom of his action in taking up the matter before the court instead of finding a face and honour-saving compromise in-house within the four walls of the Government. Gen.Singh was widely recognised as a General of very high integrity and professionalism who had distinguished himself in battles during his long career in the Army. Nobody---not even his detractors—questioned his fitness to command the Army and lead it in times of peace as well as war.

3. The case had no national security implications. Nor did it show the lack of wisdom of the present policy of choosing the COAS. In the civilian services above the rank of the Joint Secretary and in the Armed Forces above the rank of Majors-Gen and equivalent ranks, promotions are decided by merit and not by seniority. On the basis of the evaluation of the records and achievements a short panel of officers fit to hold the position is prepared and the seniormost in the panel is promoted. The selection passes through two stages. In the first stage, the merit is the sole criterion. In the second and final stage after merit has been evaluated and assessed, the seniority becomes the factor. Thus, Gen.Singh cleared the first hurdle of merit on the basis of his outstanding record and capabilities and the second stage on the basis of his seniority.

4. His wrongly-recorded date of birth became a factor not for judging his suitability for commanding the Army, but for deciding his date of superannuation and the date of completion of his tenure. He should have got the issue regarding his wrongly-recorded date of birth settled before he assumed charge as the COAS. Even if he had not done so, the Government should have done so anticipating an inconvenient and distasteful denouement. Neither he nor the Government did so.

5. When he raised the issue half-way through his tenure, it gave an opportunity to his ill-wishers in the Army and outside to impute motives, thereby giving rise to an avoidable controversy of unfortunate fall-out.

6. The entire case and his failure to make his grievance find endorsement by the Supreme Court must have been followed with great interest by the junior ranks of the armed forces, including thousands of jawans. It would have been the subject-matter of heated discussions right across the barracks, cantonments and stations of the Army. The junior ranks would have been particularly keen to see whether the Supreme Court followed a different yard-stick in the case of a General. From that point of view, the Supreme Court’s decision not to intervene in the matter has to be welcomed because it would convey a clear message to all in the Armed Forces that in the eyes of the Supreme Court in deciding such cases ranks of the petitioners do not matter. All are equal from the jawan up to the General in its eyes.

7. What next? The Supreme Court’s non-intervention in a substantive manner has not cast any blemish on the integrity and professionalism of Gen.Singh. But it does cast a blemish on his image in the eyes of his jawans and junior officers. Whenever he visits the Army establishments, his image before his men would be not only that of a capable and courageous General of great integrity, but also that of a General who failed to maintain his personal and official dignity by agitating his grievance regarding his date of birth before the highest judiciary of the land and failed to have his grievance accepted.

8. This would definitely devalue his image in the eyes of the jawans and junior officers. As a disciplined force they would not show it outside, but in their heart of hearts, Gen Singh would be a leader with diminished dignity of office. It would, therefore, be in the interest of the institution and his own interest that he honourably resigns as the COAS after facilitating the process for the selection of his successor. ( 13-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )



The allegations made against Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, in connection with some incidents of violence against Muslims during the communal disturbances of 2002 were quite serious. They amounted to charges of conscious inaction amounting to criminal complicity.

2. These allegations warranted thorough investigation by a body of professional investigators and follow-up action in the form of criminal prosecution if the allegations proved to be correct during the investigation.

3. Such a body was constituted by the judiciary through the setting-up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by R.K.Raghavan, former Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Raghavan is a highly distinguished officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) known for his professionalism, integrity, independence and objectivity.

4. He had been associated with many complex criminal investigations when he headed the CBI and continues to be associated with matters relating to the Police even after his retirement.

5. After a thorough and professional investigation lasting about two years, the SIT headed by him has reportedly concluded that its investigation did not unearth any evidence that could warrant the prosecution of Modi under any charge.

6. In other words, the allegations of criminal complicity against Modi stand disproved. The serious allegations against Modi were not pushed under the carpet. He was not exempted from facing the due process of the law in the nature of a criminal investigation. He was treated like any other citizen despite the high office held by him and subjected to a criminal investigation by a team of distinguished professionals.

7. When the SIT has cleared him of the charges levelled against him by some sections of the public---particularly from the Muslim community--- and by some human rights activists, fairness of criminal justice demands that the demonization campaign against him should be discontinued and the sword hanging over his head should be removed. He has been cleared honourably and not conditionally.

