Monday, December 31, 2007




The Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have been maintaining a discreet silence on the assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto by as yet unidentified elements at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007. Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), was on a visit to Army establishments in Karachi at the time of her assassination. He immediately cancelled his engagements and returned to Rawalpindi. He and his officers in the General Headquarters (GHQ) as well as in the ISI have avoided any comments or statements or background briefings for the media on her killing. Gen.Kiyani is keeping a tight control over his officers in order to ensure that they do not add to the messy sequel as a result of the loose talk emanating from the Ministry of the Interior, which was responsible for her protection.

2. Most of the controversy relating to the circumstances surrounding her killing, the cause of her death and the alleged responsibility of Baitullah Mehsud for her death, which has been denied by a spokesman of Baitullah, has been caused by the retired Army officers, who were inducted into the Ministry of the Interior and the Police by Gen.Pervez Musharraf after he seized power in 1999.After coming to power, Musharraf had inducted a large number of retired military officers into the police of the provinces as well as into the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is part of the Interior Ministry, and into the Ministry itself. He appointed Brig. (retd) Ijaz Shah, who was the Home Secretary of Punjab at the time of the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, in January-February,2002, as the Director of the IB.Omar Sheikh, the principal accused in the Pearl case, had surrendered to him in Lahore when he was the Home Secretary.

3. Musharraf also inducted Brig. (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, another crony of his, into the Interior Ministry and made him in charge of the crisis management cell in the Ministry, which also co-ordinates counter-terrorism actions and investigations. Many other retired military officers were inducted at different levels of the Ministry and the IB. Of course, Mr.Nawaz Sharif also, as the Prime Minister (1990-93), had made Brig. (retd) Imtiaz, a highly controversial retired army officer known for his dislike of Benazir, as the DIB, but there was no systematic militarisation of the IB under Nawaz, similar to what one had been seeing under Musharraf.

4. As a consequence of Musharraf's policy of militarisation of the Police and the IB, there was a steep fall in the professionalism of these agencies. They were neither able to prevent the increasing number of acts of suicide terrorism nor successfully detect them. The number of acts of suicide terrorism have shot up from six in 2006 to 55 in 2007, including the one involving the murder of Benazir. Most of them have so far remained undetected.

5.The police in Rawalpindi, where she was killed, come under the dual control of the Ministry of the Interior and the Punjab Government, both hotbeds of Zia-ul-Haq loyalists. Chaudhury Pervez Elahi, who was the Chief Minister of Punjab till December,2007, and his cousin Chaudhury Shujjat Hussain, who is the leader of the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam), have always been bitter enemies of the Bhutto family. Ijaz Shah and Lt.Gen.(retd) Hamid Gul, who was the Director-General of the ISI for some months during her first tenure as the Prime Minister (1988 to 90), are also known Zia loyalists.

6. There are presently not many remnants of the coterie of Zia loyalists among the serving senior officers (Lt.Gens. and above) of the Army and the ISI. Most of the remnants are to be found in the Ministry of the Interior, the IB and the Punjab administration. That is why Benazir apprehended a threat to her security to emanate from these elements. In a letter to Musharraf written before she returned to Pakistan on October 18,2007, she had allegedly named three in particular---- Ijaz Shah, Pervez Elahi and Hamid Gul. Musharraf disregarded her allegations and concerns and entrusted the responsibility for her security to the very elements from which she apprehended a threat to her security.

7. A careful reading of the comments of Mr.Asif Ali Zardari, her husband, and other leaders of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), known to have been cloe to her, would indicate that they have been taking care not to implicate the Army and the ISI as institutions in her murder. Instead, they have been directing the needle of suspicion at the persons named by her.

8. There has been a steady infiltration of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements at the lower and middle levels of the Army and the Air Force and into the GHQ itself. Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations were unhappy with her statements that she would allow US troops to hunt for bin Laden in Pakistani territory and the International Atomic Energy Agency at Vienna to interrogate A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist. Benazir and her associates were aware of the threat to her security from these Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations such as the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), but they strongly believed that these organisations would not be able to carry out their threat without the complicity of the Zia loyalists in the physical security apparatus.

9. While there is no evidence so far of any active complicity by the Zia loyalists, there is clear-cut evidence of glaring negligence in physical security, which made the assassination possible. In their frantic efforts to cover up their responsibility for her death, the retired military officers in the Interior Ministry and the Police----particularly Javed Iqbal Cheema--- have been disseminating one contradictory version after another. During an interaction with the media on December 31,2007, Mr.Mohammadmian Soomro, the caretaker Prime Minister, is reported to have indicated his embarrassment over the clumsy manner in which Cheema had handled the sequel to her killing. But, intriguingly, Musharraf has remained silent in the midst of all this controversy and not taken any action against these officers. (1-1-08)

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



In December, 2007, As-Sahab, the propaganda-cum-PSYWAR wing of Al Qaeda, had disseminated a four-part interview with Aymanal-Zawahiri, No.2 to Osama bin Laden in Al Qaeda, on the state of the global jihad towards the end of 2007. In the interview, he made asevere attack on Iran and accused it of stabbing the Ummah in the back in Afghanistan and Iraq. The text of the relevant portion of the interview is given below:

As-Sahab: The Americans are threatening Iran with an imminent strike. Dose Iran expect from the Muslim Ummah to help it to repel the American aggression against it?

Zawahiri: Iran stabbed the Muslim Ummah in its back, and recorded a historic mark of shame against itself and all of the Shiites who followed it. And the effects of this stab will stay in the memory of the Muslims for a long time to come. And the strange contradiction to which I would like to call attention is that despite the fact that Iran allowed the Crusader forces into Iraq, recognized the puppet government there and motivated its militias to participate in its army, security and police, and despite its recognition of the puppet government in Afghanistan, it warns America of a multitude response against its interests worldwide should it attack Iran. Is American occupation of Iranian territories prohibited but permissible in Iraq and in Afghanistan? And is Tehran more important to them than Karbala and Najaf? Why does Khamene'i threaten America with a multifold retaliation if Iran is struck but didn't move a finger when American rockets pierced the tomb of Imam Ali (Allah bless him) in Najaf? Don't all of these errors and contradictions require that everyone with a remnant of intelligence and conscience review many things, and reread many more things?

As-Sahab: But Iran considered itself to be the winner politically through its cooperation with the Crusader invasion in Iraq and Afghanistan in that it freed itself from two regimes hostile to it and its influence spread east and west.

Zawahiri: Iran embroiled itself in its evil deeds, and it is now besieged from the east and the west.
2. In this connection, reference is invited to my power-point presentation on International Jihadi Terrorism of December 13,2007, in which I had highlighted the following characteristics of Al Qaeda ( )




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

Sunday, December 30, 2007



(To be read in continuation of my earlier article titled "Fresh Flare-Up of Taliban--Shia Clashes in Kurram" at )

Shia-Sunni clashes continue unabated in the Kurram Agency of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan. There were 15 fatalities on both sides on December 29,2007. Leaders of the local Shia community have alleged that the Kurram Agency has been invaded by members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban based in South and North Waziristan in the FATA and in the Swat Valley in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and accused the Pakistan Army of failing to act against the invaders.

2. The "Post", a Pakistani daily, has reported as follows on December 31,2007:

ISLAMABAD: A delegation of notables from Kurram Agency has appealed to President Pervez Musharraf and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani to stop the ongoing violence that has resulted in the loss of more than 100 lives and billions of rupees' worth of property.

Haji Latif Hussain, President, Kurram Welfare Society, said the residents had been fighting the Taliban infiltrating from Afghanistan, North and South Waziristan and Al Qaeda operatives in the area who were thousands in number. He added over 70 people had been killed in furious clashes during the last 45 days. "The armed forces of Pakistan are playing the role of silent spectators instead of countering the attackers and protecting the residents under attack," he said.

Latif Hussain said Al Qaeda fighters had occupied various areas of Kurram Agency and blocked the main road from Peshawar to Parachinar, resulting in a shortage of basic commodities. "There is an acute shortage of medicines, food, electricity and water," he added.

The Kurram Welfare Society President said that as a result of the war, hundreds of women, children and the elderly had taken refuge in Peshawar while over a hundred students who were unable to move to their native areas because of the war had been forced to stay in Islamabad.

Mehdi Ghulam from Kurram Agency said Alizai, Balyamin, Tangi Amro Khail, Arravali, Santikot, Singk, Burqi and Pevar were under Taliban and Al Qaeda attacks while dozens of injured were waiting for their death in the Parachinar hospital owing to a shortage of medicines.

He said that although the current confrontation was not sectarian, shrines and mosques of both Sunni and Shiite sects were being damaged by Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.

Mehdi said that in Pevar firing from the other side of the border was causing multiple deaths daily.

Muhammad Hussain Turri, secretary, Ittehad-e-Ummat Committee, said: "We are not only fighting for our lives and the area but also for the sovereignty of our country.We are fighting the international war against terrorism on our borders by shedding our blood but, instead of helping us, everyone is creating trouble for us by trying to stop us from defending our area."

