March 24, 2006

PAKISTAN : A Million Mutinies Now

A Million Mutinies Now

Musharraf has opened far too many fronts, his security forces are overstretched, and there has been a comprehensive and augmenting failure to contain the widening insurgencies, sectarian strife and Islamist terrorist violence that now envelope large swathes of Pakistan


Truth, more often than not, exists in the small print. The daily reports of incidents of insurgent and terrorist activities in Pakistan fail to communicate the enormity of the trajectory of violence and instability that is undermining the authority of the state in progressively widening areas of the country over the past years. But when the numbers are put together, the emerging picture of cumulative attrition would be more than disturbing for Islamabad.

Crucially, where 648 persons (including 430 civilians and 137 terrorists) were killed in insurgent and terrorist conflicts through year 2005, by March 19, year 2006 had already recorded 529 deaths (including 251 civilians and 225 terrorists). Given Islamabad’s efforts to stifle information flows from the areas of conflict, and the widespread application of excessive and indiscriminate use of force, including the repeated strafing of civilian concentrations, the total number of fatalities may, in fact, be considerably higher.

Large tracts of Pakistan are now clearly conflict-afflicted with a wide array of anti-state actors and terrorists engaging in varying degrees of violence and subversion. A cursory look at the map indicates that the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan are witnessing large-scale violence and subversion. Violence in parts of the Sindh, Punjab and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) has also brought these provinces under the security scanner. Islamabad’s writ is currently being challenged vigorously – violently or otherwise – in wide geographical areas, and on a multiplicity of issues.

The Balochistan province – accounting for approximately 44 per cent of Pakistan’s landmass – is now afflicted by an encompassing insurgency, as are most parts of North and South Waziristan in FATA – another three per cent of the country’s total landmass. Gilgit-Baltistan has long been simmering, and it is only the repeated cycles of repression and state-backed Sunni terrorism that have kept the restive population in rein in a region that accounts for another eight per cent of the country. 55 per cent of Pakistan-controlled territory, including Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan, is, consequently, outside the realm of civil governance and is currently dominated essentially through military force. Further, sporadic acts of terrorist violence have been recurrent in parts of the NWFP, Punjab and Sindh, even as these emerge as safe-havens for a broad assortment of jihadi and other anti-state actors.

Notably, violence and the accompanying retreat of civil governance has occurred amidst the fact that Pakistan has committed approximately 80,000 troops in the FATA and 123,000 in Balochistan, with support from helicopter gun-ships, artillery and the Air Force. The writ of the state is increasingly fragile in these regions, with recurrent violence undermining official claims that the situation is ‘under control’.

Despite the ‘intense’ Army operations in FATA, sources indicate that frontline Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives still maintain a significant presence in the region adding to problems of the already-challenged US Coalition forces in neighbouring Afghanistan. Although the military regime has been claiming that most foreign terrorists have been evicted, there is mounting evidence that the jihadi presence in FATA is strengthening, that Islamist extremists are regularly confronting the Pakistani state, and that they, in fact, control a substantial area in North Waziristan, and widening areas in South Waziristan, to an extent as to make a permanent military presence impossible.

Islamabad has followed a strange mixture of carrot and stick in its strategy for FATA.

Large-scale military operations, including targeted killings and strafing of population centres, have been a recurrent feature in the region over the past three years. On the other hand, the military regime has also sought to procure the allegiance of local leaders by doling out large sums of monies. While the carrots have been greedily consumed, there is little evidence of any loyalty to Islamabad, with local leaders refusing to ‘stay bought’.

Rising civilian fatalities have, in fact, deepened public alienation, and increased the likelihood that the disorder and instability gradually consume areas that are currently peaceful. Islamabad’s attempts to restore order in Waziristan have, according to one estimate, led to 300 civilians and 250 troops being killed and about 1,400 persons wounded in 2005. According to Institute for Conflict Management data, in 238 incidents between January 2005 and March 19, 2006, a total of 667 persons, including 121 civilians, 71 soldiers and 475 terrorists have died. 340 terrorists and suspects were reported to have been arrested during this period. Once again, given the constraints on information flows from the region, these numbers may well be significant underestimates.

Sources indicate that the Taliban-led Islamist extremists are now in control of parts of the FATA bordering Afghanistan. The Dand-i-Darpa Khail region in North Waziristan, near the main town of Miranshah, is the focal point for Islamist extremists in Afghanistan, including former Taliban ‘commander’ Jalaluddin Haqqani, and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani. Maulana Abdul Khaliq, chief of the Gulshan-e-Ilm madrassa in Miranshah, was declared the ‘mastermind’ of the March 2, 2006- incident in which the local Taliban occupied Government buildings, including a telephone exchange, in Miranshah. Sikander Qayyum, the Peshawar-based security chief for the tribal zones, told AFP that the extremists had killed at least 120 pro-government tribal chiefs in recent months, even as the heads of sundry decapitated ‘enemies of Islam’ are flaunted on flagpoles in many areas. Federal Interior Minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao admitted on March 11 that ‘miscreants’ were trying to wrest control of Government buildings and challenging the writ of the state in the region. He also warned of a spillover from tribal areas to settled areas while referring to two explosions in Dera Ismail Khan and three in Tank districts.

In a parallel and troubling development, there have been indications over the past few weeks that the administration is under intense pressure from the Taliban to introduce Sharia (Islamic law) in Waziristan. In fact, clerics announced the enforcement of Sharia in South Waziristan on March 10, saying that disputes would now be resolved through Islamic laws instead of the tribal Jirga (council). An announcement to this effect was reportedly made during Friday prayer sermons in Wana and other towns of South Waziristan. The announcement came following letters from local Taliban commanders to all prayer leaders asking them to enforce the Sharia.

Another indication of the state’s retreat is the fact that tribal elders of South Waziristan have reportedly asked the local Taliban to open an office in the area to ‘improve security’, though Maulana Abbas, a prominent pro-Taliban cleric, clarified that the function of the Taliban office would be restricted to improving security, and it would not presently seek to implement Islamic Law. Interestingly, Abbas was on the Government's wanted list a year ago, but was removed after promising not to take part, or encourage others to take part, in attacks on security forces.
In January 2006, video footage released from North Waziristan showed the headless bodies of members of a ‘criminal gang’, whom the Taliban had ‘punished’. Abbas claimed that the Government did not object to the vigilante action against criminals, and the plans to ‘improve security’ through such measures.

A spread of violence in FATA is in line with the Taliban strategy to engage Pakistani troops along the border and safeguard their bases in order to launch a targeted spring offensive against US Coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The FATA, comprising 13 Areas/Agencies, has historically remained outside the purview of Islamabad’s authority. Power in the region alternates between the fiercely independent tribes, Islamist terrorists and the Political Agent appointed by Islamabad, the last of whom theoretically wields absolute de jure powers. The contours of violence and unrest envelop the familiar loop of underdevelopment, Federal Government discrimination, and long-neglected political grievances – real or perceived. There is intense resentment against the presence of the Army in FATA. Troops entered the region for the first time in late 2002 after intense negotiations with the tribes, who halfheartedly complied in the fervent expectation that there would be dramatic economic spin-offs. With little permanent benefits accruing, however, three years of military operations have led a number of tribes to view the Army as nothing more than a repressive and subjugating force. The underdevelopment matrix includes the absence of infrastructure and basic facilities like clean drinking water, health and educational facilities. The literacy rate in FATA is barely 17 per cent, (29 per cent male, 3 per cent female). 10 per cent of the population has access to sanitation, 43 per cent has access to potable water and there are 3,110 schools for a population of 3.69 million (Data for 2004).

The people of FATA are also denied fundamental and basic political-legal rights, which are available to citizens of Pakistan in other areas under the Constitution. The Islamabad Policy Research Institute, for instance, noted in a March 2005 study: "Article 25 of the 1973 Constitution declares that all citizens of Pakistan are equal before the law; but this article is not applicable to FATA, although under Article 1 of the Constitution FATA is a part of the territories of Pakistan… Political parties are banned in the region. The administrative, political and judicial structure of the areas is based on FCR [Frontier Crimes Regulation], which is a legacy of British colonial rule. This is an arbitrary law under which absolute power is vested in the Political Agent. Till 1997 there was no appeal against the punishment awarded under FCR. But the superior courts are still barred from exercising their jurisdiction in the Tribal Areas."

Comparable conditions of collapse prevail in Balochistan, where all 22 districts are reeling either under a sub-nationalist tribal insurgency or, separately, Islamist extremism. In January 2006, Senator Sanaullah Baloch disclosed that at least 180 people had died in bombings, 122 children had been killed by paramilitary troops and hundreds of people had been arrested since the resumption of military operations in November 2005. A small measure of the intensity of the Baloch insurgency is visible in the fact that approximately 1,500 rockets were fired in 40 attacks in January-February 2006 alone. During this brief period, insurgents also blew up railway tracks on at least eight occasions and attacked gas pipelines on 27 occasions – indeed, there were as many as 21 attacks on gas pipelines in just the 28 days of February. While there have been 23 bomb and 12 landmine explosions, power and telecom targets were attacked on six occasions in the first two months of 2006.
Crucially, Baloch insurgents also destroyed three naval boats in the strategically vital Gwadar Port. Attacks on critical installations led to power and gas shortages in the Punjab, the province whose domination over Baloch resources fuels the insurgency. The Pakistan Railways has stopped operating passenger trains at night all over Balochistan. Railways Minister of State Ishaq Khan Khakwani clarified to the Senate that night journeys were ‘not safe’ because of terrorist activities in the province, adding further that even at daytime, pilot engines were being operated on tracks to pre-empt terrorist activity. The state now engages 123,000 military and paramilitary personnel in the ongoing operations in the province, expending Rupees Six billion a month, according to Senator Sanaullah Baloch. Some 600 check posts have been set up in Balochistan in an effort to contain the movement of insurgents. Structural and constitutional biases prevailing against the provinces feed popular anger and the insurgencies, and militate against any possible solution, particularly given Islamabad’s track record of intransigence. Adding to the Baloch insurgency are the Pashtun Islamist extremists concentrated in and around Quetta, tied closely to the Taliban, and engaged in a campaign of terror on both sides of the Afghan border in their areas of domination. Most of the violence in Balochistan is, however, 'nationalist' and there is no co-operation between Islamist terrorists in pockets in the North and the Baloch insurgents. There is, moreover, little love lost between the mullahs and the Sardars (Baloch tribal Chieftans).

