Friday, February 20, 2009



"The LTTE must be trying hard for mounting kamikazee type attacks on military---particularly Air Force ---targets in Colombo similar to itsraid on the SLAF base in Anuradhapura. The fact that it has not succeeded so far would indicate that the physical security for suchestablishments is strong and that the LTTE is facing shortages of the required materials for such attacks. One notices that the LTTE hasnot yet used all the weapons in its arsenal. It has apparently retained for itself an element of ultimate surprise."
---- Extract from my comments of January 1,2009, in response to a query from a Sinhalese journalist.

According to web accounts of pro-LTTE websites, two so-called Black Air Tigers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) carried outkamikazee style suicide 'dives" into the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Headquarters on the Slave Island in Colombo and into the SLAF base atKatunayaka between 9-20 and 9-45 PM on February 20,2009, killing two persons and injuring 51 others. The pro-LTTE web site Tamilnet hasreleased a photograph of the two so-called kamikazee pilots----- Col. Roopan and Lt. Col. Siriththiran---- with Velupillai Prabakaran beforethey embarked on their kamikazee mission. According to the LTTE version, the maximum number of casualties was in the Slave Island---twokilled and 45 injured. Only six were injured in the attack on the SLAF establishment at Katunayake.

2. There are no reports of either of the aircraft involved in the mission having carried explosives in order to add to the destruction effect.Whatever damage was caused was by the remaining fuel in the aircraft---- which could not have been much--- and the resulting fire. Theaircraft, which had been tasked to crash into the SLAF headquarters, actually crashed into one of the top floors of a building located in frontof the SLAF headquarters building in which the offices of the Inland Revenue Department of the Government are located. It is evident fromavailable details that heavy anti-airaft fire from the SLAF building made it difficult for the pilot to crash into the building. He, therefore,crashed his plane into the building of the Inland Revenue Department.

3. While pro-LTTE web sites have projected the crashing of a second aircraft into the SLAF base in Katunayake also as a kamikazee styleattack, the Government's version that the plane was actually shot down by anti-aircraft fire from the ground before it could reach itsintended target carries greater credibility.

4. During the current offensive in the North, the advancing Sri Lankan Armed Forces could not lay hand on the remaining LTTE arsenal atKilinochchi. The LTTE's withdrawal from Kilinochchi was pre-planned and orderly. Before the Army captured it, the LTTE managed to removefrom Kilinochchi everything that it had accumulated there, including not only its arsenal, but also the electrical and other fittings in itsoffices.

5. The LTTE's subsequent withdrawal from Mullaithivu was less orderly. It did not have the time to remove the fittings. While it managed toshift most of its arsenal, it could not move some heavy items such as artillery pieces and boats under construction. These fell into the handsof the army.
6. It managed to move well in time its aircraft holdings and its reserve of aviation fuel. Though the Army claimed to have captured from thewithdrawing LTTE all but one of the air strips, which it was suspected to be using, it could not lay hand on the aircraft and the fuel reserve.The assumption was that the area under the effective control of the LTTE having been reduced to less than 100 sq.kms, it would no longerbe able to assemble the aircraft and send them on an offensive mission without its preparations for doing so being detected by the ArmedForces. The Armed Forces must now be having their electronic intelligence (ELINT) collecting stations at Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu. If theywere functioning satisfactorily, the LTTE pilots should not have been able to assemble their planes, take off and reach Colombo.

7. The fact that they were able to do so would indicate that the ELINT capability of the SLAF is poor or that the Black Air Tigers had takenoff from a place not within the ELINT range of the SLAF stations. Such a place could be in one of the uninhabited islands in the seasbetween Sri Lanka and the Maldives group.

8. Many of the analyses on what are the options available to Prabakaran and the LTTE if and when the Army ejects the LTTE from theshrinking territory under its control have been focussing on the possibility of Prabakaran and his officers shifting to some place in S-E-Asiaor in South Africa. Even if individual leaders and officers manage to sneak in there, they would not be able to shift their remaining arms andammunition, planes, artillery pieces and other equipment there.

9. For the LTTE to be able to stage a come-back one day, it needs a beach-head out of the reach of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces where itcan re-group, re-train and re-plan and wait for an opportunity to strike back from the beach-head. The jungles in the Wanni area couldprovide such a beach-head for a small number of men with light arms and ammunition. They cannot provide a beach-head for planes andartillery units. Only an uninhabited island out of the reach of the SLAF can.

10. If one presumes for analysis sake that the LTTE planes that attacked the SLAF set-ups in Colombo must have come from an uninhabitedisland, the question would arise whether the limited fuel they would have carried could have helped them to reach up to Colombo. Since itwas a kamikazee mission, they would not have needed fuel for a return journey.

11. Whatever be the fact as established ultimately, it is important that all the uninhabited islands in the Maldives area and in theLakshadeep ( Laccadives and Minicoy) area of India are kept under effective watch to prevent the LTTE from setting up a beach-head onany of them. (21-2-09)
( The writrer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai E-mail: )

Wednesday, February 18, 2009




A book titled "The Inheritance" written by David Sanger, a correspondent of the "New York Times, and published recently has receivedmuch attention because of its disclosures about how the previous administration of George Bush realised that Gen. (now retired) PervezMusharraf was playing a double game with the US---- pretending to act against the Taliban and covertly using it as strategic asset. It alsorefers to a reported intercept of a telephone conversation of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the present chief of the Army Staff, in which hereferred to jJallaluddin Haqqani, a Taliban commander, as a strategic asset.

2. Commenting on the book, the "Times" of London wrote as follows on February 17,2009: " Washington sent Special Forces into Pakistanlast summer after intercepting a call by the Pakistani army chief referring to a notorious Taleban leader as a “strategic asset,” a new bookhas claimed.The intercept was ordered to confirm suspicions that the Pakistani military were still actively supporting the Taleban whilsttaking millions of dollars in US military aid to fight them, according to the “The Inheritance,” by the New York Times correspondent DavidSanger. In a transcript passed to Mike McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence in May 2008, General Ashfaq Kayani, the military chiefwho replaced Pervez Musharraf, was overheard referring to Maulavi Jalaluddin Haqqani as “a strategic asset”. The remark was the first realevidence of the double game that Washington had long suspected President Musharraf was playing as he continued receiving US militaryaid while aiding the Taleban. Mr Haqqani, a veteran of the anti-Soviet mujahidin wars of the nineties, commands a hardline Taleban groupbased in Waziristan and is credited with introducing suicide bombing into the militants' arsenal. Washington later intercepted calls fromPakistani military units to Mr Haqqani, warning him of an impending military operation designed to prove to the US that Islamabad wastackling the militant threat."

3.Evidence of the links of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) with Al Qaeda and the Taliban and of the double game being played byMusharraf, the Pakistan Army and the ISI was available with the US intelligence since 2001, if not earlier. There were references to it insome documents of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which were declassified by the US Administration in September,2003. In anarticle of September 17,2003, titled " ISI-BIN LADEN LINKS: As Seen by the DIA" I had analysed these documents. The text of my analysis is annexed below.

4. The US agencies were aware of Musharraf's double-dealing right from the beginning, but the US policy-makers prefered to close their eyesto it. It is this US policy of closing its eyes to negative evidence against Pakistan, which is responsible for the continuing activities of AlQaeda and the Taliban from Pakistani territory.

5. I wrote in my analysis of September 17,2003: " From these documents, it is clear that the DIA knew of the role of the ISI in the sponsorshipof not only the Taliban, but also Al Qaeda. And yet, the Bush administration has for over two years chosen to close its eyes to the complicityof Pakistan and to project Musharraf to its own public opinion as well as to the international community as a frontline ally in the war againstterrorism. Why? A question to which there has been no convincing answer. "

6. Why the US is not prepared to fully open its eyes even today after President Barack Obama assumed office? President Obama'sformulations regarding the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda in Pakistani territory are becoming more and more guarded and less and lesscategorical. During the Presidential campaign, he categorically spoke of the sanctuaries being located in Pakistani territory. In a TVinterview after taking over, he gave the impression as if the sanctuaries could be in Afghan territory. In his latest statement authorising theinduction of 17,000 more US troops into Afghanistan coming spring and summer, he has been quoted by news agencies as saying : "TheTaliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and Al Qaeda supports the insurgency and threatens America from its safe-haven along the Pakistaniborder." Along the border means what? In Pakistani or Afghan territory. The reluctance to call a spade a spade with reference to Pakistan'scomplicity with Al Qaeda and the Taliban continues even under Obama. This is going to further harm the US campaign against Al Qaeda andthe Taliban.(18-2-09)

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


ISI-BIN LADEN LINKS: As Seen by the DIA ( ) by

On the eve of the second anniversary of Al Qaeda's terrorist strikes in the USA on September 11, 2001, the US Government has declassified32 documents relating to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Twenty-six of these documents are of the US State Department and the remaining are ofthe Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the Pentagon. This article analyses the contents of three DIA documents only.

2.The first document (15 pages), prepared in September,1999, is based on an analysis of all information received by the DIA till July 1,1999. It is titled "Defence Intelligence Assessment". The subject of the assessment is "Osama bin Laden/Al Qaeda Information Operations". Nearly 90 per cent of the document has been excised before its declassification. Hence, it does not contain anything of value. From aperusal of the unexcised portions, one could guess that the assessment must have been about Al Qaeda's information assets such as itsmodern communications capability, its use of the internet,. its capability for attacking the information networks of others etc and thedefensive and offensive options available to the US. The defensive aspect relates to protecting the networks of the USA against Al Qaedaattacks and the offensive to neutralising or penetrating Al Qaeda's assets.

3. The second document, dated September 24, 2001, is titled "Veteran Afghan Traveller's Analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban's ExploitableWeaknesses" and carries the following caution: "This is an information report. Not finally evaluated intelligence."

4. It would appear that this document is not the traveller's report, but an analysis prepared by an official of the DIA, either in the USEmbassy in Islamabad or in the DIA headquarters in Washington DC, on the basis of the traveller's report. The language used in the portiondeclassified and released is that of a professional intelligence analyst and not that of an Afghan traveller.

5. The analysis carries the following summary: "Eventually, the Taliban and Al Qaeda will war with each other. The weakness of both is inthe minds of the individuals that belong to the groups and in the power that is given to them by their names. Al Qaeda have not integratedwith Afghans or the Taliban, leaving them susceptible to exploitation." By this, the analyst means exploitation by the US to play theTaliban/Afghans and Al Qaeda against each other. What wishful-thinking this has proved to be in retrospect!

6.The analysis carries the most damning account of Pakistan's role as the real host of bin Laden and his Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It says:"Bin Laden's Al Qaeda network was able to expand under the safe santuary extended by Taliban following Pakistan directives. If there isany doubt on that issue, consider the location of bin Laden's camp targeted by US Cruise missiles, Zahawa. Positioned on the borderbetween Afghanistan and Pakistan, it was built by Pakistani contractors, funded by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorateand protected under the patronage of a local and influential Jadran tribal leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani. However, the real host in that facilitywas the Pakistani ISI. If this was later to become bin Laden's base, then serious questions are raised by the early relationship between binLaden and Pakistan's ISI."