Turri appealed to the President and the Chief of the Army Staff to issue a directive to the army to intervene to save the lives of thousands of people.
Gull Ishrat, member, Kurram Welfare Society, said: "We are fighting the battle of the Pakistan Army against those who managed to escape from Swat, Bajaur, North and South Waziristan and Afghanistan and are involved in furious attacks on the Pakistan Army." 31-12-07

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



In December, 2007, As-Sahab, the propaganda-cum-PSYWAR wing of Al Qaeda, had disseminated a four-part interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri, No.2 to Osama bin Laden in Al Qaeda, on the state of the global jihad towards the end of 2007. In the interview, he made a severe attack on Pakistan, Iran and the Hizbollah. In the fourth and last part of the interview, disseminated on December 17,2007. this is what he had to say on Pakistan:

"Musharraf and his regime are reeling in their final days (Allah permitting), and their failure is a part of one of the prerequisites of American failure in the region. What actually defeated Musharraf is the Jihadi Intifada and awakening which covered the tribal regions and spread to the middle of Pakistan, through the blessings of the Afghan Jihad against the Crusaders in Afghanistan.

"Everything that is going on in Pakistan, from the arrangement for the return of Benazir to the declaration of the state of emergency to the consecutive detentions and repressive measures, is a desperate American attempt to remedy the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And the head of the American central command was present in Islamabad at the time of the declaration of the state of emergency.

"Thus, I call on everyone in whose heart is ardour for Islam in Pakistan to join the mujahideen and back and support them, because they are the key to deliverance from the rotten, corrupt government in Islamabad, that government which has humiliated the Pakistani army and turned it into a pack of hunting dogs for America, and at whose hands the army has suffered the worst of defeats at the hands of the mujahideen in Waziristan and Swat and its morale has fallen to rock bottom and so hundreds of its troops surrendered at the first threat from the mujahideen.

"This army, in view of its feebleness, its digression from fighting the real enemy, its deviation from its theoretical duty and its collapsed morale, cannot possibly defend Pakistan, and in fact, doesn't deserve that honor. This army must move against Musharraf if it wants to rescue Pakistan from the dark future towards which Musharraf is driving it.

"The Pakistani army must place its allegiance first and before anything else in Islam, Allah and the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), instead of its allegiance being to salary, position and the crumbs of this world, which won't be of any use to it at the first encounter with the mujahideen and will be a plague for it in the hereafter. The Pakistani army must take action, and the Muslims in Pakistan must back the Jihad, because Pakistan has turned into Americastan, and they must save it before it turns into Indiastan or Israelistan. " (31-12-07)

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



In the context of the assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto, I have been in receipt of a number of messages enquiring about the relationship between Al Qaeda and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the anti-Shia organisation of Pakistan. In this connection, I am appending below an article written by me on November 10,2007. I have nothing further to add for the present. (30-12-07)

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



By B. Raman

The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the militant wing of the anti-Shia Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP), is emerging as the new Trojan Horse of Al Qaeda to carry out operations on behalf of Al Qaeda in areas where Al Qaeda faces difficulty in operating directly or in those cases where it does not want to operate directly.

2. In the past, this role was being performed by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET). Both the LET and the LEJ are members of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front (IIF) for Jihad Against the Crusaders and the Jewish People. Both are strongly Wahabi organisations, but whereas the LEJ is strongly anti-US, anti-Israel, anti-India, anti-Iran and anti-Shia, the LET is only anti-US, anti-Israel and anti-India, but not anti-Iran or anti-Shia.

3. There is no confirmed instance of the LET indulging in planned anti-Shia violence in Pakistan or Afghanistan, but the LEJ has been responsible for most of the targeted attacks on Shias and their places of worship in Pakistan and on the Hazaras---who are Shias---in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

4.The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), which are also members of the IIF, strongly share the anti-Shia feelings of the LEJ, but they do not indulge in targeted attacks on Shias and their places of worship. Many of the leaders of these organisations, including Maulana Masood Azhar, the Amir of the JEM, started their jihadi career in the SSP, but later drifted away from it since they felt uncomfortable with its targeted attacks on Shias and their places of worship. Despite being separate now, they do co-operate with the LEJ in its operations directed against US interests and the Pakistani armed forces. The LET prefers to operate independently without getting involved with the SSP or the LEJ. The LET avoids attacks on Pakistani security forces.

5. The strong action taken by the international community against known and suspected Arab members of Al Qaeda created difficulties for them in travelling freely and in carrying out operations in non-Muslim countries. Consequently, it started depending increasingly on the Pakistani members of the LET for its operations. Post-9/11, the LET emerged as the clone of Al Qaeda. It opened its sleeper cells in countries such as Australia, Singapore, the UK, France and the US to help Al Qaeda in its operations by collecting information, motivating the members of the Pakistani diaspora and other means.

6. In 2002-03, Western intelligence agencies did not pay much attention to LET activities in the Pakistani diaspora. They tended to disregard Indian evidence about the new role of the LET as the operational facilitator of Al Qaeda since they suspected that Indian officials and non-governmental analysts tended to over-project the LET's role in the West because of its activities in Indian territory. However, the discovery of LET sleeper cells in the Western countries post-2002 changed this attitude and Indian evidence on the LET was treated with greater seriousness. Next to the Arab members of Al Qaeda, suspected Pakistani members of the LET were placed under close surveillance in many countries. This created difficulties in the movement and activities of the LET. The LET is no longer able to operate outside the Indian sub-continent as freely as it used to do in the past.

7. Moreover, the LET is feeling uncomfortable over the anti-Shia violence unleashed by Al Qaeda and its surrogates in Iraq. While continuing to be a member of the IIF, it is trying to avoid being associated with Al Qaeda's anti-Shia and anti-Saudi policies. Saudi charity organisations have been one of the main funders of the LET, which has an active branch in Saudi Arabia to recruit members from the Indian Muslim diaspora in the Gulf countries.

8.In view of these developments, Al Qaeda has started increasingly using the the SSP and the LEJ for its operations in Pakistan itself as well as in the non-Muslim countries. The LEJ was actively involved in supporting the students of the two madrasas of the Lal Masjid of Islamabad before they were raided by Pakistani military commandoes in July, 2007. Many of the women, who were targeted by the girl students for allegedly running a call girl racket, were reportedly Shias. It has been actively backing the tribals, who have taken to arms against the Pakistani security forces in North and South Waziristan and in the Swat Valley in the Provincially-Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) of the North-West Frontier Province. Under the influence of the LEJ, the tribals have been beheading or otherwise killing only the Shias among the security forces personnel captured by them. Well-informed Police sources say that all the para-military personnel beheaded so far by the tribals were Shias. According to them, there has not been a single instance of the beheading of a Sunni member of the security forces though many Sunnis have been killed in explosions.

9. The JEM is also actively involved in supporting the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) in its fight against the security forces in the Swat Valley. There have been targeted attacks on members of the local Shia community. The anti-Shia dimension of the current violence in the tribal areas has also been corroborated by the well-informed "Daily Times" of Lahore in an editorial titled "Two Oppressions" carried by it on November 10, 2007. The editorial says: ' The latest news from Waziristan is that a well-known Shia personality has been gunned down. This is a part of the sectarian violence that Al Qaeda commits in the territories it captures. Earlier, Shias among the captured Pakistani troops were casually beheaded while the Sunnis were returned. In the Shia-majority Parachinar in the Kurram Agency, suicide-bombers have been killing indiscriminately."

10. Thus, a new anti-Shia front has emerged inside the IIF consisting of Al Qaeda, the LEJ, the TNSM and the JEM. Al Qaeda's use of the LEJ is not confined to Pakistani territory. The Police sources mentioned above say that in view of the difficulties now faced by suspected LET members in Western countries and in South-east Asia, Al Qaeda is encouraging the SSP and the LEJ to gradually take over the role of the LET as the motivators and mobilisers of members of the overseas Pakistani diaspora for assisting Al Qaeda in its operations. They claim that some sleeper cells of the SSP and the LEJ have already come up in the US, the UK, Spain, Portugal, France, Singapore and Australia. Since the foreign intelligence agencies do not have much information about the SSP and the LEJ, they are able to operate without creating suspicions about them.

11. The SSP and the LEJ have not come to notice till now for any activities in the Indian territory---either in Jammu & Kashmir or outside. In view of the recurring explosions targeting Muslims and Muslim places of worship in Delhi, Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer since last year, one has to look into the possibility of the involvement of the SSP and the LEJ in terrorism in Indian territory. None of the Muslim places of worship targeted in India so far belonged to the Shias, but one must note that in Pakistan, the LEJ targets not only Shias and their places of worship, but also the Barelvi Sunnis and their places of worship. The Barelvis are a more tolerant Sunni sect and have rejected Wahabism so far. Despite the progress made by Wahabism and Deobandi sects, the Barelvis are still in a majority in the Indian sub-continent. Hence, the LEJ's attacks on the Barelvis, many of whom are descendents of converts from Hinduism. The Wahabis/Deobandis are mainly descendents of Muslim migrants into the sub-continent from West and Central Asia.Indian investigators should not keep their focus exclusively on the LET and the HUJI. They should keep their mind open and look into the possibility of the involvement of other jihadi terrorist organisations too. (.This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of July 1, 2002, titled SIPAH-E-SAHABA PAKISTAN, LASHKAR-E-JHANGVI, BIN LADEN & RAMZI YOUSEF at


The Pakistani Election Commissions seems to be diffident whether it would be able to hold the general elections on January 8,2008, asscheduled. This is because much of the public anger in Sindh over the assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto has been directed against thelocal offices of the Election Commission and their officials. Mobs have set fire to at least eight offices of the Election Commission and burntdown their records, including the ballot papers.