8. Instead of doing so, his political and non-Governmental detractors seem determined not to accept the conclusions of the SIT and to keep up the campaign of denigration and demonization against him by recycling the allegations which have already been enquired into and found unproven by the SIT.

9. It is no longer a case of the law taking its own course, but one of malicious witch-hunt against a political leader by his political opponents and by sections of the media and lawyers and others who are not well disposed towards him. Even after having failed to prove the charges before the SIT, they are determined to keep their vicious campaign alive for political reasons and not for reasons of natural justice.

10. Their ill-motivated attempts have to be deplored by all right-thinking persons, who should demand that the campaign of demonization should stop immediately. Modi has so far not allowed this campaign to negatively affect his administration of the State of Gujarat for the last 10 years. The State has made considerable progress under his leadership. This is acknowledged by independent-minded observers and even by persons who are not comfortable with him as an individual.

11. His future should be decided by the people not on the basis of the re-cycled unproven allegations of his demonisers, but on the basis of what he has already achieved as an administrator, his ideas and vision for the future and his capability for achieving them.

12. Those who still have reservations regarding his style of leadership and do not agree with those who praise his governance should confront him politically and establish before the people that his achievements and capabilities are over-rated if that is what they feel.

13. But his detractors and demonisers find themselves on a weak ground in respect of a political campaign against him based on objective factors. They are, therefore, trying to keep alive the demonization in the hope of thereby damaging and destroying his future political career. This has to be strongly deplored and I have no hesitation in doing so.

14. I have never been an uncritical admirer of Modi. Nor am I in the ranks of his perpetual demonisers. I have always sought to judge him as objectively as I can. It is my view that the demonization campaign against him must stop now. ( 12-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Saturday, February 11, 2012



There has been disquiet among the large number of supporters of former Maldivian President Mohammed Nasheed over indications that appeared on February 11,2012, that India, the US and the European Union countries have got themselves reconciled to the continuance of Dr.Mohammad Waheed Hasan as the President of the Maldives.

2.While India seems to support Nasheed’s demand for advanced elections within two months, it does not seem to support his demand that Waheed should not continue as the President during this period and that an interim President acceptable to all political parties should take over and supervise the holding of the elections.

3. The US and the EU do not seem to be prepared to support the demand for advanced elections. However, they do support Nasheed’s demand for an independent enquiry into the events that led to the resignation of Nasheed, who has been alleging that he was forced to resign at gun point by sections of the Police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF ).Waheed has expressed himself as amenable to the idea of an independent enquiry under him as the President.

4. The three major international players ---India, the US and the EU --- who have been trying to bring about an understanding among all parties on the future course of action without questioning the legitimacy of Dr.Waheed, seem to feel comfortable with 59-year-old Waheed despite his total lack of a political and popular base in the Maldives.

5. The US knows Dr.Waheed quite well. He graduated in English from the American University of Beirut and subsequently did his doctorate in Education from the Stanford University of the US. He had served in the UN from 1991 to 2005---- as the UNICEF representative in Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal and Afghanistan . He had headed the UN office in Kathmandu and Kabul. During his posting of three years in Kabul, he had developed a good personal equation with US civilian bureaucrats and military officers stationed there.

6.Nobody questions Dr.Waheed’s credentials as a highly educated and progressive-minded former international bureaucrat, who had seen first hand the damage done to Afghan society by the Taliban. Left to himself, he is unlikely to allow the radicalisation and Talibanisation of Islam in the Maldives.

7. But will he be left to himself? Will he be able to assert his independence without a base of political support and without any public support in the Maldives? His first appointments to the so-called National Unity Government, which is still in the process of formation, do not inspire confidence.

8.Many suspect that radical Islamists and their sympathisers in the Police and the MNDF manipulated the public protests against Nasheed’s arbitrary style of functioning in such a manner as to bring about the exit of Nasheed, whose advocacy of a progressive Islam and close relations with Israel, were not liked by them.

9.They feel that what we are seeing in the Maldives is the beginning of an under-the-surface confrontation between progressive Islamists and radical, pro-Taliban Islamists behind the façade of the presidency of progressive Waheed.

10.Waheed’s appointment of Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as the Minister for Home Affairs and Col (retd) Mohammed Nazim as the Defence Minister should be a matter of concern to India. Dr. Jameel is the Vice-President of the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) . A direct descendant of Sultan Giyasuddin, he was born in Fuvamulah, in southern Maldives. He studied in Pakistan, Malaysia and the UK. He obtained a PhD in Criminal Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - University of London on a merit scholarship awarded by the Commonwealth.