7. It describes Jalaluddin Haqqani as "the Jadran tribal leader most exploited by ISI during the Soviet-Afghan war to facilitate theintroduction of Arab mercenaries " and the Taliban as "the handy cloak woven by Pakistan to shroud their progress?" Whose progress---AlQaeda's or Pakistan's? Most probably, Pakistan's, but this is not clear.

8. The analysis describes the US objective as "the establishment of a more stable coalition Afghan Government free of the Taliban andPakistani interference" and advocates a cost effective military engagement, with appropriate air support, than the mass deployment ofground forces. It says: "The enemy does not have mass, which makes them harder to engage."

9. The analysis' predictions of differences one day emerging between the Afghans and the Taliban on the one side and Al Qaeda on theother because of Al Qaeda's superiority complex and its perception of itself as an elite force destined to command have not proved correctso far.

10. The analysis projects the then coming war against terrorism in Afghanistan as likely to be fought on two fronts--- a war to destroy thematerial strength of Al Qaeda---its cadres, training camps, infrastructure etc--- and another for the minds of the people. In the context of thewar for the minds of the people, it underlines the importance of right names and right images to influence the minds of the targeted people.

11. It points out the impact on the minds of the Muslims made by the characterisation of the US as "the Great Satan". The constantreference to the US as the "Great Satan" and not as the US serves the double purpose of highlighting the immense power of the US whichcould be countered only with determination and projecting that power in negative colours to create an aversion for that power. It stressesthe importance of a similar characterisation of Al Qaeda by an appropriate name and not by its real name of Al Qaeda. Apparently, USpolicy-makers and psy-warriors have not been able to determine what that characterisation could be.

12. The third document, also dated September 24,2001, is titled: "Veteran Afghanistan traveller's analysis of Al Qaeda and Taliban, military,political and cultural landscape and its weaknesses. " It also carries the same caution as the second. It goes into great detail regarding thePakistani game in Afghanistan in the following words:

13. "During the Soviet-Afghan war, the West preferred to maintain a policy of deniability and allowed Pakistan to handle the dailyadministration of the war, cash and arms distribution. It was a task Pakistan carried out with great enthusiasm and they helped themselvesto generous portion of cash and arms. The Pakistan Government also had a hidden agenda.

14. "Unlike the West, they (Pakistan) were concerned with what would happen after the war to ensure influence over any Government that came to power in Afghanistan after a Soviet withdrawal. Pakistan decided to directly influence the outcome. Rather than allow the mostgifted Afghan commanders and parties to flourish, who would be difficult to control later, Pakistan preferred to groom the incompetent onesfor the role of future leaders of Afghanistan. Being incompetent, they would be wholly reliant on Pakistan for support. The principalbeneficiary of this policy was Gulbuddin Heckmatyar. His credentials were that of an anti-Western Islamic fundamentalist.

15." In tandem with favouring the incompetent Heckmatyar over more enterprising and gifted commanders such as Ahmed Shah Massoud,the Tadjik commander from Northern Afghanistan, Pakistan also encouraged, facilitated and often escorted Arabs from the Middle East intoAfghanistan...... Visitors from the Middle East had been in evidence since the very early part of the Soviet-Afghan war. However, they lackednumbers, confidence, experience or bonding ties sufficient to give them a separate identity from their hosts.

16." This was allowed to evolve over a period of time, which was effectively the incubation of Al Qaeda. For the first time, large numbers ofArabs were observed in Afghanistan during the Soviet withdrawal. One of the key features of the Paktia border province, in which they werefirst established, was that it had no Russians.....At that point, the Arab visitors were largely linked and reliant on Haqqani's mujahideen inPaktia.

17. "When Kabul finally fell, it was Ahmed Shah Massoud who captured it, not Heckmatyar. Pakistan could not accept this result and thefragile Afghan coalition Government began another civil war, with the Pakistani stooge Heckmatyar being backed to seize total power. Hewas never able to wrest Kabul from Massoud, despite massive logistical and material ( including manpower) support from Pakistan. Againstthis failure, it should be noted that Pakistan has lost every war it has ever fought.

18. "After years of futile effort, which effectively saw the Lebanonisation of Afghanistan, Pakistan finally abandoned Heckmatyar. However,not in favour of a more rational policy. Instead, they set about doing the same thing all over again. They created another force they hoped tohave better control over than Heckmatyar's rabble. It was called Taliban,the Arabic name "Talib" being literally translated as "Asker" or"Seeker".

19." Taliban means "the Seekers", signifying a student of divinity. This inspired title helped cloak Pakistan's hidden agenda in a new Islamiccoat. To lead the Taliban Pakistan chose Mullah Mohammad Omar, who was willing to do as he was told. According to Taliban propaganda,the Mullah was divinely inspired to rid Afghanistan of the troublesome war and warlords. Afghanistan was blighted with both, largely due toyears of civil war sponsored by Pakistan and reliant on the stockpile of arms plundered from a covert Western arms pipeline. From the old Soviet-Afghan war days, the Mullah emerged with a fully functioning, fully-armed, conventionally-equipped, fully-trained military force proneto large-scale conventional actions. Omar's emergence is credited to Pakistan ISI's actions.

20."The repeated, pronounced pattern under ISI direction has been to ignore the poorly-trained guerilla nature of the Afghan Mujahideen andpress them to conduct conventional-style engagement, the same style Taliban are credited with learning from the Koran. As a result ofthese actions, the fully-supported by Pakistan Taliban prevailed over the unsupported legitimate government of Afghanistan.

21." The Taliban is not synonymous with Afghanistan. It was created, imposed and recognised by Pakistan in pursuit of its own interests.Playing the Islamic fundamentalist card as a means of securing control over a compliant proxy regime in neighbouring Afghanistan hasseriously backfired. Pakistan has also lost control of the Taliban, who are proving to be both unpredictable and ungrateful. Under the shadeof the Taliban umbrella, the bin Laden brand of extremism has been able to grow unmolested inside Afghanistan.

22." The Al Qaeda agenda in Afghanistan differs significantly from that of the Taliban. They are not about creating an independent IslamicState. Long term, there can be no room for Taliban in their ambitions. Having been artificially introduced to the region and encouraged intheir ambitions so far, they have grown in confidence and stature. Taliban acceptance and approval of fundamentalist non-Afghans as partof their fighting force were merely an extension of the Pakistani policy during the Soviet-Afghan war. It is very important to realise thatmembers of 055 Brigade (Al Qaeda) might serve with Taliban forces, but they are not in any Western sense integrated. They remain ratherlike an international brigade, different in language, habit and in the interpretation of Islam. Additionally, their vision of the future ofAfghanistan differs.

23."Pakistan's goals are simple, the continuance of the policy they have always demonstrated regarding Afghanistan. It is failing with theTaliban and it cannot succeed under any Afghan Giovernment controlled by Al Qaeda. The repercussions from Pakistan's attempt tomanipulate the Islamic card are just surfacing.

24." In Islamabad, they have tried to ignore or bury the evidence for some time. It must be a deeply troubling period for General (Musharraf)in Pakistan, who is asked to help hunt down the culprits that he helped to establish and supported. Not to support the US invites troubleand to assist the US to their aims also presents problems to Pakistan. The quandary leaves the Pakistanis confused as to how they might beabsolved without permanently shattering their regional aspirations or their Government." (Citation of document ends)

25. The second and third documents are both dated September 24, 2001. The language in the second document is apparently that of aprofessional intelligence analyst, but the language of the third is not. It appears to be that of a source and not of the DIA. It would seem thatthe third document is the report of the source and the second is the note of a DIA analyst or analysts who had forwarded it to theirsuperiors giving their assessment and making their recommendations regarding the future course of action.

26. From these documents, it is clear that the DIA knew of the role of the ISI in the sponsorship of not only the Taliban, but also Al Qaeda. And yet, the Bush administration has for over two years chosen to close its eyes to the complicity of Pakistan and to project Musharraf to itsown public opinion as well as to the international community as a frontline ally in the war against terrorism. Why? A question to which therehas been no convincing answer.

Monday, February 16, 2009




The Tehrik-e-Nifaz-a-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM---- the Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Laws), founded by Sufi Mohammad, aresident of the Malakand Division of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan, came into existence in 1992 two years before thebirth of the Taliban of Afghanistan, headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar. Sufi Mohammad used to be a member of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI)before he left it and founded the TNSM to fight for the enforcement of the Islamic laws in the entire Malakand Division, of which Swat is apart.

2. Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan in her second term (1993-96) during the period when both these organisations cameinto existence. Whereas the Taliban was brought into existence by Pakistan's intelligence agencies to replace the different warringMujahideen groups of the 1980s vintage, they played little role in the birth of the TNSM. During Benazir's prime ministership, Sufi Mohammadorganised huge road blocades in the Malakand Division to demand the enforcement of the Islamic laws in the area. Benazir bought peace byaccepting all his demands except one. Sufi Mohammad wanted that the Islamic courts to be set up in the Malakand Division should betotally autonomous with the appellate courts in Peshawar, the capital of the NWFP, and Islamabad having no jurisdiction over them. She didnot accept this demand. Her acceptance of the other demands of the TNSM was not reversed by her successor Nawaz Sharif or by PervezMusharraf, who seized power in 1999.

3. There were allegations by Sufi Mohammad that even the demands accepted by Benazir were not properly implemented. Till 9/11, theTNSM remained essentially a religious fundamentalist organisation with close links to the Afghan Taliban, but with no pronounced anti-US oranti-Army feelings. The US military strikes in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom turned it into an anti-US and anti-Armyorganisation. Sufi Mohammad issued a fatwa calling upon his followers to go to Afghanistan to fight against the US troops along with theAfghan Taliban. A large number of his followers led personally by him crossed over into Afghanistan. Many of them were mowed down by USair strikes. The survivors, including Sufi Mohammad, fled back into the Pakistani territory.

4. Musharraf had Sufi Mohammad arrested and kept in preventive detention and banned the TNSM as a terrorist organisation on January15,2002. Maulana Fazlullah, a son-in-law of Sufi Mohammad, assumed the leadership of the TNSM and resumed the struggle for theimplementation of the promises made by Benazir and for abolishing the appellate jurisdiction of the courts in Peshawar and Islamabad overthe Islamic courts in the Malakand Division.