FATA, NWFP, Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan are areas of long-term neglect and of recurrent insurrections. However, the Pakistani ‘heartland’, Sindh and Punjab – particularly the politically and militarily dominant Punjab province – are now also passing progressively into the ambit of violence by anti-state actors. There were as many as 34 terrorist incidents in Punjab in 2005, and another three in January-February 2006; Sindh witnessed 50 and four such incidents over the same periods, respectively. Among the significant incidents this year was the suicide car bomb attack near the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, in which American diplomat David Fyfe and two others were killed, and 54 persons injured, on March 2, a day before President George W. Bush visited Pakistan.

Confounded by the violence, Islamabad has now directed district administrations in the Federal and provincial capitals to provide police escorts to Government officials working at the Presidency, Prime Minister’s House, Prime Minister’s Secretariat, the Governors’ and Chief Ministers’ offices and homes. The step came after intelligence agencies had warned against a ‘strong backlash’ by militants against ongoing military operations in Balochistan and FATA.

More than six years of General Musharraf’s authoritarian rule and repressive practices have pushed peripheral movements of political dissent into full-blown insurgencies, and the widening trajectory of violence demonstrates that the military regime is failing to shape an appropriate strategy of response in the face of multiple insurgencies and a rising trend of terrorist attacks across the country. Past experience in South Asia has, moreover, shown that the recovery of geographical spaces, once anti-state violence escalates beyond threshold levels, is extraordinarily difficult. The preceding and extended narrative is a clear indication that Musharraf has opened far too many fronts, his security forces are overstretched, and there has been a comprehensive and augmenting failure to contain the widening insurgencies, sectarian strife and Islamist terrorist violence that now envelope large swathes of the country.


Kanchan Lakshman is Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution. Courtesy, the South Asia Intelligence Review of the South Asia Terrorism Portal

Washington's 2006 National Security Strategy Confirms a Policy Void

With the release on March 16, 2006 of its National Security Strategy (N.S.S.), Washington completed its overview of diplomatic, defense and security policy that included Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's reorganization of the State Department and U.S. aid programs, and the Defense Department's Quadrennial Defense Review (Q.D.R.).

The N.S.S. is required by law to be issued to Congress by the president on a yearly basis, but the new report is the first one to be delivered since 2002. The delay was due to the Iraq intervention, which embroiled the administration in responding to immediate situations and rendered the direction of future policy uncertain -- pending the outcome of the intervention -- and, more importantly, reflected unreconciled fundamental divisions within the administration over the position of the United States in the global power configuration.

The split among the forces in the U.S. security apparatus was evidenced by the differences between Rice's explanation of the State Department reorganization and the analysis in the Q.D.R. Rice forthrightly embraced the view that world politics is moving toward a multipolar power configuration and outlined plans to reallocate State Department resources to emerging power centers, including China, India, Indonesia and Egypt. She stressed the importance of "partnering" with regional powers and avoided making claims to U.S. global supremacy. In contrast, the Q.D.R. maintained a qualified unipolar perspective based on achieving absolute U.S. military supremacy and offered a maximalist program geared to building the "capability" to respond to every possible threat. [See: "Condoleezza Rice Completes Washington's Geostrategic Shift" and "U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review Reveals a Strategy Void"]

Whereas Rice's reorganization marked an acknowledgment of the constraints on U.S. power that have become evident in the Iraq intervention and, more deeply, in the sheer growth of the emerging power centers, the Q.D.R. registered a failure to prioritize threats and an inability or unwillingness to abandon the unipolar vision, although it conceded that there was a need to partner with other states.

Rather than resolving the differences between the unipolarists and the multipolarists, the new N.S.S. incorporates both perspectives without synthesizing them, so that the report confirms a continuing policy void at the highest levels of Washington's power structure. The lack of a coherent vision appears starkly on page 37 of the report, where the contending positions are jammed together: "...we must be prepared to act alone if necessary, while recognizing that there is little of lasting consequence that we can accomplish in the world without the sustained cooperation of our allies and partners."

The N.S.S. as a Compromise Formation

Government white papers on security policy vary in their utility for providing guides for the future behavior of the states that issue them. When they represent a coherent policy, they serve the purposes of informing other international actors of the state's intentions so that miscalculations can be avoided and of assessing strengths and weaknesses realistically. When such documents reflect inconclusiveness at the top levels of decision making, they are unreliable guides to intention and provide, instead, readings of the conflicts of interests within security establishments. The latter is clearly the case for the 2006 N.S.S.

As a compromise formation papering over unreconciled interests, the N.S.S. achieves a specious coherence rhetorically through a utopian ideology centered on U.S. "leadership" in creating a world of market democracies.

The high concept of "democracy" appears throughout the document as the constant justification for particular policies and is defined in such a way that it constitutes a self-contained ideology. The rationale for promoting the vision of a world of market democracies incorporates the two disputable theories that democratic political systems do not engage in violent conflicts with one another ("the democratic peace theory") and that political democracies are not sustainable unless they permit the operation of capitalist market economies ("market democracy").

The utopian character of the N.S.S.'s democracy rhetoric is evidenced by the fact that the report does not contain concrete policies for effecting the vision beyond a commitment to nurture democratic oppositions in non-democratic states, a policy that -- if pursued consistently, as it is unlikely to be -- would impair U.S. relations with strategic partners such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, not to mention the many states around the world that have the formal trappings of democracy and de facto authoritarian rule, and China, with which the U.S. is involved in a complex relationship of interdependency and competition.

The N.S.S. acknowledges the disconnect between the democratic vision and concrete policy in its conclusion: "The times require an ambitious national security strategy, yet one recognizing the limits to what even a nation as powerful as the United States can achieve. Our national security strategy is idealistic about goals and realistic about means."

In the N.S.S., realism about means translates into a repetition of current U.S. positions on specific concerns such as the victory of Hamas in recent Palestinian elections, Iran's program of uranium enrichment, China's bid for energy resources and its currency policy, Russia's drift toward authoritarianism, Venezuela's moves to encourage Latin American autonomy, and the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The familiar talking points on each of those issues are not related into a coherent set of regional strategies, but are referred directly to the democracy theme, leaving a gap between the universal goal and momentary positions.

The absence of mediating principles between general aspirations and particular adjustments is what deprives the N.S.S. of utility as a guide to Washington's future behavior, putting its allies and adversaries on notice that the U.S. government has yet to formulate a genuine strategy and is consequently hampered from responding effectively to well-calculated challenges to its interests.

Another feature of the N.S.S. that impairs its credibility and utility is its failure to execute a balanced analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of recent U.S. policies and actions.

The organization of each of the chapters composing the report begins with a section on "successes" and moves on to a review of "challenges," passing by any discussion of failures, which are inevitable for any political practice in the present world, which is characterized by a complex web of cross-cutting competitive and cooperative power relations.

The omission of any acknowledgment of mistakes renders the N.S.S. more like an advertisement for U.S. policy than a normal white paper directed to a knowledgeable and sophisticated political class. The absence of self-criticism also means that any policy shifts made in response to perceived mistakes have to appear under the guise of established policies, making their import problematic and their presentation non-transparent.

Nowhere is the lack of self-criticism in the N.S.S. more striking than in the scant attention that the report pays to the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are the test cases of the administration's security policies and will in great part determine the U.S. power position in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Set off in a separate box in the chapter on terrorism, the discussions of Iraq and Afghanistan are superficial and based on best-case scenarios.

Afghanistan merits only a short paragraph, in which the country's "two successful elections" are noted and it is lauded for being "a staunch ally in the war on terror." As for challenges, the N.S.S. confines itself to admitting that "much work remains" and calling for the "support of the United States and the entire international community." Left unmentioned are the dependence of Afghanistan's economy on the heroin trade, the recent resurgence of the Taliban, the lack of effective control of the central government over regional warlords, the border tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the slow pace of post-war reconstruction.

The N.S.S. makes it appear that Afghanistan is a done deal, which is far from the case. Indeed, the Bush administration's neglect of Afghanistan in favor of concentration on Iraq has left the country close to a failed state and has provided the conditions for it to become a narco-state and the potential for becoming a destabilizing influence in Central Asia. [See: "Insurgents, Warlords and Opium Roil Afghanistan"]

Turning to Iraq, the N.S.S. uses the prism of the war on terrorism and adopts a tone of unrelieved optimism. Here, however, "success" is removed to the future: "When the Iraqi Government supported by the United States defeats the terrorists, terrorism will be dealt a critical blow. ... And the success of democracy in Iraq will be a launching pad for freedom's success throughout a region that for decades has been a source of instability and stagnation."

The strategies for making those predictions come true are the familiar administration talking points: the formation of "stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions," building the Iraqi security forces, and restoring "Iraq's neglected infrastructure" and reforming the country's economy according to "market principles." Absent is any consideration of the domestic insurgency; the conflict between Sunni, Shi'a and Kurdish interests; the power of sectarian militia; and the decline in basic services and the high unemployment and poverty rates that are tied to the collapse of services.