2. President Pervez Musharraf has wisely indicated that he would go by the advice of Benazir's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) as to whetherhe should postpone the elections and , if so, by how many weeks. Mr.Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), who initiallyindicated in the moments after her assassination that his party would not contest the elections so long as Musharraf was the President,now seems to be having second thoughts under American prodding. His supporters have been saying that they will go by the advice of thenew PPP leadership. If the new leadership decides to participate in the postponed elections, so will the PML, they say.

3. A much embarrassed and chastised Musharraf has also been sending assurances to the parties opposed to him that the elections wouldbe free and fair and that he would have no difficulty in working with the new PPP leadership, if it won the elections. He has, however, beensilent on his position if the PML of Nawaz Sharif wins the elections.

4. The credibility of the Musharraf Government, which was already weakened due to its failure to protect Benazir, has been further damagedby the shockingly inept manner in which the Ministry of the Interior, which was responsible for her protection, handled the sequel to theassassination. They first planted stories in the media that the Interior Ministry had recommended security for Benazir at the same level asprovided for a serving Prime Minister, but the Prime Minister's office did not act on the Interior Ministry's recommendation. Thus, a clumsyattempt was made to pass on the blame to Mr.Shaukat Aziz, the former Prime Minister, and Mr.Mohammadmian Soomro, the presentcaretaker Prime Minister.

5. Then, a totally unwarranted story was given to the media that while she was the target of a terrorist attack involving the use of a revolverand an improvised explosive device (IED), her death was not caused by either the bullets fired or by the suicide bomber. According to itsversion, the death was caused by a skull fracture which she sustained when her head struck the lever of the vehicle due to the impact ofthe explosion.

6. The Interior Ministry's version has been strongly repudiated by those in the entourage of Benazir when she was killed as well as by mediapersonnel. According to Benazir's associates, when she stood up to greet her supporters, an unidentified person among the by-standersopened fire on her from close range with a revolver. The bullets struck her neck and head. She collapsed inside the car. Only after shecollapsed, did the explosion take place. According to one media account, someone fired at her. She collapsed bleeding heavily. The driverimmediately drove the car away and then only the explosion took place. That is how neither her car nor any of its occupants sustained anydamage due to the explosion.

7. In an editorial, the "Daily Times" of Lahore (December 30,2007) said: "Originally, there was a statement from the interior minister that MsBhutto was hit in the neck and head by a shrapnel from the bomb explosion and she bled to death in hospital. There was no mention of anygunman or bullets fired at Ms Bhutto. However, this was contradicted by Mr Amin Fahim who was sitting next to Ms Bhutto when she firststood up and waved to the crowd from the sunroof of the bullet proof car and later slumped to her seat, following which there was a bombexplosion a minute or two later. In Mr Amin’s version, the explosion happened after she had already slumped in her seat and not before.Later, when eye-witness reports came in, including one from a foreign photographer who was twenty yards from the slow moving car whenhe heard the shots and ducked, followed by an explosion after the car had passed, the government admitted that a gunman had beenpresent and fired at her from short range before detonating himself and unleashing an explosion."

8. Talking to the media separately after the Interior Ministry's briefing, some of the doctors, who attended to Benazir after she was broughtto a Rawalpindi hospital, said that in their joint report they had merely said that her death was caused by an "open head injury withdepressed skull fracture, leading to cardiopulmonary arrest." The inference that this head injury must have been caused by her headstriking against the lever of the vehicle was that of the Interior Ministry and not of the doctors. The doctors said that since they did not havean opportunity to perform an autopsy, they were not in a position to say what might have caused the injury.

9. Embarrassed by this, officials of the Interior Ministry have been claiming that autopsy was not performed since Benazir's family wasagainst it and that now to remove the suspicions, they would be prepared to have the body exhumed in order to permit an autopsy.

10. Similarly, Baitullah Mehsud's reported denial of the Interior Ministry's claim that two of his followers had killed her has added to theembarrassment of the Government. Close associates of Benazir have revealed that after the October 18,2007, attack on her at Karachi,Baitullah had sent her a message denying any involvement in the attempt and assuring her that he did not pose any threat to her.

11. The panic and confusion in the Interior Ministry after the assassination have given rise to a flood of rumours, with some alleging that theman who fired at Benazir with a revolver was a retired commando of the US-trained Special Services Group, of which Musharraf himselfused to be a member, and that in an attempt to cover this up, the Interior Ministry fabricated an alleged intercept of a telephoneconversation between Baitullah and one of his associates regarding the assassination.

12. There are three possible political scenarios in the aftermath of Benazir's assassination:

SCENARIO NO.1: The PPP elects either Mr.Asif Zardari, Benazir's husband, or Bilawal, her son, as the new President and goes to the polls under the new leadership. Profiting from the sympathy wave, it would emerge as the largest single party, if not as a party with an absolute majority. Musharraf would invite it to form the Government. It is unlikely to last long and would, most probably, be ineffective. While Musharraf and his senior officers would not oppose it in the circumstances after Benazir's assassination, they would feel uncomfortable with it because of their dislike for Zardari. Moreover, Nawaz Sharif's PML would find it difficult to co-operate with it. There could also be a sharpening of the differences inside the PPP between the Zardari loyalists and the traditional party loyalists, who do not like Zardari.

SCENARIO No.2: Zardari and the family decide not to push forward their claim for leadership and propose Maqdoom Amin Fahim, the present No. 2 in the party, as the leader. The PPP comes to power under Amin's leadership. This is a scenario which both Musharraf and the US would prefer. Musharraf and the senior Army officers feel comfortable with Amin. After the 2002 elections, Musharraf had tried to wean him away from Benazir by offering him the post of Prime Minister. Amin declined and remained loyal to her. During Benazir's second tenure as the Prime Minister (1993 to 96), Amin was her Oil Minister. He played a key role in the negotiations involving the Unocal, the US oil company, and the Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan for the construction of oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. In 1995, during a visit of the then President of Turkmenistan to New York, Unocal had hosted a high-profile reception for him. Benazir had asked Amin to represent her Government in the reception. Amin is fairly well known to the US oil companies and to the officials of the US State Department who held office during the Clinton Administration. Nawaz too may not be averse to supporting Amin in the short term.

SCENARIO No.3: Despite the sympathy wave for the PPP, the PML of Nawaz, secretly or openly supported by the pro-Musharraf PML (Qaide Azam), might emerge as the largest single party or even as a party with an absolute majority. Since Nawaz Sharif is legally barred from contesting the elections and holding office as Prime Minister, his party elects Mr.Shabaz Sharif, his younger brother, as the leader to stake claim as the Prime Minister. His nomination papers have been rejected on the ground that he was an accused in a criminal case, but he is not a convict. Musharraf should not have difficulty in finding a way for him to contest the elections. After the Amin scenario, the Shabaz scenario will be the second preference for Musharraf and the US. The senior Army officers feel comfortable with him. While they would be opposed to Nawaz becoming the Prime Minister, they are unlikely to oppose Shahbaz becoming the Prime Minister. He was the Chief Minister of Punjab when Nawaz was the Prime Minister between 1996 and 99 and Nawaz was using him as his back channel with the US State Department and the Pentagon for secret discussions on various issues such as action against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, threats to Nawaz from Musharraf after the Kargil conflict etc. Shahbaz was in regular touch with Mr.Strobe Talbot and Mr.Karl Inderfurth in the State Department on behalf of Nawaz. The US bureaucracy used to feel comfortable with him and there is no reason why they should not feel comfortable with him in future too.

13. However, a problem, which cannot be avoided, is that after the death of Benazir, Nawaz is the only leader with a national stature, but heand Musharraf cannot get along. Amin and Shahbaz can get along with Musharraf and the US, but neither of them has a national stature.

14. After Benazir's assassination, Pakistan faces a situation in which there is a looming disaster if Musharraf continues in power and anequal disaster without Musharraf. With Al Qaeda and the pro-Al Qaeda organisations spreading their influence into the vitals of the securityestablishment, it will be dangerous to jettison Musharraf abruptly. He has to continue at least for the time being, but the longer he lasts thegreater will be the anger against him among the tribals thereby further exacerbating the problem of jihadi terrorism.
15. While seemingly getting along with him, the US policy-makers should covertly, but energetically facilitate the emergence of a newmilitary leadership, which would vigorously act against Al Qaeda and Taliban while , at the same time, not coming in the way of therestoration of democravy under the pretext of fighting against terrorism. (30-12-07)

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007




It is not yet clear who killed Benazir Bhutto. Two versions have been circulating. Both attribute her assassination to Al Qaeda, but claim thatAl Qaeda did not carry out the assassination directly, but through its Pakistani trojan horses. One version names the trojan horse as theanti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) while the other names it as the followers of Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan.

