Tuesday, November 27, 2012



( Written at the request of Editor, Rediff.com )


The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is presently celebrating its 125th anniversary, and the Research & Analysis Wing ( R&AW), the external intelligence agency which came into being in September 1968, will be having new chiefs for a period of two years from  January 1,2013.

2. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh, is reported to have chosen Shri Asif Ibrahim, an IPS officer of the Madhya Pradesh cadre, to head the IB and Shri Alok Joshi, an IPS officer of the Haryana cadre, to head the R&AW.

3.Both are highly experienced and competent officers who will do credit to the two organisations. While the experience of  Shri Asif Ibrahim has been in his State and the IB, that of Shri Joshi has been in his State as well as in the IB and the R&AW.

4. The two officers will be heading their respective organisations at a time when they will be implementing the recommendations of the Naresh Chandra Task Force on National Security, submitted to the Prime Minister on May 24 last. The Task Force report contains important recommendations for the revamp and modernisation of our national security set-up, including the various agencies of our intelligence community and the agencies responsible for cyber security.

5. This is the first revamp being undertaken 10 years after the earlier revamp undertaken after the Kargil conflict of 1999. The effectiveness of the new revamp and modernisation will depend on the co-operation between the agencies of the intelligence community in the implementation. Both Shri Asif Ibrahim and Shri Joshi have a well-established reputation as excellent team players and this should help in the smooth implementation.

6. They will be heading their agencies at a time when globally intelligence agencies are re-strategising their charter. For 10 years after 9/11, their focus was largely on counter-terrorism. As a result, the focus on area studies somewhat suffered. There is now an attempt to pay more attention to area studies without diluting the focus on counter-terrorism.

7.Non-traditional threats to national security form an important component of this new strategy under formulation. Cyber security  is one of the non-traditional threats receiving increasing attention. Protection  of our national security and other critical infrastructure from cyber threats orchestrated by State and non-State actors is now an important task of the intelligence community as a whole. Shri Ibrahim and Shri Joshi will be required to pay leadership role in the matter along with their other colleagues in the community. The reported fact that Shri Ibrahim , apart from being an expert in counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency and counter-intelligence related intelligence tasks, is also well-versed with cyber security should be of help to the Government in this regard.

8. Shri Ibrahim will be taking over at a time when the exercise for the revamping of our counter-terrorism architecture has run into a road-block due to political mishandling of the creation of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC). In whatever form the NCTC is ultimately set-up to meet the sensitivities of the State Governments, the Multi-Agency Centre of the IB  set up under the post-Kargil revamp will be an important core of it. Better co-ordination and understanding between the IB and the State Police under Shri Ibrahim’s stewardship would be important in this regard.

9. Both the IB and the R&AW have previously been headed by officers belonging to non-Muslim minorities. This is the first time since 1947 that a Muslim officer will be heading the most important agency of the intelligence community. Many countries in the democratic world have been debating for some years now how to give better representation to religious and ethnic minorities and women in the intelligence profession and how to enhance their leadership role.

10.The nomination of Shri Ibrahim to head the IB is not only a recognition by the Government of his record and competence, but but  also an acknowledgement that the time has come to give this debate greater prominence and meaning in our country. Not only religious and ethnic minorities, but also women are inadequately represented at leadership levels in our intelligence community. This needs to be rectified. ( 28-11-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (Retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India.

Sunday, November 25, 2012





As the nation observes the fourth anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, there are still many unfinished tasks arising from the strikes to which attention needs to be drawn. These are the following:

·        The Government of Pakistan is yet to complete the prosecution and trial of the seven masterminds of the strikes. They have been arrested, but the trial against them before an anti-terrorism tribunal of Rawalpindi is being repeatedly adjourned under some pretext or the other, thereby making a mockery of the trial.

·        Pakistan has not taken any action  against the officers of its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who had helped the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in carrying out the strikes. We find ourselves without any diplomatic or covert action options to force the Pakistani State to act against them. This dramatically illustrates our powerlessness in the face of the continued sponsorship of terroism by Pakistan against Indian citizens in Indian territory.

·        Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the LET and its political wing Jamaat-ud-Dawa, continues to be a free man. Pakistan has repeatedly rejected all the evidence produced by us against him.

·        The anti-India terrorist infrastructure of the LET in Pakistani territory continues to function unimpaired. The Pakistani State is not prepared to act against it. By our continued reluctance to revive our covert action capability, we have denied ourselves the means of acting against it covertly and effectively.