The N.S.S. carries forward without any caveats the best-case scenario for Iraq that was projected before the intervention by the neo-conservative elements within the U.S. security establishment who argued that the intervention would transform Iraq into a market democracy and a positive influence for change in the Middle East.

As the United States searches for an exit strategy from Iraq and is caught in the middle of the conflicting demands of the country's political forces, nearly every analyst from every persuasion believes that the probability that Iraq will be transformed into a model market democracy is negligible. The best that Washington can hope for is that a break-up of the country, whether or not preceded by a civil war, will be averted by the formation of a confederal state in which regions dominated by Shi'a, Sunni and Kurdish religious-ethnic groups have sufficient autonomy to thwart the effectiveness of a central government. Washington is currently adjusting to that scenario on the ground, yet the N.S.S. gives no indication of the shift, which has been going on for more than two years. [See: "Red Lines Crisscross Iraq's Political Landscape"]

The persistence of utopian pretensions and the denial of failure are present in every section of the N.S.S., with the discussions of Afghanistan and Iraq the most telling examples. The gulf between the ideal and the real that structures the report bespeaks Washington's inability to formulate a genuine strategy, which continues to leave it prey to reacting to external events and initiatives with ad hoc adjustments.

Now that the post-Iraq review of security policy is complete, it is clear that the policy void is not likely to be filled until the election of a new administration in 2008.


At the heart of the compromise formation that constitutes the N.S.S. is the unresolved conflict between the unipolar "idealists," centered in the vice president's office and factions in the Defense Department, and the multipolar "realists" in the State Department. The document carries forward the unipolarists' dictum that the U.S. must maintain a military force "without peer" and reaffirms Washington's option to wage preemptive war against perceived threats, and also adds commitments to Rice's program of "transformational diplomacy," which acknowledges the emerging multipolar global power configuration.

Throughout the report, the contending positions appear together in an uneasy mix, nowhere more than in President George W. Bush's letter of presentation: "Effective multinational efforts are essential to solve...problems. Yet history has shown that only when we do our part will others do theirs. America must continue to lead."

The question remains what precisely leadership means in the absence of a coherent strategy. Beneath the gap between universal principles and momentary policy adjustments, and the omission of acknowledgment of failures, is the lack of recognition of any need to compromise with allies and competitors in order to achieve "effective multinational efforts." The 2006 N.S.S. continues in the line of the 2002 N.S.S. in its assertion of U.S. global supremacy, while making some concessions to the need for diplomacy along with military power.

Although the U.S. remains the world's strongest military power and its largest economy, it is no longer plausible to call the U.S. an undisputed global "leader" -- it has neither the international trust necessary to lead by persuasion nor the overwhelming might required to impose its policies globally -- and its economic leverage has been weakened by massive indebtedness.

If Washington develops a coherent and credible security strategy over the next five years, it will have the possibility of becoming primus inter pares in a multipolar world. In order to take that position, it would have to develop trust as an honest broker, make judicious compromises and contrive delicate acts of regional balance-of-power politics.

None of the virtues required for those practices is promoted in the N.S.S., in which halting steps into the emerging regional world are taken with a head turned backwards toward an illusory past.

Report Drafted By:
Dr. Michael A. Weinstein

The Power and Interest News Report (PINR) is an independent organization that utilizes open source intelligence to provide conflict analysis services in the context of international relations. PINR approaches a subject based upon the powers and interests involved, leaving the moral judgments to the reader. This report may not be reproduced, reprinted or broadcast without the written permission of All comments should be directed to

Afghanistan: 'Pashtunistan' Issues Linger Behind Afghan-Pakistani Row

By Ron Synovitz

Pakistani guards at the border with Afghanistan (file photo)
Recent tensions between Kabul and Islamabad show that mutual suspicions still exist in an old dispute known as the "Pashtunistan question." And it is a question with a fundamental bearing on foreign policy.

PRAGUE, March 24, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The idea of a Pashtun national homeland along the Afghan-Pakistan border has been largely dormant for the last 40 years. Dormant -- but unresolved. And now, arguments from the century-old debate are surfacing again in a way that is affecting the international effort against terrorism.
For many ethnic Pashtuns, the notion of 'Pashtunistan' is an historic homeland that was divided in 1893 by the "Durand Line" -- a 2,450 kilometer demarcation line drawn by a British cartographer through Pashtun tribal lands to suit the defensive needs of British colonial India.

For Islamabad, the issue represents a territorial claim against Pakistan -- particularly parts of Pakistan's Baluchistan Province and the tribal regions where Pakistani security forces are battling pro-Taliban militants. The reason is that Pakistan inherited the Durand Line from British colonial India as its northwestern border with Afghanistan.

An Old And Pivotal Dispute

A boy studies in an Islamabad madrasah (epa)As Barnett Rubin, an expert on Afghanistan at New York University's Center for International Cooperation, says, "the current tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan are actually nothing new. They have been the normal state of relations between those two countries ever since the founding of Pakistan in 1947. Afghanistan was the only member of the UN General Assembly at that time to vote against the admission of Pakistan, on the grounds that it had not given the right of self-determination to its Pashtun inhabitants -- and particularly those in the tribal territories. Afghanistan has never recognized the Durand Line between the two countries as an international border."

Rubin says Pakistan's concerns about Pashtun territorial claims had been one of the reasons why "old-school elements" within Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence supported the Taliban during the 1990s.

He says the issue also underscores why it was in the interests of Pakistan's foreign policy goals for madrasahs to provide a fundamentalist Islamic education to the children of the millions of Afghan refugees who fled to Pakistan during the 1980s and 1990s.

Pakistan "did have a long-term commitment, going back 30 years, towards supporting ethnic Pashtun religious extremists in Afghanistan in order to ensure that an Afghan government would side with Pakistan against India -- and would not raise the issue of the Pashtun territory," Rubin says.

The reason is that "Pashtun Islamists are not nationalists and do not support that kind of ethnic issue against a fellow Muslim country -- unlike the Pashtun nationalists."

Rubin also links the tensions between Islamabad and Kabul to Pakistan's concerns about the strengthening of ties between India and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"This is, of course, embedded within the competition in South Asia between Pakistan and India," he argues. "Throughout most of the period since 1947, Afghanistan has tended to be closer to India, which it uses to balance Pakistan. The government of Hamid Karzai has also resurrected the old policy of former Afghan governments of having direct relations between the Afghan government and Pashtun political leaders and tribes within Pakistan."

Catching Al-Qaeda, Not Catching The Taliban?

A Pakistani soldier on the site of a market destroyed in fighting in early March between Taliban militants and security forces, town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan (epa)Ahmad Rashid, a Pakistani journalist and author of the book "Taliban," agrees that the Pashtunistan debate and the strengthening of Afghan-Indian ties are both sources of concern for Islamabad.

Rashid says officials in Kabul think Islamabad has often turned a blind eye toward Taliban fighters in Pakistani territory over the past four years because some elements in Pakistan still want to use fundamentalists to influence the policies of the Afghan government.

"Pakistan is doing quite a lot to catch the Arabs and Al-Qaeda," Rashid says. "But the Afghan accusation stems from the fact that [Kabul] believes Pakistan is differentiating between catching Al-Qaeda and not catching the Taliban."

Rashid notes that as relations between Kabul and Islamabad have deteriorated, Pakistani officials have resurrected old accusations against Afghanistan. For example, Islamabad recently accused Kabul of supporting Indian agents along the Afghan-Pakistani border. It also has accused Kabul of aiding separatist movements by ethnic Pashtuns and ethnic Baluchis on Pakistan's side of the border:

"Pakistan is saying that Afghanistan is interfering in Baluchistan [Province and that] it has allowed India to support the insurgency in Baluchistan through its consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad," Rashid says. "Pakistan is also saying now most recently that Al-Qaeda militants are arriving from Afghanistan and stirring up trouble in [the ethnic Pashtun tribal region of] Waziristan."

Washington And The 'Pashtunistan Question'

Villagers in North Waziristan flee from fighting between Pakistani security forces and Taliban militants in early March (epa)Teresita Schaffer, director of the South Asia program at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the United States is trying to encourage Afghanistan and Pakistan to have the best possible relationship. But she says the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush does not seem to realize the sensitive nature of Pakistani-Afghan relations.

Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah has been telling journalists in Washington this week that the West must have a better understanding of what he called "the continuing war of words" between Kabul and Islamabad. Abdullah says disagreements between the two countries must been seen in the context of "domestic and regional" relations as well as the international war against terrorism.

On March 23, Karzai told a counterterrorism conference in the Turkish capital, Ankara, that extremist tendencies and terrorism in Afghanistan have emanated from "political agendas and the pursuit of narrow interests by governments."

Referring to Pakistan's support for the Taliban during the 1990s, Karzai described the rise of the movement as a kind of "hidden invasion propped up by outside interference and intended to tarnish the national identity and historical heritage" of Afghanistan.

Samina Ahmed, an Islamabad-based expert with the International Crisis Group, says relations between Kabul and Islamabad are likely to worsen if violence in the border region escalates during the coming months. Ahmed says Islamabad is particularly concerned about how the dispute affects Pakistan's relations with Washington

March 23, 2006

Parliament adjourned to save Sonia: NDA to Kalam

Ordinance to save Sonia Khan

To stop office-of-profit axe, UPA gets ordinance
R VENKATARAMANPosted online: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at 0000 hrs
Violating Parliamentary norms and to ensure that Congress president Sonia Gandhi, along with several prominent MPs, including Karan Singh and Somnath Chatterjee, escape the Jaya Bachchan-type disqualification because they hold an “office of profit,” the Congress-led UPA government is bringing in an ordinance to change the law. The draft of the ordinance, finalised today, amends the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 and exempts a fresh batch of offices, including that of the National Advisory Council chairman (Sonia Gandhi), chairman of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (Karan Singh), state development boards, textile boards etc.