2. The version about the alleged role of the LEJ was disseminated by a Pakistani journalist of unestablished credibility, who writes regularlyfor foreign online news services. He claimed that Mustafa Abu Al-Yazid, an Egyptian, who was projected by Al Jazeera on May 24,2007. asAl Qaeda's co-ordinator of its Afghanistan-based operations, telephoned him as follows from an unknown location: "We terminated the mostprecious American asset, which vowed to defeat (the) mujahadeen." According to this version, the decision to kill Benazir was taken by AlQaeda's No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri in October,2007, and a 'Punjabi volunteer' of the LEJ carried out the assassination.

3. The authenticity of this claim has not so far been established. Doubts about this version arise from the following factors:
Al Qaeda never claims responsibility for its successful strikes so fast.

It generally makes its claims, when it does, through its web sites, and not through phone calls.

If it carries out a strike through an intermediary organisation, it does not name that organisation.

Pakistani jihadi organisations sometimes claim responsibility for terrorist strikes carried out by them in Indian territory, but they rarely claim responsibility for terrorist strikes against Pakistani targets in Pakistani territory.

Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations do not specify the ethnicity of a Muslim. For them, a Muslim is a Muslim. It is very unlikely that either Al Qaeda or the LEJ would say that a Punjabi suicide bomber carried out the assassination.

The call seems to have been made to exacerbate tensions between Punjabis and Sindhis.

4. Subsequently, Brig. (retd) Javed Iqbal Cheema, Counter-Terrorism Co-Ordinator in Pakistan's Ministry of the Interior, which wasresponsible for Benazir's physical security, claimed in a media briefing on December 28,2007, that the Pakistani agencies had intercepted atelephonic conversation between Baitullah Mehsud and another individual from which it was clear that Benazir's assassination was carriedout by two volunteers of Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the recently-formed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. He released to the media what heclaimed was the transcript of this conversation. Col. Cheema further claimed that the investigators had also established that the samegroup was also responsible for the October 18 attempt to kill her at Karachi. For more than two months, they could not make abreak-through in the investigation into the October 18 attempt. How suddenly they made a break-through after her assassination atRawalpindi?

5. Before Benazir returned to Pakistan from political exile on October 18,2007, a person claiming to be speaking on behalf of BaitullahMehsud was reported to have warned in a telephonic conversation with some journalists that Baitullah Mehsud's suicide volunteers wouldwelcome her on her arrival. A spokesman of Baitullah subsequently denied that Baitullah had held out any threat against her.

6. Till now, the targets of Baitullah Mehsud have been members of the security forces and collaborators of President Pervez Musharraf.There had been considerable anger against Benazir in the jihadi circles of Pakistan over her statements that she would allow the US troopsto hunt for bin Laden in Pakistani territory and the International Atomic Energy Agency to interrogate A.Q.Khan, the Pakistani nuclearscientist. They were determined to prevent her from becoming the Prime Minister. Similarly, the loyalists of the late Zia-ul-Haq in the ArmedForces and in the Punjab Government and in the community of retired army and intelligence officers were also equally determined toprevent her from becoming the Prime Minister.

7. Could any of them have carried out the assassination? The evidence available so far does not permit a definitive answer to this question.There are many intriguing questions surrounding the assassination---- was there one killer or were there two? Did the same person open fireat her and then blow himself up or did one sharp-shooter open fire and another blow himself up? How come everyone in Benazir's vehicleescaped and only she was killed? How come the explosion did not incapacitate her vehicle? The driver managed to drive an injured anddying Benazir to hospital. If there were two killers, what happened to the man, who fired with a gun? Why is the Interior Ministry putting outthe story that she did not die of either bullet wounds or the explosion but due to a skull fracture sustained when her head hit against thelever of the vehicle when she ducked to avoid the impact of the explosion? (29-12-07)

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007




Since 9/11, there has been hardly any jihadi terrorist strike anywhere in the world in which there was no Pakistani connection.

2. Since 2002, there has been hardly any jihadi terrorist strike in Pakistani territory in which there was no connection of the GeneralHeadquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army. By GHQ, one does not mean the entire army. One means some elements in the GHQ.

3. The first wake-up call about the possible presence of one or more sleeper cells of Al Qaeda in Rawalpindi came in March,2003, whenKhalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), who allegedly orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, was found living in the house of a woman'swing office-bearer of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Rawalpindi. She had relatives in the army, including an officer of a Signal Regiment.

4. The second wake-up call came after the two attempts to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi in December,2003.ThePakistani authorities have not so far taken their public into confidence regarding the details of the two plots.All that they admitted wasthat four junior officers of the Army and six of the Air Force were allegedly involved. One of the army officers named Islamuddin wascourt-martialed and sentenced to death even before the investigation was complete. Another army officer named Havaldar Younis wassentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment. Much to the discomfiture of the authorities, one of the Air Force officers, a civilian,who wasbeing held in custody in an Air Force station, managed to escape.

5.There are still many unanswered questions about the conspiracy to kill Musharraf. Who took the initiative in planning this conspiracy? Thearrested junior officers of the Army and the Air Force or the leaders of the suspected jihadi organisations? When was the conspiracyhatched? How did Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Directorates-General of the Army and the Air Force remainunaware of this conspiracy despite the fact that the conspirators had allegedly held some of their preparatory meetings in their livingquarters in military cantonments and Air Force stations? Was there a complicity of some in the intelligence establishment itself? If so, atwhat level? Why was the Government unable to identify those in the intelligence establishment involved in the conspiracy? Was there aninvolvement of the Hizbut Tehrir?

6.These questions re-surfaced in the wake of the arrest of Abu Faraj al-Libi of Al Qaeda and the re-arrest of the civilian employee of the AirForce involved in the conspiracy, who had managed to escape from custody in November,2004, while under interrogation. That there wereapprehensions in the minds of those close to Musharraf over the role of sections of the intelligence establishment in the entire conspiracyand over the failure of the investigating agencies to unravel the entire conspiracy became evident from an interview given by Dr.AamirLiaqat Hussain, the then Minister of State for Religious Affairs, to the "Daily Times" on May 5,2005.

7.The Minister warned that Musharraf had a lot of enemies ‘within’ who could make an attempt on his life again at any time. He said thatthere were certain elements within the forces who could attack the General. He added: “No common people could attack PresidentMusharraf, but certainly there are elements in the forces who can launch yet another attack against him. There is an ISI within the ISI,which is more powerful than the original and still orchestrating many eventualities in the country.” He added that he feared a threat to hisown life because he supported Musharraf's call for an enlightened and moderate Islam and had been given the task of preparing the textsof sermons advocating enlightened and moderate Islam to be used at all mosques of the Armed Forces.

8.Well-informed sources in Pakistan said that apart from the failure of the intelligence establishment to identify and weed out the pro-jihadielements in the Armed Forces and the intelligence establishment, another cause for serious concern was the continuing failure of theintelligence establishment to identify all the Pakistani leaders of the highly secretive Hizbut Tehrir (HT) and its supporters in the ArmedForces and arrest them.The HT ideology and operational methods were imported into Pakistan from the UK by its supporters in thePakistani community in the UK in 2000. It was said that within five years it was able to make considerable progress not only in setting up itsorganisational infrastructure, but also in recruiting dedicated members in the civil society as well as the Armed Forces. It was also reportedthat no other jihadi organisation had been able to attract as many young and educated members and as many supporters in the ArmedForces as the HT.

9.Physical security regulations in an office of the ISI at Rawalpindi exempt officers of the rank of Brigadier and above coming in their ownvehicle from frisking at the outer gate. They undergo a frisking only after they have entered the premises, parked their car in the spaceallotted to them in the garage and then enter the building in which their office is located. Officers below the rank of Brigadier undergofrisking twice, whether they are in their own vehicle or in a bus ----at the outer gate and again inside before they enter the building. At theouter gate, they have to get out of their vehicle, undergo frisking and then get into their vehicle and drive in.

10. Since all officers travel in civilian clothes in unmarked vehicles, which cannot be identified with the Army or the ISI, there is a special hand signalling system for Brigadiers and above by which the security staff at the outer gate can recognise their rank and let them drive inwithout undergoing frisking. This hand signalling is changed frequently.

11. On the morning of November 24, 2007, a car reached the outer gate and the man inside showed a hand signal, which was in use till theprevious day. It had been changed on November 23 and a new signal was in force from the morning of November 24, 2007. He was notaware of it. The security staff got suspicious and did not allow the car to drive in. They asked the man driving it to get out for questioningand frisking. He blew himself up.

12. As he did so, an unmarked chartered bus carrying over 40 civilian and junior military employees of the ISI reached the outer gate andstopped so that those inside can get out for frisking. The bus bore the brunt of the explosion, which caused the death of about 35persons---- from among those inside the bus as well as the security staff. The Pakistani authorities admitted the death of only 18 persons.

13. Around the same time, a man driving a vehicle towards the premises of the GHQ in another part of Rawalpindi was stopped by thesecurity staff at a physical security barrier. He blew himself up killing two of the security staff. These two well-synchronised suicide strikesin Rawalpindi, the sanctum sanctorum of Pakistan's military-intelligence establishment, came about six weeks after a similar attacktargeting the ISI and the Army at Rawalpindi at the same time. On September 4, 2007. a suicide attacker blew himself up after boarding abus carrying ISI employees. A roadside bomb went off near a commercial area in Rawalpindi, while a car carrying an unidentified seniorArmy officer to the GHQ was passing. Twenty-five persons died in the two attacks. The Army officer escaped unhurt. On October 30, 2007, asuicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint several hundred yards from the GHQ killing seven persons, most of the from the securitystaff.

