Tuesday, June 30, 2009




The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud and its various constituent units in different sub-tribal areas headed by local sub-tribal chiefs have proved themselves to be more than a match for the Pakistan Army as it struggles to cope with a spreading arc of Taliban presence and operations right across the Pashtun tribal belt and with its undamaged ability to hit beyond the frontlines in cities and cantonments located in non-tribal areas whenever it wants.

2. Widespread Pashtun anger against the US and the Pakistani military continues to be the main motivating force of the TTP. There are no signs----at least not yet--- that feelings of Pashtun nationalism influence the TTP's operations. The TTP sees itself more as a Pashtun self-defence movement to protect the Pashtuns against attempts to change their way of life by the Pakistani authorities allegedly at the instance of the US. The TTP asserts the right of the Pashtuns to have their lives and criminal justice system regulated by the Sharia if they so desire without being dictated to on this subject by non-Pashtun elements. It also asserts the right of the Pashtuns to govern themselves according to their tribal and sub-tribal customs without interference by Pakistani civil servants and military officers. It wants the tribes and the sub-tribes to be left alone to manage their affairs in their territory as they please without any intereference from Islamabad. It strongly adheres to traditions of Pashtun solidarity wherever they are located in Pakistan or Afghanistan and traditions of Pashtun hospitality to their guests----even if such guests be the Arabs of Al Qaeda. While it accepts the right of any Muslim---Pashtun or non-Pashtun, Arab or non-Arab--- to take shelter in Pashtun territory if they are faced with danger from non-Muslims, it rejects any role for non-Muslims----whether American or non-American---in Pashtun territory.

3. It looks upon the post-9/11 operations of the US against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, with the assistance of Pakistan, as an attempt to advance a non-Muslim and a non-Pashtun agenda in the Pashtun areas. The fact that there has been hardly any Pashtun input from Pakistan into the formulation of the so-called Af-Pak strategy of the Obama Administration has made its strategy strongly suspect in the TTP's eyes.

4.While the TTP enjoys a growing measure of support among the tribes and sub-tribes of the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Malakand Division of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), its support base in the rest of the NWFP and in the large Pashtun community of Karachi, which has reportedly even more Pashtuns than Peshawar, continues to be thin because of the strong influence of the progressive Awami National Party (ANP) in those areas. The US policy towards the Pashtuns, which tends to be influenced by Pakistani experts such as Ahmed Rashid, who seek more the applause of American audiences than of the Pashtun populace, has not had the benefit of the intellectual inputs of the sons of the Pashtun soil, who understand the feelings of their fellow Pashtuns better than experts like Ahmed Rashid, who look at the Pashtun problem more from the geostrategic aspect than from the angle of Pashtun self-respect.

5.Next to the Punjabis, the Pashtuns have always contributed since the birth of Pakistan in 1947 a large number of soldiers and officers to the Pakistan Army (about 20 per cent plus). The FATA and the Malakand Division of the NWFP have a large number of trained and experienced ex-servicemen. It would not be an exaggeration to say that there is hardly a Pashtun family in the FATA, which does not have an ex-serviceman among its members. Taking advantage of the failure of the Pakistan Army to look after these ex-servicemen and keep them on its side, the TTP has managed to mobilise many of them and has been using their services not only for training its cadres but also for the execution of its operations.

6. While young new recruits have been in the forefront of its suicide operations in the non-tribal and tribal areas, the ex-servicemen have been playing an important role in its conventional military operations and in its guerilla strikes. The TTP has a more comprehensive and well thought-out strategy for countering the Pakistan Army than the Army has for countering the TTP. The TTP has been using a good repertoire of militaty and sub-military tactics--- ambushes, frontal attacks, diversionary strikes and suicide terrorism--- in its fight against the Army.
After having got the Army bogged down in certain parts of the Swat Valley, it has spread its diversionary attacks to the Bajaur Agency,the Kurram Agency and North Waziristan. It has tried to pre-empt an expected military strike in South Waziristan, the stronghold of the Mehsuds, by further activating the fighting in the Kurram and North Waziristan Agencies. It has prevented the diversion of Pakistani Army reinforcements to South Waziristan from Swat by fresh movements and attacks in the Swat Valley. Even Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for the Pakistan-Afghanistan region, has conceded that claims of a Pakistani victory in Swat could be premature.

7. The coherent strategy of the TTP has not been matched by an equally coherent one of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan. He has been struggling to counter the co-ordinated strategy of the TTP with a bits and pieces strategy depending on where the pressure from the TTP comes from. Today in Swat, tomorrow in Bajaur, the day after in South Waziristan, then in Kurram and North Waziristan---so it goes. There is no proacive element in his strategy. He is fire-fighting and not waging a pro-active war of attrition against the TTP. The Pakistan Army has been suffering a lot of attrition.

8. Unless and until there is a re-thinking on the strategy imparting to it greater coherence, the Pakistan Army may not be able to make a quick headway in its operations against the TTP. (1-7-09)

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

Monday, June 29, 2009



Under its "Newsnight" programme, British Broadcasting Corporation 2 is reportedly planning to show at 10-30 PM on June 29, 2009, an investigative story on the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 26,2008, by Richard Watson, its correspondent. An advance version of the programme disseminated to the media in the UK and India shows that as a result of his investigation, Watson came to the conclusion that spotters belonging to a Mumbai-based sleeper cell of the Lashkar-e-Toiba ( LET) must have been communicating to the LET's controlling officers in
Pakistan details of the police deployments and movements in and around the targeted areas on the basis of which they were able to give precise instructions to the terrorists participating in the multiple attacks. He questions the Mumbai police version that the controllers were able to give such instructions purely on the basis of their visual observations from the TV coverage of the attacks as they were taking place.

2. As reported by "TheTelegraph" of the UK, Watson says as follows: "How did the leaders know the police positions in such detail? Mumbai police say they were watching live TV in Pakistan. But these instructions seem remarkably precise for that. I know the kind of live-shots used in these situations and they would be unlikely to yield that kind of detail. It is far more likely that they had spotters on the ground who were feeding back information to their leaders about the police movements. If this is true then it means a Lashkar e-Taiba cell in Mumbai
which played a crucial role in the attacks which is still undiscovered."

3. His conclusion is based on his assessment of the communications intelligence collected by the police and not on the basis of any independent evidence collected by him in addition to what the Mumbai Police had collected.

4. The fact that the LET has been having sleeper cells in Mumbai is well known since the twin explosions of August,2003. It is also a reasonable possibility that the Mumbai Police has not been able to identify and neutralise all the sleeper cells of the LET in Mumbai. That is why acts of terrorism keep taking place from time to time despite the neutralisation of many cells in Mumbai and other cities. Recently, a sleeper cell headed by a Nepal-based LET operative was neutralised by the Delhi Police.

5. To say that the LET must still be having unearthed sleeper cells in Mumbai is one thing and to assert that the spotters of an LET sleeper cell in Mumbai must have been passing on details of police deployments around the targeted areas to the controllers in Pakistan during the attack in Novembere,2008, is something totally different.

6. The Mumbai terrorist attack lasted nearly over 60 hours. Nationals of many Western countries and Israel were among those taken hostage by the terrorists. The intelligence agencies of at least India, the US and Israel were electronically monitoring the telephone calls from and to the attacked areas on a minute-to-minute basis. Of all the intelligence agencies of the world, the National Security Agency (NSA). the electronic intelligence agency of the US, has deployed the maximum technical assets in the Af-Pak region since 9/11 to monitor the communications of Al Qaeda, the LET and other associates. Once the terrorist attacks started, the NSA must have turned all its assets in the region towards Mumbai to monitor all in-coming and out-going communications. So too the Indian intelligence.

7. The Indian and the US intelligence agencies were able to intercept all communications passing between the terrorists who had occupied the two hotels and the Narriman House and their controlling officers in Pakistan. In addition to contemporaneously monitoring telephone conversations, intelligence agencies have also arrangements for automatic recording of all conversations in a terrorism situation so that if they contemporaneously miss any conversation, they can refer to the recordings.