11.Dr Jameel previously served as the Minister of Justice under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and briefly as the Minister of Civil Aviation and Communication under Nasheed from November 12,2008, to May 30,2009. He was previously known as a progressive Muslim. In July 2007, he defied radical Islamists and nominated three women judges, the first time the Maldives had admitted women to the judiciary. He resigned as the Minister of Justice the same year after accusing Gayoom of failing to take action against rising Islamic militancy and blocking political reforms.

12. Since he parted company with Nasheed, he has been holding and expressing views which would bring comfort to the radical Islamists. His authorship was suspected behind a pamphlet which accused Nasheed of having entered into a conspiracy with the Jews and the Christians in order to contaminate the Maldivian Islamic society. He has been a critic of the preference allegedly given by Nasheed to the Indian private sector for the execution of development projects in the Maldives, particularly one for the modernisation of Male’s international airport.

13. Waheed was asked about it during one of his interactions with the media after taking over. His reply was evasive. He said his approach to the US $ 400 million investment project for the modernisation of the airport by the Indian infrastructure company GMR would not be political, but economic . He added: “Our objective will be to resolve concerns of the public regarding the company.”

14.This was implicit support for Jameel’s past allegations that Nasheed’s attitude to the Indian project was influenced not by considerations of economic benefit, but by pro-India political considerations.

15. One has the impression that while the US does not want to question the legitimacy of Waheed as the President, it has concerns over his appointment of Jameel as the Home Minister. While interacting with the media at Male on February 11, Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State, reportedly expressed concern over the “anti-semetic commentary” and strongly condemned it. He also praised Nasheed’s Government “for working to improve [the country’s] relationship with Israel and show themselves as a modern and progressive government.”

16. Another controversial induction into the new Cabinet by Waheed has been that of Col.(retd) Mohammed Nazim, who was removed from the MNDF by Nasheed in May last because of his alleged insubordination. Since his removal, he has allegedly been trying to create disaffection in the MNDF and the Police against Nasheed. Many accounts on the events that preceded the exit of Nasheed agree that Nazim played an active role in instigating a group of about 70 MNDF personnel not to act against the revolting police officers as demanded by Nasheed.

17. Whether one calls it an indirect coup or not to force a democratically elected President to leave office, it is clear that a group of MNDF officers played a dubious political role in assisting the anti-Nasheed opposition at a critical moment. The Maldives thus faces two evils---the beginnings of a radical Islam and a politicised Army. Are we seeing a process similar to the politicisation of the Pakistan Army in the 1950s and the Bangladesh Army in the 1970s? That should be a question of concern to India.

18. Writing in the “Minivan News”, a pro-Nasheed daily, on February 12, Yameen Rashid, a local commentator, said:

“Other countries in the region, such as Pakistan, have experimented with letting the armed forces dictate the rulers of the country. And in the bargain, Pakistan has become a failed democracy mired in chaos and conflict.

“It is therefore tragic that the Maldives is all set to follow in Pakistan’s footsteps, without even having experienced two election cycles.

“Could future political parties in the Maldives come to power simply by winning influence in the police and armed forces? Will the demands of a few hundred uniformed personnel strip 300,000 people of their democratic verdict?

“If the currently installed government is granted legitimacy, what would stop the country’s defense forces from pointing a gun at future elected governments?

“The Maldivian constitution says that the ultimate power rests with the people, and the people alone. This is the central tenet of the constitution – the one line that decides that we the people are in charge of our democracy.

“However, if this coup – this travesty – is allowed to take place unopposed, then we would have set the unwelcome precedent that a few men with guns can override the mandate of the people.” ( 12-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Friday, February 10, 2012




The Government of India appears to have been caught napping in the Maldives on two counts.

2.First, it failed to foresee the implications of some arbitrary actions of former President Mohammed Nasheed such as the arrest of the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court and disciplinary action against a Sandhurst-trained Colonel of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), who were perceived to be anti-Nasheed and advise him to desist from such actions. These actions antagonised the judiciary and created fissures in the MNDF and the Police. These elements joined hands with anti-Nasheed protesters in forcing him to quit as the President.