14.The two attacks directed at the ISI and another at a Pakistan Air Force bus at Sargodha were based on inside information. In the case ofthe explosion at the outer gate of the ISI complex on November 24, 2007, the suicide bomber was aware of the hand signalling code forBrigadiers and above. However, he was not aware that the signal code had been changed the previous day. Since these codes arecommunicated personally to Brigadiers and above, their existence is supposed to be known only to Brigadiers and above and the physicalsecurity staff. The suicide bomber's inside accomplice was either an ISI officer of the rank of Brigadier or above or a member of the physicalsecurity staff.

15. There are two alarming aspects of the security situation in Pakistan. The first is the upsurge in acts of suicide terrorism directed againstsecurity and intelligence personnel and their establishments. These give clear evidence of the penetration of pro-Al Qaeda jihadi elementsinside the Armed Forces, the intelligence agencies and the Police. The second is the inability or unwillingness of the Police to vigorouslyinvestigate these incidents, including the attempt to kill Mrs. Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on October 18,2007. Nobody knows definitively tilltoday who are responsible for these suicide attacks---- tribal followers of Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan or those of Maulana Fazlullahof the Swat Valley or the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the anti-Shia sectarian organisation, or Al Qaeda and its Uzbek associates or the angrystudents of the two madrasas run by the Lal Masjid in Islamabad?

16. The Rawalpindi cantonment where the headquarters of the Army and other sensitive units of the Pakistan Army and the ISI are located,and the adjoining Islamabad, the capital, where the headquarters of the federal Government and the National Assembly are located, hadseen terrorist strikes even in the past. Amongst them, one could mention the 1989 explosion in the Rawalpindi office of Dr. Farooq Haider,the then President of one of the factions of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which was attributed to a rival faction led byAmanullah Khan; the explosion outside the Egyptian Embassy at Islamabad in the 1990s, which was attributed to some Egyptian opponentsof President Hosni Mubarak; the grenade attack inside an Islamabad church frequented by the diplomatic community in March 2002 inwhich the wife of a US diplomat and their daughter were killed; the unsolved assassination of Maulana Azam Tariq, the Amir of theSipah-eSahaba, Pakistan, the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, at Islamabad in 2003, the terrorist attack on a a group of workers ofthe Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of Benazir Bhutto in Islamabad earlier this year, the alleged firing of a rocket on Musharraf's plane fromthe terrace of a house in Islamabad again earlier this year and the alleged firing of rockets by unidentified elements from a park inIslamabad last year.

17. If one leaves aside the JKLF factional politics, the only terrorist organisations which had operated in the Islamabad-Rawalpindi area inthe past (before July 2007) were the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which was blamed for the church grenade attack; the Sipah Mohammad, theShia terrorist organisation, which was suspected in the murder of Azam Tariq; and Al Qaeda. Many Pakistani and Kashmiri jihadiorganisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) etc have their offices in Rawalpindi, butdo not indulge in terrorist activities there.

18. There was no evidence to show that the Egyptians responsible for the explosion outside the Egyptian Embassy were then the followersof Osama bin Laden. The first indication of some local support for Al Qaeda in Rawalpindi came in March, 2003, when Khalid SheikhMohammad (KSM), supposedly the man who co-ordinated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, was arrested from the house of a women's wingleader of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) in Rawalpindi by the Pakistani authorities and handed over to the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI).

19. KSM was living in Karachi till September, 2002, when he fled from there to Quetta in Balochistan following the arrest of Ramzi Binalshibh,another Al Qaeda operative there. From Quetta, he shifted to Rawalpindi in the beginning of 2003, fearing betrayal by the Shias of Quetta. After his arrest, no thorough enquiries would appear to have been made either by the ISI or the Police to determine why he took shelter inRawalpindi, a highly guarded military cantonment. Did he and/or Al Qaeda have any other accomplices in Rawalpindi, in addition to the JEIleader and the members of her family, who included one junior Army officer belonging to a signals battalion, who was also detained forinterrogation? Did Al Qaeda or the Pakistani organisations allied to it in the International Islamic Front (IIF) have a sleeper cell or cells in thecantonment? If they had, the sleeper cells could have functioned undetected only with the complicity of at least some in the Armed Forces.

20. After the arrest and the handing-over of KSM to the US, anti-Musharraf and pro-jihadi pamphlets typed on the official letter-head used inthe army offices in the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi started circulating in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The ISI and the Policewere unable to determine who was circulating these pamphlets and no arrests were made in this connection. Instead, a leader of the NawazSharif-led faction of the Pakistan Muslim League, who drew the attention of the Parliament and the public to these pamphlets, was orderedto be arrested by Musharraf on a charge of treason.

21. After the April, 2003, arrest in Karachi of Waleed bin Attash of Al Qaeda, one of the suspects in the case relating to the Al Qaeda attackon the US naval ship USS Cole at Aden in October, 2000, many of the Al Qaeda members living in Karachi were reported to have shifted tothe North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Balochistan , the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Rawalpindi.

22. Their shifting to Rawalpindi and taking shelter there would not have been possible without the complicity of not only the Pakistani jihadigroups, but also supporters in the Armed Forces and the police. The Pakistani security agencies have not been able to identify anddismantle Al Qaeda and IIF cells in the Rawalpindi cantonment. The fact that the perpetrators of the two attacks of December,2003, onMusharraf , whether they belonged to Al Qaeda or to any of the Pakistani components of the IIF, chose to act on both the occasions fromRawalpindi instead of Karachi where Musharraf was before the first attack on December 14 showed their confidence in being able tooperate undetected from Rawalpindi rather than from Karachi.

23. I do not believe Musharraf had prior knowledge of the plot to kill Benazir in Rawalpindi. But he has to be held responsible for failing toprovide effective physical security to her. He and his officers kept disregarding her growing fears about threats to her security. He failed toensure a vigorous investigation of the first attempt to kill her at Karachi on October,18,2007.

24. The infiltration of traditional fundamentalist political parties into the GHQ started under the late Zia-ul-Haq. Since Musharraf took over,there has been an infiltration of Al Qaeda into the Pakistani Armed Forces and into their sactum sanctorum in Rawalpindi. These elementsare against Musharraf too, but they were much more against Benazir because of the fact that she was a woman and she had been sayingopenly that she would allow the US to hunt for bin Laden in Pakistani territory and the International Atomic Energy Agency at Vienna tointerrogate A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist. Al Qaeda and the pro-Al Qaeda jihadis wanted to eliminate both Musharraf and her because theywere seen as apostate and as collaborators of the US.

25. They have succeeded in killing her. They will now step up their efforts to eliminate Musharraf. Whoever was responsible for killing hercould not have done it without inside complicity. If Al Qaeda is already having sleeper cells in the GHQ, there is an equal danger that italready has sleeper cells inside Pakistan's nuclear establishment too.

26. Musharraf is either knowingly dishonest or is living in a make-believe world of his own, unaware of the ground realities. Only a few daysbefore Benazir's assassination, he was bragging to officer trainees in the Defence Services Staff College in Quetta that he had defeated theterrorists outside the tribal belt and would soon be defeating them in the tribal belt too. His reluctance to order an enquiry into the extent ofinfiltration of Al Qaeda into the GHQ is disturbing. He has convinced himself that not only he is the most popular leader of Pakistan, but alsothat the entire Armed Forces are devoted to him. Anybody who says otherwise is treated by him as a traitor, arrested and harassed.
27. It is high time he and the US realise that Al Qaeda is not just in the tribal belt. It is right under their nose in Rawalpindi. (28-12-07)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )
US Paradrop Lands Benazir in the Midst of Jihadis

International Terrorism Monitor--- Paper No.289

By B. Raman

(This article was written by me after the attempt to kill Mrs.Benazir Bhutto at Karachi on October 18,2007)

"The much talked about US plans for a political paradrop of a neo Benazir Bhutto into Pakistan in the hope of providing the badly-neededoxygen to President General Pervez Musharraf and saving the country from Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and an assortment of other pro-AlQaeda and anti-US jihadi terrorist groups is likely to create a third mess in a row for the US after the earlier two in Afghanistan and Iraq." SoI wrote in my article of September 2, 2007, titled "US PARADROP FOR A NEOBENAZIR", which is available at

2. The US paradrop seems to have landed her right in the midst of jihadis of various hues. It was due to God's grace ----and not due to theskills of Pakistan's police and intelligence agencies---- that she escaped the two explosions on the night of October 18, 2007, which weremeant to kill her, but killed instead over 130 persons---members of her party, police personnel and innocent civilians The world only saw onthe TV the huge crowds, mobilised by her party, which greeted her after she arrived in Karachi ending eight years of political exile with theblessings of the US. It could not have seen the thousands of invisible enemies she has. No other political leader of Pakistan has as manypersonal enemies as Mrs. Benazir. Her support is confined to Sindh and to the Seraiki areas of Southern Punjab. In the rest of the country,she has as many enemies as she has friends. Even in Sindh, the Mohajirs and the Sindhi nationalists dislike her. Even in her own PakistanPeople's Party (PPP), she is strongly disliked by the supporters of her brothers Shah Nawaz Bhutto, who was allegedly poisoned by theInter-Services Intelligence in Southern France in 1985, and Murtaza Bhutto, who was allegedly killed by the Karachi Police in a stagedencounter in September, 1996, when she was the Prime Minister.