5. In the elections held towards the end of 2002, Musharraf had the polls manipulated in order to have the Awami National Party (ANP), aprogressive Pashtun party, which used to be led by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, known as the Frontier Gandhi, and the Pakistan People's Party(PPP) of Benazir Bhutto defeated. A coalition of six religious fundamentalist parties known as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) came topower in Peshawar after the elections.
6. The MMA Government closed its eyes to the activities of the TNSM and Fazlullah. From a purely religious organisation, the TNSM grewinto a qasi political organisation and expanded its agenda to include not only an autonomous Islamic criminal justice system, but also anIslamic system of education with girls barred from higher education and with a strict code of conduct for all Muslims. Its agenda becamelargely a carbon copy of the agenda of the Taliban of Afghanistan. It extended its full support to the Afghan Taliban leaders, who had takensanctuary in Balochistan, in their preparations to strike back at the Americans in Afghanistan.

7. As a result of the inaction of the MMA Government in Peshawar and the federal Government headed by Musharraf, the TNSM became thede facto ruling power of the Swat Valley. However, despite its periodic oral condemnation of what it saw as the pro-US policies of Musharraf,it avoided any confrontation with the Pakistani Army and the para-military forces such as the Frontier Corps (FC). By the beginning of 2007, ade facto diarchy came into existence in the Swat Valley---- with Maulana Fazlullah and his Mullas running the civil administration and thecriminal justice system and the army and the FC remaining in charge of internal security. The Army avoided stepping on the toes ofFazlullah.

8. This position of an uneasy co-existence between the Mulla rule of the TNSM and a limited administrative power still taking orders fromPeshawar and Islamabad changed after the Army commando raid in the Lal Masjid in Islamabad in July,2007, ordered by Musharraf. The LalMasjid had two madrasas---one for boys and the other for girls. The madrasa for boys was located outside the masjid campus and themadrasa for girls inside the campus. While the boys surrendered to the commandoes without much resistance, the girls egged on by theMullas of the Masjid resisted the commandoes ferociously. A large number of them were killed. Many of those killed came from tribalfamilies of the Swat Valley.

9. Angered by the alleged massacre of the girls by the commandoes, Fazlullah issued a fatwa calling for a jihad against the Army.Simultaneously, similar calls for a jihad against the Army were issued by different tribal leaders and Mullas of the Federally-AdministeredTribal Areas (FATA). Among those killed in the girls' madrasa of the Lal Masjid were also children of some of the tribal families of the FATA.All these tribal leaders and Mullas decided to form the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Mehsud tribe inSouth Waziristan, was designated the Amir of the TTP. The constituent units of the TTP in different areas selected their own Amirs to workunder the over-all co-ordination of Baitullah. The TNSM joined the TTP.Many in Pakistan believe that the assassination of Benazir atRawalpindi on December 27,2007, was carried out by the followers of Baitullah Mehsud in revenge for her alleged support to the commandoraid in the Lal Masjid.

10. The intense anger across the Pashtin tribal belt in the FATA and in the Swat Valley over the Lal Masjid incidents led to a wave of suicideterrorism not only in the tribal areas, but also in non-tribal areas, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Lahore. The suicide terrorism of theTNSM was directed not only against the security forces deployed in the Swat Valley, but also against the establishments and personnel ofthe Armed Forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the non-tribal areas of the country. Faced with this anger, Musharraf orderedthe Army and the Frontier Corps to go into action against the TNSM in the Swat Valley in October,2007. The military operations initiallysucceeded in pushing back the TNSM cadres from the areas controlled by them.

11. The TNSM followed the same tactics as the Taliban in Afghanistan. Faced with the might of the Pakistan Army and the FC, it avoided afrontal confrontation with them. On Fazlullah's orders, his followers dispersed and went back to their villages. After the electedGovernment led by the PPP came to power in Islamabad in March,2008, the TNSM re-grouped and staged a spectacular come-back, pushed the army and Frontier Corps out of the areas recovered by them and re-established its control over nearly 80 per cent of the territory ofSwat.

12. In the elections of February,2008, the constituent parties of the MMA did badly. The ANP and the PPP, which had been marginalised byMusharraf in 2002, recovered their lost position in the electoral map of the NWFP. The ANP, which emerged as the largest single party in theNWFP, formed a coalition Government in Peshawar along with the PPP and other like-minded groups. The ANP was, in turn, accommodatedby Asif Ali Zardari in the federal coalition at Islamabad led by the PPP.

13. Even though the ANP has joined the PPP-led coalition, its views on the so-called war against terrorism have more in common with theviews of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) of Nawaz Sharif than with those of Zardari. The ANP believes, like the PML does, that the surgein terrorism in the Pashtun tribal belt was mainly due to the pro-US policies of Musharraf and that there has to be political accommodationwith various units of the TTP in different tribal areas in order to restore the writ of the Government in the Swat Valley and the FATA. The ANPadvocates marking a distance from the US operations in Afghanistan and entering into a dialogue with elements in the TNSM and the TTPwith which, it feels, the Government can do business.

14. Zardari was hesitant to openly support the moves of the ANP lest there be any misunderstanding with the US, but did not rise anyobjections to the ANP entering into a dialogue not with Fazlullah, who had taken to arms against the Army, but with Sufi Mohammad, whohad been released from detention in April, 2008, even when Musharraf was still the President in the hope of using him to create a split in theTNSM and undermine the position of Fazlullah.Following intense negotiations with Sufi Mohammad lasting over several weeks, the ANP-ledGovernment in Peshawar, with a reported nod of approval from Zardari, has signed an agreement with him on February 16,2009, under whichit has conceded all the demands of the TNSM relating to an autonomous Islamic criminal justice system in the Malakand Division as a wholenot subject to the appellate jurisdiction of the courts in Peshawar and Islamabad. The Government is hoping that in return for its acceptingthe primacy of the Mullas of the TNSM in matters pertaining to criminal justice, Sufi Mohammad will be able to persuade Fazlullah and his advisers to stop confronting the security forces and withdraw into their masjids, thereby allowing the writ of the civil administration andthe army in all other matters to be re-established.

15.Fazlullah has announced a 10-day ceasefire and ordered the release of a Chinese engineer, who had been kidnapped by the TNSM lastyear, as goodwil gesture towards the Government. It has been reported that the release of the Chinese engineer followed the release by theGovernment of some TNSM activists, who had been arrested under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The release of the Chinese engineer came a fewdays before the planned departure of Zardari to China on February 20,2009, on an official visit.

16. Whether the temporary ceasefire becomes permanent and whether Fazlullah agrees to the re-establishment of the Government writ inthe Swat Valley would depend on the success of Sufi Mohammad in persuading Fazlullah to accept the agreement reached by him with theANP-led Government and call off the fighting.

17. As mentioned earlier, the TNSM, under Sufi Mohammad, had originally a single-point agenda of enforcing the Islamic criminal justice system. Under Fazlullah's leadership, it has acquired a multi-point agenda--- enforcing an autonomous criminal justice system in theMalakand Division of the NWFP as a whole, releasing all those arrested during the commando raid in the Lal Masjid, restoring the authority ofthe Mullas of the masjid, re-establishment of the madrasas of the masjid, action against those responsible for the alleged massacre in thegirls madrasa, recognition of the right of the Pashtuns of Pakistan to go to Afghanistan to help the Afghan Pashtuns in their fight against theUS-led coalition, the discontinuance of the US Predator (unamanned aircraft) strikes in the Pakistani territory and withdrawal of the Army from the Swat Valley making the Frontier Corps , which consists largely of Pashtuns, exclusively responsible for internal security.

18. Will Fazlullah give up the other demands in return for the Government accepting the demands relating to the Islamic criminal justice system? The likelihood of the restoration of peace in the Swat Valley with the Government once again in command and control will dependupon the answer to this question. (17-2-09)

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

Saturday, February 14, 2009

MUMBAI 26/11/2008 & KABUL 11/2/2009----COMMON COMMAND & CONTROL?



A new breed of jihadi suicide terrorists--- better trained, better motivated and more adept at taking the security agencies by surprise---- hascome out of the terrorist training schools in Pakistani territory. They may belong to different jihadi organisations, but they seem to havebeen trained in the use of the same modus operandi (MO). Were they also trained by the same instructors?

2. These are the preliminary conclusions emerging from a study of daring terrorist strikes by three groups of suicide terrorists wieldinghand-held weapons on government buildings in Kabul on February 11,2009. The responsibility for the multiple attacks has already beenclaimed by the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan headed by Mulla Mohammad Omar. The MO used by the terrorists of the Neo Taliban, eight innumber, closely resembled the MO used by the 10 terrorists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) who attacked Mumbai from November 26 to29,2008.

3. There were differences in three material particulars. Firstly, the LET terrorists infiltrated by sea intro Mumbai by taking advantage of thelax physical security of the Mumbai Police, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. The Neo Taliban terrorists infiltrated and attacked despiteheightened security arrangements put in place in Kabul by the US and Afghan intelligence services and security forces in connection withthe visit of Richard Holbrooke, the US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan. These heightened security preparations couldnot detect the infiltration and prevent the multriple attacks. Second, whereas the LET terrorists killed innocent civilians in public places aswell as inside two prestigious hotels and a Jewish centre, the Neo Taliban terrorists did not attack innocent civilians in public places.Thirdly, whereas the LET attacked lightly-protected private establishments, the Neo Taliban managed to successfully infiltrate and attacktightly-guarded Government establishments.

4. The similarities related to well-orchestrated multiple attacks, using hand-held weapons instead of explosives, and forcing their way intobuildings by opening fire from hand-held weapons and taking possession of them for a while. Whereas the LET terrorists in Mumbai heldpossession of the buildings occupied by them for nearly 60 hours, the Neo Taliban terrorists in Kabul could keep possession of the buildingsoccupied by them for some hours only. This was because these Government buildings had well-trained armed guards of the Afghansecurity forces, who went into action against the terrorists after recovering from their initial surprise and shock. Another similaity was theNeo Taliban terrorists remaining in contact through mobile telephones with their handlers in Pakistan during the operation withoutworrying about the breach of security and deniability of their coming from Pakistan. This resembled the similar contacts of the LETterrorists in Mumbai with their handlers in Pakistan during the operation.

5. According to the details of the multiple attacks available from Afghan sources and the claims of the Neo Taliban, the Neo Taliban usedeight suicide attackers divided into three groups for the operation. A group of five managed to gain entry into the office of the Ministry ofJustice. A second group of two managed to gain entry into the office of the Directorate of Prisons. The ninth terrorist, operating alone, hadbeen given the task of forcibly entering the office of the Ministry of Education. He could not succeed and was shot dead by the securityguards posted outside. A total of at least 26 persons, including the terrorists, died in the three terrorist attacks.