8. Had there been LET spotters around the areas targeted, who were in independent communication with the controllers in Pakistan their conversations---- whether through the Internet or otherwise--- must have also been intercepted contemporaneously or recorded and noticed subsequently. No intelligence agency----neither Indian nor the US nor of any other country--- has spoken of any such conversation with Pakistan by elements not participating in the attacks. This would show that apart from the 10 terrorists of the LET, who participated in the attacks, nobody else was in independent communication with the controllers in Pakistan.

9. The terrorist attacks were covered from different camera angles by camera teams from over 50 TV channels of the world. If the controllers in Pakistan had been able to see all their live transmissions, they would have had the minutest details of the police deployments. During the Black September kidnapping of some Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics in 1972, the terrorists, who had taken up position with the hostages inside a house in the games village, were able to get details of the police deployments by watching the TV inside the house. At that time, there were hardly half a dozen channels and their technical equipment was not very good. If they were able to get so
many details by watching so few channels, it should not be surprising that the Pakistan-based controllers of the Mumbai attacks were able to get a lot more details in such precision. (29-6-09)

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

Sunday, June 28, 2009



Replying to the debate on the budgetary demands of the Ministry of the Interior in the National Assembly on June 24,2009, Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, said: “Due to the efforts of the President and the Prime Minister, the Chinese Government has provided $290 million for capacity building of our security forces.” Even though he did not specifically say so, the capacity-building he was referring to is in the field of counter-terrorism. This would be in addition to continuing Chinese assistance to the Pakistani Armed Forces to strengthen their
capability against their Indian counterparts.

2. The decision of the Chinese authorities to assist Pakistani capacity-building in counter-terrorism was officially conveyed to Malik when he visited Beijing and Shanghai from June 9 to 12,2009. The visit was preceded by the Pakistan Government’s handing over to the Chinese of 10 members of the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan despite objections from the Amnesty International, which feared that these Uighurs might be executed by China without proper trial, The Pakistani authorities, who officially revealed the handing-over on June 5,2009, as reported by the "News" of June 6, claimed that these Uighurs, who were rounded up during the Pakistan Army's counter-insurgency operations in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), belonged to the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). They have not indicated when they were rounded up. However, it is understood that the Amnesty International has been taking up their case since March. This would mean that they must have been rounded up in or before March,2009.

3. The "News" of June 6 reported as follows: "According to some sources in Islamabad, the Chinese militants were extradited despite opposition by the Amnesty International. In March 2009, Tim Parritt, Deputy Director of the Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme, had observed that whatever these militants were accused of, the risks posed to them were extremely grave, if forcibly returned to China. He had maintained that under the international law, states were obliged not to expel, return or extradite any person to a country where they risk torture or other ill-treatment. However, the Pakistani authorities insist that all those who had been extradited to Beijing were involved in terrorist activities both in China and in Pakistan and had also developed links with al-Qaeda network in the tribal areas of Pakistan. They said the fact that the ETIM militants had extended their network of terrorist activities to Pakistan was evident from a threat they had conveyed to the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, saying they intended to kidnap Chinese diplomats and consular officers stationed in the Pakistani federal capital with a view to highlighting their cause. The Chinese mission subsequently informed the Pakistani authorities in a letter that some members of the ETIM had already reached Islamabad and planned to kidnap their staffers from the federal capital. The letter reportedly pointed out that terrorist groups located in Pakistan, including al-Qaeda, had been providing support to the ETIM activists for the likely kidnappings. Subsequent investigations had established that the anonymous threat was issued by none other than the East Turkistan Islamic Movement and that the would-be kidnappers had first travelled to Jalalabad in Afghanistan to finalise their plans."

4. During his stay in Beijing, Malik met State Councillor and Minister for Public Security Meng Jianzhu, the Communist Party of China Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkong and the Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, who hosted a dinner for him. There were no reports of any meeting with President Hu Jintao or Prime Minister Wen Jiabo.

5.Talking to pressmen in Beijing, Malik said: " We have signed a number of agreements to build the capacity of our law enforcing agencies. We have signed agreements worth $ 300 million to acquire state of the art equipment to combat terrorism. The first consignment of these most needed equipment would be reaching Pakistan within three weeks. We want to ensure that our law enforcing agencies are well equipped, so that they could thwart with full force militancy. The equipment Pakistan needed included most modern mobile scanners that can detect hidden explosives and drugs. Initially, we would start employing these equipment in the metropolitan cities under threat of terrorism, like Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi and then gradually we plan to cover the entire country. "

6.On June 12,2009, a blogspot of the "People's Daily" of China devoted to military issues had the following commentary: "Will China play a more "direct" role in both the Pakistan and Afghanistan conflicts? During the past two days, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are sending envoys to China to ask for China’s "direct" help in their fight against militants. The previous attempts to draw China into the conflicts by both
NATO and US met with little success as China preferred to stay in the background and aid only in forms of financial and hardware support. China’s previous rejection to joining the military coalition is understandable as others have noted; while China does not view NATO/US missions in Afghanistan with suspicion compared to other Shanghai Co-operation Organisation states but allowing a military alliance to use China as a military supply route seem to undermine the Chinese Security-Umbrella that took 60 years and four wars to build. In addition, such an act violates China’s core foreign policy doctrine of non-interference in others' internal affairs. At the same time, the core Chinese
military doctrine is changing with the release of the new “Outline of Military Training and Evaluation” which for the first time placed focus on Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW) role for the PLA outside of China’s borders and anti-terror operation is considered part of the MOOTW. China is hosting the first “Non-traditional Security Forum of Armed Forces of ASEAN, China, Japan and ROK , something unthinkable just a few years ago. Maybe China is ready to move out of the “hide my capabilities and bide my time” phase to the “make some contributions” phase to be in line of what Hu coined the “harmonious world” (a.k.a, making the world safe for Confucianism) in his “Go Abroad” policy shift. It is also noted that both the Pakistan and Afghanistan’s request is coordinated and without "US/NATO involvement" which makes the request a bit more politically acceptable in China and the statement by Rehman Malik that "Pakistan has handed Chinese nationals accused of insurgent activity back to China and will continue to do so" is clearly aimed at audiences in China. Judging from China's Foreign Ministry Press Release , China might be ready to take a more direct role. China is ready to further expand and deepen our cooperation in various fields on the basis of mutual benefit so as to push forward our comprehensive partnership of cooperation."

7.Some weeks ago, the "Los Angeles Time" had reported that Richard Holbrooke, the US Special envoy on the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, had visited China and requested it to play a more active role in assisting Pakistan in counter-terrorism. Is the new "direct role" by China under its newly-formulated MOOTW doctrine an immediate response to the US request? In this connection, reference is invited to my article of May 27,2009 titled "Obama And Counter-Insurgency in Chinese Colours" at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3216.html .

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

Saturday, June 27, 2009




Since February last, a debate has been going on in the jihadi circles in Pakistan over the wisdom of the attacks launched by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) headed by Baitullah Mehsud, its Amir, against the Pakistani Armed Forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

2.Some of the jihadi organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) have been uncomfortable over the attacks launched by the TTP on the Pakistani Armed Forces and the ISI. They are of the view that the TTP should focus its attacks on the US and other NATO troops in Afghanistan.

3.Even the Afghan Taliban headed by its Amir Mulla Mohammad Omar has been critical of the TTP.

4.The only jihadi organizations supportive of the tactics of the TTP are the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), which is an anti-Shia organization.They are of the view that since the Pakistan Army has been collaborating with the US forces in their operations against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban, attacks on it and the ISI are justified.

5.Till now, Al Qaeda was silent in this debate. In a message addressed to the Pakistani nation on June 3,2009, on the fighting in the Swat Valley, Osama bin Laden has justified the attacks of the TTP on the Pakistan Army by describing the Government of Asif Ali Zardari as a Government of kafirs and by denouncing the Pakistan Army under Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani as an army of kafirs.

6.According to his arguments, since the Government of Zardari and the Army under Kayani have let themselves be used by a kafir state like the US for killing faithful Muslims, who wanted to live according to the Sharia, they have become kafirs and ceased to be true Muslims.