The draft ordinance amends Section 3 of the PPDA and will be subsequently introduced as a Bill in the current session as Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill.
What is bound to raise political controversy is the timing. Article 123 of the Constitution empowers the President to promulgate any ordinance any time “except when both Houses of Parliament are in session.” The Government’s fig leaf is that Parliament is in recess—break from March 23 to May 9—although this is the recess in one session, not between two sessions.
Sources said there is a hurry to push the ordinance through given the fact that after Bachchan’s disqualification for her job as chairperson of the UP film council, complaints against 44 prominent MPs are with the President.
These include Sonia Gandhi (chairman of National Advisory Council and several Govt-aided trusts), Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee (chairman, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation), Karan Singh (chairman, Indian Council of Cultural Relations), Union Minister T Subbirami Reddy (chairman, Tirupati trust). The complaint against Amar Singh

Signs of emergency again, says Deccan Chronicle.
I am very surprised members here aren't much interested in this important event that involves Sonia Khan.

Storm over ordinance

New Delhi, March 22: Shades of the Emergency were invoked by the Congress-led government, this time under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to adjourn the Budget Session of Parliament sine die so as to bring in an ordinance redefining offices of profit.

The ordinance is expected to protect Mrs Sonia Gandhi, chairperson of the National Advisory Council, ICCR president Karan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, among others, from being disqualified as Members of Parliament for holding offices of profit. The Cabinet is expected to meet on Thursday.

The Opposition made loud protests in both Houses of Parliament, held press conferences, and went in delegation to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, but by that time the decision had been taken by the UPA government, with the Left parties choosing to remain silent spectators.

Constitutional experts made it clear that the action to adjourn Parliament sine die with no prior notice was totally unprecedented, and this “fiddling with Parliament”, as Mr Rajeev Dhawan put it, was last heard of in the days preceding the imposition of Emergency in 1975 — when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi stood in danger of losing her parliamentary seat following an order of the Allahabad high court. Mr Dhawan said that it was a “total fraud” on the nation as the government had bypassed the complainant, bypassed the Election Commission, the President and now Parliament itself.

Cries of “shame, shame” rent the air in Parliament as it became apparent to the Opposition parties that the government had decided to adjourn it sine die. “Baki sab to bahaana hai, Sonia ko bachana hai” slogans were raised by agitated Opposition MPs, with Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani asking why Parliament was being made a victim, and declaring that his party was totally opposed to the move. Mr Somnath Chatterjee did not preside over the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, telling reporters later that he had decided not to attend the House because of “reasons of propriety”. He is the chairman of the Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority in West Bengal.

Alarm bells began to ring in the Congress Party after senior leaders suddenly realised that the rules leading to the disqualification of Samajwadi MP Jaya Bachchan could apply to Mrs Sonia Gandhi as well. The case is before the courts and the ordinance, which Congress leaders said could be expected any day now, is aimed at pre-empting any adverse ruling which could “complicate matters for Soniaji.”

A senior minister made it clear that the hurry was prompted by the possibility of court intervention on this issue, and the government had decided to pre-empt it through the ordinance. The effort of the Congress Party through much of Wednesday was to delink the adjournment of Parliament and the proposed ordinance redefining offices of profit. Parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Das Munshi held a press conference after lengthy meetings throughout the day with senior ministers, including Mr Shivraj Patil, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr H.R. Bharadwaj and Mr Kapil Sibal, to insist that Parliament had been adjourned sine die as all business had been transacted.

He insisted that there was no point in extending the session after the recess as there was no pending business to attend to. He said that the Finance Bill had been passed, but could not explain why originally it had been agreed for Parliament to meet through the month of May. He was also on the defensive, insisting that the move was not unprecedented.

Congress leaders claimed that the issue did not affect Mrs Sonia Gandhi at all, but leaders of other parties. Congress spokesperson Rajiv Shukla and minister Kapil Sibal both sought to convince reporters that the NAC was not an office of profit and was just an advisory body. Instead, Congress fingers were pointed towards Left MPs appearing on Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee’s list of those holding offices of profit as well as BJP leader V.K. Malhotra and others who stood to gain from the ordinance.

Sources, however, admitted that the entire exercise was inspired by a desire to defend Mrs Sonia Gandhi and ensure that “judicial activism” did not place her in the dock on this issue.

Parliament adjourned to save Sonia: NDA to Kalam

Press Trust of India

Posted online: Wednesday, March 22, 2006 at 2042 hours IST

New Delhi, March 22: The NDA on Wednesday petitioned President A P J Abdul Kalam not to give his consent to any ordinance on the issue of office of profit, alleging that Parliament has been adjourned sine die solely for the purpose of 'saving Sonia Gandhi from a certain disqualification' as MP.
Led by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, 61 MPs of the BJP-led Opposition alliance marched to the Rashtrapati Bhavan and submitted memorandum to Kalam, urging him to give the nation a firm assurance in this regard.

Muslim Fanatics, Hindus, tolerance

Rewarding the Violent, Penalizing the Tolerant
By Ron Banerjee
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

To preserve freedom, it is vital for democratic societies to audit themselves to ensure that our actions encourage behavior in accordance with our core beliefs, and penalize unacceptable conduct. The West is doing the precise opposite in its treatment of Muslim fanatics, especially in comparison to well-behaved minorities like Hindus.

Islamist reactions to Danish cartoons, films about the treatment of Muslim women, or books, which contradict Islamic myths, are well known. The meek surrender of Western media and educational institutions to barbaric Islamist mobs threatens to destroy democracy. Schools and educational institutions are especially complicit: numerous institutions have denied their student newspapers the right to publish the cartoons to avoid 'upsetting' Islamic students.

Curiously, as educational institutions bend over backwards and violate the principles of free speech to curry favor with Muslims (or perhaps to avoid jihadist violence), the educational system in California is taking a bigoted stance with respect to the peaceful Hindu minority. California school textbooks, while treating other religions including Islam with respect, have for years been describing Hinduism in inaccurate and demeaning terms which border on hate literature. The well-known inequality between the genders within Islam are described as 'different roles for men and women', while Hinduism is projected as a faith where 'women were less important than men'. The 'caste system', which has effectively disappeared from modern India, is dwelled on in excessive length; with the implication that it is a common feature even today (nothing could be further from the truth). Hindu beliefs are described as 'myths' while stories from other religions are presented as facts.

Additionally, the discredited 'Aryan invasion' theory is presented as the definitive truth about India's history.

In the 1800s, German thinker Max Muller, whose teachings were forerunners of Nazi ideology, created this supremacist theory, which suggested that the Hindu faith was imposed on India by light-skinned Aryan invaders. It thus implied that Hindus were foreigners who had no right to inhabit India. British colonialists eagerly seized on this racist fantasy to justify their imperial rule. Invaders ruled India by creating hatred and divisions within various Hindu castes by exaggerating caste discrimination among Hindus. The goal was to justify British and other foreign rule by portraying Hinduism as unjust.

Enemies of Hinduism and democracy employ this tactic very successfully today. Despite the fact that democratic India has abolished the caste system and provided enormous benefits to lower castes, various Stalinist and Islamist groups with backing from foreign sources have recruited low caste Hindus and tribes to form virulent terrorist groups who slaughter thousands of people every year. All of these groups wield tremendous influence in the West and operate through numerous front organizations. University campuses, which are often breeding grounds for all leftist and Islamist causes, are infested with 'scholars' and 'professors' who support this virulent bigotry against Hindus.

California school texts have drawn their teachings from this deep reservoir of hate. Despite the fact that other religions also discriminated based on class, race and gender, Hinduism was singled out in these books as being particularly complicit. When Islamic terrorists commit genocide, they are described in school texts as a misguided minority who do not represent the religion as a whole. Hindus apparently do not merit any such consideration: every age-old practice is re-hashed and misrepresented as evidence of the heinous nature of the religion itself.

The issue came to light when young Hindu children disclosed to their parents merciless harassment and physical assaults by classmates. Apparently, it had never occurred to the California school board that systematic demonization of a vulnerable minority would lead to oppression and cruelty. Or perhaps the knowledge that this peaceful minority would not respond by burning embassies or slaughtering civilians marked Hindus as legitimate targets.

Hindu parents and advocacy groups swung into action and proposed edits to the school texts. Organizations such as the Hindu American Foundation and Vedic Foundation backed the edits. The California Board appointed renowned history professor Shiv Bajpai to make recommendations; Dr Bajpai approved most of the changes. By this time the content of the offending texts had been advertised in India and elsewhere, but embassy burnings, killings, and violent protests did not materialize: the Hindu community followed the rules and proceeded by legal means.

Their decent conduct did not yield much benefit. A Germanic Harvard University professor of Sanskrit, Mike Witzel, who has aggressively promoted Aryan invasion theory, jumped into the fray. Mr. Witzel and a coalition of Communists and leftists, supposedly representing lower castes and 'disadvantaged groups', voiced their opposition to the edits. This motley crew included 'Friends of South Asia', whose website promotes an activist named 'Stalin K' and features leftist marches against American policy in Iraq.

These groups immediately began attacking the concerned Hindu parents and supporting organizations by accusing them of whitewashing Hindu history and downplaying caste and gender discrimination. Mr. Witzel made bizarre accusations, implying that these American Hindus were somehow connected to 'Hindu supremacist' political organizations in India. These accusations swayed the California Board: the decision was made to reject a very large number of proposed edits and leave much of the hate literature intact.

The outraged Hindu American Foundation retained a law firm and is committed to fighting the California School Board in court. It is a testament to Hindus that although their children are subjected daily to racially abusive teachings against their faith, and their protests are silenced by non Hindu promoters of hatred and division, this community still does not resort to violence.