6. The "Dawn" of Karachi of February 12,2009, gave the following details of the attacks: " Witnesses of the attack on the Justice Ministrysaid several gunmen burst into the building and opened fire on security guards. Some managed to run up a few flights of stairs in thebuilding, shooting as they went, they said. At least 10 Ministry employees and three security officers were killed, Interior MinisterMohammad Hanif Atmar told reporters. One of the attackers took two Justice Ministry officials hostage before killing them, intelligence chiefAmrullah Saleh said. The five attackers gunned down at the Ministry were aged between 20 to 25, Saleh said, praising the security forcesfor thwarting an attack that may have lasted “several hours, several days.” Mobile phones found at the scene showed the attackers had“sent three messages to Pakistan calling for the blessings of their mastermind” as they entered the building, Saleh said. Witnesses saidterrified Justice Ministry employees jumped from the windows of the four-storey building, while others locked themselves in their offices asheavy exchanges of gunfire continued for several hours.A minute earlier, two suicide attackers struck the prisons directorate in the north ofthe city.Atmar said six policemen were killed at the site and nearly 30 wounded."

7. Even though the Neo Taliban had carried out more than 200 suicide attacks in Afghanistan during 2007 anf 2008 combined, their attacksoften failed to kill the targets. Instead, they killed innocent civilians through premature activation of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs)carried by them. This was attributed by American experts to their poor training. In contrast to the past incidents, the terrorists whoparticipated in the attacks of February 11,2009, were as well trained as the LET attackers in Mumbai and relied almost exclusively onhand-held weapons in a commando-style operation. They did carry IEDs, but activated them only to kill themselves in order to prevent theirfalling into the hands of the security forces.

8.In a despatch dated February 13,2009, Bronwen Roberts of the Agence France Press (AFP) has reported as follows: " “There is a strong similarity between what happened in Mumbai and in Kabul,” said Haroun Mir, analyst and co-founder of Afghanistan'sCentre for Research and Policy Studies.Five gunmen who stormed the justice building – opening fire as they ran through corridors, kickingdown doors to shoot people inside – appeared young, urban and well-trained as were the Mumbai attackers, he and witnesses said. Just minutes before, three suicide bombers blew themselves up at the prisons directorate and the education ministry – another similaritywith the November attacks on three locations in India. The justice ministry gunmen did not intend to merely blow themselves up in a typicalTaliban tactic, Mir said. “These are people who wanted to take control and try to kill as many people as they could,” he said. They were armed with rifles and other weapons, which showed they probably intended to take hostages and drag the drama out, he said. Intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh also told reporters Wednesday that the gunmen, aged between 20 and 25, were intent on “mass killing”and creating a drama that could have lasted for days. Investigations would pursue messages to Pakistan found on their mobile phones atthe scene “calling for the blessings of their mastermind”, Saleh said. Mir said Wednesday's bloodshed and a series of similarly“well-prepared and executed attacks” last year “show that those who are committing these kind of attacks are graduates of the sameschool somewhere in Pakistan.” “They are not ordinary Taliban – regular Taliban suicide bombers are most of the time not too effective,” hesaid. “These young boys are well-trained and indoctrinated,” he said. It also showed that despite US pressure on militant training camps inPakistan “the schools are still operational and training for terrorist attacks in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere,” he said. Afghan DefenceMinistry spokesman General Mohammad Zahir Azimi said--- "With the Justice Ministry so close to the presidential palace if they could haveextended this for a day or two like in Mumbai this would have been a marvellous media sweep for them.”

9. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the LET terrorist captured in Mumbai, is reported to have told the police during the interrogation that the 10 whoinfiltrated into Mumbai and attacked were part of a group of 32 trained by the LET in a camp in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). If true,this would show that another 22 terrorists trained in the new commando-style MO used in Mumbai and Kabul are available for the LET foruse against Indian and foreign targets in Indian territory.

10. Were the LET terrorists who attacked in Mumbai and the Neo Taliban terrorists, who attacked in Kabul, having a common command andcontrol? Is Abu Mustafa Al-Yazid, of Al Qaeda, who is reportedly responsible for its operations in Afghanistan and for co-ordination with theNeo Taliban and who recently threatened more Mumbai-style attacks in India, the common command and control? These questions needcareful examination.(15-2-09)

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

Thursday, February 12, 2009




In the wake of the terrorist attack by 10 Pakistani members of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008, India hasto use three yard-sticks to decide on the genuiness and adequacy of any Pakistani co-operation. These are:

Does its co-operation help in bringing to justice the operatives of the LET in Pakistan and any others, who were involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist strike?

Does its co-operation help in a better reconstruction and understanding of the terrorist strike in order to find out answers to some important questions such as why the terrorists targeted Israeli and other foreign nationals, for example? The answers to such questions will be available only with the master-minds of the LET in Pakistan. Ajmal Amir Kasab, the surviving Pakistani perpetrator, now in the custody of the Mumbai Police, may not be privy to the objectives of the LET.

Does the Pakistani co-operation help India in preventing any more terrorist strike mounted from Pakistani territory----by the LET, the other anti-India terrorist organisations and Al Qaeda by eradicating their terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory and destroying their capabilities?

2.There was some forward movement with regard to the first question on February 12,2009, when Rehman Malik, Pakistan's InternalSecurity Adviser, who is known to be closer to President Asif Ali Zardari than to Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani and who enjoys thestatus of a Cabinet Minister though not so designated, handed over to the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad the salient points of thePakistani investigation and action taken so far with a list of 30 questions for India to answer to enable them to take the investigation furtherforward. These salient points were revealed by him to the media at a special press conference held the same day. Annexed are the reportscarried by the "News" and the "Daily Times" of Pakistan on his disclosures at the press conference.

3.A careful study of the Pakistani media reports would show that Pakistan has been more forthcoming now than it was since 26/11 and hasbeen keen to demonstrate to the international community that in investigating the case "Pakistan means business" as Malik repeatedlyemphasised. One should not grudge conceding that there has definitely been a shift from a position of total denial of the involvement ofanyone in Pakistani territory to partial acceptance of the conclusion of Indian and Western investigators that the conspiracy for the terroristattack originated in Pakistani territory and that the key answers to various questions coming to the fore during the investigation are to befound in Pakistan, which only Pakistani investigators can do.

4. At the same time, there was an undisguised attempt by Malik to project the conspiracy as trans-national and not uni-national only inPakistan. He repeatedly said that only a part of the conspiracy took place in Pakistani territory. To underline the trans-national dimensionsof the conspiracy he referred to the role played by some members of the Pakistani diaspora in Spain and Italy and to Pakistan's suspicion ofa role by some elements in India as seen, according to him, from the fact that the perpetrators had used SIM cards procured in India.

5. Pakistan's attempt is to project the conspiracy as mounted by non-State elements of which the Pakistani intelligence agencies had noinkling till after the attack. There has been a reluctance on the part of Indian analysts to accept that all the recruitment, planning andtraining could have been carried out by the LET in Pakistani territory without the Pakistani intelligence agencies becoming aware of it.Malik has prepared the ground for meeting this argument if and when it acquires force by pointing out that if the intelligence agencies ofIndia, Italy and Spain had missed noticing the preparations being made in their territory, how can they blame the Pakistani agencies forsimilarly missing them.

6. There were two significant points in the press briefing of Malik. The first is the absence of any reference to Indian allegations that agroup of 32 potential perpetrators was trained by the LET initially in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and subsequently in Karachi before10 of them were finally selected and sent to Mumbai by sea. The second is his repeated use of the word "alleged" while refering to the roleof the LET operatives, who have been detained and against whom investigation has been launched in pursuance of the two First InformationReports (FIRs) registered by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). He did not use the word "alleged" while referring to those whoseinvolvement Pakistan claims to have unearthed.This would indicate a possible attempt by them to show their investigation against someLET opetratives as warranted by the Indian "allegations" against them and not by any evidence so far uncovered by the FIA. Thus, whileregistering two FIRs against the LET operatives named by India, they have kept open the possibility of giving a free chit to the LET after theinternational pressure and interest subside and releasing their operatives on the ground that the investigation did not bring out anycredible evidence against them.

7. This was exactly the same modus operandi (MO) which the Pakistanis had followed after the thwarted attack by a group of terroristsbelonging to the LET and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) on the Parliament House in New Delhi in December,2001. Musharraf banned theseorganisations on January 15,2002, arrested their leaders and ordered an enquiry into their activities. A few months later, the arrestedpersons were got released by courts on the ground that the investigation did not bring out any evidence of wrong doing against them.

8. While we are right in welcoming the changed Pakistani stance--- even if it be only a change in tactics--- as seen on February 12,2009, weshould avoid nursing illusions that the seeming change in the Pakistani stance marked a watershed in Pakistani attitude to anti-Indiaterrorism. We have to wait and see whether Pakistan really means business this time, or is it merely pretending to co-operate while notsincerely co-operating as it has always done in the past---- whether against anti-India terrorism or against the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan orwith regard to the investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Daniel Pearl, the US journalist, or the investigation into the proliferationactivities of A.Q.Khan or the investigation into the involvement of Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Pakistani origin, in the conspiracy to blowup some US-bound planes in 2006.

9. Welcome the seeming change in its stance, but avoid over-assessing its significance and keep the pressure on Pakistan. That should beour operating principle.

10. Pakistan's new stance does not respond to the remaining two questions posed in Para one above. There are no indications at all that itis having second thoughts about the wisdom or inadvisability of continuing to use terrorism as a strategic weapon against India and that itmight now act against the anti-India terrorist infrastructure in its territory and the role of the ISI in keeping this terrorism sustained. Threats of new terriorist attacks against Indian and foreign targets in Indian territory mounted from Pakistan remain as high as before.