7.bin Laden says: “ There is a response to those who deprecatorily question: How do the Mujahideen fight the Pakistani Army, which is a Muslim army? The Pakistani Army is the one which came to the tribal region to fight them in agreement with America and in response to its demands. It should be clear if a Muslim supported kafirs against Muslims, his faith will recoil. He will become a kafir and apostate…. Who stood by America the Christian and who supported it? Isn’t that Zardari, his Government and the Army? How would you judge? He who supports kafirs becomes one of them. He must be fought against even if he fasted, prayed and claimed he is a Muslim…..The Pakistani Army is with America in the same trench against Islam. It is the duty of the honest people of Islam to fight them.”

8.bin Laden has compared the Pakistani Army under Kayani to the Afghan Army under Najibullah, which allegedly let itself be used by the Soviet Army for killing true Muslims in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan expect Kayani to meet the fate of Najibullah. They point out that religious clerics in Pakistan had issued fatwas against Najibullah for co-operating with the Soviet Army and ask how can they now support Kayani, who has been co-operating with the US army.

9.In their propaganda, Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan have sought to address the question as to why Al Qaeda has not been able to carry out another 9/11 in the US Homeland. They attribute this to its preoccupation with the fighting against the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

10.At the same time, they claim that Al Qaeda has not given up its plans for another 9/11 in the US Homeland. They believe that the growing Pashtun anger against the US and the exodus of over two million Pashtun refugees from their homes as a result of the anti-TTP operations allegedly forced on the Pakistan Army by the US have created favourable conditions for planning another 9/11 in the US Homeland. They also believe that just as the “martyrs” of 9/11 came from the Arab world, the “martyrs” of the next 9/11 will come from the Pashtun world.

11. Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistan say that bin Laden would soon be coming out with a fitting rejoinder to President Barack Obama’s Cairo message addressed to the Muslims.

12.My earlier comments on a version of the same audio message
of June 3 as disseminated by Al Jazeera may be seen at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3229.html. Kindly also see my earlier article of June 7,2009, titled “Anti-Taliban Operation Projected as Anti-Pashtun” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3238.html ( 27-6-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2gmail.com )


International Terrorism Monitor- Paper No. 538

B. Raman

Two soldiers of the Pakistan Army were killed and three others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), early on the morning of June 26,2009.

2. The Pakistani media has carried conflicting versions of the suicide attack. The "News" ( June 26) reported that "a suicide bomber ripped through an Army vehicle near Shaukat Lines, Muzaffarabad" without giving other details. The "Daily Times" of Lahore (June 26) reported that "he blew himself up near an army vehicle."

3. However, in its online edition of June 26, the "Dawn" of Karachi gave a different and more detailed version. To quote it: " According to witnesses, a bearded man in his twenties walked through a ground used by army personnel for physical training and local youths as a playground and entered the barracks of non-commissioned army men at about 6.30am. 'The bomber was intercepted by a soldier whom he tried to engage in a conversation presumably to attract other soldiers around for causing maximum casualties’ and then blew himself up, official sources said. A soldier was killed on the spot and four others were injured and taken to the Combined Military Hospital where one of them died. An army pick-up parked a few yards away overturned and another vehicle was damaged. The blast was heard in most parts of the town. An intelligence official said the ground was splattered with blood and limbs. He said four legs and other limbs had been found in the ground and under the overturned vehicle which indicated that more than one bomber might have been involved in the attack. The junior section of the Army Public School, several other educational institutions and the 5-AK Brigade headquarters are around the place where the blast took place."

4.The "Dawn" report gave another significant detail. It said: "The barracks fall under the 5-AK Brigade of the Azad Kashmir (AK) Regiment which is reportedly taking part in the operation against militants in Swat and adjoining areas."

5. The Azad Kashmir Regiment (AKR) has had an interesting history. When the Pakistan Army tried to capture Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) in 1947-48, it first sent into the state a large number of Mehsuds, Wazirs and other tribes recruited by it in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and trained and armed by it. Pakistan denied any responsibility for their actions and projected them during the debates in the UN Security Council as Kashmiris, who had risen in revolt against the then Maharaja of J&K and the Government of India. It used to describe them as Kashmiri irregulars over whom it had no control.

6. After the 1948 ceasefire, the Pakistan Army constituted these so-called irregulars into a unit called the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (AKRF), which was shown as a para-military force of the POK Government. It was placed under the over-all control of the Pakistan Army. The tribals of the AKRF were again used by the then President Ayub Khan for spearheading the invasion of J&K in 1965. The invasion, which led to fighting between the Indian and Pakistan Armies, failed.

7. When the Bengalis of the then East Pakistan rose in revolt in 1971, Yahya Khan sent the fanatic tribals of the AKRF to East Pakistan where they indulged in large-scale massacre of Bengalis. In 1972, in recognition of its "services" in East Pakistan, the Pakistan Army absorbed the AKRF into the regular army and renamed it the Azad Kashmir Regiment (AKR). Its Regimental Center is located at Mansar, Attock District, Punjab. Initially, the AKR consisted largely of Pashtun tribals recruited in the FATA officered by Punjabis. Now it has a larger percentage of Punjabis. Exact present figures of Pashtuns and Punjabis in the AKR are not available.

8. When there were fears in Pakistan of a military retaliation by the Indian Armed Forces after the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008, Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP, had reportedly said that if India attacked Pakistan, the TTP would stop its fight against the Pakistan Army and join it in fighting against India. This was welcomed by a Pakistani Army spokesman as a patriotic gesture. Subsequently, there were reports of differences developing between the TTP on the one side and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami(HUJI) and the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) on the other because of the unhappiness of these four Kashmir-centric organisations over the attacks being carried out by the TTP on the Pakistan Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). They reportedly felt that the TTP and other organisations should focus on attacking the NATO forces in Afghanistan in collaboration with the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda and should not attack the Pakistan Army. Only the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the anti-Shia organisation, supported the TTP's fight against the Pakistan Army. They felt that since the Pakistan Army was letting itself be used by the US against Al Qaeda, attacks on it were justified.Following these differences, the TTP reportedly ordered these four organisations to close down their training camps in the tribal belt.

9. Since the TTP came into existence in 2007 after the Pakistan Army's commando raid into the Lal Masjid of Islamabad in July,2007, it has carried out over a hundred acts of suicide terrorism.Many of them were in non-tribal areas and important cities and cantonments such as Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, Sargodha and other places. Many of these attacks were directed at the Army, the ISI,the Special Services Group (SSG), the US-trained commando group, the Air Force, the Navy, the Police and the Federal Investigation Agency. Recently, the TTP had warned of an attack in Multan from where the operations of the helicopter gunships in the Swat Valley are co-ordinated.

10. But it had carefully refrained from any act of suicide terrorism in the POK. This is the first time there has been an act of suicide terrorism in the POK, which has been attributed to the TTP. The Associated Press and sections of the Pakistani media have quoted Hakimullah Mehsud, a close associate of Baitullah, who is responsible for the TTP activities in the Orakzai, Khyber and Kurram areas and who also coordinates Taliban attacks on trucks carrying logistic supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan, as claiming responsibility on behalf of the TTP for the Muzaffarabad attack. A person claiming to be Hakimullah was reported to have told the AP over phone that the attack was made to prove that Baitullah had not been weakened by more than a week of strikes on his suspected hideouts in South Waziristan.. “We are in a position to respond to the army’s attacks, and time will prove that these military operations have not weakened us," he reportedly said. It also needs to be noted that since the co-ordinated hunt for Baitullah started, Hakimullah's men have stepped up their attacks on Shias in the Kurram Agency.

11. Presuming that this call was, in fact, made by Hakimullah and that it was the TTP which had carried out the attack, the Muzaffarabad attack reflects the concerns of the TTP and Baitullah over the co-ordinated operations launched by the Pakistani and US forces in South Waziristan in order to neutralise Baitullah and his close associates. The TTP has apparently come to the conclusion that only fears of reprisal attacks in the POK could prevent the Pakistan Army from reinforcing its ground forces in South Waziristan for the operations against Baitullah and his forces.