On the other hand, Western society is betraying its own values through its hateful treatment of Hindus, and meek submission to violent adherents of other faiths. In addition to bowing our heads with shame, we ought to consider what type of message we are sending to fanatical opponents of our values who seek to destroy civil society.

Ron Banerjee is the director of the Hindu Conference of Canada. He can be reached at

March 21, 2006

Search for Hindu Agenda

March 26, 2006

By Subramanian Swamy

A virile Hindu Agenda must have two components: [1] What Hindus should believe in and do, to qualify to be a good Hindu; [2] What Hindus, being the overwhelming majority of the nation's population, should be obliged to do for the religious minorities and what Hindus have a right to expect from them in the national interest.

At present, most Hindus think that if they go to temples, sing bhajans, and participate in festivals, they become good Hindus. While that is necessary, it is, however, not sufficient in the present historical context to be a good Hindu. At present, Hinduism is under siege from foreign religious forces and is suffering from apathy of Hindus at home. Moreover, just because Hindu religion says 'Sarva Dharma Samabhaav', we as Hindus cannot treat all religions as equal and let preachers and missionaries of other religions do what they like in the country. In fact all religions are not equal. Till 1000 years ago the Hindu religion was the most humane religion, with practical prescriptions on how to lead a peaceful life, stress free and regarded other religions as alternative, even if more obscure, paths to God. It had a magnificent record of human rights in receiving from abroad those persecuted in their own countries and giving them full freedom to practice their religious beliefs here. No other religion has had such a track record of practising 'Vasudeva Kutumbakkam'. Hence, Hinduism can not be equated to other religions.

Of course, due to subsequent degeneration and treacherous foreign invasions, the Hindu religion developed certain retrograde practices, most pernicious being linking the caste of a person to his birth antecedents. Nowhere in our holy scriptures is this linkage mentioned. In Uttara Gita, Krishna Bhagwan specifically states that caste has no connection with birth but to gunas [attributes]. The idea of varna vyavastha was not a hegemonist order but for decentralising the sources of power in a society. These sources were identified as knowledge, the state, commerce, and land. Whoever made a life using any one of these sources of power then acquired that caste, viz., designated as Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Shudra respectively. To ensure that there is no concentration of power, nobody could have more than one caste. If a person committed any heinous crime, then that person was ostracised. That person's children were not automatically ostracised if they were not in the same mould. For example, Valmiki was born to an ostracised parent, but Goddess Saraswati herself taught him mantras and gave him vidya. He then became a rishi and wrote the Ramayana. Veda Vyasa was similiarly born to a shudra fisherwoman. But as a rishi he wrote the Mahabharata. Same is true of our greatest poet Kalidasa born to a vanavasi, but circumstances enabled him to be accepted as a scholar. Vishwamitra was born in a Kshatriya family and became the rishi of rishis. On the other hand, Ravana was recognised as a scholarly Brahmin having done tapasya in Kailash and received boons directly from Lord Shiva. But he lost it all due to his torment of an innocent lady, Sita. In the great debate between two rishis, Bhrigu and Bhardwaja, this conception of castes as having nothing to do with birth was made amply clear. But the British imperialists and later their Oxbridge educated Indian stooge historians— mostly professors in JNU in Delhi—twisted all this and linked it to the completely bogus Aryan-Dravidian race divide concoction to generate caste hatred, and subsequently to Marxist class struggle to please their new bosses, the KGB.

Hence, Hindu religion is not equal to other religions but in fact better structured for pursuit of happiness through devotion. Because of it's commonwealth character of having no one God but manifested in many, not one Mecca or Church but temples galore, nor just one book of scripture but a feast of rich religious texts, Hinduism is the most democratic and tolerant religion. It is distinguished from other religions in that it charts a way of discipline for everyone, virtuous or past sinner, to have God's darshan in this life. In Islam and

In Uttara Gita, Krishna Bhagwan specifically states that caste has no connection with birth but to gunas [attributes]. The idea of varna vyavastha was not a hegemonist order but for decentralising the sources of power in a society.

Christianity, one can meet God only after death.

I am writing all this to say that when we say "Garv se bolo ham Hindu Hain" it is not because we are proud to be born Hindu but because Hinduism is the world's most well structured and practical theology, besides being the oldest and continuing religion. Those who want to know how practical it is, need only to read Chapter 12 of the Bhagavat Gita for a synopsis on how to be near and dear to God for anyone, high or low. Hence Hindus must believe that while we respect all other religions as equally capable of leading to God, even if not as sensibly, nevertheless it is the duty of a Hindu to propagate Hinduism, defend it collectively, and organise for it. Because of Hinduism's contemporary relevance, we should see that Hindus remain not less than 85 percent of the population. Hindu religion is not safe if it is in a minority as the experience in Kashmir, Bangladesh and Pakistan has proved to us. Hence, we should stoutly oppose religious conversion of Hindus to other faiths. Such conversions are bound to be on inducements or by a confidence trick of the missionary.

We should, therefore, not be spectators as we were when the Kanchi Mutt Shankaracharya was dragged as a common criminal to prison on a cooked up case or the Pakistani-Bangladeshi conspiracy to damage temples and kill innocent people in

Varanasi. Since the Indian Airlines plane hijack to Kandhahar in December 1999, the terrorists have become more audacious as we have tried to quietly suffer their atrocities or capitulated to their demands. Now to be a good Hindu one should stand up and say "Thus far, but no more !" Those who lack the spine or the stomach to say so, should be asked to get out of the way. We need today a virat Hindu samaj, and not a collection of selfish bhajan mandalis claiming to be Hindus petitioning God to give them some goodies. One Hindu lion is better than ten thousand Hindu goats. Either

Hindus must learn to hunt when attacked, or be hunted and consumed.

So, what should a good Hindu believe in ? In my view such a Hindu should hold that: [1] India is an ancient land of the Hindus with the longest unbroken civilisation; Every Hindu must, therefore, debunk and reject the Aryan-Dravidian race migration theory; [2] A Hindu should retaliate in hot pursuit of aggressors when his religious symbols and his country are attacked, and a good

Hindu would prefer to lose everything than submit to tyranny or blackmail, or be afraid of risking nuclear war when the nation's integrity is at stake; [3] A Hindu must repudiate the birth-based concept of caste system and seek Hindu consolidation by recognising no other social categorisation except by educational attainment; [4] A

Hindu must strive to communicate with other Hindus in Hindi with a Sanskrit vocabulary, and keep Sanskritising Hindi till it becomes Sanskrit; [5] A Hindu will resolutely oppose collective or group conversion of Hindus to other religious faiths by demanding a comprehensive legislation to ban such conversions, while the same time being ever ready to welcome back to the Hindu fold any Muslim or Christian by conversion without allowing the caste factor to be an obstacle in their assimilation.

Such a good Hindu has an obligation to defend religious minorities but only if the obligation bilateral. When the Kanchi Mutt Shankaracharyas were arrested on a false case, not one Christian or Muslim organisation condemned it even though the Supreme Court described the foisted cases as "without prima facie merit". Why do Christian and Muslim feel this disconnect with the travails of the Hindu community? This disconnect has enraged the Hindus who feel that secularism is a one-way traffic of Hindu largesse to minorities, with no reverse obligations. This needs to be corrected by creating an environment in the country in which Hindus and other minorities feel that they are joint legatees of the Hindu civilisation. This can be achieved if Muslims and Christians accept that their ancestors are Hindus and cherish this legacy. If they do, and I believe the silent majority amongst them do, then India will become a family of Hindus and those whose ancestors are Hindus. India can then justifiably be called Hindustan. In such a Hindustan, there will be no majority and minority but only rich and poor, privileged and deprived, and educated and illiterate. Difference in religion need not mean a difference in culture. That is the Hindustani mindset, a sixth requirement of a good Hindu.

Thus, a Hindu agenda aims at building a national outlook in which Hindus and minorities accept that they are from a common lineage and equal partners, and thus have a equal responsibility to fight and sacrifice for the Hindu heritage. All six items of the Agenda would then apply not only Hindus but on the minorities as well.

The Baloch Insurgency and its Threat to Pakistan's Energy Sector

Source : Jamestown Foundation

03/21/2006 - By John C.K. Daly (from Terrorism Focus, March 21) - While most of the world's media remains focused on insurgent attacks on oil facilities in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan is experiencing a rising tide of violence against its Sui natural gas installations located in the country's volatile Balochistan province, where the majority of the energy-starved country's natural gas facilities are located. Pakistan, currently engaged in a drawn-out conflict against al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in its North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), is slowly descending into conflict with anti-government forces in Balochistan province, raising the unsettling prospect of a rising second internal front against militants. A second internal front would drain resources from Pakistan's ability to maintain control over the country and its campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban remnants in the NWFP and the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA).

Balochistan contains 42 percent of Pakistan's total land mass and is the largest of the country's four provinces. The province is strategically vital as it borders Iran, Pakistan, FATA and the Arabian Sea. The capital Quetta lies near the border with Afghanistan and has road connections to Kandahar to the northwest.

Islamabad also sees the province as essential to its future prosperity, building a $1.1 billion deepwater commercial and naval port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. China contributed about $200 million toward the construction cost of Gwadar's first phase, which was completed in April 2004. Chinese interest extends far beyond Gwadar; during a recent interview, Pakistani Minister of State for Investment Umar Ahmad Ghumman said that the two countries had discussed $12 billion in investment projects of interest to China including a 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery at Gwadar (Aaj TV interview, March 6).

India is also interested in Balochistan province as a transit point for a projected $4.5 billion Iran-India natural gas pipeline expected to be operational by 2010. India also discussed with Pakistan plans by both countries to import gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and from Qatar (, March 4).