11. There has been a debate as to why this sudden change of stance by Pakistan on February 12,2009. In this connection, the visit ofRichard Holbrooke, the US Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, to Islamabad from February 9 to 11,2009, and the first telephone call of President Barack Obama to President Asif Ali Zardari on February 11 have been cited by many analysts. There are two other elements, which also need to be noted. The first was the brutal beheading of a Polish engineer working in Pakistan by the PakistaniTaliban on February 6. There has been a wave of anger and revulsion against Pakistan in Poland ever since the Taliban announced hisbeheading. The anger in Poland against Pakistan is as intense as the anger in India after 26/11.The second is the Mumbai-style attacks onthe offices of the prison department and the Justice Ministry in Kabul by the Taliban on February 11 which has set off concerns that theMumbai attack is already having a copy-cat effect. These are likely to have increased the pressure on the Pakistan Government to show that they really business in going after terrorism and they are not playing games with the international community.One has to wait and seewhat further action the Pakistani authorities take in the weeks to come. This is the time for keeping up the pressure on Pakistan. (13-2-09)

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


By Mobarik A Virk ( "News of February 13,2009)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday acknowledged for the first time that the Mumbai attacks were partly planned in Pakistan and that it hasarrested six suspects, including the “main operator”.
In its first detailed response to the dossier provided by India, Pakistan said criminal cases had been registered against nine suspects oncharges of “abetting, conspiracy and facilitation” of a terrorist act. However, it said more evidence is required from India, including DNAsamples of Ajmal Kasab, to establish his identity.
Addressing a press conference at the interior ministry, Interior Adviser Rehman Malik told the media FIR No: 01/009 had been lodged withthe Special Investigation Group (SIG) in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against nine suspects. The Pakistani investigators haveidentified Hammad Amin Sadiq as the alleged ‘mastermind’ of the whole conspiracy.
Malik said the cases against nine persons had been registered under the Anti-Terror Act (ATA) and the Cyber Crime Act and they would betried under these two sets of laws. He said six of the nine accused named in the FIR have already been arrested and being interrogated, twohave been identified but not arrested so far while investigations are still under way into the possible involvement of the ninth accused.
He identified those taken into custody as Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) commander who was arrested from Muzaffarabadsoon after the Indian government alleged that the LT was behind the Mumbai attacks, Javed Iqbal, who was arrested from Barcelona, Spain,Hammad Amin Sadiq, believed to be the main operator belonging to southern Punjab, Zarar Shah, Mohammad Ashfaq and Abu Hamza. Thename of the lone surviving terrorist now in the custody of India, Ajmal Kasab, is not included in the FIR.
He also said some of those arrested by the security agencies of Pakistan for possible involvement in the Mumbai attacks belong to the LT.Malik said Javed Iqbal, who was based in Barcelona, Spain, was the person who paid $200 for the ‘Internet Domain’ that was also used forcommunication and planning for the Mumbai attacks. “Having ascertained the involvement of Javed Iqbal, we somehow lured him intocoming to Pakistan and he was arrested on his arrival,” Malik said.
He also said the e-mail sent by ‘Deccan Mujahideen’ claiming responsibility for the Mumbai attacks was believed to be prepared and sent byZarar Shah, who was responsible for communication link in the whole operation.
The adviser disclosed that the money to fund these attacks was transferred from Pakistan and was received in Italy. This moneytransaction was made through a Pakistani bank. He also said after thorough investigations by the Pakistani security and intelligenceagencies it was learnt that these alleged terrorists operated from two bases — one inside Karachi and the other outside but not very faraway from Karachi.
He also disclosed that the people involved in the Mumbai attacks used three boats for travelling to Mumbai, one named ‘Al-Hussaini’ and theother ‘Al-Ghaus’. For communication, these culprits used ‘Call Phonic’ system and they also bought Indian cell phone SIMs forcommunication from inside India.
Malik said the findings have already been shared with the Indian government. The Indian high commissioner in Islamabad was called to theforeign office and the report was handed over to him officially.
“We also have forwarded a set of 30 questions for which we would need answers as early as possible to support and further theinvestigation process on our side. We have asked the Indian government to provide us the DNA samples of the lone surviving terrorist, AjmalKasab, to ascertain his nationality, as we don’t have any record of the individual with Nadra (National Database Registration Authority).”
“At the same time,” he said, “we would like to have the statement given by Ajmal Kasab to the Indian investigators, how this group ofterrorists managed to sneak past the Indian security and intelligence agencies guarding their coastal lines, and how these nine personsmanaged to travel in a small boat and reach the Indian coast”.
He also pointed out that the satellite phone connection that was used for communication during the Mumbai attack was registered in theMiddle East and not in Pakistan. He also said forensic reports of the arms and ammunition used in the attack have been sought from theIndian authorities.
The adviser on interior said to make a solid case against all these people who have been arrested or for whose arrest the Pakistaniauthorities are making all-out efforts, meaningful cooperation from India would be most important.
Agencies add: Malik said the breakthrough in the investigation had resulted from tracing the fishing vessel used by the militants, purchasesof equipment like life jackets and the engine for the rubber dinghy that militants came ashore in Mumbai.
He said only nine of the 10 gunmen came ashore in the dinghy, and the fishing boat they had used to sail from Karachi had refuelled on thecoast of India’s Gujarat state. The Pakistani official said one suspect was allegedly involved in the 2007 bomb attack on the SamjhautaExpress in India that killed 68 people as the train headed for Lahore, and India has been requested for more information. NEWS 13-2-09

Islamabad hands over Mumbai probe report to New Delhi

By Sajjad Malik/Tahir Niaz ( " Daily Times" of February 13,2009)
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has formally handed over the details of its investigation into the Mumbai terror attacks to India, the Foreign Officesaid on Thursday as Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior Rehman Malik admitted that the attacks were ‘partially planned’ in Pakistan.
“The Indian high commissioner was ... [on Thursday given] material pertaining to the Mumbai terror attacks probe by the FederalInvestigation Agency (FIA), by the foreign secretary,” said Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit.
Arrests: Meanwhile at a press conference, Rehman Malik announced ‘breakthrough’ arrests in the Mumbai probe, and admitted that theMumbai attacks were partially planned in Pakistan. He said some of the suspects were linked to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LT). Rehman said acase was registered on Thursday under the Anti-Terrorism Act against eight suspects – including LT’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Hammad Aminand Zarar Shah – on charges of “abetting, directing, conspiring and facilitating a terrorist act”. Six of these suspects are in the custody ofintelligence agencies, and all will be tried under Pakistani law.
“Some funds for the attacks were transferred from Spain and Italy,” he said.
Karachi: Rehman said the suspects used three boats, all of which have been seized, to sail from Karachi to Mumbai between November 26and 28, 2008.
More information: Rehman, however, said these findings were not final and Pakistan needed more information from India. He said the Indianauthorities had been asked to answer 30 questions raised by the Pakistani investigators.
Other countries: The adviser said “the system of various other countries” was also used to plan the attacks. Rehman said two more menwere being held, and identified them only as Khan and Riaz. Other leads pointed to Europe and the US, and Malik said Pakistan would askthe FBI for help. DAILY TIMES 13-2-09

LT slams Islamabad for Mumbai charges

SRINAGAR: The banned Lashkar-e-Tayyaba angrily condemned Islamabad on Thursday for filing a case against some of the group’s topoperatives. Pakistan lodged a first information report against eight suspects, including the presumed mastermind Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.“We strongly condemn the lodging of the FIR against LT,” Lashkar spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi told AFP over the telephone. The case wasbrought to ‘win appreciation’ from India and the US and to “implement India’s agenda of suppressing the people’s struggle for freedom inKashmir”, said Ghaznavi. afp DAILY TIMES 13-2-09

Islamabad forex company involved

LAHORE: Interior Adviser Rehman Malik has claimed that a money exchange company in Islamabad was involved in transferring money to asuspect of the Mumbai attacks in Spain, said a private TV channel. The money was transferred through Paracha International Exchange’sEuro 2005 branch in Islamabad to Javed Iqbal in Barcelona. The branch was later found sealed. Representatives of other branches havedenied that such a transaction took place. But one of the two owners confirmed the transaction, and blamed his partner for it. daily timesmonitor DAILY TIMES 13-2-09

Tuesday, February 10, 2009



The authenticity of the message purporting to be from Mustafa Abu-al Yazid, who has been projected since 2007 as in charge of Al Qaeda operations in Afghanistan in liaison with the Neo Taliban of Mulla Mohammad Omar, is yet to be proved.

2. His warnings of more Mumbai-style talks should be factored into our security arrangements and that means, strengthening physical security not only for possible Indian targets, but also for possible foreign targets such as those of Israel and the US. A rule of prudence is don’t ignore a threat unless and until it is proved to be false.

3. The message needs careful analysis in co-operation with Al Qaeda experts in the US. The message suspiciously serves the Pakistani agenda of projecting the 26/11 terrorist strike in Mumbai as excuted by an international jihadi group based in Europe and inspired by Al Qaeda.

4. There are suspicious elements in the message. Why was it disseminated through the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and not initially through Al Jazeera? Why has it not yet appeared in the web sites associated with Al Qaeda? Why there was no reference to the Mumbai attack in the one message of Osama bin Laden and two of his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri disseminated by Al Qaeda since the beginning of this year? Why the message has not been disseminated through As Sahab, the official propaganda organ of Al Qaeda?

5. In August last year, the Pakistan Army claimed to have killed him in an encounter in the Bajaur Agency. It was not confirmed. Al Qaeda, which generally admits the death of its senior operatives in action, has not admitted his death. Western experts have not accepted the Pakistani claim.

6. A message attributed to him will strengthen suspicion that Pakistan is in the habit of making false claims of killing Al Qaeda operatives in order to show that it is sincere in co-operating with the US against Al Qaeda. Why should it strengthen the suspicion by having this message disseminated unless it had compelling reasons to do so?

7. These questions will need careful examination before one can come to a definitive conclusion on the implications of this message. But so many unanswered questions should not make us under-estimate the importance of strengthened security in response to it.(11-2-09)

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

Sunday, February 8, 2009




A spokesman of the Darra Adamkhel Valley (DAV) branch of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is reported to have phoned the "News" ofPakistan on February 7,2009, to claim that following the repeated refusal of the Government to release four detainees of the TTP, the DAVbranch beheaded on February 6,2009, a Polish engineer by name Peter Stanczak, who was kidnapped from the Pind Sultani area of Jund inthe Attock district of the Punjab on September 28, 2008. The spokesman also reportedly said that the beheading was also in reprisalagainst repeated strikes by the Predator (unmanned) aircraft of the US on suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban hide-outs in the Pakistaniterritory. He accused the Pakistani Government of tacitly co-operating with the US in these air strikes. He added that the DAV branchoriginally wanted to demand also the withdrawal of the Polish troops in the NATO contingent in Afghanistan, but decided not to do so.Stanczak was employed by a Polish firm which has been helping in Pakistan’s national seismic survey .

2. The beheading of the Polish engineer has increased concern over the fate of an Iranian and an Afghan diplomat and a Chinese engineer,who were also kidnapped in the tribal belt last year to demand ransom and the release of some Taliban members detained by the Pakistaniauthorities. They have not so far been released. The anger against the Chinese was initially over their suspected role in allegedly pressuringthe previous Musharraf Government to raid the Lal Masjid in July,2007, following the kidnapping and humiliation of some Chinese womenworking in in the Islamabad area by some students of the madrasas attached to the Masjid. Though the Chinese Embassy in Islamabadstrongly denied that it had made Musharraf order the raid, the TTP has not been convinced of their denial. This anger has been exacerbatedby the pre-Olympics arrests by the Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang province of a number of Uighurs, with some of them allegedly havinglinks with Pakistan-based Uighur groups and madrasas. The Lal Masjid itself had some Uighur students---boys and girls--in its madrasas. TheChinese arrested them either as a precautionary measure before the Olympics or during their investigation into some terrorist incidents inthe province.