12. The Pakistan Army, which has by now got used to a wave of suicide attacks all over Pakistan, is unlikely to be deterred from the South Waziristan operation by a single attack in the POK by the TTP. But if there are more such attacks and in quick succession, it might be unnerved by the prospects of instability in the POK as a result of its operations in the NWFP and the FATA. As of now, the TTP does not appear to have the capability for sustained operations in the POK. Even if it has, it is unlikely to use it since any attempt to create instability in the POK would aggravate the divide between it and the people of Pakistan. Its anti-Army activities in the POK could also be opposed by the anti-India, Kashmir-centric jihadi groups.

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

Friday, June 26, 2009


International Terrorism Monitor--Paper No. 537

B. Raman

According to well-informed Pakistani police sources,the US and Pakistani Armed Forces, intelligence agencies and special forces have launched a co-ordinated hunt for Baitullah Mehsud, the Amir of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in South Waziristan in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is a co-ordinated and not a joint operation. In a co-ordinated operation the two collaborators operate independently of each other and not jointly together under a common command and control, but keep each other informed in advance of their operational plans to avoid attacking each other by mistake instead of their common target.

2. The operations undertaken by the Pakistan Army in the Swat Valley of the Malakand Division in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) since April have started coming in for some criticism because while the Pakistan Army has claimed to have killed over 1500 foot soldiers of the Pakistani Taliban hardly any important leader has been killed or captured. To avoid such criticism, the focus of the operations in South Waziristan would be on killing Baitullah Mehsud and Qari Hussain Mehsud, one of his lieutenants, who reportedly trains suicide terrorists, and not on re-establishing immediate territorial control over the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan. While re-establishing territorial control will be the ultimate objective, eliminating Baitullah and Hussain would be the immediate objective. The calculation is that if they are eliminated, the TTP could disintegrate.

3. The initial emphasis would be more on the use of air power than ground forces. While the Pakistanis would use their F-16 aircraft and helicopter gunships, the US would continue to use its unmanned Drones with their missiles. The initial emphasis on the use of air power by Pakistan also takes into account the difficulties that it might face in diverting adequate forces to South Waziristan till the operations in the Swat Valley are over. The internally displaced persons from the Swat Valley, who are presently living in camps in the NWFP, are anxious to go back to their villages in Swat. Making arrangements for their return and for maintaining control over the re-captured areas of the Swat would keep a large number of Pakistani troops tied up in the Swat Valley. Thus, the ability of the Pakistani Army to deploy adequate troops for any ground operations in South Waziristan would be limited. Keeping all these factors in view, the initial focus will be on a co-ordinated hunt for Baitullah and Hussain from the air.

4. A well-planned, intelligence-driven and smartly-executed double strike by US Drones in South Waziristan on June 23, 2009, had targeted Baitullah and Hussain, but it failed to achieve its objective for want of luck despite the operations being executed with precision. The double attack was carried out at a village called Lattaka in the Shabikhel area of South Waziristan, where one of the buildings periodically used by Baitullah is reported to be located. In the first strike directed at the building, Khwaz Ali, a close associate of Baitullah, and five other unidentified persons were killed. The second strike was directed some hours later at the village graveyard where about a hundred people had gathered for the burial of Khwaz Ali. About 80 of the mourners, including some children, are believed to have been killed. Initial reports that Qari Hussain Mehsud of the Pakistani Taliban and Maulvi Sangeen Zadran, a close associate of Serjuddin Haqqani of the Afghan Taliban, were among the mourners killed have not been corroborated. There have been conflicting reports about Baitullah. Some reports say he was among the mourners, but had left the graveyard before the Drone attack. Others deny that he was among the mourners. The fact that there has been no public demonstration in the area indicates that the majority of those killed must have been members of the Taliban and not innocent local villagers as subsequently alleged by Taliban elements.

5. The US has carried out 24 Drone strikes in Pakistani territory so far this year as against 36 during the whole of 2008. The Obama Administration is not relenting in its policy of using the Drones whenever warranted by specific intelligence without worrying about proforma protests from the Pakistani authorities and leaders or about warnings by some US analysts that increasing civilian casualties due to the Drone attacks could drive more tribals into the arms of the Taliban. The stepped-up Drone strikes, which were initially justified as necessary to disrupt the presence and activities of Al Qaeda remnants in Pakistani territory, are now sought to be used to indirectly help the Pakistan Army in its operations against the Pakistani Taliban.

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

Wednesday, June 24, 2009



"The Obama Administration's policy of showering Pakistan with money and arms and ammunition even in the absence of proof of sincerity and conviction and even in the absence of progress on the ground is once again creating a worrisome impression in the Pakistani leaders that to continue to benefit from US support and largesse all they have to do is to create an illusion of motion without actual movement.That is what they are doing. That is what Pervez Musharraf did when he was the President. The two Waziristans came under the effective control of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and their associates and the Neo Taliban of Afghanistan, operating from sanctuaries in Balochistan, staged its spectacular come-back in Afghanistan when he was the President and was the beneficiary of billions of dollars given by the Bush Administration. What promises he made to the Bush Administration to reform and modernise the madrasas and prevent their misuse for jihad! How much money he took from the US for madrasa reforms! What happened to those reforms? That is exactly what Zardari, Gilani and Kayani are doing now. Creating an illusion of motion without actual movement, while extracting billions of dollars from the US. The Pakistani leadership---political and military--- has developed into a fine art the extraction of money from the US by exploiting the presence of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in their territory. If the Taliban ultimately succeeds in further strengthening and expanding its control in Pakistan, the US will have to share a major portion of the responsibility for failing to make Pakistan act effectively instead of merely seeming to do so. "

2. So I wrote in my article of May 22,2009, titled "Pak Army's Taliban Hunt: Seeming Motion Without Movement" available at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3209.html.

3. Responsible people in Pakistan have started doubting the claims of the Pakistan Army about the progress being made by it in its operations against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Even its claims of having killed over 1500 members of the Pakistani Taliban in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province are now being doubted because the Pakistan Army has not produced any evidence in support of its claims. Had the Army really killed so many members of the Taliban, there should have been mass graves in that area. The Army has not been able to produce the dead bodies of those killed---nor has it been able to indicate where the hundreds of dead bodies of the killed Taliban were buried.Not one of the important leaders has been killed or captured.

4. For the first time, a responsible member of Pakistan's strategic analysts community----- Zafar Hilaly, a retired officer of the Pakistan Foreign Service--- has reflected in an article published by the "News" of June 24,2009, the nagging skepticism about the reliability of the claims of the Army. A copy of his article is annexed. (24-6-09)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Zafar Hilaly

The army is fast acquiring a credibility problem with its claims of dead, injured and captured Taliban. At first there were mere mutterings,sotto voce suspicions, that not all is as claimed. These doubts are increasing; the chorus of suspicion is more voluble and before they acquire the dimensions of a scream the Army had better attend to it.

The pleasant and able and composed DG, ISPR in fact alluded to these suspicions on June 22 when he said that the army had not wanted to show pictures of the dead lest the public become upset but, presumably, in response to public demand, he showed 54 pictures of dead Taliban. All of whom appeared very much as one would expect those killed in battle. I doubt if anyone was upset by those images. Actually,for Pakistanis fed on a rich diet of Taliban videos showing gory executions of soldiers, with the sound on, they were rather tame. In fact most watching probably relished seeing their tormentors dead.

Noticeably, there were no photos of injured Taliban and only a desultory few of those claimed to have been captured have ever been shown on TV. In contrast the Taliban paraded their victims, allowed interviews and generally made a great show about their capture and their own prowess. Of course, it was done with the aim of terrorising the populace just as for the army to show their captives in all poses would hopefully also terrorise the enemy.

Some Taliban practices may be worth adopting because photos of a mere 54 dead while claiming that the actual number is 2000 do not wash. Especially as not a single one of the first tier leaders has been killed, wounded or captured and rumours are circulating that the Taliban leadership have been evacuated away from the danger zone, along with Al Qaeda leaders to Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan and would return in due course.