·        We have not yet been able to reconstruct the conspiracy in our territory completely. We have not been able to identify the Indian Muslims who might have acted as the accomplices of the LET in the planning and execution of the strikes and arrest them. We have not been able to interrogate thoroughly David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana of the Chicago cell of the LET and establish the identities of their contacts in India who helped them in the collection of operational intelligence for being passed on to the LET in Pakistan. It is inconceivable that Headley, who repeatedly visited India at the instance of the LET and the ISI, had no contacts in India on whose help he relied. The sleeper cells in the Indian Muslim community which helped Headley and Rana remain unidentified and unneutralised.

·        We have not yet been able to establish how Headley and Rana repeatedly managed to evade detection by the Indian intelligence and immigration during their visits to India before the strikes.

·        The quality of our investigation has not improved despite our setting up the National investigation Agency (NIA) after the strikes. This would be evident from the poorly detected cases that have taken place after 26/11.

·        The exercise to set up a National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) has got stuck up without any forward movement due to political mishandling by the Government of India.

·        We have failed to mobilise and persuade the relatives of the foreigners killed to act legally against the ISI in the courts of their countries.

·        We have failed to take follow-up action against our TV channels and TV journalists on whom strictures were passed by the Supreme Court while confirming the death sentence on Ajmal Kasab. These strictures related to their irresponsible live coverage of the strikes, which complicated the tasks of the security forces. The channels and the journalists have succeeded in creating a wall of silence around their sins of commission and omission. It is as if the TV journos are a law unto themselves and not subject to any scrutiny or even public debate on the judicial strictures.


2.Unless these tasks are completed, we can never talk of closure in respect of the terrorist strikes. Will the closure ever come? I have my doubts unless the voters decide to teach  all concerned a lesson during the forthcoming elections and continue to keep the spotlight on the irresponsible and unprofessional  coverage by the TV journos. ( 26-11-12)


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





Instances of miscarriage of justice are many in India. Sometimes, such instances arise due to gross negligence by the police in the investigation. Sometimes, due to wanton fabrication of evidence and violation of the legal procedures to be followed during the investigation.

2. Such instances continue to take place and even increase in number because of the lack of fear in the police officers that  action might be taken against them for miscarriages of justice caused by negligence or mala fide actions or inaction.

3. There has been a worrisome increase in the number of such cases ever since terrorism made its appearance in the early 1980s.Calls for ruthless action against terrorists and zero tolerance of terrorism have unfortunately created an impression in the minds of sections of police officers that any methods are good methods for dealing with terrorists and terrorism. Political tolerance of the use of illegal methods in dealing with terrorists has added to the belief that the police can take liberties with the law and procedures while dealing with terrorism.

4.One has to be firm and ruthless under the law in dealing with terrorists, but one cannot go beyond the law in dealing with them. One has to use the might of the law against them, but one cannot use illegal methods and procedures during the investigation. Use of such methods and procedures prove counter-productive.

5. Since many of the acts of terrorism committed in India are by jihadis, innocent Muslims have often been the victims of mala fide investigation. Instead of controlling terrorism, it aggravates it by adding to the anger in the Muslim community against the police and other investigating agencies. It becomes a vicious circle. The more illegal the methods used by the police, the more the terrorism. The more the terrorism, the more illegal the methods used by the police.

6.A shocking instance of such wrongful action and miscarriage of justice has been brought to notice after 16 years by a Division Bench of Delhi consisting of Justice Ravindra Bhat  and Justice G.P.Mittal. In a judgement delivered on November 22,2012, it has acquitted two Muslim convicts who had been awarded death penalty by the trial court in a case relating to an explosion in the Lajpat Nagar Market of New Delhi in 1996 in which 13 persons were killed. Another convict’s sentence was reduced to life term.

7.It is a horrendous case because if the court had not noticed the wanton miscarriage of justice by the police, three persons might have been executed by the State on the basis of evidence of questionable value and authenticity. It was not a case of the police unconsciously using such evidence, but wantonly using such evidence in full knowledge of its lack of authenticity in order to obtain a conviction.

8. The judgement has said:  "Police have not maintained minimum standard of probe in the case, test identification parade (TIP) was not conducted, statements of vital witnesses were not recorded. There was also absence of (police) daily diary entry in the case." The court has observed that there was casualness in the investigation of the case.

9. While we have taken many steps to improve the quality of intelligence collection and physical security, we have not succeeded in improving the quality of investigation. This has had two results. Firstly, an increasing number of undetected cases. Secondly, instances of the use of wrongful methods and miscarriage of justice in cases which are claimed to have been successfully detected.