3. The beheading of the Polish engineer coincided with the seventh anniversary of the murder of Daniel Pearl, a Jewish American journalist,by slitting his throat after keeping him in captivity for some days. He had gone to Karachi from Mumbai, where he was posted as the SouthAsia correspondent of the "Wall Street Journal ," in January,2002, to enquire into the suspected Pakistani links of Richard Reid, theso-called shoe bomber, who unsuccessfully attempted to blow up an American plane with some explosives concealed in his shoes. Pearlfell into a trap carefully laid by a group of Karachi-based jihadis led by Omar Sheikh, a British resident of Pakistani origin, who was one ofthose released by India to secure the release of the passengers of an Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu hijacked to Kandahar by someterrorists belonging to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) in December 1999. Another Pakistani detainee released alng with him by India wasMaulana Masood Azhar, who then belonged to the HUM. After his return to Pakistan after being handed over by India to the hijackers inKandahar, Azhar split from the HUM in January,2000, and formed the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM). Omar Sheikh also joined the JEM.

4. According to the Pakistani version, the kidnapping and the subsequent murder of Pearl by slitting his throat were carried out by a mixedgroup of terrorists belonging to the HUM (Al Alami meaning International), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the JEM and theLashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), an anti-Shia organisation. Omar Sheikh planned and orchestrated the kidnapping. Thereafter, he surrendered to Brig.Ijaz Shah, who was then posted as the Home Secretary of the Government of Punjab. Before this post, he had served in theInter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and was considered close to Pervez Musharraf. Pearl's throat was slit in the beginning of February,2002, andhis body was buried in a plot of land allegedly belonging to a charity organisation linked to the JEM. Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM), whoallegedly co-ordinated the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US on behalf of Osama bin Laden, and who is now in the Guantanamo Bay detentioncentre, is reported to have told the US authorities that it was he who slit the throat of Pearl. The remains of the body were recovered by theKarachi Police during the investigation and identified. It was reported that the entire slitting of the throat was video recorded by theterrorists and sent to bin Laden.

5. A number of alleged perpetrators was arrested by the Pakistani police and prosecuted. Omar Sheikh was sentenced to death. Heappealed against the sentence. The appeal has not so far been taken up for hearing by the Anti-Terrorism court, which has granted oneadjournment after another to the lawyers of Omar Sheikh under some frivolous ground or the other. According to reliable police sources,since the present Government headed by Yousef Raza Gilani came to power after the elections of February 18,2008, Omar Sheikh has beengranted a number of facilities such as the use of mobile telephones, frequent visits by his friends and associates in Pakistan and the UK etc.For all practical purposes, he is reportedly guiding the activities of the JEM from the jail. A detailed report on his activities from jail carriedby the "News" of December 18,2008, is annexed.

6. The JEM has been closely allied with the Swat Valley branch of the TTP and its cadres have been involved in the operations of the TTPagainst the Pakistani security forces. Just as the killers of Pearl disposed of his body after slitting his throat and circulated only avideo-recording to prove his execution according to the so-called Islamic laws, the killers of the Polish enginner have also said that theywold not return his dead body and that they would only circulate a video-recording of his beheading as proof of their claim.

7. Despite the strong statements made periodically by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani about their determination to putan end to terrorism originating from Pakistani territory, their policy towards the terrorists has been even more soft than the policy followedby Musharraf. The Pakistani Police have virtually suspended their investigation into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, allegedly on theorders of Rehman Malik, the Internal Security Adviser, under the pretext that since the UN Secretary-General has agreed to order aninvestigation by a three-member team of international experts, there is no need for a duplicate enquiry by the Pakistani Police. RehmanMalik was acting as the co-ordinator of physical security for Benazir when she was in political exile and was responsible for her security atthe time of her assassination. He is considered close to Zardari. When the Sindh National Front of Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, a cousin of the lateZulfiquar Ali Bhutto and a founder-member of the Pakistan People's Party, raised the issue of the alleged lack of interest in the investigationof her assassination, the office-bearers of the SNF were harassed by the police and got arrested on allegedly trumped-up charges.

8.The terrorist groups are having a free run not only in the tribal belt, but also in Punjab and there are fears of their activities once againspreading to Karachi as it had in 2002 when Pearl was kidnapped and killed, a group of French submarine engineers was blown up and therewas an explosion outside the US Consulate in Karachi. The death of an American diplomat in Karachi on the eve of the visit of former USPresident George Bush to Pakistan in March,2006, and the unsuccessful attempt to kill Benazir Bhutto in Karachi in October,2007, on herreturn from political exile showed that various terrorist groups have retained their capability for terrorist strikes in Karachi.

9.The Government of Zardari has not taken any action against Brig (retd).Ijaz Shah and Lt.Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, who were named by Benazirbefore her return from exile as posing a threat to her security. Nor has it taken any action against Qari Saifullah Akhtar of theHarkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), who had been specifically named by her as responsible for the unsuccessful attempt to kill her in Karachi inOctober,2007. She had named him because in 1995, when she was the Prime Minister, he had unsuccessfully conspired with a group ofarmy officers to have her killed along with Gen.Abdul Wahid Kakar, the then Chief of the Army Staff, and stage a coup. Nor has theGovernment of Zardari taken any action against Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP, who was the main suspect in her assassination.

10. The terrorist situation in Pakistan has gone from bad to worse since the present Government came to power. The terrorist groups basedin Pakistan have not only stepped up their activities in Pakistani territory, but have also extended their activities beyond the borders ofPakistan. The vehicular bomb explosion outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July,2008, the Mumbai terrorist strike of 26/11 and thekidnapping and beheading of the Polish engineer are but a few of the examples showing that the terrorists of different organisations areonce again having a free run in Pakistan. (8-2-09)

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

ANNEXURE ( From the "News" of December 18,2008)

By Amir Mir
LAHORE: In a sensational development, authorities have claimed busting a clandestine terror network set up by jailed killer of Daniel Pearl inside the Hyderabad Jail and the Sindh government has suspended senior police and jail officials after a large number of cell phones, SIMs and other equipment were recovered.

Highly-placed Interior Ministry sources confided to The News on Wednesday the jailed terrorist had also threatened Gen Pervez Musharraf on his personal cell phone in the second week of November and planned to get him eliminated by a suicide bomber.

The caller reportedly told the former president: “I am after you, get ready to die.” Subsequent investigations by the authorities revealed the threatening phone call was made by someone from the Hyderabad Central Jail. Being a suspect, Sheikh Omar was placed under observation before it transpired that he was the one who had threatened the former strongman.

The authorities came to know that a plot had been hatched by Sheikh Omar to eliminate the then-president with the connivance of some Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militants, with whom he had long been in touch over the phone.

As Omar’s death cell was thoroughly searched, three mobile phones, six batteries, 18 SIMS of almost every cellular company and chargers were seized from his possession. Further scanning of the alleged terror mastermind’s telephone records revealed he had been making calls all over Pakistan to former Jihadi associates as well as relatives in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar.

Interestingly, however, his mobile phone records revealed besides having revived his contacts with the outer world, Omar had also been in touch with Attaur Rehman, alias Naeem Bukhari, a key Lashkar-e-Jhangvi operative arrested by the Karachi police on June 5, 2007 in connection with the January 2002 Daniel Pearl murder case.

When the barracks of Naeem Bukhari, being held in the Sukkur Central Jail, were searched, the authorities recovered one mobile phone and three SIMs he had been using to stay in touch with Omar and some other LeJ accomplices in Karachi and Rawalpindi.

During the ensuing interrogations, Naeem Bukhari was learnt to have revealed that the LeJ operatives had already been directed by Sheikh Omar to target Musharraf either in Rawalpindi or in Karachi, preferably by using a suicide car bomber.

The LeJ militants had thus been monitoring Musharraf’s movements to target him while travelling between his Army House residence in Rawalpindi and his Chak Shehzad farmhouse on the 1-A Park Road on the quiet suburbs of Islamabad or to blow up the bridge on Shara-e-Faisal during his next visit to Karachi at the precise moment when his convoy would reach there from the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport.

It was after the unearthing of the assassination plot that Musharraf decided to leave for London on Nov 22, 2008 for a short trip — for the first time since his resignation as president in August 2008. Although, he has already returned home, Musharraf is still occupying the Army House due to grave security concerns.

Following the recovery of mobile phones and SIMs from Sheikh Omar, the Sindh Home Department took serious action and suspended (on Dec 1, 2008) Hyderabad Central Jail Superintendent Abdul Majid Siddiqui, his deputy Gul Mohammad Sheikh and four other jail officials on charges of showing criminal negldigence.

According to the Sindh inspector general prisons, both had been suspended by the Home Department on complaints of corruption and maladministration. The IG prisons said there were complaints of serious nature against them, such as providing cell phones and other banned facilities to prisoners, corruption and maladministration. An inquiry officer has already been appointed to probe the charges.

The most astonishing aspect of the episode is that the scrutiny of Omar Sheikh’s mobile phone records proved he had been even calling Maj-Gen (retd) Amir Faisal Alavi, the former General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the elite Special Services Group (SSG) of the Pakistan Army. He was shot dead in Islamabad on Nov 19, 2008 by unidentified gunmen.

Although, the Interior Ministry officials are not ready to speak on the issue, a recent story filed by Carey Schofield of Sunday Times had quoted Maj-Gen Amir Faisal Alavi as having told her during an Islamabad meeting four days before his murder that he knew he would be killed by his own comrades, as he had threatened to expose the Pakistani generals who had been cutting deals with Taliban insurgents.

Sheikh Omar Saeed has not divulged any information so far as to why he had been calling Alavi. But Musharraf has stated in his book “In the Line of Fire” that Omar was originally recruited by the British intelligence agency MI-6 while studying at the London School of Economics.

Omar was sent to the Balkans by MI-6 to engage in Jihadi operations, according to Musharraf, who went on to opine: “At some point, he probably became a rogue or double agent. Sheikh Omar happens to be a British citizen of Pakistani descent, who had first served five years in prison in Delhi in the 90s in connection with the 1994 abduction of three British travellers. But he was released in the first week of 2000 along with Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar and eventually provided a safe passage to Pakistan by the Taliban regime, after India was forced to accept demands of the hijackers of Indian Airliner IC-814.

Two years later, on Feb 12, 2002, Omar surrendered to Brigadier (retd) Ejaz Hussain Shah, his former handler in the ISI, after being accused of abducting Daniel Pearl. At an initial court appearance in April 2002, Omar had almost confessed to his crime by stating: “I don’t want to defend myself. I did this... Rightly or wrongly, I had my reasons. I think our country shouldn’t be catering to American needs.”

As a matter of fact, it is five-and-a-half years since an anti-terrorism court in Karachi sentenced him to death. Omar, a graduate from the London School of Economics, became a Jihadi for the high-profile Pearl murder.

It was on July 15, 2003 that Omar and his three accomplices were awarded life imprisonment by Justice Ali Ashraf Shah in a heavily fortified
makeshift court, set up in a bunker underneath a prison inside the Hyderabad Jail. No journalist was allowed to attend the court proceedings and the venue had to be changed three times because of bombing threats and security concerns.