3. There are many in Pakistan----not just Al Qaeda--- who would be happy to see her killed. She was lucky on October 18. She has to be luckyevery time a plot is hatched to kill her by some group or the other, by some individual or the other. Many commentators---including some inIndia---have described her as a brave woman, who dared to return to Pakistan as scheduled on October 18 without worrying about thethreats held out against her. Brave, she was, but wise, definitely not.

4. Any wise leader would have noticed the widespread anti-Americanism in Pakistan and realised the importance of not projecting himself orherself as a leader blessed by the US and as the US choice to facilitate the transition of Pakistan back to democracy. He or she would havealso realised the importance of keeping one's thoughts to oneself at a time when widespread anger against the US and Gen. PervezMusharraf in the wake of the commando raid into the Lal Masjid in Islamabad from July 10 to 13, 2007, has let loose a wave of suicideterrorist attacks, many of them directed against the security forces and other public servants.

5. Many of her statements were like the red rag to the jihadi bulls---- that she would hand over A. Q. Khan, Pakistan's nuclear scientist, to theInternational Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna for interrogation, that she would co-operate with the US in the war on terrorism, that shewould hand over Dawood Ibrahim, the Indian mafia leader living in Karachi, to India etc etc.

6. Benazir and Musharraf have many things in common. One of them is an inability to keep their mouth shut. The second is a weakness forthe TV cameras. The third is an eagerness to be liked by the Americans. The result: All anti-American groups in Pakistan were waiting for anopportunity to kill her.

7. The Karachi blast highlights once again the poor state of Pakistan's counter-terrorism and security apparatus. It also shows the extent ofthe penetration of terrorist elements into all parts of Pakistan---tribal as well as non-tribal, urban as well as rural. Pakistan is a societyinextricably caught in the clutches of the jihadis. The jihadis are not yet in a position to capture power, but they are in a position to keep thecountry bleeding and targeting its leaders and public servants.

8. Extricating Pakistan from their clutches and defeating them will be a long drawn-out process. It can be done only by a leader, who isgenuinely convinced of the need to defeat them and tries to do it on his or her own instead of seeming to do so to please the US. WhatPakistan needs at this critical hour in its history is a leader, who is widely perceived as independent and not an American stooge. NeitherMusharraf nor Mrs. Benazir is such a leader. Mr. Nawaz Sharif, if he is able to come back to power, could turn out to be such a leader. He hasmaintained a distance from the US. He does not fawn on the US like Mrs. Benazir does. Pakistan needs Mr. Nawaz Sharif more than it needsMusharraf or Benazir.

9. If the US really wants to save Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal from the clutches of the terrorists, it would be wise enough to encourage agenuine transition to democracy without any favourites. Let the people of Pakistan ----and not the US policy-makers and academics---decidewhom they want to be their leader in free and fair elections. Let the leader so chosen deal with the terrorists in his own independentmanner.

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

The shocking assassination of Mrs.Benazir Bhutto at Rawalpindi on December 27,2007, is likely to have been the outcome of a conspiracyinvolving anti-US, pro-Al Qaeda jihadi elements, the Zia-ul-haq loyalists and junior members of the Army and possibly the Air Force.

2. Since 2003, there have been a number of terrorist incidents in Rawalpindi----including the two attempts to kill President Pervez Musharrafin December,2003, the firing of rockets by unidentified elements from a park last year, the attempt to fire at Musharraf's plane with ananti-aircraft gun earlier this year from the terrace of a building, two suicide attacks at the Army's General Headquarters and two outside theoffices of the Inter-Services Intelligence after the commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007. The two attempts to killMusharraf were found to have been the result of a conspiracy involving Al Qaeda (Abu Faraj al-Libi, now in the Guantanamo Bay detentioncentre), the Jaish-e-Mohammad and junior officers of the Army and Air Force. In the other incidents also, involvement of junior officers of theArmy and Air Force was suspected. In connection with the rocket attacks, the son of a retired Brigadier was arrested.

3. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who orchestrated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, was arrested in the Rawalpindi house of a womanoffice-bearer of the Jamaat-e-Islami, having a relative in a Signals regiment of the Army, who was arrested. All these incidents indicated astrong penetration of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda organisations into the lower and middle levels of the armed forces personnel stationed inRawalpindi. Rashid Rauf, a Mirpuri resident of the UK, who was a prime suspect in the case involving an Al Qaeda attempt to blow up 10-USbound planes in the UK last year, escaped last week while being taken from a court in Rawalpindi to his jail. Complicity of security personnelin his escape was suspected.

4. Neither the ISI nor the IB nor the Police had been able to thoroughly investigate these cases and establish the identities of thoseinvolved. Only the identities of the junior officials involved in the attempts to kill Musharraf were established. They were arrested andcourt-martialled. But the authorities were not able to establish the extent of the penetration of Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda elements into theArmed Forces.

5. Since Benazir returned ftrom exile on October 18,2007, the Zia loyalists in the Government and among the retired officers of the army andthe ISI were carrying on a bitter campaign against her. They were determined to see that she did not return to power in the elections ofJanuary 8,2008. Benazir herself was worried that Brig. (retd) Ijaz Shah, the Director of the IB, was ill-disposed towards her and hadrepeatedly complained in public that there could be a threat to her security from the IB.

6. All the jihadi organisations were opposed to her coming to power firstly, because she was a woman and secondly, because of herstatements that she would allow US troops to hunt for Osama bin Laden in Pakistani territory and let the International Atomic EnergyAgency interrogate A.Q.Khan, the nuclear scientist.

7. Only on December 26,2007, after her visit to Peshawar, where there were some explosions coinciding with her visit, she had expressedher dissatisfaction with the security arrangements for her. She complained that the electronic jammers issued to her staff for protectionagainst remote-control devices were faulty.

8. Her repeated pleas to seek the help of Western intelligence agencies for the investigation into the blast at Karachi on October 18,2007,from which she narrowly escaped and to let her hire private security guards from the West were turned down by Musharraf.

9.There is likely to be widespread anti-Musharraf and anti-Army disturbances in Sindh and possibly southern Punjab, her traditionalstrongholds, which may make it difficult to hold the elections and for Musharraf to continue in power for long.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007




For the last five days, there has been a fresh flare-up of clashes between the largely Shia Turi tribals of the Kurram Agency in Pakistan'stribal belt and Sunni tribals belonging to Al Qaeda and the newly-formed Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan. Many of the Sunni tribals involved inthe fresh clashes have infiltrated into the agency from South Waziristan and the Swat Valley.

2. The Shias and the Sunnis have been using even weapons such as mortars, rocket launchers etc against each other's places of worshipand schools, causing large casualties and severe damages to places of worship. Each side has been accusing the other of starting the freshviolence. There have been over 150 fatalities in the intermittent clashes, which have been continuing for over a month now---- about 45 ofthem in the last five days alone. The Taliban and Al Qaeda have also been targeting Shia members of the local para-military forces.

3. The Pakistan Army, which is preoccupied with the operations against the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) in the Swat Valleyof the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), is not in a position to send reinforcements to the Kurram Agency. It has left the anti-Al Qaedaand anti-Taliban operations there in the hands of the para-military forces. Their requests for helicopter gunships have not been accepted.

4. During the present fighting, the Shias have been hitting back at Al Qaeda and Taliban elements with considerable effectiveness. TheSunni leaders have accused Iran of sending arms and ammunition to the local Shias. This has been denied by the local Shia leaders.

5. While official spokesmen and the Pakistani mainstream media have refrained from identifying the dramatis personae and giving details ofthe fighting, the "Frontier Post" of Peshawar (December 27,2007) has given the following details:

"Two FC (Frontier Constabulary) personnel among thirteen Taliban killed while twenty two others sustained serious injuries in the ongoingshootout at different places, sources said on Wednesday. So far fifteen persons had been killed with forty other injured in the fighting among the warring groups in the area. Till now thirteen Taliban are said to have been killed among fifty one others and ninety fiveindividuals have received serious wounds in the battle. According to the details, fierce fighting is continuing at Sada, Khar Kalay, BalishKhel, Sangeena , Alizai, Tungi, Chardewaal, Bagan, Makhezai, Mengak, Maqbal, Kanjalizai, Satikot, Terimangal and Pevaar, heavy weaponsincluding mortar guns, missiles, rocket launchers and machine guns are being used freely from both sides, while the Government is like asilent spectator over the bloody clashes. The sources added that on Tuesday night hundreds of Taliban hailing from Waziristan agencyattacking at Alizai, Tungi, Chardewaal, Mengak areas where Turi tribesmen are residing suffered heavy loss at the hands of the Turitribesmen while retaliating the charging Taliban on their respective areas. Among the thirteen killed Taliban four were buried at SouthWaziristan, four were laid to rest at Bulandkhel, three were taken to grave at Gul locality, while two corpses of Taliban were buried atBuggan area, sources told The Frontier Post. The reports pouring in from Sada area said that thirteen Taliban were killed while injuringtwenty two others including two FC personnel .It also said that two persons were killed and eight others injured at a Imam Bargah after itwas hit by a mortar shell at Balishkhel area on Tuesday night. The sources said that the rival groups have captured important posts soonafter they were relinquished by the militia forces which further intensified the gun battle between them. Meanwhile people of the area haveshown great concern over the militia forces' unilateral action. The elite, religious clerics and local elders are engaged and approaching thewarring groups to bring an end to the gun battle and reach a truce. In Sada a local school was destroyed by explosion killing three studentson the spot while injuring more then eight students. Independent sources confirmed the death of three students but death toll may rise assome of the injured were in critical condition. It is worth mentioning here that the recent clashes started when a group of local Talibanmilitants attacked and opened fire on security forces (FC) at Sada on Sunday plus they also attacked the nearby Balishkhel village whereTuri tribe is living. As the Sada is the strongest base of Taliban militants therefore the government writ is nil; that is why due to lack ofmonitoring and writ of government, clashes spread throughout the Kurram Agency and now its control is quiet difficult due to invasion ofTaliban militants."