Pakistanis are a suspicious lot when it comes to evaluating official claims, perhaps because they tend to deceive even when it is easier to tell the truth; or because they have learnt from experience that "official speak" is invariably wrong or comes with a spin; or because the claims are so fatuous as to defy credulity. For example, after every air strike the number of dead militants ranges from six to 14 militants,seldom more. All of them are supposed to be insurgents, rarely civilians, presumably because, unlike the Americans, we have very discriminating "Taliban seeking" missiles. Considering the difficult terrain and the risk to be incurred by the usually "reliable" sources reaching the site of the bombing it is remarkable how quickly the numbers of dead and injured are counted, processed and reported in the press the next day. Whoever does such an efficient job should be asked to lead our flaying attempts to cope with the IDPs problem.

It was also revealing that the BBC correspondent who was taken on a tour of the battle zone, he termed it "bandit country," said that while he was shown a half dozen or so of "captured Taliban" he saw none of the 2000 dead nor any graves or other signs of death. Instead BBC viewers last night got to see what the Taliban had allowed him to film which was the hanging corpse of a beheaded soldier and another who had been killed, with boastful Taliban standing nearby. Clearly there is something wrong with the optics of this war as far as Pakistan isconcerned.

Of much greater concern was a news report carried in Dawn of 23 June entitled "Efforts on for patch- up between Darra Taliban, Adezai lashkar," which states that "Some "invisible" forces( normally a euphemism for we know who) are out to narrow the differences and broker an understanding between the Darra Adam Khel-based Taliban and leaders of the Qaumi Lashkar of Adezai on the outskirts of the provincial capital – the Taliban conditions included that their men would freely move in parts of Peshawar and would take action against those found involved in 'un-Islamic' activities and the Lashkar would not object to their actions. Secondly, the Taliban want the lashkar not to create hurdles while they recruit new members. Another condition of the Taliban is that the lashkar will not support security forces in case of any clash between the Taliban and law enforcing agencies."

Apparently two rounds of negotiations have already been held and members of the "Tableeghii Jamaat were active to broker an understanding between the two sides". When the local police chief was asked about these negotiations he denied all knowledge of them.Both are probably telling the truth. The left hand in Pakistan often does not know what the right hand is doing. Or the left side of the mouth,in the case of the Interior Minister, who claimed that Fazlullah had been "trapped," does not have a clue what the right side, which denied he had made any such statement, is saying.

Such reports, if true, damage the sincerity of the army's efforts and rob its actions and claims of credibility. It is difficult to believe that even while the army is engaged in fighting and dying in Swat another arm of government is negotiating deals with the same blood thirsty foe of murderers, kidnappers and drug peddlars. The report further negates the claim of the Tableeghi Jamaat that it is a purely religious organisation rather than one with a political agenda, as many have long suspected. (I recall being summoned to the Yemeni Foreign Office in 1988 and being asked why the Tableeqi Jamaat chose Yemen to spread the word of Islam. In the words of the Yemeni official: "Excellency,this is our religion, we gave it to you, please don't try and teach us the proper Islam. Ask them to go somewhere else. Or do they have some other agenda.")

Mr Zardari has written a column in the Washington Post emphasising that democracy and democracy alone is the panacea for Pakistan's problems. Unfortunately many of his countrymen are not so certain. Pakistanis are as sceptical about democracy as they are about dictatorship. Both have failed to deliver. Both speak with forked tongues. Similarly, Mr Zardari has claimed that he will fight terrorism to the bitter end. "Fight" should be the operative word and not "negotiate" deals of the sort being hustled in Peshawar.
The writer is a former ambassador. Email: charles123it@hotmail.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009



The continuing inability of the Government ----whether at the Centre or in the States--- to counter effectively the spread of the activities of the Maoist insurgents-cum-terrorists has once again been demonstrated by the temporary control established by the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and its front organisation called the People's Committee Against Police Atrocities over 17 out of 118 small villages spread across some 300 square kilometres in the Lalgarh area of the State of West Bengal ruled by a coalition headed by the Communist Party of India ( Marxist).

2. The People's Committee, with the backing or at the instigation of the Communist Party of India (Maoist),exploited local anger over alleged police excesses against the tribals following an alleged Maoist attempt to kill the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee through a landmine blast in November last year.

3. What started as a protest movement against police excesses against the local tribals was transformed by the Maoists into a violent political movement for establishing their writ over the villages in the Lalgarh area of West Midnapore Distict.The hesitation of the Governments of West Bengal and India to act strongly against the Maoist-instigated Committee at the very beginning apparently due to electoral considerations arising from the recently-concluded elections to the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Indian Parliament, was exploited by the committee and the Maoists, with the reported help of Maoists from the adjoining States of Jharkhand and Orissa, to strengthen their control over these villages.

4. The transformation of the ostensibly human rights movement into a political movement for a confrontation with the State is evident from the demands put forward by Gour Chakraborty, the CPI-Maoist's spokesman, in an interview to Rediff.com on June 18,2009, after the State Government forces, with the help of para-military forces of the Government of India, started counter-insurgency operations to eject the Maoists from the villages controlled by them. The security forces have already succeeded in ejecting the Maoists and their supporters from many of the villages earlier controlled by them.In his interview, Chakraborty spelt out the the three main demands of the Maoists as follows:"Central and state forces must be withdrawn from the entire area; the State Government must officially apologise to the tribals for its torture and misbehaviour and it should immediately put an end to police atrocities."

5. While reiterating the Government of India's policy of being willing for talks with the Maoists on their legitimate demands if and when they give up the resort to violence, the Government of India as evidence of its determination to put down the Maoist activities firmly has banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist) after designating it as a terrorist organisation. The ban order was issued on June 22,2009, under Section 41 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The CPI (Maoist) was formed in 2004 through the merger of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), the People's War Group (PWG) and the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC). The earlier ban order had covered these organisations, but after their merger to form the CPI (Maoist), no specific order had been issued to bring the CPI (Maoist) under its purview.This lacuna has been sought to be filled up now by banning specifically the CPI (Maoist) and its front organisations.

6.The CPI (Maoist) is a partly political, partly insurgent and partrly terrorist organisation. It believes in the Maoist strategy of capturing political power with the help of a well-motivated and well-trained army of the impoverished rural masses. It has been using the tribal areas in the mineral rich central and east India, where the tribals have long been subjected to political ,economic and social discrimination and where alleged instances of police excesses have been frequent, for the recruitment of its cadres and for establishing operational bases from where attacks could be launched against small and big towns to capture arms and ammunition from the police and para-military forces. As an insurgent organisation, it believes in establishing its control over territory " liberated' by it. As a terrorist organisation, it differs from other terrorist organisatiions. It indulges in targeted killings of security forces personnel and its perceived class and political enemies.It does not indulge in indiscriminate killing of civilians (non-combatants), who do not come under any of these categories.

7. Since Dr.Manmohan Singh came to power as the Prime Minister in 2004, he and his Government have been projecting the Maoists as the greatest internal security threat faced by India and calling for and promising a special strategy to counter them through co-ordinated action involving the Government of India and the Governments of the States in whose territory the Maoists are active. The Congress (I) had appointed in 2004 a special task force of the party to go into the Maoist activities in the Congress (I) ruled Andhra Pradesh to come out with suitable recommendations for dealing with the Maoist activities.

8.Till now, one does not see any sign of a suitable strategy emerging. Before evolving such a strategy, one has to understand the basic differences between Maoist insurgency/terrorism and jihadi terrorism. Firstly, the Maoist terrorism is an almost totally rural phenomenon,whereas jihadi terrorism is a largely urban phenomenon. Secondly, Maoist terrorism is a totally indigenous phenomenon motivated by domestic grievances and a domestic political agenda. Jihadi terrorism is externally sponsored or aided by the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh and is motivated by their strategic agenda. Jihadi terrorism is a cross border threat to national security. Maoist terrorism is not.