The trial judge was also changed thrice. Forensic scientists initially refused to attend the exhumation of the court for fear they would be killed. Police personnel who were known to confront all kinds of savage criminals behaved like lambs in front of the terrorist and police officers were intimidated by him in the court of law in front of the judge.

As soon as the July 15, 2003 verdict was announced, Omar, who had already been declared a dangerous prisoner and confined to an isolation death cell, reacted defiantly, saying that he would retaliate against the authorities for arranging the sentence. In a message read out by his lawyer outside the court room, Sheikh Omar said: “We shall see who will die first. Either I or the authorities who have arranged the death sentence for me.” Almost six months later, in December 2003, Gen Musharraf survived two separate assassinations attempts in Rawalpindi. The authorities suspect that Sheikh Omar had links with the two suicide bombers who blew themselves up to assassinate Musharraf and the attempts owed to the death penalty awarded to Omar.

As things stand, the anti-terrorist court’s verdict has not been implemented so far and Sheikh Omar continues to avoid being sent to the gallows due to repeated adjournments of his appeal against conviction, pending in the Sindh High Court for years now. Reports emanating from the Hyderabad Central Jail say the guards stationed outside Omar’s death cell are rotated almost daily because he has the ability to influence anyone he meets.

As a matter of fact, Omar had actually managed to prevail upon the first four police constables deployed outside his cell, with all of them growing beards within days after they were assigned to guard his ward. The jail authorities say if the guards outside his cell are not rotated every day, Omar is fully capable of bringing the entire jail staff round to his view. He is presently reading books on history, particularly on World War-I and II, the Cold War and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.NEWS 18-12-08

Friday, February 6, 2009



( To be read in continuation of my article of January 1,2009, titled "Jihadi Terrorism--- 2008 & 2009: Part II & Last" available at , article dated January 15,2009, titled "Fight Against Pak-SponsoredTerrorism---India Should Not Bank On Obama" at and article dated January28,2009, titled "The Invisible Hyphens In Obama's Policy-Making" at )

Richard Holbrooke, President Barack Obama's special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, is scheduled to undertake his first visitto the region from February 9,2009, after attending a security conference at Munich.M.K.Narayanan, India's National Security Adviser, toldKaran Thapar of the CNBC in an interview on February 2, 2009, that he would be meeting Holbrooke in Munich before he came to India. It isnot known whether the expected meeting at Munich materialised and if so what transpired at the meeting.

2.A Reuters' despatch dated February 4,2009, from Washington quoted unnamed US officials as saying that in addition to Pakistan andAfghanistan, Holbrooke would also be visiting India to discuss Afghanistan with Indian officials. The Reuters' report said: "The officials, whospoke on condition that they not be named, stressed that Holbrooke was going to India to discuss Afghanistan and not to mediate theKashmir dispute."

3. Holbrooke's first visit to the region as the Special Representative comes at a time when the new strategy of Obama with regard to themilitary operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghan as well as Pakistani territory is still to take shape. Apart from the decisionsto continue the Predator ( unmanned aircraft of the Central Intelligence Agency) air strikes against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban targetsin Pakistani territory and to send 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan in the coming months, no other decision has so far been taken.

4. The grim situation faced by the US in this region from which the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US homeland, the July,2005, terrorist strike inLondon and the July,2006, and the 26/11 (2008) terrorist strikes in Mumbai originated should be evident from the figures mentioned in aquarterly report submitted by the Pentagon to the US Congress on February 2,2009, reviewing the ground situation in Afghanistan. Thehighlights of the report are:

"The spring and summer of 2008 saw the highest levels of violence in Afghanistan since the US invasion in 2001."

"The Taliban regrouped after its fall from power and has coalesced into a resilient and evolving insurgency."

Between January 1 and December 10, 2008, 132 US personnel in Afghanistan died as the result of hostile action, as against 82 in 2007.

Attacks by the Taliban increased by a third.

Attacks along the country's major highway increased by 37 per cent.

"The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in several areas of the country since the previous report" .

The Taliban's surface-to-air fire increased by 67 per cent. Car bombs and attacks in Kabul have also increased.

The Taliban is challenging the Kabul government for control of the south and east of the country, "and increasingly in the west."

5.According to an assessment prepared by the International Council on Security and Development of London in January,2009, the Taliban"now holds a permanent presence in 72 per cent of Afghanistan, up from 54 per cent a year ago." Writing in the issue (dated February9,2009) of the "Newsweek", Fareed Zakaria, its Editor, said: "In 2004, the US Air Force flew 86 strike sorties against targets in Afghanistan.By 2007, the number was up to 2,926—and that doesn't count rocket or cannon fire from helicopters."

6.US Predator strikes on targets in Pakistani territory increased from 10 in 2006 and 2007 combined to over 30 in 2008. The more the airstrikes----whether in Afghan or Pakistani territory--- the more the civilian casualties. The more the civilian casualties, the more the angeragainst the US. The more the anger against the US, the more the volunteers joining the Taliban----- the Afghan as well as the Pakistani--- andthe more the instances of suicide terrorism -----63 in Pakistan as against 56 in 2007 and over 100 in Afghanistan.

7.While exact figures of suicide terrorism during 2008 in Afghanistan are not yet available, exact figures for Pakistan are available from areport of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), extracts from which were published by the "Daily Times" of Lahore on January21,2009. To quote: "At least 2,267 people were killed and 4,558 injured in at least 2,148 terrorists attacks reported in 2008. At least 967people were killed and 2,108 others injured in 63 suicide attacks in the country during the last year. The NWFP faced 32 suicide attacks inwhich 389 people were killed and 688 injured, Punjab was second with 10 suicide attacks that claimed more than 201 lives and injured 508.Sixteen suicide attacks were reported in FATA due to which 263 people died and 497 were injured. More than 112 people were killed and321 injured in four suicide attacks in Islamabad while one suicide attack was reported in Balochistan in which two people were killed and22 others injured. The report said 381 rocket attacks, 46 incidents of beheading, 112 remote controlled bomb attacks, 110 landmineexplosions, 451 incidents of shooting and 373 blasts by improvised explosives were recorded during 2008. At least 4,113 suspectedterrorists including 30 from Al Qaeda, 3,759 affiliated with Taliban and other such groups, and 354 Baloch insurgents were arrested duringthe year."

8. There were three major developments of concern to the international community during 2008. The first was the consolidation of the holdof the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), now a wing of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP), in the Swat Valley of theNorth-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Its name means the Movement For the Enforcement of the IslamicLaws. The TNSM, which is led byMaulana Fazlullah, initially took to arms in August,2007,against the Pakistan Army and the Frontier Corps, a para-military unit consisting ofPashtuns, in protest against the death of a large number of tribal children during the commando raid in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad inJuly,2007. While its anger over the Lal Maasjid raid has subsided, it has maintained its attacks on the Army and the FC in support of itsdemand for the introduction of the Islamic legal system in the Swat Valley. The TNSM, which now controls 80 per cent of the Swat Valley,has set up its own Islamic courts and banned education of girls beyond the fourth standard. Even though the Army went into action againstthe TNSM in October,2007, nearly 16 months after its operatins supported by helicopter gunships started, it has not been able to restore thewrit of the State in the Valley, which is just 160 Kms from Islamabad.

9.Making a statement in the Senate, the upper House of the Pakistan Parliament, on January 29,2009, Rehman Malik, Adviser on InternalSecurity, claimed that five organisations were responsible for the trouble in the Swat Vally. These were the TTP, Al Qaeda,Tanzeem-e-Islami,the Tora Bora Group and the Qari Mushtaq group.According to him, during 2008, about 1,200 civilians and 189 members of the securityforces were killed, 123 government schools and 10 private schools were destroyed and many CD shops and barbers’ salons set ablaze. Hesaid a so-called ‘Taliban court’ had ‘summoned’ 40 people for trial on various offences.There have also been reports that theJaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) of Maulana Masood Azhar is now operating jointly with Al Qaeda and the TTP, but Rehman Malik did not mentionthis. Rashid Rauf, a British citizen of Mirpuri origin, who was related by marriage to Massood Azhar, was killed in a Predator strike on an AlQaeda hide-out. The British suspected him of involvement in the August, 2006, plot to blow up a number of US-bound planes. According toan estimate of the "Dawn" of Karachi (February 5,2009), about 600,000 people have left the valley out of its total population of 1.5 million.

10.Writing in the"News" of January 21,2009, its correspondent Amir Mir quoted a spokesman of the Inter-Services Press RelationsDepartment as saying that the Army has deployed four brigades in Swat. He also quoted a spokesman at the Swat Media Centre (SMC) asstating as follows: "Since Oct 2007, around 15,000 military and paramilitary troops had killed 784 militants in Swat, while the number oftroops martyred during the same period stood at 189.Of the security forces people killed in the operation, 80 belonged to the Army, 61 werepolicemen, 35 staffers of the Frontier Constabulary while the remaining belonged to the Frontier Corps. The militants in Swat had carriedout 165 bomb attacks against the security forces since 2007, which included 17 suicide and 148 remote-controlled attacks. The militantshave destroyed 20 bridges, besides setting ablaze 165 girls schools, 80 video shops and 22 barber shops."

11.Amir Mir gave his own assessment of the situation as follows: "Around 10,000 TTP militants have been pitted against 15,000 Army troopssince Oct 22, 2007, when the operation was officially launched. Leading the charge against the Pakistan Army is Maulana Fazlullah, alsoknown as Mullah Radio for the illegal FM radio channel he operates. Through his FM broadcasts, still operational despite being banned bythe NWFP government, the firebrand keeps inspiring his followers to implement Shariah, fight the Army and establish his authority in thearea. Military authorities have repeatedly alleged that Fazlullah, who has thousands of armed supporters ready to challenge the securityforces on his command, has close links with the Taliban and al-Qaeda operatives. The cleric has already become a household name in Swat,as his Shaheen Commando Force is destroying and occupying government buildings, blowing up police stations, bridges, basic health unitsand hotels and burning girls’ schools.Extending the sphere of their activities aimed at enforcing Shariah, Fazlullah’s acolytes have directedlocal prayer leaders only to focus on the attributes of Jihad in their Friday sermons. They have also banned female education in Swat,besides asking parents of grown-up girls to marry them to militants. He had issued an edict in Dec 2008 to close hundreds of schools by Jan15. The Army is manning several police stations in Swat because the police force there had been decimated by desertions and killings. Thestate writ has shrunk from Swat’s 5,337 square kilometres to the limits of its regional Mingora headquarters, which is a city of just 36 squarekilometres. Some recent media reports say nearly 800 policemen, half of the total sanctioned strength of police in Swat, have eitherdeserted or proceeded on long leave on one pretext or the other. Therefore, the private army raised by Fazlullah literally rules the roost inmost parts of the valley, which is witnessing a dominance of the Wahabi doctrine.The Wahabi followers of Fazlullah are making a statewithin a state in Swat, having already established their own administration on the pattern of the Saudi monarchs, besides creating a privatearmy, equipped with the latest weapons and controlled by the militant leader’s trusted and loyal commanders . They have also establisheda parallel judicial system across the valley dealing with cases of different nature.'