6. This may please be read in continuation of my earlier article of November 20,2007, annexed below. (27-12-07)

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


Fresh Shia-Sunni Violence in Kurram Agency -

International Terrorism Monitor---Paper No. 310 ( )

by B. Raman

"Al Qaeda is trying to replicate Iraq in Pakistan by exacerbating the already existing divide between the Shias and the Sunnis in the civilsociety as well as in the Army." --- Extract from my earlier paper of November 15, 2007, titled "The State of Jihadi Terrorism in Pakistan" at
Till 1977, the Shias were in a preponderant majority in the Kurram Agency in Pakistan's Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on itsborder with Afghanistan and in the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) of Jammu and Kashmir, which is presently under Pakistanioccupation.

2. After the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in February, 1979, there was a radicalisation of the Shias of these areas. They starteddemanding the creation of a separate Shia majority province to be called the Karakoram Province, consisting of the Kurram Agency, theNorthern Areas and other contiguous Shia majority areas. The leadership of this movement came mainly from the Turi tribe of the KurramAgency. The movement was allegedly funded by the Iranian intelligence.

3. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq put down this movement ruthlessly. He also started a policy of re-settling the Sunnis in these areas in order to control theShias and dilute their preponderant majority. While Sunni ex-servicemen from other parts of Pakistan were re-settled in the Northern Areas,Afghan Sunni refugees from the refugee camps were re-settled in the Kurram Agency. This led to widespread resentment among the Shiasagainst the Government as well as the Sunni settlers. The Iraqi intelligence too allegedly funded these Sunni settlers in the Kurram Agencyto enable them to fight the radical Shias.

4. There were serious riots in Gilgit in 1988 which were ruthlessly put down by Zia with the help of a combined force of Sunni tribals andArabs led by Osama bin Laden. Hundreds of Shias were killed. It is generally believed that the anger caused by this massacre contributed tothe death of Zia-ul-Haq in a plane crash in August 1988. Enquiries into the crash reportedly brought out that the crash took place when aShia airman belonging to Gilgit released tear-smoke or some other gas in the cockpit, thereby disorienting the crew.

5. The Kurram Agency has also been the scene of frequent Shia-Sunni clashes, with most of the attacks by the Shias directed against theAfghan and Pakistani Sunni settlers brought in by Zia. There were three major Shia-Sunni clashes in the Agency in 1983, 1988 and 1996,which resulted in the deaths of a total of 1,200 persons belonging to both the sects.

6. There was a recrudescence of the violence in April, 2007, after a gap of 11 years. For nearly three weeks from April 6, 2007, the KurramAgency became the scene of a no-holds barred jihad waged by the local Shias and Sunnis against each other following an incident of firingallegedly by the Shias on a procession taken out by the Sunnis to mark the Holy Prophet's birthday. The local adherents of the two sects ofIslam used not only small arms and ammunition, but also mortars and rocket-launchers against each other, resulting in heavy casualties.The clashes initially started in Parachinar, the capital of the Agency. It then spread to the interior areas. The imposition of a curfew by thePakistani authorities and severe action against the local leaders and volunteers of the two sects ultimately restored an uneasy normalcy.The Pakistan Army extensively used helicopter gunships to put down the violence.

7. There were conflicting figures of the fatalities inflicted by the two sects against each other and by the security forces on the warringsects. While the Pakistani authorities estimated the total number of fatalities as around 50, non-Governmental sources estimated that atleast 80 persons died in the violence.

8. During the clashes of April, 2007, the local leaders of the two sects accused the Pakistani Army of siding with the other sect. Some Sunnileaders also accused Iran of fomenting the Shia attacks against the Sunnis in order to teach Pakistan a lesson for allegedly allowing theUSA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use the Pakistani territory for destabilisation operations against Iran.

9. Addressing the media at the Peshawar Press Club on April 9, 2007, Mast Gul, a Sunni jihadi leader, alleged that since April 6, 2007, Shiashad killed hundreds of innocent Sunnis. According to him, just on one day about 28 Sunni women and children were slaughtered in theKurram Agency. He accused Iran of providing financial resources and weapons to the Shias in the Agency. He also alleged that Iran hadgiven shelter to Baloch nationalist leaders and was helping them. He warned the Pakistan Army that if it did not take effective actionagainst the Shias, he would appeal to the Sunnis in the other parts of Pakistan and in Jammu and Kashmir to come to Kurram and help thelocal Sunnis.

10. Mast Gul used to belong to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), which is a founding member of Osama bin Laden's International IslamicFront (IIF) formed in 1998. He used to operate in J&K till 1995. He and his followers were responsible for the burning down of the Islamicholy shrine at Charar-e-Sharief in J&K in 1995.

11. Since violence instigated by Al Qaeda and pro-Al Qaeda Sunni tribal elements escalated in South and North Waziristan in October, 2007,there were reports of fresh tension in the Kurram Agency in the wake of reports that the jihadi terrorists loyal to Osama bin Laden weretargeting the Shia members of the Frontier Constabulary and the Frontier Corps deployed in these two Agencies. It was alleged that whilethe terrorists brutally killed the captured Shia soldiers, they let free the Sunnis. Some of the Shias beheaded by the terrorists belonged tothe predominantly Shia tribe of Turis in the Kurram Agency. Some Shia leaders of the civil society in these two agencies were also targetedby pro-Al Qaeda elements and killed.

12. These incidents have led to a fresh outbreak of violence between the Shias and the Sunnis in the Kurram Agency since the night ofNovember 15, 2007. Despite the imposition of a curfew by the Pakistani authorities and the use of helicopter gunships to quell the riots,violence continued for the fourt consecutive day on November 19, 2007. It has been reported that the fighting has been more fierce than inApril, 2007, and that about 100 persons, including 11 members of the para-military forces, have already died in the violence.

13. Police sources suspect that the fresh violence has been engineered by Al Qaeda in order to divert the attention of the Pakistan armyfrom its on-going operations against the jihadis in the Swat Valley.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007




The Chinese Armed Forces have been holding joint anti-terrorism exercises with the armed forces of different countries since 2002. TillAugust,2007, they had held the following anti-terror exercises :
Oct. 10-11, 2002: The Chinese and the Kyrgyzstan armies held a joint anti-terror military exercise code-named " Exercise-01" on the border of the two countries.

Aug. 6-12, 2003: Armed Forces from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan took part in a joint anti-terror exercise code-named "Coalition-2003" in Kazakhstan's border city of Ucharal and Ili and in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It was a multilateral exercise under the auspices of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO). About 1,300 troops participated in the exercise.

Aug. 6, 2004: Armed Forces of China and Pakistan held their first-ever joint anti-terrorism exercise code-named "Friendship-2004" in Xinjiang's Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, which is located on the Pamirs at over 4,000 meters, bordering Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. About 200 border troops from both sides participated.

Aug. 18-25, 2005:China and Russia held their first joint anti-terror military exercise code-named "Peace Mission-2005". The one-week exercise , which involved 10,000 troops from the two countries, started in Vladivostok in Russia's Far East and later moved to east China's Shandong Peninsula.

Sept. 22-23, 2006:China and Tajikistan held their first joint anti-terror military exercise code-named "Coordination-2006" in Kulyab, Tajikistan. More than 300 Tajik troops from the artillery, infantry and airborne divisions and about 150 Chinese troops participated.

Dec.11-18, 2006: Armed Forces of China and Pakistan held their second joint anti-terror military exercise code-named "Friendship-2006" in the hilly area of northern Pakistan's Abbottabad. More than 400 troops from both armies took part.

July 16-29, 2007:China and Thailand held their first-ever combined anti-terror training of special troops code-named "Strike-2007" in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province. The two-week exercise involved 30 soldiers from the special commando forces of the two countries.

Aug. 9-17, 2007, Under the auspices of the SCO, a second joint anti-terrorism military exercise code-named "Peace Mission-2007" was held in Chelyabinsk in Russia's Ural mountainous region and Urumqi, capital of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. More than 4,000 troops from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in the exercise, the largest of its kind within the framework of the SCO since the organization was founded on June 15, 2001.

2. Thus, till August,2007, China had participated in eight anti-terror military exercises. Of these, two were multilateral under the SCO and theremaining six bilateral---- two with Pakistan and one each with Russia,Kyrgyzstan,Tajikistan and Thailand. The smallest in terms of troopparticipation was with Thailand and the largest with Russia. The bilateral exercise with Russia was even larger than the multilateralexercises under the SCO.