9.While the leaders of the Maoists are motivated largely by their desire to seek political power through a Maoist style People's War similar to the war waged by their counterparts in Nepal, their cadres and foot soldiers fighting for them are largely motivated by genuine grievances arising from the political, economic and social hardships faced by them. It is our long neglect to develop the tribal areas which has created large pockets of alienation against the Government and these pockets have become the spawning ground of Maoist terrorism.

10.We cannot have the same strategy for dealing with Maoist activities as we have for dealing with jihadi terrorism.We have to take note of the genuine grievances of the tribals and deal with them in a sympathetic manner. We should not dismiss summarily their allegations of police excesses. There has to be a machinery for a prompt enquiry into these allegations. Maoist terrorism cannot be effectively countered without modernising and strengthening our rural policing and the rural presence of the intelligence agencies. The tribal areas, which have not yet been affected by the Maoist virus, have to be developed on a crash basis in order to prevent the spread of the virus to them. Thecapabilities of the security agencies deployed for countering the Maoist activities have to be different from those of the urban counter-terrorism agencies. The emphasis has to be on greater mobility in the rural areas with very little road infrastructure at present and greater protection from landmines used extensively by the Maoists. Our failure to develop the road infrastructure in the rural areas has facilitated the spread of Maoist terrorism by taking advantage of the lack of mobility of the security forces.

11. The jihadis increasingly attack soft targets. The Maoists don't. They mainly attack police stations, police lines, camps and arms storage depots of para-military forces in order to demoralise the security forces and capture their arms and ammunition. The repeated success of the Maoists in mounting large-scale surprise attacks on such hard targets speaks of the poor state of rural policing and intelligence set-up and the equally poor state of physical security.

12. Unfortunately, instead of working out an appropriate strategy which will address these operational deficiencies and at the same time pay equal attention to the political handling of the problem, there is an unwise tendency to militarise the counter-Maoist insurgency management by adopting methods similar to those followed by the British in dealing with the Communist insurgency in Malaya after the Second World War. This will prove counter-productive.

13. It is time for the Government to have a re-think on the way we have been dealing with this problem in order to have a tailor-made strategy based on improvement of political management, strengthening rural policing and rural intelligence and developing capacities for rural operations with emphasis on mobile as well as on static security. ( 23-6-09)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Wednesday, June 10, 2009



( To be read in continuation of my article of May 27,2009, titled “Sixth Major Swarm Attack Since Mumbai: Is There a Common Command & Control” at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers33/paper3217.html )
At least 16 persons, including two foreigners (a Serb and a Filippino), are reported to have been killed and over 60 others injured when a group of three terrorists forced their way into the parking lot of the Pearl Continental Hotel of Peshawar at around 10-30 PM on June 9,2009, and blew up an explosive-laden truck.

2.Two terrorists with hand-held weapons, who were believed to have been traveling in a car, engaged with the guards at the security barrier near the gate of the hotel in an exchange of fire and enabled the truck bomber drive into the parking lot. It is not known what happened to the two terrorists with hand-held weapons. They have not been captured.

3.The attack resembled the one on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in September last in some aspects. The Marriott and the Pearl Continental Hotels are run by the same person. Whereas the Marriott is patronized by traveling foreign businessmen, public servants and non-governmental personalities, the Pearl Continental has a clientele restricted largely to traveling foreign public servants, in addition to Pakistani nationals.

4. As in Islamabad, in Peshawar too, the daring attack was in a high security area. At both the places, the failure of physical security was not at the hotels, but along the route on which the vehicles moved to the hotels. None of the security pickets on the route suspected anything amiss and tried to prevent the movement of the vehicles towards the hotels. Once the trucks with explosives reached the gates of the hotels very little could have been done to prevent the explosions.

5.The Peshawar hotel is located in the same area in which the Corps Commander of Peshawar lives.He enjoys the highest level of security among all Corps Commanders since he co-ordinates and supervises the military operations against Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban. The Pearl Continental was considered a highly vulnerable target because it is used as a transit hotel for traveling UN employees and is also patronized by the US and other Western diplomatic and consular missions for their traveling public servants. However, the US Consulate in Peshawar has stated that no American employee was staying in the hotel at the time of the explosion. Despite this, well-informed sources In Peshawar say the staff of some of the US training teams, which have been training personnel of the Frontier Corps and other para-military forces, used to stay in the hotel in the past. The Serb killed was reportedly an employee of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Filippino, a woman, of the UN Children’s Emergency Fund. Both of them had reportedly arrived in Peshawar along with some other UN employees to work for the persons internally displaced by the military operations against the Pakistani Taliban.

6.The Marriott Hotel blast involved only a vehicular bomb, which exploded as the vehicle stopped at the security barrier before it could enter the hotel premises. At the Pearl Continental, the initial use of hand-held weapons enabled the vehicle cross the barrier and reach the parking lot. Despite this the fatalities at the Peshawar hotel were low as compared with the fatalities at the Islamabad hotel (56) because the occupancy rate in the Peshawar hotel was low due to the poor security situation in Peshawar.

7. The investigation into the Marriott Hotel blast has not made satisfactory progress. The police claimed to have arrested four “indirect” suspects in Islamabad on October 23,2008, and another four at Karachi on May 17,2009. They linked the Karachi suspects to Al Qaeda, but there has been no corroboration.

8.There has been a predictable sameness in the spins put out by the police--- initially blame the Pakistani Taliban, project the attacks as in revenge for the military operations against the Taliban, then bring in the name of Al Qaeda when some arrests are made and then silence till another attack takes place.

9. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the anti-Shia organization, which has been collaborating with Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, is another oft-cited suspect, again without any clinching evidence so far.

10.The quick succession of successful attacks in different cities shows an ability to plan and carry out strikes without being detected, a certain precision in the planning and execution and an inexhaustible flow of suicide volunteers.

11. A worrisome thought---- what is the use of winning Swat, if Peshawar is out of control? (10-6-09)

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

Sunday, June 7, 2009


International Terrorism Monitor--- Paper No. 533

B. Raman

Some years ago, when Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the blue-eyed warrior against terrorism of the then President George Bush, was the President of Pakistan, its police had arrested an individual on a charge of belonging to Al Qaeda, a terrorist organisation. When he was produced before an Anti-Terrorism Court, it asked the Government lawyer to produce a copy of the notification under which Al Qaeda had been declared a terrorist organisation. After some days, the lawyer went back to the court and told it sheepishly that the Government had overlooked declaring Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation.He promised that a notification would be issued shortly and wanted that the arrested person should continue to remain in custody till then. The court did not accept the plea. It ordered his release. It held that even if it was a fact that he belonged to Al Qaeda, he had not committed an offence because Al Qaeda was not a terrorist organisation under Pakistani laws.

2. Some years later, in December 2008 to be precise, the Pakistani Govt. placed Prof. Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political front of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), under house arrest in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26. The action was taken following the decision of the anti-terrorism Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council to include the JUD and the LET as associates of Al Qaeda and the LET.

3. Sayeed went to the Lahore High Court to challenge his house arrest. The Government lawyer told the court that the action of the Sanctions Committee obliged the Government to act against him. When the court did not agree with that contention and asked the lawyer whether the Government had any independent evidence of its own, the lawyer met the three judges privately and showed them what he claimed was independent evidence of the LET's links with Al Qaeda. The judges wanted to see a copy of the Government notification under which Al Qaeda was declared a terrorist organisation.

4. After some days, the lawyer went back to the court and told it sheepishly that the Government had not yet declared Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation. The court told him that if that was so, the LET's having links with Al Qaeda is no offence under the law.

5. The court, which ordered the release of Sayeed on June 2, 2009, released on June 6, 2009, the details of the grounds on which it ordered his release. One of the grounds says: "The security laws and anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan are silent on Al Qaeda being a terrorist organisation." The court added: "Even after the perusal of these documents we do not find any material declaring that the detention was necessary for the security of the petitioners and there was no evidence that the petitioners had any links with Al Qaeda or any terrorist movement.”