Balochistan's natural gas production is critical to Pakistan's economy. The Sui natural gas field in Balochistan's Bugti tribal area produces approximately 45 percent of the country's total gas production, with Pakistan Petroleum Ltd. producing 720-750 million cubic feet of gas daily from more than 80 wells in the field (Business Recorder, July 30, 2004). Other natural gas fields in the province include Uch, Pirkoh, Loti, Gundran and Zarghoon near Quetta. A provincial spokesman said that Balochistan has 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves and six trillion barrels of oil reserves on- and off-shore (Business Recorder, May 14, 2004).

Despite the province's wealth of natural resources, Balochistan is Pakistan's poorest province, with 45 percent of the population living below the poverty line. There is rising resentment in the province that despite the fact that its natural gas generates $1.4 billion annually in revenue, the government remits only $116 million in royalties back to the province (Dawn, February 6).

After the U.S. campaign against the Taliban began in November 2001, Balochistan became a critical escape route for al-Qaeda and International Islamic Front refugees attempting to flee via Karachi to Yemen. After U.S. operations against Iraq began in March 2003, Balochistan became an increasingly important theater of operations for al-Qaeda and International Islamic Front guerrillas in their efforts to attack U.S. economic interests in Pakistan in retaliation for the U.S. campaigns in both Afghanistan and Iraq (South Asia Analysis Group, January 24, 2003).

Attacks on Pipelines

In 2003, resentment among Baloch chiefs boiled over into intermittent armed conflict with the Pakistani Army. By July 2004 the rising violence in Balochistan forced a U.S. company involved in offshore drilling to abandon its two test wells between Gwadar and Pasni because of security concerns for a loss of nearly 26 million dollars (Business Recorder, July 30, 2004).

On January 18, 2005, a major attack disrupted Sui's output. In the aftermath of the attack, the government rushed hundreds of troops to the area. At least eight people died in the violence, which caused a production loss of more than 43,000 tons of urea and caused a daily electricity shortfall of about 470 megawatts (BBC, January 18, 2005).

Balochistan's turbulent year of 2005 ended with an attack on the head of state. On December 14, Balochistan Liberation Army militants launched six rockets, three of them landing near a paramilitary camp in Kohlu that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was visiting 135 miles east of Quetta. Islamabad described the attack as an assassination attempt and three days later launched a full-fledged army operation in Kohlu district's Marri-Bugti areas against local "miscreants" and "saboteurs."

Since the beginning of the year, militants have launched at least a dozen attacks on oil pipelines in the region. The militant tribal Balochistan Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Some analysts believe that Taliban and al-Qaeda guerrillas have also been using Balochistan to move back and forth between Pakistan and southern Afghanistan (Voice of America, March 2). The year opened with heavy fighting on January 1 between security forces and tribesmen on the Dera Bugti-Sui Road, while four people were killed and three others injured when a bomb exploded in a house in the Kharan district. Jamhoori Watan Party's secretary-general Agha Shahid Hasan Bugti accused the security forces of opening fire on tribesmen without any provocation (Dawn, January 1). Policeman Sher Ahmed was injured when he attempted to deactivate a rocket that was found in Killi Shiekhan as six bombs blew up between Sibi and Harnai, one near a natural gas pipeline in Kalat. Fighting continued into the next day.

District Coordination Officer Dera Bugti Abdul Samad Lasi accused the tribesmen of launching rockets at the Loti gas field and accused Nawab Akbar Bugti's men of attempting to capture the Sui gas installations. Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd. subsequently halted natural gas supplies to 118 power plants in Lahore-Sheikhupura, Bhai Phero and Gujranwala regions, forcing textile mills to halt their operations for an indefinite period. A Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd. official claimed that the shutoff was because of adverse weather conditions.

On January 15, Jamhoori Watan Party chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti told an audience at the Karachi Press Club's Meet the Press program by telephone that the Pakistani government is committing "genocide" in Balochistan, adding, "As a war has been imposed on Baloch people, they have every right to defend themselves against the onslaught by the government forces" (Dawn, January 15).

The ongoing military operations in Balochistan were now beginning to worry Pakistan's business community. On January 16, the corporate brokerage house Taurus Securities issued its "Key risks and challenges 2006" report, which observed that the ongoing violence in Balochistan will have "a detrimental impact on the reserves of natural resources and disrupt gas supplies," adding that the military operations were worsening the situation (, January 16). On a political level, the report noted that the military campaign was providing common ground for opposition parties to unite and increasing unrest in other provinces.

Attacks also spread beyond Sui. Even as tribesmen clashed with the military on January 29, two separate attacks on natural gas pipelines supplying the power station at Uch in Nasirabad and a gas purification plant at Loti disrupted production at both facilities (Dawn, January 29). Militants also attacked the Pirkoh gas field. The saboteurs managed to destroy a significant portion of the Uch facility's 24-inch pipeline, setting it ablaze. A spokesman said, "The 586 mw-capacity power plant owned by British and U.S. companies was closed at about 11 p.m." Repairs took several days. The Uch attack certainly caught U.S. investors' intention as a threat to U.S. economic interests.

Even as Bugti remained in hiding, Baloch political leaders demanded increased revenue from the province's natural gas facilities. On March 4, National Party parliamentary leader and Balochistan Assembly opposition head Kachkol Ali demanded royalties from the proposed Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, which would transit Balochistan, citing international law (, March 4).

Certainly, Musharraf shows no sign of avoiding a showdown. Speaking to reporters on March 12, he said that his government will not give in to the "blackmail" of "a handful of miscreants" in Balochistan and will use force to defeat them, adding that he was confident that the situation would improve in a month while force would be used against Baloch militants who have attacked security forces and the province's natural gas infrastructure (Daily Times, March 12).

On March 13, U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman visited Pakistan to inaugurate a bilateral Enhanced Energy Cooperation program. Bodman made a profound statement completely overlooked in the U.S. media, saying, "The security situation in Pakistan needs to be improved as it is an impediment to investment. Until there is an improvement, substantial foreign investment is not possible" (Daily Times, March 16).


While it seems that al-Qaeda and the Taliban remain focused on their campaign against ISAF and U.S. forces in Afghanistan's eastern provinces and Pakistani Army units in the NWFP, the possibility exists that they could move southeastwards to take advantage of Balochistan's growing unrest, linking up with militants operating out of Karachi. The fact that Musharraf has deployed 40,000 troops to Balochistan, about half the 70,000 currently engaged in the NWFP, indicates that he still believes the problems there to be "containable." If the pressure on Islamist militants in the NWFP becomes too severe, then the distinct possibility exists that rather than face the hammer of ISAF troops in Afghanistan, they could migrate to Balochistan and pressure the Musharraf government by threatening the infrastructure there.

An escalating conflict in Balochistan can only drain resources from Pakistan's war on terrorism on its border with Afghanistan and frighten the foreign investment community away from the province, which will be a key player in Pakistan's future prosperity and stability. Should Baloch militants apply the lessons learned in Iraq and more recently in Saudi Arabia about attacking the national energy infrastructure and target the Sui gas fields in a concerted manner, then not only would Musharraf's government lose foreign investment, but it would also face the nasty possibility of industrial production plummeting and nearly half of the country's natural gas consumers placing the blame squarely on Islamabad's iron-fisted tactics.

Posted By: Jamestown

Joint Strike Fighter program crucial to future air dominance

by Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez
Air Force Print News

3/20/2006 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- Keeping the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program on track is important because the Air Force needs to replace aging aircraft and it is an important complement to the F-22A Raptor aircraft.

That Capitol Hill testimony came March 16 from Lt. Gen. Carrol H. "Howie" Chandler, deputy chief of staff for Air Force air, space, and information operations, plans and requirements.

"The Air Force has been very successful with what we call the high/low mix," the general said. "The F-15, for example, is high end. (It has) fewer numbers and is more expensive because of its capabilities. The F-16 is the low end of the mix -- more affordable, more numbers, optimized for air-to-ground vice the air-to-air mission of the F-15."

The general told members of the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on tactical air and land forces that the Air Force meant for there to be a similar relationship between the F-22A and the F-35 aircraft, both "fifth generation" fighters.

"The two are very complementary to each other because of the optimization of the F-22A for air-to-air (combat), and its ability to suppress or defeat enemy air defenses. The Joint Strike Fighter is optimized for air-to-surface and its ability to strike hard ... (with the) persistent numbers that we would like to buy of the aircraft,” he said. “It is very important to us."

General Chandler also said aging aircraft are a reason to push forward with the JSF program. The new aircraft will relieve the increasing cost of maintaining an older fleet, while at the same time bring new capabilities to the Air Force.

"As we attempt to maintain the aging fleet that we have today -- as you know that becomes very expensive," he said. "We are able to sustain high mission-capable rates today because of the young men and women maintaining those aircraft. As the aircraft get older ... they are going to have to work harder to make those airplanes fly at the same rate."

As part of the fiscal 2007 president's budget, the Air Force recommends termination of the Joint Strike Fighter F-136 engine development program.

General Chandler said the cancellation will provide cost savings through fiscal 2011. The program was meant to provide a mixed engine to the F-35 fleet, with F-136 engines from one manufacturer and F-135 engines from another.

In written testimony, the general said the Department of Defense concluded that a single engine supplier provides the best balance of risk and cost based upon recent experience with engine development for the F-22A and F/A-18 E/F. He said the current F-135 engine continues to meet JSF performance requirements, but conceded that in the past the Air Force has had success with maintaining two engines for one airframe.

"That success ... stems primarily to contractor performance -- the contractor performed better under competition," he said. "And there were fleet operations issues, in that you were buying an insurance policy against a mass grounding of the fleet."