3. Secondly, it failed to realise that despite his antagonising the judiciary and sections of the Police and the MNDF, Nasheed retained considerable popular support particularly among the younger generation and was in a position to take the battle against his opponents to the streets. Instead of keeping quiet till the street equations became clear and instead of desisting from any action that might be misinterpreted as granting legitimacy to the MNDF-engineered replacement of Nasheed by his Vice-President Mohammed Wahid Hasan, the Govt of India prematurely made statements that were interpreted in Maldives as amounting to the Government of India’s abandoning its support to the democratically-elected President. When Nasheed’s supporters, with a defiant Nasheed at their head, took the battle against their opponents to the streets, the Government of India found itself with its credibility badly weakened.

4.The result: the Government of India’s traditional position as the sole arbiter of political fortunes in the Maldives has been badly damaged and a number of international actors from the UK, the US, the European Union and the United Nations have rushed to the Maldives to try their hand in internal peace-making, thereby marginalising the traditional role of India. Only China and Pakistan have not yet entered the political fray in the Maldives. If they do, that will be ultimate humiliation for Indian diplomacy at its southern door-step.

5.We had earlier lost our clout in Sri Lanka as a result of soft and reactive reflexes and we stand in danger of similarly losing our clout---even if we have not already lost it--- in the Maldives due to similar apologetic reflexes lacking in robustness of anticipation and action.

6.In the Net world, one could notice articulation of condemnation of the Government for failing to intervene militarily in the Maldives in support of the
democratically-elected Government. Unfavourable comparisons have been made with the robust response of Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to support the then President Abdul Gayoom against threats from foreign mercenaries suspected to be from the LTTE by sending Indian rapid action forces to the Maldives to neutralise the threat.

7. The hesitation of the Government of India to send rapid action forces in response to a reported SOS from Nasheed is understandable because the present situation is qualitatively different from what prevailed in 1988. The threat to Nasheed was not from external forces, but from sections of his own MNDF and the Police due to his perceived arbitrary style of governance. If the Government of India had sent the security forces to the Maldives this time, they would have been called upon to act not against foreign mercenaries and their local supporters, but against sections of the political opposition in the Maldives and their supporters in the MNDF and the Police.

8. Our security forces would have been able to overcome opposition from the MNDF and the Police, but then what about managing the messy sequel--- with the Maldivian security forces many of whose senior officers were trained by us turning hostile against India?

9. The criticism of the Government of India for not intervening immediately through our Armed Forces is not quite justified. But there is a lot of actions short of direct military intervention which we could have taken--- such as visibly and noisily strengthening our direct action capability in the vicinity of the Maldives to convey a message to the contending forces in the Maldives and to external forces that might be tempted to take advantage of the situation to undermine Indian influence that India was prepared to use its Armed Forces if needed to protect its nationals and interests and rushing a high level and stick-wielding emissary to Male to cajole, if possible, and to force, if necessary, the contending forces not to undermine democracy and not to allow any other external elements to come in and partake of the broth.

10. The Government of India failed to take any of these actions and now finds itself with diminishing options in the face of an unpredictably evolving situation domestically and internationally. In 1988, the international community recognised implicitly that the Maldives was India’s concern and that India had every right to act according to its wisdom.

11. Even though the situation seems to be slipping out of our hands, we can still retrieve it provided we show leadership befitting a big power and act resolutely on the lines indicated above. Evidence of such leadership and resolute action is missing in Delhi. ( 10-2-12)

( 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: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )

Wednesday, February 8, 2012




7:15 – In a surreal moment, the state broadcaster was reporting on Disney’s financial profits as the protests took hold.

7:23 – Hospitals have been reported locked down and appointments cancelled.

7:29 - 50 people reported hospitalised. Police and army at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

7:31 - Reports of police looting the MDP’s headquarters. MDP supporters have alleged that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan does not have control of police.

7:37 - A Thimarafushi councilor has claimed that police on the island have sided with the islanders, after they approached the police station. 12 police reportedly work on the island.

7:43 – MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik is reported to be in intensive care in a “very critical” condition.

8:05 – MDP supporters on Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll are protesting against the police. Vehichles and police buidling smashed up, reported haveeru.

8:06 – Police station on Milandhoo in Shaviyani Atoll reportedly taken over by MDP supporters

8:07 – Police station on Velidhoo in Noonu Atoll reportedly taken over by MDP supporters. Seven policeman on duty exiled from the island on a boat, reports Haveeru.

8:08 – Chairman of the Police Integrity Commission Shahinda Ismail told Raajje TV that police had used excessive force. The Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has also issued a statement expressing concern.