6. Thus, eight years after 9/11, Pakistan is yet to declare Al Qaeda a terrorist organisation. Osama bin Laden may be an illegal immigrant for having crossed over into Pakistan from Tora Bora without a valid visa, but he is not a terrorist under Pakistani laws.Is this sheer, shocking negligence or is there something more sinister to it? Does one require any more evidence to show that Pakistan's so-called war against terrorism is a farce?

7. Annexed is a copy of a report carried by the "Daily Times" of Lahore on the details of the grounds cited by the court for Sayyed's release,

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


(Report carried by the "Daily Times" of Lahore on June 7, 2009)

LHC full bench issues detailed judgement in Hafiz Saeed case

Bench observes detention decision lacks solid evidence

* Bench says Pakistani laws silent on Al Qaeda being terrorist organisation

* Points out negligence in detention orders

Staff Report

LAHORE: A full bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Saturday released a 20-page detailed judgment in the detention case of Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed and Dawa leader Col (r) Nazir Ahmad.

The bench held that the government’s decision to detain the Dawa leaders was not based on solid evidence and the material provided by the government against them was incorrect and even prepared after their detention. The bench observed that the government had no evidence that Saeed and Nazir had any link with Al Qaeda or were involved in anti-state activities, except the ‘bald allegations’ leveled by the Indian lobby that they were involved in the Mumbai attacks.

The bench on June 2, through a short order, while accepting a habeas corpus petition, had declared the detention of both Dawa leaders illegal and had ordered their release.

The bench held the material against the petitioners was mostly based on intelligence reports, which had been obtained after four months of their detention. Moreover, these reports were found to be incorrect as nothing apprehended in the reports actually took place, it held.

The bench observed that several intelligence reports were obtained during the period when the petition was pending, apparently to cover the lacunae, but there was no solid evidence or source to supplement the reports. About the Dawa leaders’ involvement in the Mumbai attacks, the bench observed that not a single document had been brought on the record that Dawa or the petitioners were involved in the said incident.
On the government’s point of view that the leaders were detained on the United Nations’ directions, the bench observed that in the Memoona Saeed vs Government of Punjab case, it had already been held that there was no evidence that Dawa had links with Al Qaeda.

Silent laws: The bench held that the security laws and anti-terrorism laws of Pakistan were silent on Al Qaeda being a terrorist organisation.

The bench held, “Even after the perusal of these documents we do not find any material declaring that the detention was necessary for the security of the petitioners and there was no evidence that the petitioners had any links with Al Qaeda or any terrorist movement.”

The bench observed that it was mandatory for the detaining authority to provide grounds of detention, but it violated the provisions of the constitution by depriving the petitioners of an opportunity to assail their detention before a competent forum and also to know the allegations against them.

The bench held that this violation of law alone was sufficient to declare the detention of the petitioners illegal.

Negligence: The bench pointed out the negligence of the detaining authorities in issuing the detention orders. It remarked that even the second order passed by the home secretary did not contain that it was an extension of the earlier order, but from the language, it seemed to be a fresh order. This showed that the executive authorities had passed the detention orders in a careless manner, and did not even know that the detainee was already in custody. On the question of the review board’s authority to extend the detention, the bench held that the status of the board was of a recommending body.

The bare perusal of Article 8 of the Constitution revealed that a sitting judge of the LHC, nominated by the chief justice, was a member of the board but even then the LHC had set aside the order of the review board in different reported judgments. The bench remarked that even the apex court had already declared that the order of the review board was quasi-judicial and was amenable in writ jurisdiction. On the question of maintainability of the petition, the bench held that it was maintainable, as prima facie the government had no sufficient grounds to detain the petitioners as a preventive measure. The bench comprised of Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Justice Hasnat Ahmad Khan and Justice Zubdatul Hussain.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009



For the first time in April 2006, shortly after the visit of the then US President George Bush to India, Osama bin Laden projected the global jihad as being waged against a joint India-Israel-US plot against Islam. This theme was not repeated in his subsequent messages.

2. He has reverted to this theme in his latest audio message broadcast by Al Jazeera on June 3, 2009. The message focusses on the on-going operation of the Pakistan Army in the Swat Valley and the suffering caused by it to the people of the area, but it has been released by Al Qaeda to coincide with the arrival of President Barack Obama in Saudi Arabia from where he will be going to Egypt. Obama is expected to deliver a significant speech at the Cairo University , which is being billed in advance by US spokesmen as an important message of goodwill to the Islamic world.

3. Al Qaeda has released two messages coinciding with Obama's tour. The first by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's No.2, is totally focussed on Obama's visit. It is highly vituperative. Zawahiri, who is an Egyptian, denounces the leaders of Egypt as butchers and criminals. He uses language, which is virulently denunciatory.

4. The message of bin Laden is more balanced. He does not stoop to the level of his No.2. The main focus is not on Obama's tour, but on the on-going military operation in the Swat Valley of the North-West Frontier Province. He tries to project that Obama is no different from George Bush and that his policies towards the Muslims are full of hatred and are no different from those of Bush. He indirectly warns of the consequences of such policy. The warning is more general than specific. It cannot be interpreted as an indicator of a coming Al Qaeda strike against the US.

5. The message says: "U.S. policy in Pakistan has generated new seeds of hatred and revenge against America.Obama has ordered Zardari to prevent the people of Swat from implementing sharia law.....All this led to the displacement of about a million Muslim elders, women and children from their villages and homes. They became refugees in tents after they were honored in their own homes.This basically means that Obama and his administration put new seeds of hatred and revenge against America. The number of these seeds is the same as the number of those victims and refugees in Swat and the tribal area in northern and southern Waziristan.The American people need to prepare to only gain what those seeds bring up."

6. bin Laden has been very critical of President Asif Ali Zardari and Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS). He accuses them of continuing to divert the army's main role from protecting the nation to fighting Islam and its followers and adds that the war is also hurting Pakistan's economy, endangering the country's religion and security and "fulfilling an American, Jewish and Indian plot."It further says: "Most of the Pakistani people reject this unjust war. Zardari did this in response to the ones paying him in the White House --not 10 per cent but multiple folds of that."

7.In this context, bin Laden says: "It is easy for India to subject the disassembled territories of Pakistan, one after another, for its own benefit, like the case of eastern Pakistan before, or even worse. This way, America eases its worry towards Pakistan's nuclear weapons."

8.Zawahiri's message accuses Obama of threatening to interfere in Pakistan to secure its nuclear weapons, "meaning he considers these weapons owned by America and under its control." What is sought to be conveyed to the Pakistani people by these two messages is that as a result of the co-operation of its rulers with the US, Pakistan stands in danger of losing its sovereignty not only over its territory, but also over its nuclear arsenal.

9. Why does bin Laden consider it necessary to place before the Pakistani people the spectre of an Indian role in the alleged US-Israeli conspiracy against Pakistan? He does not explain, but after carefully reading the message, one can see that he is hinting to the Pakistanis the danger of shifting Pakistani troops away from the Indian border, as suggested by the Obama Administration, in order to use them in the operations against the Pakistani Taliban.

10. Pro-Al Qaeda organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) are likely to interpret bin Laden's message as encouragement of another major terrorist strike in India, in the hope that the resulting fresh tension between India and Pakistan would make the Pakistan Army slow down its anti-Taliban operation.(4-6-09)

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


( Based on a talk delivered on March 28,2009, at a seminar at Guwahati organized by the Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies of Kolkata )


India faces three kinds of terrorism ---the indigenous by some sections of our own people, the foreign sponsored and the foreign-aided. The indigenous terrorism itself has different motives----political and religious as in the case of the terrorist groups in Jammu & Kashmir, purely religious as in the case of the jihadi terrorist groups operating outside J&K, ethnic as in the case of Assam and ideological and economic as in the case of the Maoist or Naxalite groups operating in the tribal belt of Central India.

2. Foreign-sponsored terrorism is mainly due to jihadi organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI ) and the Jaish-eMohammad (JEM) operating from Pakistani territory and the HUJI operating from Bangladesh. Their members are Pakistani or Bangladeshi nationals or other foreign Muslims and their activities in the Indian territory are sponsored by the intelligence agencies of these countries in order to serve their own purpose. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Bangladesh have a common purpose of creating a polarization between the Muslim and Hindu communities in India. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has the additional purpose of forcing a change in the status quo in J&K through terrorism.