3. The following were the defining characteristics of these exercises:

Totally confined to the Armed Forces.

No participation by civilian counter-terrorism agencies either as observers or in any other capacity.

The focus was on the military (commando) approach to counter-terrorism in certain situations such as cross-border terrorism, hostage-taking in urban areas and aircraft hijacking.

The objective of the exercises was to familiarise each other with their respective capabilities for countering terrorism, with their training methods and methods of action; to demonstrate separately each other's methods of action and to have a joint exercise at the end in which the two sides can test their ability to act jointly.

There was no brain-storming on the experiences and insights of the participants in dealing with specific situations in the past and the lessons drawn.

4. The limited scope of these exercises did not permit them to be trend-setters in the joint fight against terrorism. Their main achievementwas in enabling military officers of the participating countries to get to know each other and in increasing their comfort level towards eachother.

5. The first India-China joint anti-terror military exercise ("Hand-in-Hand,2007") held at Kunming in the Yunnan province of China fromDecember 19 to 25,2007, which involved 103 troops each from the two armies,was no different in its scope and limited significance fromthe eight exercises held earlier with other countries. This was admitted by the Chinese themselves in a round-up of the exercise carried bythe "People's Daily" on December 26,2007. It said: "Although some military and diplomatic observers said that the joint training is moresymbolic than substantial, many acknowledged that the point is not the scale of the joint training or what specific anti-terrorism skills areinvolved. The point is that the soldiers on both sides are moving toward each other in a friendly way."

6. The comments of Chinese officials and non-governmental analysts too stressed the significance of the exercise in the larger context of State-to-State and military-military relations and not in the specific context of their political willingness to fight against terrorism jointly. Toquote some of these comments:
Mr. Ye Hailin, of the Asia-Pacific Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences: "It is great progress. It demonstrates that the military mutual-trust has markedly improved, which is beneficial to regional security".

Mr.Ma Jiali, a research fellow of the Academy of China Contemporary International Relations:"The military relationship between China and India is like half a glass of water. Optimists will say we're lucky to have half a glass of water, while pessimists will sigh and say we have only half a glass.In any case, the first-ever military training between the two armies will help boost the bilateral relations of China and India."

Lt.Gen.Ma Xiaotian, the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, who headed the Chinese military observer delegation to the joint exercise: "There are border issues yet to be resolved, because the two sides have different stances and take different approaches to problems.China insists on solving problems through negotiation, which requires communication and understanding between the two sides.The joint exercises will play an active role in enhancing understanding and trust and deepening defense exchanges and cooperation. China will continue to push forward military exchanges and cooperation with India in an effort to safeguard regional security and stability.Military ties are an important part of bilateral relations. Military cooperation will be carried on in the spirit of mutual respect, equal consultation and mutual benefits to contribute to the building of a harmonious region with long-lasting peace and common prosperity.Promoting military communication and cooperation will play an important role in developing strategic partnership of the two neighbors, also the leading developing nations in the world.A number of bilateral military exchanges in recent years, including official visits, meetings on defense and safety issues, and searching and rescue manoeuver on the sea, reflected the common efforts and desire of both sides in deepening cooperation."

Mr.Qin Gang,Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman: "The military training was intended to enhance mutual understanding and trust and strengthen bilateral exchanges in the field of anti-terrorism, deter the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism, and promote the development of the bilateral strategic partnership."

7. The exercise, which was held at a hilly terrain near Kunming, had the following theme:" 56 "terrorists" from "an international terroristorganization" have entered the border area of China and India. They have "established" a training base and intend to attack a trading poston the border between the two countries.The two armies establish a joint command post and joint battle decision-making and carry outan anti-terrorism operation before wiping out the group of "terrorists" and rescuing the hostages."

8. The theme reflected more Chinese concerns over the possibility of alleged Tibetan extremists from the diaspora staging cross-borderraids into Tibet in the event of instability in Tibet after the death of the Dalai Lama. This theme would be of little relevance to India since wehave no reason to fear any cross-border terrorism against India originating from Chinese territory unless one day Al Qaeda seizes control ofXinjiang in China and the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) of Pakistan. Such a possibility is remote.

9. A more useful theme would have been to visualise different terrorist scenarios during and before next year's Beijing Olympics and seehow the intelligence,counter-terrorism agencies and the armed forces of the two countries could co-operate with each other to deal withthe situation.

10. Even though there is no convergence of assessments between India and China on what is terrorism and which are the terroristorganisations, which should be of common concern to the two countries, certain kinds of scenarios should be of common concern---such asa Munich-1972 like scenario during the Beijing Olympics; aircraft hijacking; threats to the Embassies of the two countries etc. Neither sidewill allow the other to join in any counter-terrorist operations inside its territory, but there can be an exchange of ideas and expertise as tohow deal with such situations.

11. That should be the objective of future co-operation between the two countries against terrorism. Far-fetched scenarios such as the twoarmies mounting a joint operation against a large group of terrorists across the Sino-Indian border will serve little purpose professionally.(26-12-07)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )



An allegation often levelled by non-governmental analysts of the Maoist (Naxalite) insurgency is that one of the causes for the spread of Maoist influence in the tribal areas of central India is the anger among the members of the depressed classes due to their perception that the law and order machinery is sought to be misused against them when they try to ventilate their grievances against those exploiting them---whether they be rich land-lords, forest contractors, money-lenders or the so-called upper caste Hindus. According to them, it is this anger, which has over the years driven a large number of tribals into the waiting arms of the Maoists, who have been exploiting their anger for organising a Maoist revolution in the tribal areas, in the hope of thereby achieving political power through the barrel of the gun and not through the ballot box.
2. In this connection, there are two interesting incidents narrated by Shri K.S.Subramanian, which came to his notice, when he served as Director in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) between 1980 and 1985. To quote him:

" A particularly violent series of incidents of agrarian violence occurred in the central Districts of Bihar in the early 1980s, resulting in the killings in police 'encounters' of a number of the rural poor innocents. The Press was full of the details. This led the Government of India to set up a central team of officials, including this author (Subramanian) led by the then Member-Secretary, Planning Commission, to visit the State for a first-hand assessment.On arrival in Bihar, the team met the aggressively self-confident District Administration proud of its record of maintaining order at the cost of many innocent lives. It took the District officials a while to come to grips with the fact that the purpose of the team was not to appreciate 'their good work', but to evaluate their success in implementing the declared policies of payment of minumum wages, protection of civil rights, distribution of government waste land among the poor---all impeccably constitutional tasks. The record did not stand up to scrutiny."

"The State Police reported the number of deaths in police action as 12 persons, all of them 'Naxalites'. The IB, the main reporting agency of the MHA, repeated the figure. There was a gap between the figures reported in the Press and those, which the Government departments came up with."

" A meeting was later called in the Union Home Secretary's room to discuss the Bihar situation. The Chief Secretary of the State frankly admitted that the number of persons killed in the violent incidents was near 60 and that none of them was a 'Naxalite'. Most were members of a local peasant organisation fighting for social justice under the Constitution and other laws of the land. The minutes of this meeting were classified 'Top Secret', since the matter under discussion was 'Naxalite Activities in Bihar', a top secret matter for the IB!"

"In another series of violent incidents in the Dharmapuri District of Tamil Nadu during the same period, which also came up for discussion in the MHA, it was found that most of those similarly killed in police 'encounters' were innocent persons, whose crime had been to demand minimum wages, social dignity and civil rights. The police officer in charge of the district , when confronted with this information, maintained that since the 'Naxalites' did not believe in the Constitution of India, the State Police were not obliged to adopt strictly Constitutional methods in dealing with them. He later walked away with a Police gallantry medal."

"The MHA, which in words accepted that the social base of the Naxalite movement originated from legitimate rural poor concerns, was, however, ineffective in preventing the misuse of police powers to suppress the so-called Naxalites. It was possible for the Ministry to have advised the State Governments concerned to deal with the socio-economic issues underlying the movement and address the ideological issues politically. However, the immediate issue became one of law and order."

3. Subramanian concludes as follows:

"The recent experience of Maoist violence in Chhattisgarh highlights the information gap in the Ministry. While the intelligence reports on the situation in the State focus exclusively on the law and order and security angles, the reports emanating from concerned citizens, former civil servants and journalists tell a different tale from the perspective of the victims of violence. The Government's response is essentially guided by classified intelligence reports. A more realistic appraisal is possible only if the MHA creates its own sources of information rather than depending exclusively on the reports of the IB."

" Former Home Secretary Srinivasavaradan (in 1992) had suggested that considering the multiplicity and complexity of the social conflicts emerging in the country and given the inadequacy of the existing information base in the Government, the MHA should consider setting up inter-disciplinary study-cum-action groups of scholars, civil servants and social activists to go into conflict situations and produce reports for the Government. The priority given to peace and order at the cost of law and justice has led to the re-emergence of a crisis situation in the MHA."

4.The Maoist (Naxalite) movement has two dimensions---- the socio-economic and the internal security. Both are equally important. Subramanian's book provides a valuable insight into the socio-economic dimension and the inadequacies in addressing it. I will be commenting on the internal security dimension in the next part. (25-12-07)---To be continued

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