8:49 – Police released a statement announcing that the current protests have turned into a ‘violent act of terrorism’, citing that protesters are deliberately causing harm to the people and damaging public property, and vowed to take necessary measures to crack down the protesters.

9:02 – Windows at Vili Police Station in Maafanu ward have been smashed. A fight was taking place nearby between several civilians, with only a few police members involved, following the police raid on the MDP camp at approximately 7:45 pm, sources say.

9:03 – Minivan News has learned that Amnesty International will be dispatching a delegation to the Maldives following reports of senior MDP figures being detained.

9:06 - The UK High Commission has a team in the Maldives that called a meeting with all UK nationals this afternoon at a Male’ hotel. UK citizens present were registered. High Commissioner John Rankin expressed particular concern over the reported ‘no-travel’ list, which he said was believed to include several foreign nationals, including at least one UK citizen. He said President Dr Waheed Hassan had refuted knowledge of such a list, but had added that he would respect a court order if it was issued.

9:37 – British Prime Minister David Cameron has said responded to a question from UK MP David Amess, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group to the Maldives:

Amess: Does my right hon. Friend share my disappointment at the overthrow yesterday of the first democratically elected President of the Maldives in a coup d’état? Given our historical links with the islands, will the Government, by way of a message, do all they can to ensure that no violence results and that the democratic institutions remain?

Cameron: My hon. Friend is right. This country does have strong links with the Maldives and a good relationship with President Nasheed, but we have to be clear. President Nasheed has resigned, and we have a strong interest in the well-being of several thousand British tourists and in a stable and democratic Government in the Maldives. Our high commissioner is in the capital now and meeting all the political leaders. We call on the new Government to demonstrate their respect for the rights of all political parties and their members, and to ensure that the constitution is upheld. We advise British tourists to avoid non-essential travel to Malé island, and those using Malé airport and the tourist resorts should exercise caution.

10:01 - Police station, island court and atoll council office reported burnt down to ground by angry protesters in Thinadhoo (pop 6500) in Gaafu Dhaal Atoll.

10:02 – Police stations on Gan and Feydhoo in Addu Atoll (pop 35,000) set on fire. Fire continues to spread, after protesters smashed up fire rescue lorry.

10:03 - Police station and court reported taken over by protesters on Alifushi in Raa Atoll.

10:14 – Confirmed earlier reports that President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has appointed Dhivehi Gaumee Party (DQP) Deputy Leader Dr Ahmed Jameel Ahmed as Home Minister, and Mohamed Nazim from Maafanu Seenu Karankaage as Defence Minister . Both were sworn into the position at a ceremony held at the president office at 8:0opm tonight. Jameel was recently arrested by police under the Nasheed government on charges of hate speech. His party had published a pamphlet in Dhivehi entitled “President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians” (English translation).

10:27 - IGMH has confirmed no deaths as of 9:00pm this evening. ADK officials have confirmed to the media that 14 people were brought to the hospital with various injuries. Three have been hospitalised, including MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, while the rest have been released after treatment.

10:32 – Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on Maldivian security forces to protect the country’s media “and to ensure that their rights are respected”, after reports that Nasheed’s opponents had “physically attacked at least one journalist and had threatened to kill another one.”

“After members of the police and army linked to the opposition staged a mutiny and forced the Nasheed to resign, members of the police also stormed the headquarters of the state TV station yesterday and took control,” RSF stated.

“We urge the new president, Mohamed Waheed Hassan, to take immediate steps to ensure the protection and the rights of all media workers, especially the journalists at the state TV station MNBC, who were expelled from their offices by the police,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Undertakings must be given at once to defend freedom of information or else journalists are going to find themselves exposed to the same circumstances that prevailed before the country’s first democratic elections in 2008.”

After police and soldiers yesterday joined the opposition’s protests, they took control of MNBC – the Maldivian National Broadcasting Commission – and from there began broadcasting the opposition TV station VTV, which they then renamed Television Maldives (TVM), its name during the government of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

11:30 - Protesters in Addu have reportedly set fire to Hithadhoo police academy and 18 police vehicles. Mayor Abdulla Sodig has reportedly been beaten by protesters and taken to the Addu regional hospital.

11:31 - Several sources have claimed that 250 inmates at Maafushi jail have broken out of their cells and are rioting against the guards. Sources report that police are being deployed to the jail compound.

11:32 – In Sri Lanka, demonstrations are being held outside of the Maldives Embassy.