That "insurance policy" came at a cost, however. The general said the Air Force feels the costs are not worth the benefit to the Air Force to have a fleet of aircraft with different, competing engines.

"You pay for that insurance policy in terms of additional supply lines and additional training for your people," he said. "If you look at where we are today with the F-119 engine (in the F-22A), and you look at the other competing issues that we have in the department with trying to fund other programs, and you look at the reliability and the safety that we have developed with this program, you can make a prudent decision that says you can save the money that you would spend on the second engine."

The F-136 is a General Electric engine developed in partnership with Rolls Royce. The Air Force wants to use the Pratt and Whitney F-135 engine for the F-35 aircraft. That engine is also developed in partnership with Rolls Royce. The F-22A aircraft is currently fitted with an F-119 engine, also developed by Pratt and Whitney.

Committee members were also concerned with encroachment issues. Encroachment is when communities surrounding a military installation build closer and closer to an airfield or training area and civilian interests begin to compete with military training efforts. The general said the Air Force works with communities to prevent encroachment.

"Encroachment is always an issue ... we work very closely with the communities so we don't endanger people as we try to train as realistically as we can," he said.

ISI now outsources terror to Bangladesh

March 21, 2006

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, leader of India's crucial neighbour Bangladesh, has arrived in New Delhi when both sides have a long list of concerns and a substantial deficit of trust. That things between the two nations are not all hunky-dory can be seen from the fact that since taking over in 2001, this is Zia's first visit to India.

2 blasts rock Varanasi; 20 dead
There are issues that bedevil ties between the two nations. For Bangladesh, the imbalance in trade and the sharing of waters as two major contentious issues, and the Indian side has a graver grouse regarding the use of Bangladesh territory by Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, for spreading terror in India.

Delhi police investigations reveal that since the last nine months, the ISI has changed its strategy by outsourcing terrorism to Bangladeshis and by motivating the "alienated sections of Muslim youth" in India.

Ahead of Zia's high profile visit to India, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan told a television channel that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will raise the issue of terrorism when both leaders meet. Bangladesh's radical Islamists are among India's major concerns, Narayanan said.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Hemayetuddin, who briefed the Indian media before his PM's arrival, insisted that Bangladesh was not complacent about India's concerns. "India should note that terrorists are on the run in Bangladesh, they are not able to hide. We have taken action against them. The arrest of Bangla Bhai recently was an important step towards it," he said.

The Ayodhya Dispute
Just 12 days before Khaleda Zia's arrival, a Bangladeshi was shot dead by the Delhi police in an encounter.

According to sources in the Delhi police, around nine months back, during the investigation of some militancy related cases, it came to be known that the ISI and various militant organisations based in Pakistan are using Bangladesh as a transit point for pushing terrorists into India. It also came to be known that Bangladeshi nationals, who are part of the terrorist organisation, have been asked to illegally enter India and set up base in different parts of the country. They then provide safe hideouts to terrorists, act as couriers of explosives and transact in hawala activities for them.

The Gujarat Riots

"We have arrested a few militants whose interrogation has revealed clearly that since the last eight-nine months, external agencies like the ISI have changed their modus operandi to create disturbances in India," said Ajay Kumar, deputy commissioner of Delhi police, in charge of the Anti-Terrorism Cell.

Speaking to, he quoted the example of one Ibrahim from Andhra Pradesh, who went to Bangladesh and then to Balochistan in Pakistan for training in terror tactics. "His arrest proves that external forces are keen to misguide our youth," Kumar said.

There are many people involved in the entire operation:

1) First and foremost is the handler or the operator; this man or group of men, based in Pakistan, are the ones who have a plan in mind of the kind of terrorist activities to be executed in India.

2) Then there is another person or group of persons in Bangladesh who receive the terrorist sent from Pakistan.

3) Then there are a group of people from Bangladesh or India who ferry the terrorists to different parts of India.

4) Then there are people or a group of people in different parts of India (at times they are 'sleepers cells', who silently work for these organisations) who provide or arrange for shelter for the Pakistani terrorists. For carrying out the terrorist activity, arms and ammunition, explosives etc come either from Pakistan or from Kashmir. At times, terrorist organisations from Kashmir also provide logistics and armed support to Pakistani terrorists for such activities in India.

There are many terrorist organisations based in Pakistan, such as the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Hizbul Mujahideen etc. The JeM gets funds from the Taliban and from Osama bin Laden, the LeT from the Pakistani community in the Persian Gulf, the United Kingdom and Islamic organisations, and the HM gets its funds from other sources.

The Delhi police claims that after 9/11, open funding of terror activities in India has become difficult and in order to let the flow of money continue, these organisations in the garb of jihad continue to outsource terror from Bangladesh into India. For that, they either incite Indians or send their people into India along with loads of explosives, arms and ammunition and other materials.

Terror attack at IISc, Bangalore
These claims of the Delhi police are being disputed by some experts like Dr Ajay Sahni of the Institute for Conflict Management.

Abdul Hamid Nomani, spokesman for the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind, told, "A strong propaganda is on against Indian Muslims. We have always condemned any kind of violence in India. A few young Muslims are involved in such activities, but there are not many youngsters as claimed by the police." He alleges that the police doesn't distinguish clearly between merely criminal Muslims and terrorists because "there is more credit in nabbing or killing of terrorists".

The police also claim that Pakistani terrorists are increasingly getting exposed because of their Punjabi-Urdu diction and their manner of clothing and dietary habits.

Also, intense pressure from the Indian Army and the Central Reserve Police Force in Jammu and Kashmir, the barbed wire fence along the Line of Control and better intelligence have made it difficult for the LeT and JeM to achieve a high rate of success.

"Pakistan gets a bad name internationally when the Indian police guns down and flashes pictures of Pakistan-born terrorists slain on Indian soil. Their dead bodies always remain unclaimed because of political embarrassment," says a Delhi police officer.

What's more worrying for security agencies is the Delhi police's latest input, which shows that a growing number of Indian Muslims are now identifying with pan-Islamic issues like US military operation in Iraq, Iran's nuclear issue and Palestine; the findings have vertically divided the experts.

This was brought into sharp relief during the massive demonstrations across India to protest US President George W Bush's recent visit to India, his Iraq policy and so-called 'anti-Islamic' leadership as well as the Danish cartoons. The protests have caught the attention of academic experts, who say it is trendsetting because it reveals the change among Indian Muslims.

Bangladesh: Next terror frontier?
Three issues -- identification with international discrimination of followers of Islam, Gujarat riots and economic deprivation, in that order -- are being used to lure away some Indian Muslims, says a senior police officer.

One member of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee -- appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the socio-economic conditions of Muslims in India -- said, "We are shocked by the alienation of young Muslims of India."

In view of the charged atmosphere, security experts believe the government has its task cut out: to halt the spread of influence of external forces among young Indian Muslims.

Terrorism expert Ajay Sahni told, "I think we can't say that more and more local Muslims are getting involved in terrorism within India. There are no statistics to support it."

According to him, out of 65 ISI-related terrorist modules neutralised by Indian security forces between January 2004 and March 2006, outside Jammu and Kashmir and the north-east states, none was exclusively handled by Indian Muslims.

In all the cases, various Pakistan-based terrorist organisations or Bangladeshis were involved, he said. And even in Uttar Pradesh, where more than 40 Pakistan-based 'Islamist' terrorist modules and activities have been busted between April 2001 and March 2006, none were managed exclusively by Indian elements.

The Delhi police believes the ISI operatives are still the masterminds behind terror, but increasingly the responsibility of execution is being shifted to Indian-born 'terrorists'.

However, opinion over the growing involvement of Indian Muslims in acts of terror remains divided.

B Raman, India's leading anti-terrorism expert, told, "It's not a question of small or big number of Indian Muslims' involvement in terrorism inside India, the fact is that they are increasingly identifying with pan-Islamic organisations and movements."

Experts like Raman who believe there are perceptible changes in the Indian Muslims' attitude, point to the fact that there were no violent protests in India when the US went to Iraq or when copies of the Quran was flushed down toilets in the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Since the last few years, it came to light that Bangladesh is being used as a breeding ground for terrorist activities in India. Indian security agencies have flight details and details of armed training in two such cases investigated by the Special Cell of the Delhi police in 2005 and 2006.

News from Bangladesh
In the first case of the Special Cell investigations, the following persons were arrested after five Pakistani terrorists attacked the Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya. How these Pakistan-trained terrorists entered India and how they managed to get a huge amount of arms and ammunition is a frightening story in itself.

Abdul Baki Mandal, resident of West Bengal
Amir Ali, resident of Assam
Nafiqul Biswas, resident of West Bengal
Nadir Sheikh, resident of West Bengal
Mohammad Ibrahim, resident of Hyderabad
Sohag Khan @ Hilal, resident of Bangladesh
Their interrogation revealed that Pakistani terrorists from the JeM involved in the Ayodhya attack came through Bangladesh. One Indian named Maqbool, a resident of Assam now settled in Dhaka, was the conduit for militants coming to India from Pakistan. He sent them through Abdul Baki Mandal to Delhi. In Delhi, Amir Ali provided them shelter. Prior to sending them to India, a meeting was held in Dhaka and a strategy was chalked out to attack the shrine.

During Mandal's interrogation, it was revealed that Maqbool also helped Gazi Baba, the so-called chief of JeM in Kashmir. When Baba was killed by Indian security forces, Maqbool escorted his wife and daughter from Kashmir to Karachi through Bangladesh.

Among the Ayodhya accused who were arrested is Mohammad Ibrahim, a resident of Hyderabad who had undergone training in Bangladesh and subsequently in Pakistan. His testimony has opened the eyes of Indian security agencies.