3. Foreign-aided terrorism refers to indigenous terrorist groups receiving assistance in the form of training, financial assistance and arms and ammunition from the terrorist organizations and the intelligence services of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Examples would be the Khalistani terrorists who used to be active in Punjab and Delhi till 1995, the Kashmiri terrorist groups, the Students’ Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) and the so-called Indian Mujahideen (IM) and the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Assisting them helps the purpose of creating instability in India and keeping the Indian security forces preoccupied with internal security problems.

4. There are two approaches to dealing with terrorism---- the counter-terrorist and the counter-terrorism approaches. The counter-terrorist approach deals with terrorism as a threat to national security and seeks to put out of action the terrorists, their leaders and organizations through the use of the security forces. The counter-terrorism approach treats terrorism as a phenomenon with many aspects----political, economic, social, religious etc--- in addition to having a security dimension. The counter-terrorism approach underlines that counter-terrorist methods will not be sufficient to deal with the threat effectively. In addition, the political, economic, social and other aspects have to be addressed simultaneously by the political leadership.

5. There is only one way of dealing with foreign-sponsored terrorist groups---- through counter-terrorist methods. Foreign nationals indulging in acts of terrorism in our territory have to be neutralized by the security forces without any mercy. The use of such terrorists by Pakistan and Bangladesh amounts to indirect aggression in our territory. There are two methods of dealing with foreign-sponsored terrorists-----passive defence and active defence. Passive defence refers to strengthening internal security measures in our own territory in order to make it almost impossible for Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorists to operate in our territory. Active defence refers to our right to take our counter-terrorism operations to the territories of Pakistan and Bangladesh in order to pre-empt their plans for a terrorist strike in our territory.

6. Countries facing the menace of foreign-sponsored terrorism adopt a mix of passive defence and active defence methods. India follows a policy of only passive defence. The Indian political leadership is not prepared to consider active defence. Passive defence requires effective preventive capability. Active defence requires an effective and deniable retaliatory capability. We have not built for ourselves such a retaliatory capability. After the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26-29,2008, many foreign terrorism experts have assessed that India may continue to face such strikes because it does not have either an effective preventive or retaliatory capability. This assessment needs to be taken seriously by our political leadership and policy-makers and appropriate correctives in our strategy introduced.

7. In the case of purely indigenous terrorism, effective physical security alone will not produce enduring results unless accompanied by appropriate political action to address the anger and grievances of the community from which the terrorists have arisen. Unaddressed anger is a common root cause of all terrorism--- whether ethnic, separatist, religious, jihadi or ideological. Even in the case of the indigenous terrorists, those who take to terrorism have to face the consequences of their action. At the same time, it is important to prevent the flow of new recruits to the terrorist organizations. This can be done only by identifying the causes of anger in the community and addressing them.

8. For many years, there has been an endless debate in the community of security analysts about the linkage between security and development in any counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency strategy. Without effective security, there cannot be satisfactory development. Without satisfactory development, there cannot be effective security. Hardline security analysts----who believe in the security first approach--- even argue that if large funds are sanctioned for development in the terrorism or insurgency affected areas much of the money might leak into the coffers of the terrorists or insurgents.

9. This is an unwise approach, which would be counter-productive. Fortunately, our political leaders have rejected the arguments of such hardline security experts. They have been trying to give simultaneous attention to requirements of security and development even at the risk of some of the funds allotted for development leaking to the terrorists or insurgents.

10. At the same time, the priorities tend to be misplaced. For example, in the Naxalism affected areas we tend to focus more on development packages for the affected areas. It is important to pay equal, if not more, attention to the development of the tribal areas not affected by Naxalism in order to demonstrate to people the dividends of observing law and order and keeping away from terrorists and insurgents.

11.In the North-East, there has been peace in Nagaland and Mizoram. Arunachal Pradesh has remained unaffected by insurgency. In Tripura, there has been a decrease in insurgency. We should have undertaken a crash programme for the economic development of these areas to provide a demonstration of a peace dividend for areas which have given up insurgency or for areas, which have remained away from insurgency. But the importance of this has not been realised by our policy-makers.

12. The third type of terrorism in which Pakistani and Bangladeshi terrorist organizations and intelligence services use our nationals for acts of terrorism calls for a nuanced approach. Just because some of our nationals are acting at the behest of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, we should not look upon the entire community with suspicion. Our aim should be to identify grievances---legitimate or otherwise---- in the community which are exploited by the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis and try to address them.

13.There is no copybook on counter-terrorism, which can apply to all situations and to all kinds of terrorism. Our strategies should be tailor-made to suit different situations and to deal with different kinds of terrorism. There should be a fair balance between the requirements of security and development in strategies dealing with indigenous terrorism.

(The author is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


International Terrorism Monitor -- Paper No. 531
B. Raman

A three-member bench of the Lahore High Court held illegal on June 2, 2009, the house arrest of Prof. Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-ToIba (LET), and his associate Col.(retd) Nazir Ahmed and ordered their release. The court has not yet given the reasons for its order. These will be announced later.

2. In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist strike of November 26-29, 2008, carried out by 10 terrorists of the LET, the Government of Pakistan took two actions. It ordered the arrest of five members of the LET against whom specific evidence of their involvement had been produced by the Government of India. It was reported that the USA's Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had also collected independence evidence against them. A case against them has been registered for investigation and prosecution and their judicial remand is being extended from time to time by an Anti-terrorism court of Islamabad. A charge-sheet against them is yet to be filed. Only when the Pakistani authorities do so, can one say definitely how serious are they about their intention to prosecute them and get them convicted.

3. The second action was the placing under house arrest of Prof. Saeed, Nazir Ahmed and some others not on the ground of their involvement in the Mumbai attack, but on the ground that they belonged to an organisation, which had been designated by the counter-terrorism sanctions committee of the UN Security Council as a terrorist organisation. While placing them under house arrest, the Government did not officially ban their organisation as a terrorist set-up.

4. The Review Board set up by the Government to review the legality of the house arrests had upheld the Government decision. However, Prof. Saeed and Nazir Ahmed had challenged their house arrest as illegal before the Lahore High Court. Their lawyer appealed to the court to set aside their house arrest on two grounds. The first was that they were not supplied with the grounds of their house arrest as required under the law within the time-limit laid down. This vitiated the procedure followed. The second ground was that the Government had passed its order of house arrest purely on the basis of the resolution of the UN Sanctions Committee, without any independent evidence of its own necessitating their house arrest.

5. In response to these arguments, the Government contended that it had independent evidence, including evidence of the LET's links with Al Qaeda, and showed the evidence privately to the Bench without sharing it with the lawyers to Sayeed and his associate. The lawyers held this also as illegal since their clients had been deprived of their right to know all the grounds for their house arrest including the evidence on which they were based.

6. It is after considering these arguments that the court has passed the orders for their release. From the way the case was handled from the beginning, it was evident that the Government, while acting against those LET operatives whose involvement in the Mumbai attack was not deniable, wanted to protect Prof. Saeed, his organisation and their terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. The whole case was handled in such a manner as to make their release by the court inevitable.

7. Reports regarding the equal lack of seriousness seen in the other case too against five operatives of the LET for their involvement in the Mumbai attack make it likely that the second case might also meet with a similar fate. International pressure made Pakistan act against Saeed and Nazir Ahmed as well as the five involved in the Mumbai attack. Now, the Pakistan Government calculates that the international pressure will be less because of the appreciation for the strong action it has supposedly taken against the Taliban, which is of greater concern to the US and other countries of the West than the LET. It hopes to take advantage of this for once again ensuring that the LET and its capability for terrorism against India remain unimpaired.

8. Even if it tries to pass a fresh order of house arrest against Saeed and Nazir Ahmed in order to quieten concerns in the West, its intentions and sincerity will continue to be suspect.

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