11:33 – In the United Kingdom, Maldives High Commissioner Dr Farahanaz Faizal has resigned: “My conscience wouldn’t allow me to serve a government which had overthrown a democratically elected government in a coup d’etat,” she said. Farah said she has been made the MDP spokesperson for the party in Europe, and intends to remain in the UK “for quite some time.”

“In the last elections, over 25 percent of the vote for Mohamed Nasheed was cast from those nationals residing in Europe,” she said.

11:34 - Maafushi Council has refuted claims that the prisoners have broken out. Minivan News understands that the attempted break out was quickly controlled by prison officers.

11:45 – Military and police have met with press, urging the public to maintain calm and end the vandalism and arson attacks on state and public property.

Brigadier General Ibrahim Didi, who commanded the mndf during yesterday’s events, refuted the claims military forced the president to quit by threatening to use force. He also said that the military never joined the protestors and it was incorrect information: “We never had any role in yesterday’s protest. We tried to protect. But the president voluntarily resigned. We didn’t force him to resign,” Didi said. “There is nobody among us who can put a gun to President Nasheed, and there was no plan to bring down the former president by using weapons. I say this with full guarantee.”

He insisted that the military had not participated in Tuesday’s alleged coup attempt, which saw police join opposition protesters and attack the capital’s military headquarters, and suggested that reporters “ask the police about it.”

12:12 - Police have confirmed that two policemen in Male’ were stabbed, between 9:30pm and 10:00pm, near ADK hospital. Both are reported to be in a stable condition and no suspects have been arrested.

12:24 – Former Assistant Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, who was dismissed by the Nasheed government, has been reappointed as Police Commissioner. Riyaz had sued the government following his dismissal, and the civil court ruled that he had been unlawfully dismissed. He has reportedly been an active member of the opposition following his dismissal.

12:55 – The state broadcaster has shut down its broadcast for the evening as the political chaos continues. Social media remains extremely active.

1:05 – The coalition of opposition parties formed following the ‘December 23′ coalition to “defend Islam” have called on its supporters to come out to protect the state and public property. The opposition DRP has also condemned the MDP for instigating the protests, to end the rule of the “lawfully appointed” President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

1:15 – Minivan News understands that Mohamed Nasheed is safe with party supporters.

1:16 – The MDP is trying to get its Chairperson ‘Reeko’Moosa Manik out of the country for urgent medical treatment. However immigration authorities are reportedly refusing to allow him to leave as he is on a “travel blacklist” issued by the courts, MDP sources report.

1.19 - According to the former State Minister of Tourism, yesterday “the entire pre-Islamic collection at the National Museum was destroyed by a group who broke in. The incident has not been reported in any media so far. Apparently, the scene was photographed but the museum is under police control now and they are not giving information to anyone.”

2:11 – Amnesty International has issued a statement demanding that Maldives security forces “stop using violence against supporters of Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party, a day after he was forced to resign the presidency under the threat of violence by the military and police.”

“Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International that Nasheed and a large number of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members were marching peacefully through the streets of the capital Malé when police attacked them first and then failed to protect them from a violent counter demonstration.

“Some of the MDP demonstrators were cordoned off by the police in a narrow alley where a mob shouting anti-MDP slogans began to beat them. One eyewitness saw Nasheed’s face covered in blood. He was then seen to be rushed away. Later a video emerged on the internet showing the police arresting him.

“MDP chairperson, and Member of Parliament, Reeko Moosa was first attacked by the police and then a mob attacked him with broken glass bottles. Police reportedly did not stop them. He is in a critical condition from the injuries and is receiving treatment at the intensive care unit of the Indira Ghandi Memorial Hospital.

“At least five MDP members of parliament are detained at the Dhoonidhoo Detention Center. One of the detained MPs, Mariya Ahmed Didi, who had been released from police custody last night was attacked by the police as she was attending today’s demonstration.”

“We are extremely concerned about the latest developments in the Maldives,” said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director. “The new authorities must ensure the right to freedom of expression and assembly and we want to see an investigation into the attack on Mohamed Nasheed and other protesters. Those responsible for the attack on demonstrators must be brought to justice.”

“MPs and others held in Dhoonidhoo Detention Center should have access to their family and lawyers, and they must receive adequate medical treatment and a thorough and independent investigation should be made into the reasons for their arrest,” added Zarifi. “They should be released unless the government can charge them with a cognizable criminal offense through a fair and impartial process.”

2:48 – Robert Blake, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, is scheduled to arrive in the Maldives on Saturday.