10. After the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, the Government had set up the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to improve the quality of investigation. Despite this, the number of undetected cases has been increasing. This judgement has drawn our attention to a serious case of miscarriage of justice due to bad investigation in the year 1996---- sixteen years later. One does not know how many more such instances remain unnoticed or undetected  during the prosecution and trial.

11. It is important for the Government to go into this and take corrective action to prevent a recurrence of such instances. There is a need to improve not only the quality of the investigation, but also the quality of the supervision over the investigation by senior officers. ( 25-11-12)

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


Saturday, November 24, 2012




That was the message that China sought to convey to President Barack Obama as he completed his eight-hour visit to Yangon (Rangoon) on November 19,2012, during which he met President Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and addressed the students of the Rangoon University.

2. Ever since the US and Myanmar started moving closer to each other last year, the Chinese have been keeping a watchful eye on the interactions between the leaders of the two countries without any sign of undue panic that Myanmar was sought to be weaned away from China as part of the USA’s new Asia policy.

3. President Thein Sein too and his officers maintained regular military-to-military exchanges with China in order to reassure Beijing that  opening-up to the US would not be at the expense of traditional close relations with China and that the Chinese military leadership should have no reason to fear any dilution of the strategic ties between the two countries, including the relations between the armed forces of the two countries. Before going to New York in September 2012 to attend the UN General Assembly session during which he met Mr.Obama, Mr.Thein Sein took care to visit China.

4. On the day of Mr.Obama’s visit to Yangon, the “China Daily” had carried an exclusive interview with Mr.Ko Ko Hlaing, political adviser to President Thein Sein, on Myanmar’s relations with China. Mr.Ko Ko Hlaing had visited China at the head of a non-governmental Myanmar delegation sometime before (date not specified) Mr.Obama’s visit to Yangon, but the interview given by him was carried on the day of Mr.Obama’s visit.

5.In this interview, the political adviser to Mr.Thein Sein said that Myanmar cherished the "special" links  with China since ancient times and would further strengthen and deepen its "time-honoured and time-tested" friendship during the country's current reforms.

6.He added: "We were in isolation for many years and now are opening up, but it will not hamper the relationship between Myanmar and China. The bilateral relation is a special one.

“ Myanmar was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with New China in 1950. But the two countries' close relationship dates to centuries ago. The ancestors of people now living in both countries had referred to each other at one time as "paukphaw", a Myanmar word meaning brothers and sisters.

“The countries' relationship has remained strong in recent decades, especially during Myanmar's isolation, a time that it received much assistance from China. China is now the country's largest investor and trade partner.

"We need to keep cordial relations with all nations. China is our most important neighbour. We will never forget that."

7. Commenting on Mr.Obama’s visit a day after the visit, the “Global Times”, a sister publication of the party-owned “People’s Daily”, said as follows: “ Some have suggested that Obama's visit was aimed at weakening China's influence. Such assumptions regarding contests between great powers and the political changes in Myanmar over the past year added special meaning to Obama's visit.

“China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn't express any displeasure with the visit, but said it believed that Sino-Myanmar relations would deepen. This shouldn't simply be dismissed as diplomatic-speak, but shows China's confidence.

“Myanmar's democratic reforms and opening up to the West not only satisfy Washington but are also in China's long-term interests. Most ASEAN countries have democratic elections and relations with China are not hindered due to differences in political systems. Myanmar won't become alienated from China simply because of domestic political adjustments.

“Myanmar's opening-up was unavoidable. Sino-Myanmar relations must undergo some changes to adapt to this. But the changes will be limited.

“There is no possibility that bilateral relations will be overturned entirely. China is the biggest neighbouring country of Myanmar and has irreplaceable influences on it. More importantly, such influences are based on equality.


“Myanmar is becoming open to the West in order to maximize its national interests. But it's unwise to replace China with the West. Both the current leadership of Myanmar and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi well know this.

“That said, Obama's visit may still have an eye toward challenging China's influence. But the actual effect will be difficult to tell. Obama likes to be applauded for his efforts in promoting democracy in Myanmar and this merits some reward. However, the US can't squeeze China out of Myanmar.

“Economically, Southeast Asian countries are depending on China more than the US, and this tendency is on the increase. Obama is bringing $170 million in aid to Myanmar. Unless he can ensure aid is delivered to Myanmar every month, such small amount of money won't be a significant bargaining chip to change the China-Myanmar relationship.

“China needs to adjust to the US's increasing diplomatic actions in the region, but it doesn't have to overreact. China's fast economic growth and growing domestic market will translate into a stronger economic driving force in the region. This is the biggest leverage China has in diplomacy in Southeast Asia.”