He is a normal Indian who was lured into the terror network. When he was arrested, he gave rare and astonishing details of the ISI's change in strategy.

During the course of getting information, one scrap dealer by the name of Saidul, residing near Ghadde Wali Masjid, Usmanpur, was identified as a Bangladeshi national by the Delhi police.

On January 24, 2006, specific information was received that Mohammad Saidul would deliver a consignment of explosives along with his associate Sohed-Ul to some militant at Main Pusta Road, Shastri Park, New Delhi.

A trap was then laid, a raid conducted and Saidul, 30, (son of Abu Haldar and a resident of village Ghunsi, post office Ballokdi, Madaripur, district Madaipur, Bangladesh) and Sohed-Ul, 32, (son of Dharook, living in the same village) were apprehended.

During interrogation they revealed they were Bangladeshi nationals and members of the Harkat-ul-Jihad Islam, a militant organisation active in Bangladesh; on the direction of their handler Anwar Bhai, they were to deliver the recovered consignment of explosives, which was brought from Bangladesh, to one Saeed Bhai.

It was also revealed they had received training in handling arms, ammunition and explosives in Bangladesh. Saidul is involved in many terrorist activities, including murder and bomb blasts in Bangladesh.

In one such terrorist attack, he had killed one senior army officer. His left hand was blown away in another incident of terror and he is wanted in Bangladesh for many terrorist deeds.

He was sent by the outfit to deliver the explosives in Delhi during the Republic Day celebrations.

He told the Delhi police he was in regular touch with his ISI mentors operating from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Sohed-ul is a cousin of Saidul and the duo had taken responsibility for terrorist activities in India.

Their leader Abdul Hannan @ Bhai Jaan of HUJI is presently in a Bangladesh jail.

Hannan's two other associates, Anishul Murshlin and Muhibbul Muttakin, twin brothers from Faridpur in Bangladesh, are alleged to have supplied explosives used in the terrorist attacks in Hyderabad and the Shramjivi Express in 2005. They were arrested at New Delhi railway station by the Special Cell in February.

The police claim to have recovered 3 kg of RDX, two electronic detonators, two pistols, Bangladeshi passports and fake Indian currency worth Rs 40,000 from them.

While probing the increased infiltration of terrorists from Bangladesh, the Special Cell learnt that two LeT militants would arrive in Delhi from Kolkata via the Howrah Express with a consignment of explosives, to set up base in Delhi. Subsequently, a team comprising inspectors Badrish, Mohan Chand Sharma and Sanjay Dutt, laid a trap at the Ajmeri Gate side of New Delhi railway station and arrested both terrorists.

They disclosed that way back in 1995, when they were studying in a madrassa, one Peer Baba, associated with the HUJI, would visit there for lectures and encouraged students to join the "jihad". They were so impressed by his teachings that in 1999 they joined the HUJI. Under its chief Mufti Hannan, they targeted a Communist Party meeting at Dhaka, killing six people in January 2001. The same year, they triggered explosions at a cultural festival killing 10 people.

According to Joint Commissioner of Police Karnal Singh, in 2001, the accused were involved in two other terrorist attacks, including one in the office of an Awami League leader Shamim Usman at Narainganj, in which 20 people were killed.

In 2003, their group carried out two more terrorist strikes targeting festivals. The same year, the duo met Ghulam Yazdani alias Naved of Hyderabad, who had fled to Bangladesh after eliminating senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Hiren Pandya in Gujarat.

The duo confirmed that through Yazdani, a young boy from Hyderabad, about 14 people from that city had been sent to Pakistan to undergo training in ISI-run camps.

They too began working for him and in June 2005, they along with their accomplice, Ahsan Ullah Hassan, provided explosives to Yazdani, which was smuggled into India.

Three bombs were prepared from the materials, one of which was used in the July 28 explosion on board the Shramjivi Express and one at the Special Task Force office in Hyderabad on October 12.

Three of the accused, Ibrahim, Hililaluddin and Nafiq-ul-Vishwas, who were involved in the Hyderabad attack were earlier arrested by the Special Cell.

The third bomb, which was to be used in Bangalore, was recovered by the police in Hyderabad. Meanwhile, in October 2004, the duo was involved in an attack on former Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina, in which 22 people were killed.

Anishul and Muhibbul allegedly disclosed that Yazdani had asked them to set up base in or around Delhi. After reaching Kolkata, they received the explosives from one Ayub and came to Delhi where they were arrested.

Meanwhile, on March 8, the Delhi police's Special Cell gunned down Yazdani and his associate Ahsan Ullah Hasan, a high-ranking HUJI militant .

Yazdani was a 28-year-old engineering dropout and native of Nalgonda in Andhra Pradesh. His father Ghulam Mustafa, a government teacher, had said he was not sorry over his son's death for indulging in anti-national activities.

However, he said he wanted to perform his son's last rites, but local Bharatiya Janata Party activists tried to prevent him from doing so. Only after the intervention of the Hyderabad police and amidst tight police bandobust, were Yazdani's last rites performed at the Bade Masjid burial grounds at Hayatnagar on March 15.

The Rediff Specials

March 20, 2006

Turf battles hit Indian spy in the sky

Turf battles hit Indian spy in the sky

By Rahul Bedi, New Delhi: Bureaucratic wrangling and turf battles between India's civilian and military intelligence agencies, exacerbated by budgetary squabbles, continue to hamper efforts to modernise the country's shadowy and highly classified Aviation Research Centre (ARC).

Run by the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency that reports directly to the prime minister, ARC is responsible for communication and electronic surveillance along the borders with Pakistan and China.

Its assets of ageing fixed-wing transport and light aircraft like Russian IL-76s and AN-32s and General Dynamics Gulfstream III/SRA-1s and upgraded Gulfstream IV/SRA-4 jets of the US and obsolete helicopter fleet are tasked with gathering "actionable" information via airborne signal intelligence (SIGINT) operations and photo reconnaissance flights along its northern and eastern frontiers.

ARC inputs constitute the bulk of the monthly intelligence forecasts to the Indian military, particularly the army, on the Pakistani and Chinese military's order of battle and tables of organisation.

Its responsibilities also include detailing the neighbours' immediate military capabilities, organizational structure, mission essential personnel and present equipment deployment.

But there is plenty of criticism.

"The output by ARC's fleet of obsolete, lumbering aircraft fitted with outdated Western surveillance sensors and optical electronic systems that are capable of limited penetration into enemy territory remain restrictive in a real time situation," a senior military officer said, declining to be identified.

He asserted that the 44-year-old ARC's output with analogue and not digital capability diluted "immediate operational utility" and made the images and accompanying analysis "tactically unsound".

"It (ARC) also fails to provide an overall strategic landscape despite the large amounts of money lavished upon it," he added.

ARC was established in 1962 with help from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was nervous about China. RAW came up later.

ARC operates from New Delhi's Palam airport, Charbatia in Orissa and Dumduma in Assam, while its rotary wing fleet sparingly uses Chakrata bordering Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

ARC's helicopter fleet comprises Russian MI-8s and a mix of locally built Cheetahs (locally modified French Alouette IIs) and Chetak's (Alouette IIIs), many of which are used to transport Special Frontier Force (SFF) commandos from their base at Sirsawa, 250 km north of New Delhi, for "dedicated" tasks at the behest of RAW operatives or from the Intelligence Bureau, the domestic security agency.

These involve "surgical strikes" on terrorist targets based on "pinpoint" intelligence, official sources said.

ARC's activities are to an extent supplemented by the Indian Air Force's fleet of four MiG 25s (NATO reporting name Foxbat) and Avro HS 748s and the Indian Navy's Dornier 228s.

But turf battles between the civilian and military intelligence agencies, which had intensified following feeble attempts to revamp the country's information gathering capabilities five years ago, rarely lead to close cooperation or information sharing between RAW and the military, intelligence sources said.

In the reorganisation process RAW successfully fought off moves by the army to merge ARC with its Directorate General of Military Intelligence.

The army runs its own Defence Image Processing and Imagery Centre with the ability to download images from satellites but depends heavily on RAW, the Intelligence Bureau and inputs from paramilitary forces for a "complete" picture of the border areas.

ARC's aircraft are mainly operated and maintained by IAF personnel seconded to it for limited durations. But it also has a small corps of pilots and ground crew of its own, some of which were responsible till 2000-01 for servicing and repairing the Northern Alliance's Soviet Mi 17 and Mi 35 attack helicopters in Afghanistan when it was engaged in fighting the Taliban militia.

Security and military sources, however, said ARC's limited surveillance capabilities were adversely exposed during the 11-week border war with Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir's mountainous Kargil region in 1999 when its output was little better than "pretty pictures ", providing the Indian army and air force with little or no tactical input. Over 1,200 soldiers died in the skirmish, 519 of them Indian.

In the run up to the skirmish, the ARC also proved unable to the task of determining the ingress of the Pakistan Army into Indian territory stretching some 140 km along the Kargil frontier for several weeks before an Indian army detail was informed about the infiltration by a shepherd.

Besides, the military charges ARC with "restricted knowledge" of defence matters, a claim ARC strongly refutes. Security and military sources at times accuse the ARC of operating in a vacuum and producing little of operational value.

ARC's efficacy is further being challenged by the newly-created National Technical Facilities Organisation (NTFO) as part of revamping the country's intelligence structure to conduct hi-tech surveillance using satellite and computer assets besides having access to data collected by the services and other national intelligence sources.

But despite its shortcomings, ARC has had many successes. It played a vital role in the "liberation" of Bangladesh in 1971 and in the takeover of Sikkim four years later as India's 22nd state.

ARC assets were also deployed in providing security to India's highly classified nuclear programme during the 1974 and 1998 underground atomic tests in Pokhran in Rajasthan.