12. Amir Mir gave the following background of Fazlullah:"The rise of Maulana Fazlullah, the man ruling Swat, has been like a roller-coasterride. Fazlullah, a resident of the Imam Dheri area, was born to Biladar Khan, a Pakhtun of Babakarkhel clan of the Yousufzai tribe of thedistrict. Biladar Khan was highly inspired by the TNSM and thus became one of the right-hand men of Maulana Sufi Mohammad. Findinghimself even more devoted to the enforcement of Shariah, the motto of the Tehrik-i-Nifaz-i-Shariat-i-Mohammadi (TNSM), he sent his son, thethen Fazal Hayat, now Fazlullah, to his Madrassa at Qambar in Dir district. This long and equally close association between Sufi and Fazaleventually turned into matrimonial relationship when the young son of Biladar became the son-in-law of the TNSM chief. After SufiMohammad (who had actually formed the TNSM in 1992 after leaving the Jamaat-e-Islami) was awarded life imprisonment in 2002 by ananti-terrorism court on charges of inciting youngsters to illegally cross the Pak-Afghan border to wage a Jihad against the US-led AlliedForces in Afghanistan, Fazlullah made his native village Imam Dheri as TNSM headquarter and got it shifted from Qambar in Dir. Generallyreferred to as the Pakistani Taliban, primarily to distinguish itself from the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar, the TNSM is a militant Wahabiorganisation which has fast emerged in the Malakand division and in the Bajaur Agency as a private army to reckon with. As far as the TNSMorganisational structure is concerned, Fazlullah is assisted by two Shuras, or councils. One is the Ulema Shura with several Swati clericswho advise him on religious policies of the group. Another Shura, which is also called the executive body, is the highest policy-making organof the TNSM, which has a large number of ex-servicemen, including retired commissioned officers, as its members. Always wearing blackturbans, the followers of Fazlullah are also called Black Turbans. He has never had his photograph taken, believing Islam forbids takingpictures of human beings lest it becomes the first step to idol worship. The essence of his agenda is in the motto: “Shariah ya Shahadat(Islamic laws or martyrdom)”.

13. Explaining the impact of the commando raid in the Lal Masjid on the mind of Fazlullah, Amir Mir wrote: "During the July 2007 Lal Masjidoperation against the fanatic Ghazi brothers, Fazlullah came into action against the government forces to avenge the military action. A largenumber of people armed with rifles, Kalashnikovs and small arms started gathering at his Madrassa as he announced it was time to go towar. His announcement that thousands of militants were ready to avenge the attack was followed by a series of suicide assaults on thesecurity forces. As many students belonging to the Red Mosque-linked seminaries were from this area, the Army action generated a wave ofsympathy for Fazlullah’s cause. Most of the anti-government rallies and demonstrations against the Lal Masjid operation were held in thisregion.Soon after the Lal Masjid operation, Fazlullah decided to join hands with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, led by Commander BaitullahMehsud, in a bid to provide an umbrella to all insurgent movements operating in several tribal agencies and settled areas of the NWFP. Since then, Fazlullah and his followers are toeing Baitullah’s line, whether they are issuing a decree, signing a peace deal with thegovernment or scrapping the same. Therefore, it appears by all accounts that the Fazlullah-led militants are working in the same mould asthe fire-spewing clerics of Lal Masjid did: to make Swat hostage to its rigid vision of militant Islam. And remember, the valley is hardly 160kilometres from Islamabad."

14. The second development of concern has been the mushrooming of individual Islamic warlords, who have established control in differentparts of the tribal belt and have been enforcing their own writ in support of some demand or the other. Thus, a group in the Khyber Agencyhas been repeatedly attacking NATO logistics convoys moving to Afgfhanistan from Karachi as they pass through the agency anddisrupting logistics supplies. In response to this, the US-led forces have already started working out alternate routes for logistics suppliesthrough Russia and the Central Asian Republics (CARs). Whether this would provide relief is uncertain because movement of convoys fromthe CARs to southern and eastern Afghanistan would be vulnerable to attacks by the Afghan Neo Taliban headed by Pakistan-based MullaMohamma Omar.

15. The third development of concern is the aggravation of the anti-Shia terrorism indulged in by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ). While the pastattacks by the LEJ on Shias were caused by sectarian differences, allegations of co-operation of the Shias in the tribal belt with thePakistan Army in its operations against the Sunni TTP became an additional cause for anti-Shia anger. Many Shias in the Pashtun belt havejoined the anti-Taliban Lashkars (militias) set up by the Army. This has led to increased attacks on the Shias not only in the FATA and theNWFP, but also in Punjab and Balochistan. In the latest anti-Shia incident, more than 30 Shias were killed in an explosion in Dera Ghazi Khanin Punjab on February 5,2009.

16.While the Pakistan Army has been playing a more active role against the TTP in the Bajaur and Khyber Agencies and in the Swat Valley, ithas been taking no action against Al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) in North Waziristanand against the TTP faction led by Baitullah Mehsud in South Waziristan. The only action against them has so far been from the US in theform of Predator strikes.

17. These gloomy figures should not obscure two positive developments. The first positive development has been that the US is no longergroping in the dark in its Predator operations in the FATA and once or twice in the NWFP. There is a greater flow of human intelligence afternearly seven years of practically nil intelligence. The flow is still inadequate, but much better than what it was till 2007. This would showthat there are elements in the tribal belt, which are prepared to help the US forces provided their identity is protected and their personalsecurity is guaranteed. The US anxiety to ensure this has come in the way of its sharing actionable intelligence with the Pakistani Army andInter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to guard against leaks. This trust deficit between the US intelligence and the ISI in matters relating to thesharing of intelligence has come in the way of joint operations. In an increasing number of instances, Al Qaeda and the TTP have beencapturing and beheading suspected collaborators of the US. Despite this, the flow of intelligence has not stopped

18. My estimate is that only about one-third of the reports received by the US intelligence during 2008 proved to be correct resulting insuccessful Predator strikes. Even these limited successful strikes have dented the middle-level leadership of Al Qaeda operating from thePakistani territory. Citing unidentified ISI officials and an unamed diplomat based in Islamabad, the "Newsweek" has reported that 11 ofthe top 20 “high-value targets” along the Afghan border have been eliminated in the past six months and that since September,2008, 140pro-Islamist officers have been sent out of the ISI. It may be recalled that reportedly under US pressure Lt.Gen.Nadeem Taj was replacedas the ISI chief on September 30,2008, by Lt-Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha. It was reported that the US suspected that Taj's was the brain behindthe car bomb explosion outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul in July, 2008, and that some sensitive information which the US intelligenceshared with him was leaked out to the Taliban.

19.Even before the planned surge of the US troops starts, Al Qaeda has started its own surge in Afghanistan. Reliable reports indicate thatforeign Arab volunteers for Al Qaeda----mainly from Saudi Arabia and Yemen--- are no longer going to Iraq. They are now going in their dozensto the Pakistan-Afghanistan region----either directly or via Iran. This has also been corroborated by the Afghan authorities. A Reuters reportof February 4,2009, has quoted the Afghan Defence Minister, Abdul Rahim Wardak, as saying as follows: "There are about 15,000 Talibanfighters in Afghanistan, but their numbers are being swelled by foreign insurgents moving in from Iraq, where violence has fallen after a U.S.troop "surge" and other measures. Since last year, as the result of the success of the surge in Iraq, there has been a flow of foreignterrorists into Afghanistan.There have been engagements in 2008, and in some of these engagements, actually 60 per cent of the total forcewhich we have encountered were foreign fighters."

20. This is the situation , which confronts Obama two weeks after he took over as the President and which is going to confront Holbrooke ashe undertakes his first visit to the region as Obama's Special Representative.While the new Pak-Afghan strategy is still taking shape, someideas of the kind of questions that are being addressed are already available from the testimony of Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense,before the Senate Armed Services Committee on January 27, 2009, from an interview given by Obama over the NBC Channel on February2,2009, from various statements by senior US military officials regarding the ground situation and from leaked extracts of a strategy paperreportedly prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

21. Some of the questions which have come up are: Has the time come to stop calling the military operation in this region "a war on terror"and instead use some other less provocative (to Muslims) expression? What should be the US objective in this region? Should the objectivebe restricted to neutralising Al Qaeda so that it cannot pose a threat to the US homeland again? Has the time come to abandon grandioseobjectives such as the democratisation and modernisation of the Afghan society? Has the time come to give up projecting thecounter-terrorism operations in ideological terms? How to make Pakistan a more effective and sincere partner in these operations?

22. There is still considerable confusion in the Obama administration about the nature of the ground situation in the region. For example, inhis interview over the NBC Obama did not speak of Al Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan. Instead, he spoke of Al Qaeda sanctuaries inAfghanistan and made it appear that it was the situation in Afghanistan which was threatening to destabilise Pakistan and not vice versa.To quote him: “We are not gonna to be able to rebuild Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy.What we can do is make sure that Afghanistan is not a safe haven for al-Qaeda. What we can do is make sure that it is not destabilising neighboring Pakistan, which has “nuclear weapons. "

23. However, there is no confusion in the statements of Pentagon officials. Addressing the Reserve Officers Association at Washington onFebruary 2,2009,Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, said: "We cannot accept that Al Qaeda leadership, which continues toplan against us every single day, has a safe haven in Pakistan and could resume one in Afghanistan."

24. Some analysts see significance in the appointment by Obama of Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry, described by the New York Times as a"highly unusual choice", as the new US Ambassador to Afghanistan. He had served twice as the US military commander in Afghanistan sincethe US military operations started on Octobrer 7,2001, and reportedly advocates more robust rules of engagement with Al Qaeda andTaliban elements operating from hide-outs in Pakistani territory.

25. Holbrooke is the only civilian in Obama's brains-trust on the region. The rest are all military officers. This would indicate a greater voicefor the military than was the case even under George Bush in policy-making on Afghanistan and Pakistan. How to deal with the jihadicocktail in Pakistan with a melange of anti-US, anti-Israel, anti-India, anti-Afghanistan, anti-Iran, anti-Russia, anti-Uzbekistan and anti-Chinagroups cooperating with each other in fanning the jihadi fire in different directions? That will be the most important question calling for animmediate answer.

26. This cocktail has to be eliminated with or without the co-operation of Pakistan. Pakistani rulers----political or military--- have become adept at exploiting the situation by constantly holding before the eyes of Washington the spectre of a jihadi deluge reaching up to itsnuclear arsenal if the US exercises too much pressure on them to act or cuts down its assistance to them. The time has come to make itclear to the Pakistani rulers that the fears of such a spectre will no longer influence their policy. ( 6-2-09)

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