8.While commenting on the visit, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying  said: "President Obama's visit is a matter between the United States and Myanmar.  China and Myanmar are friendly neighbours, who, on the basis of the five principles of peaceful coexistence, conducted substantial cooperation in the spirit of equality and reciprocity, and they have also promoted their strategic partnership of cooperation. The development of China-Myanmar relations benefits the two peoples, and contributes to regional peace, stability and prosperity. We are confident in the in-depth development of bilateral relations."

9. The privately-owned “Irrawaddy Journal” of Myanmar reported that in the week prior to Mr. Obama’s  visit , two Myanmar delegations travelled to China to strengthen old military and cultural ties.

10.A Myanmar military delegation headed by Tatmadaw (armed forces) Deputy Commander-in-Chief Gen Soe Win visited China’s largest bi-annual defense exhibition in the southern Chinese coastal city of Zhuhai on November 13, according to photos circulated on Chinese microblogs.

11.According to the Journal, the images showed a delegation with at least three general-ranked officers touring the Ninth China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition. Chinese state media has not identified Soe Win and other members of the delegation as visitors to the armaments trade fair. Similarly, no Myanmar visitors were mentioned in a detailed list of foreign dignitaries released by the organizers at the last Zhuhai Airshow in 2010.

12.Two reporters for the “Global Times” reported in a blog post that the Myanmar delegation “paid careful attention to the C802/C705/ FL-3000N defense missile system”.The short-range surface-to-air missile launcher for ships, first revealed at the same airshow in 2008, has since been employed on China’s first aircraft carrier.


13.On  November 14, Soe Win met  Gen Ma Xiaotian, Commander of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, at his headquarters in  Beijing. Both sides expressed their wish to deepen cooperation in air force technology and training, according to a statement by the Chinese Ministry of Defense.

14. According to “The Irrawaddy Journal”, Ma, 63, last visited the Burmese capital Naypyidaw in September, then as a Deputy Chief of Staff, where he held talks with incoming Vice-President Nyan Tun, a former Navy chief, and Commander-in-Chief  Vice--Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

15.Ma, a long-time rising star within the Chinese armed forces, assumed command of the Chinese Air Force in October. The day before meeting Soe Win, Ma was elevated to the Chinese Communist Party’s all-powerful Central Military Commission.

16. On November 15, the Myanmar delegation met with new Vice-Chief of Staff Lieut-Gen Qi Jiangu, and the outgoing Minister of Defense Gen Liang Guanglie. Thereafter, it  travelled  to Xi’an, a hub for military aviation, where they were received by Maj-Gen Lin Miaoxin, political commissar of the Shaanxi military district, according to a report in the local Shaanxi Daily newspaper.

17.The military delegation returned to Naypyidaw on November 19, hours after President Thein Sein and  Aung San Suu Kyi had met with Mr. Obama. On the same day, former Brig-Gen Aye Myint Kyu was in Beijing on his first trip as Minister of Culture.

18. He discussed arrangements for the 2013 Southeast Asian Games to be hosted by Myanmar in December next year with his Chinese counterpart Cai Wu. In September, both countries had reached  an undisclosed framework agreement on “assistance and support” for the opening and closing ceremonies through the China Arts and Entertainment Group Ltd., a state-owned organizer of cultural events. Aye Myint Kyu then met  Politburo member Liu Yandong at Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party leadership, along with Li Peng, the head of China’s General Administration of Sport.

19. On November 20,”The PLA Daily” quoted Liang Guanglie as having told Gen.Soe Win as follows: “The Chinese side attaches great importance to the relations between the Chinese and Myanmar militaries, and is willing to make joint efforts with the Myanmar side to effectively strengthen strategic communication, constantly deepen pragmatic cooperation, strive to maintain the stability of the border areas, and further promote China-Myanmar comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership, so as to make contributions to maintaining regional peace and stability and promoting common development.”

20. The PLA Daily quoted Gen.Soe Win as replying that  China has always been a reliable good brother, good friend and good partner of Myanmar. Under the new international and regional situations, the Myanmar side will keep devoting itself to strengthening the friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation between the two countries and the two militaries, so as to firmly safeguard common interests of the two countries.

21.According to the PLA Daily, Gen.Qi Jiangu told Gen.  Soe Win  as follows: “The China-Myanmar relations have withstood tests from the changeable international situations in the past 60-odd years since the establishment of the diplomatic relations, and the long-term mutual understanding and mutual support between the two countries have achieved fruitful accomplishments. The relations between the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Myanmar Armed Forces are an important component in the relations between the two countries. The Chinese PLA and the Myanmar Armed Forces have conducted in-depth and pragmatic communications in terms of high-level exchange of visits, equipment technological cooperation, personnel training, border control and so on, which have exerted active effects in promoting the comprehensive development of the relations between the two countries.”( 24-11-12)

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Fear of death rarely acts as a deterrent to irrational or well-motivated people. It also rarely prevents crimes of passion or crimes committed in the heat of the moment.

2.If fear of death can be a deterrent, there should be no suicide terrorism. Nor should there be other dastardly crimes. They continue to take place in countries which  have death penalty on their statute book. The US is a typical example.

3. In the US, there is not only death penalty. In many States, it is even executed in public thinking that it would add to the deterrence. But it does not.

4. The execution of Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the Oklahoma bombing in 1995, was televised, but it has had no effect on potential criminals. There have been many hate and irrational crimes in the US after his execution, including the recent massacre of innocent worshippers in a US gurudwara.

5. The long-held impression that death penalty is necessary in the rarest of rare cases to deter others from carrying out dastardly crimes has no provable basis.

6. Since last year, I have been arguing against death penalty due to two reasons. First, it doesn’t deter. Second, there is always a danger of a miscarriage of justice due to errors in investigation, prosecution and trial. If the errors come to notice after the execution of the death sentence, no corrective action is possible. I also believe that a State should not kill its citizens for whatever reason.

7. At the same time, one has to make an exception in the case of offences that amount to a war crime or an act of treason. These are crimes committed by someone---either a foreigner or our own national--- at the instance of or on behalf of a foreign State or non-State actor involving deliberate loss of life or national  property or critical infrastructure. In such cases the option of a death penalty should be available on the statute book to make it clear that anyone who acts at the instance or on behalf of a foreign State or non-State organisation has to pay a heavy price that may even involve loss of life through execution.

8. Our laws relating to death penalty need to be revisited in order to provide for death penalty only against those acting at the instance or on behalf of a foreign  State or non-State organisation. In other cases, life-long imprisonment should be  the norm.

9.The execution of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), who participated in the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, was totally justified. We need have no regret over it.

10. At the same time, I do feel that even in the case of persons acting at the behest of a foreign State or non-State organisations there should be special exception  to carrying out the death penalty for reasons of State to prevent internal disharmony.

11. The case of Afsal Guru, sentenced to death for participating in the attack on the Indian Parliament in December,2001, should come under this category. He should not be executed.

12. It is time to re-formulate our laws relating to death penalty to provide for nuances on the lines mentioned above. ( 23-11-12)

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012




( Written at the request of the Editor, Economic Times)



Public satisfaction over the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), in a Pune jail on the morning of November 21,2012, should not make us forget that no action has been taken so far by the State of Pakistan against  the master-minds of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai.

2. Seven of them have supposedly been arrested and are being tried before a special court in Rawalpindi, but their trial is being frequently adjourned. No action has been taken by the Pakistani State against the LET, the terrorist organisation associated with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, which planned and carried out the terrorist strikes.

3. Hafiz Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the LET and its political wing called the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, who was the principal conspirator of the terrorist strikes in Mumbai, is still a free man and his anti-India terrorist infrastructure remains unimpaired.       The officers of the ISI, who played a role in helping the LET in the planning and execution of the terrorist strikes, have escaped any consequences of their involvement.

4.The execution of Kasab has brought to a closure the  involvement of one  individual in the terrorist strikes. There is no closure as yet relating to the entire conspiracy and the State and the non-State actors and their organisations involved in it. Unless they are brought to final justice, the Government cannot claim success in its efforts to ensure that the law takes its course in the conspiracy.

5. We were a soft State before 26/11 and we continue to be a soft State after 26/11 and the execution of Kasab. The failure of the Indian public and voters to exercise adequate pressure on our Government to act effectively against the sponsorship of terrorism by Pakistan against our citizens in our territory is responsible for the continuing softness of our State in dealing with Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism.

6. Now that Kasab has been executed, efforts will be made to draw electoral mileage out of it during the next election by projecting it as an indicator of the Government’s determination to deal with Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. The voters should not let themselves be misled by the Government claims and insist on more substantial results.

7. Kasab is no more, but the jihadi terrorist threat posed by the State of Pakistan and its non-State creations remain as serious as before. We need a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy to deal this. We do not see any signs of it so far. It must be made clear to our Government that it will be held accountable for its sins of commission and omission if it does not take its actions to their logical conclusion against the Pakistani perpetrators operating from Pakistani territory.

8. We should not be under any illusion that the execution of Kasab would have any deterrent effect on the jihadi terrorists operating from Pakistani territory and their State sponsors. Deaths will not deter them from carrying on their irrational jihad. Only the neutralisation of their ground capability once and for all will bring us respite. How to neutralise their capability and infrastructure is a question that should engage our continuous attention.

9. There will be attempts to avenge the execution of Kasab. We should be prepared for retaliatory strikes in India, including Jammu & Kashmir, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other foreign countries. Our ability to prevent retaliatory attacks would depend on the capabilities of our intelligence and physical security agencies.

10. Much has been done to strengthen their capabilities and reflexes after 26/11. There will be a need for a review of these capabilities in the wake of the execution of Kasab in order to identify continuing deficiencies and take action to fill them.

11. Terrorist strikes in Pune, Mumbai and Delhi after 26/11 and their unsatisfactory investigation have underlined the deficiencies. We still have undetected sleeper cells in these places and elsewhere constituted by the Indian Mujahideen. Since we have not been able to arrest and interrogate all of them, we do not have a clear idea of the continuing Pakistani involvement with the remnants of the IM. These remnants are likely to play an active role in retaliatory action sought to be mounted  by the LET with the complicity of the IM.

12. If the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) had been set up in time and had it started functioning as it was supposed to, we might have been in a better position to detect and neutralise preparations for retaliatory action. The exercise to set up the NCTC has come to a halt due to political mishandling. This exercise needs to be resumed and completed vigorously.

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012




Before the execution of Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani terrorist of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), who had participated in the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, at Pune on the morning of November  21,2012, our security agencies must have examined the likelihood of retaliation by jihdi terrorists in Pakistan and India and strengthened security precautions to prevent retaliatory attacks.

2. The LET and the organisations associated with it would want a quick retaliation. A retaliation without at least some preparation may be difficult in Indian territory outside Jammu and Kashmir . Quick retaliation might be possible in J&K and in Afghanistan. Terrorist elements in J&K, on their own or at the instance of the LET, may try to retaliate quickly . In Afghanistan, the LET, the Haqqani Network, the Taliban and the Hizbe Islami (HEI) of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar have the necessary ground capability for quick retaliation against the Indian Embassy in Kabul and Consulates elsewhere and against Indian nationals working in construction projects. Strengthening physical security in J&K and Afghanistan should receive the highest priority.

3. The other area requiring attention would be the Indian High Commission in Islamabad which could become the target of attack by the LET, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and other organisations.

4. In Indian territory outside J&K, it is my present assessment that immediate attention has to be to the Indian Mujahideen and the remnants of the LET and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), including the Rohingya Muslims who are members of the HUJI. Immediate retaliatory attacks could be in the form of random explosions, wherever explosive materials are available.

5. The execution of Kasab was reportedly carried out in a Pune jail. We have had a number of terrorist attacks in Pune since 2010 which have remained unsatisfactorily detected. Pune still has sleeper cells unneutralised. Quick retaliation should, therefore, be possible for them in Pune.

6. The security for our Embassies abroad also need to be strengthened.

7.I have been in receipt of requests from some TV channels for appearing  on their shows to give my views. I have decided not to  respond to their requests in protest against the  recent lionisation of Pervez Musharraf  by the channels.Preparations for the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Pakistan  by the ISI started when he was still the President of Pakistan, though he had left office by the time the attacks were carried out. 

8. Moreover, all our TV channels conspired to cover up the adverse observations of the Supreme Court on the irresponsible way they covered the 26/11 terrorist strikes without any discussion on them. The Supreme Court passed these strictures while confirming the death sentence on Kasab. ( 21-11-12)

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

Monday, November 19, 2012



US President Barack Obama has just completed an eight-hour flying visit to Yangon (Rangoon), the former capital of Myanmar, from Thailand and flown to Phnom-Penh, the Cambodian capital, to attend the East Asia summit before flying back home. He was accompanied by Mrs. Hillary Clinton, his Secretary of State, who had visited Myanmar last year. This is the second visit by a US President to Myanmar since it became independent. The first was by President Richard Nixon in 1973.

2. In a carefully programmed visit, Mr. Obama visited only Yangon, the former capital from the British colonial days, where Aung San Suu Kyi generally lives. President Thein Sein, who lives and works in the new capital Nay Pyi Taw, flew to Yangon from Phnom-Penh, where he had gone to attend the ASEAN summit, to meet Mr.Obama.

3.Mr.Obama met Mr.Thein Sein and Daw Suu Kyi separately----Mr.Thein Sein in his official Yangon residence and Suu Kyi in her private residence. He did not meet the two together.

4. One may recall that when our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, visited Myanmar earlier this year, he did not call on Suu Kyi at her residence. Suu Kyi called on Dr. Manmohan Singh at the place where he was staying in Yangon.

5. The only other public engagement of Mr.Obama in Yangon was an address to the students of the Rangoon University , whose predecessors were in the forefront of the pro-democracy struggle since 1988. Many of them were mowed down by the Army and their movement was crushed.

6. Before the visit of Mr.Obama, there were two important indications from Myanmar Government circles. The first was that the Myanmar Government had assured the UN Secretary-General that it would address the human rights concerns of the Rohingya Muslims living in the Rakhine State, including their demand for citizenship rights. Till now, the Government was reluctant to accept their demand for citizenship rights on the ground that they were illegal migrants from Bangladesh and not sons and daughters of the Myanmar soil. This is the first time the Government has indicated it will have an open mind on this issue.

7. The second was that Myanmar will accept full scope safeguards and  inspection of all its nuclear establishments by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. This would remove US suspicions and fears regarding nuclear co-operation between North Korea and Myanmar in the past.

8.These two were important issues of concern to the US and the Government of Thein Sein apparently wanted to act to address those concerns without giving an impression it was doing so under US pressure. An impression was sought to be created as if these were independent steps taken by the Government on its own and not under US pressure.

9. While the official circles in the White House and the State Department viewed the significant visit in very positive terms, their enthusiasm for the visit was not shared by many non-governmental human rights organisations, which felt that the visit was premature and should have followed the release of all political prisoners and an improvement in the human rights situation in the Rakhine State.

10. There was a certain hype in the circle of Mr.Obama’s advisers over the steps taken by President Thein Sein for over a year now to start the process of democratisation of the political set-up in Myanmar and to open up the country for foreign investments. At the same time, there was an anxiety over the unhappiness in the Islamic world on the tardy action taken by the Government to address the human rights concerns of the Rohingya Muslims.

11.How to address both these issues in public during the visit without ringing alarms bells in the minds of ultra-nationalist elements in the Buddhist clergy and the Armed Forces which are even now not prepared to consider the demand of the Rohingya Muslims for citizenship rights?

12.Mr.Obama sought to do this by acknowledging but not endorsing the record of the Thein Sein Government towards democratisation and external opening-up and by highlighting the sensitive issue of the human rights of the ethnic minorities, without giving the impression of pressuring  the Government to act on these issues too. He said: “ The purpose of my visit is to sustain the momentum for democratisation. That includes building credible government institutions, establishing rule of law, ending ethnic conflicts and ensuring that the people of this country have access to greater education, health care and economic opportunity.” In the advanced extracts from his address to the students released by US officials, he said in an indirect reference to the situation in the Rakhine State: “ I will urge Myanmar to draw on diversity as a strength, not a weakness".

13. The statements made by Mr.Obama and Suu Kyi during the visit highlighted the differing perceptions of the two over the sustainability and durability of the actions taken by the Thein Sein Government. The statements of Mr.Obama underline his conviction  in the sincerity of Mr.Thein Sein and his ability to overcome any opposition from the Armed Forces to his policies.

14. Suu Kyi’s attitude has been a little more cautious. While she is convinced of the sincerity and good faith of Mr.Thein Sein, she still has some misgivings in her mind about other officers. During her visit to the US in September last, she had hinted that while she knew Mr.Thein Sein well, she did not know other officers that well. When she came to India last week,  she cautioned in public  about over-optimism.

15. The need for caution in assessment was again emphasised by her during the visit of Mr.Obama. She reportedly said: “The most difficult time in any transition is when we think that success is in sight. We have to be very careful that we're not lured by the mirage of success." ( 19-11-12)

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









Sunday, November 18, 2012




What we are seeing in Israel and Gaza is not just a war.

It is not just a ruthless exchange of fire.

It is not just missiles, air strikes and naval barrages.

People are dying on both sides.

It is a struggle for survival.

One is dying in order to assert one’s right to live.

One is dying in order to assert one’s right to land.

It may be just a piece of graveyard.

Or just a place of worship.

One is prepared to die for that.

To assert one’s right to live,

One is prepared to kill,

With missiles, air strikes and naval barrages.

To assert one’s right to land, one is prepared to destroy,

Anything and everything.

With missiles, air strikes and naval barrages.

It is a struggle sans victory.

One had seen such struggles before.

One is seeing one more now.

More ferocious than in the past.

It is not going to be the end of ferocity.

It is never-ending ferocity.

To assert one’s right to live.

To assert one’s right to land.

If more ferocity could establish the right to live and the right to land,

It should have been there by now.

Has the time to think not arrived?

Can both live together----the Israelis and the Palestinians?

Can both live together---the Muslims and the Jewish people?

The time for escalating ferocity is over.

It is time for dawning wisdom.

One sees no sign of it, though.

The need for wisdom---that is what one has to address.

Not the need for more missiles, more air strikes, more naval barrages.

Let us search for wisdom and admire it.

The time for admiring Israelis’ prowess and the Palestinians’ courage and resistance is over.

It is time to look for wisdom in both. (18-11-12)

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



Saturday, November 17, 2012







After the March 1993 serial explosions in Mumbai organised by Dawood Ibrahim, who was then living in Dubai, the Memon brothers and others trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who had allegedly carried out the conspiracy, escaped to Karachi via Kathmandu. They were given shelter in Karachi by the ISI.

2. On coming to know of this, the Narasimha Rao Government then in office in the Government of India brought this to the notice of the US and sought its help for tracing them. The US Consulate in Karachi started making enquiries about their presence there.

3. The ISI thereupon had them flown to Bangkok where the perpetrators were kept in a hotel arranged by the Pakistani Embassy in Bangkok. After some months, the US Consulate in Karachi stopped making enquiries about their presence in Karachi. The ISI shifted them back to Karachi.

4. One of the perpetrators went to Kathmandu from Karachi and clandestinely entered India to meet a family friend. He was arrested by the Police and interrogated. During the interrogation, it came out that the perpetrators of the 1993 terrorist strikes organised by Dawood Ibrahim had been kept in Bangkok for some time by the ISI. In August 1994, Shri Padmanabiah, the then Home Secretary of the Government of India, held a press conference to announce the details of what the suspect had told the Police about the perpetrators of the 1993 terrorist strikes organised by Dawood Ibrahim being kept in a Bangkok hotel by the ISI after the commission of the terrorist strikes.

5. Around the same time, the “Far Eastern Economic Review”, then published from Hongkong, had carried a report alleging that Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra, who had won a telecom contract in Cambodia by bribing local Army officers, had tried to instigate a coup in Cambodia with the help of Cambodian Army officers in the pay of his company.

6. It also came out in India that the telecom company of Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra had been given a contract in Kolkata. The issue figured in the Lok Sabha. Our intelligence community drew the attention of Narasimha Rao to the allegations made against Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra’s telecom company in Cambodia by the “Far Eastern Economic Review”.

7. Narasimha Rao had it checked up whether background  enquiries regarding Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra had been made before his company was given the Kolkata contract. It was found that no such enquiries had been made.

8.Some years later, Mr.Thaksin Shinawatra entered politics and became the Prime Minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006. He was very well disposed towards India during his Prime Ministership and even earlier when he was a Deputy Prime Minister. He helped India in becoming a full dialogue partner of the ASEAN and was always positive in his attitude towards India. We were happy with him as a political leader, Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.

9. It came to notice during his Prime Ministership that he was maintaining equally close relationship with Gen.Pervez Musharraf, who was then in power in Pakistan. He had allegedly come to know Musharraf through Mr.Shaukat Aziz, a Pakistani businessman living in the Gulf, who became the Finance Minister of Musharraf and subsequently his Prime Minister in 2005. When Mr.Shaukat Aziz was the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Mr. Thaksin Shinawatra was the Thai Prime Minister, Thaksin had worked hard to bring Pakistan and the ASEAN closer together.

10. As Prime Minister, Mr.Shaukat Aziz visited Bangkok from May 8 to 10,2005. Thaksin spent most of the time with him, drove him around and accompanied him for his courtesy call on the King of Thailand who was then staying in the interior. The close relations of Thaksin with Mr.Shaukat Aziz and through him with Gen.Pervez Musharraf came to notice during this period.

11. After leaving office, Musharraf against whom there is allegedly a non-bailable warrant in Pakistan in connection with the pending investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December 2007, has been living in London allegedly as a guest of Shaukat Aziz, the close friend of Thaksin.

12. It is intriguing that  despite this past history, Pervez Musharraf and Thaksin should have figured as honoured guests in the leadership summit of the “Hindustan Times” held at New Delhi on November 16 and 17 and should have been lionised by the CNN-IBN TV channel which was associated with the summit.

13. I had myself in the past spoken well of the helpful attitude of Thaksin to India, but at the same time I had been concerned over his closeness to Aziz.

14. I don’t know what is the objective of the so-called leadership summits and whether any purpose is served by issuing invitations that could become controversial and embarrassing. ( 17-11-12)

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