November 08, 2006

RAW : Muslims And Sikhs Need Not Apply

Outlook India: November 6, 2006

You can blame all of India's intelligence fiascos mainly on Hindus, as the agencies don't find Muslims or Sikhs fit to work for them.
SAIKAT DATTA

Noted educationist and former parliamentarian Humayun Kabir was known, among other things, for being a prominent Bengali politician who did not subscribe to the Muslim League’s vision of Pakistan. Instead, he chose secular India, rose to be the education secretary. Little did Kabir know that nearly fifty years later, one of his grandsons would not be inducted into RAW, India’s external intelligence agency. Reason: he was a Muslim.
The year was 2000. The NDA government was restructuring the Indian security apparatus following the Kargil war. Kabir’s grandson had been cleared for induction into the RAW’s air wing, the aviation research centre (ARC).

He was found to be competent for the job and met all the required parameters. His interviewers were very impressed with him. They had no doubt that they had found their man. But hours later the decision was reversed. The members of the selection board came to the view that there was a question mark on Kabir’s suitability for the job. He was a Muslim and the unwritten code within the agency was that Muslims could not be inducted it. That code vis-a-vis Muslims is still followed. From 1969 till today—RAW’s current staff strength is about 10,000—it has avoided recruiting any Muslim officer. Neither has the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), a crucial arm of external intelligence. The Intelligence Bureau (IB) with 12,000 personnel has been a little more open. It has a handful of Muslim officers, the senior-most is a joint director.

Many intelligence officials say keeping Muslims out or minimally represented is unwise.

Post-9/11 the Indian intelligence community has been tasked to keep its eyes and ears open to global Islamic terrorism. It is here that the presence of dedicated Muslim officers will add to the expertise and capabilities that an organisation like RAW requires. But, senior officers are quick to point out that this should be done not to appease the community. "We have to realise that by following the unwritten code we are denying a pool of talent that is readily available. We need bright, dynamic, intelligent operatives. Should we deny them an opportunity just because they are Muslims?" asks a senior official.

According to former RAW chief A.S. Dulat, appointing Muslims is not only necessary but also critical. He feels that only a Muslim is capable of understanding the psyche of the community. Says Dulat: "The Muslim psyche can be baffling to non-Muslims. However much a person claims to be in tune with what the community feels, he can never really know all the nuances. A Muslim, on the other hand, would have the feel for the language, the metaphor and the culture. If you have to know what is happening in Aligarh Muslim University or SIMI, a Muslim will be much better informed. And you cannot wish away the feeling of neglect, the hurt and the discrimination that the community feels. That too is something a Muslim would be able to understand better."

Similarly, while dealing with intelligence inputs from Pakistan and Bangladesh, a Muslim could be far more effective. But officials point out that appointments should not label Muslim officers as Pakistani specialists. As Indians, their expertise can be deployed elsewhere too. The point they make is that efficient and qualified candidates should not be barred because of their religious identity.

As opposed to RAW, the IB, tasked with internal security, took a decision during the Narasimha Rao government to induct Muslim officers. Soon a couple of young IPS officers were taken in—one from the Uttar Pradesh cadre became the first inductees into the IB. Since then a few more appointments have taken place. According to official feedback, the performance of Muslim officers has never been under question.

In fact, some of them went on to hold senior positions and one officer has risen to the rank of joint director presently handling a sensitive unit.
"There was some discussion within the IB before the doors were thrown open. The bottomline for us was that only merit would be the criterion. As intelligence officials our backgrounds are checked periodically. It applies to everyone irrespective of religious or ethnic identities," a senior official told Outlook. Some of the Muslim officers proved to be a big asset in several anti-insurgency operations in J&K.

"They could identify with the sensibilities of the Kashmiris and were much more sensitive in their approach which paid off in 1994-95 when militancy was at its height. In fact, these officers helped us counter the Pakistani propaganda that was dominant in the Kashmir valley during that time," he adds.

Now several RAW officials agree a lack of Muslims in the organisation has created a void. They say a large part of India’s strategic outlook covers countries in the Middle East and the Gulf which are primarily Islamic. "These have been traditionally weak areas for us and the induction of Muslim officers could help us. But, we have to also side-step the narrow vision of hiring Muslims in Islamic states and just look at them as professionals," an official told Outlook. Things could change if the present RAW chief, P.K. Hormese Tharakan, can push the case for a review of the recruitment policy. He has already embarked on an exercise to recruit talented manpower irrespective of religious or ethnic identity.

A senior retired naval admiral has been hired as a consultant for this task. However, a final decision on any change in the present position has to come from the government. Soon after the task force on intelligence submitted its report to the NDA government in 2000, it began an exercise to revamp intelligence agencies. While new organisations were being set up, a senior bureaucrat approached the then national security advisor (NSA) Brajesh Mishra for guidance. "I asked him if we could induct Muslims into the organisations that were being set up. He promised us that he would look into it. I never heard from him after that," he told Outlook.
The matter was taken up once again when J.N. Dixit took over as the NSA in the UPA government. Points out a bureaucrat: "He heard us out and gave instructions that there should be no discrimination on the basis of religion while recruiting competent officers. Days later he passed away and the instructions were not recorded on file and did not become official policy. So things continue to be the way they were."

Recruiting Muslims into the intelligence agencies finds support from within the strategic community. Says Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, who was part of the committee set up to restructure Indian intelligence in 1998. "I would emphasise that religion must not be a criterion. We have had an eminent chief of air staff in Idrees Latif and Lt General Jameel was army commander of Eastern Command while Lt Gen Zaki was security advisor to the J&K government at a critical period of militancy in the early 1990s. India is a country of minorities, whether religious, ethnic, linguistic or caste. And this is the strength of the nation," Those who argue for an all-inclusive policy based on merit like to remind the sceptics that it was Sikh officers and men who finally rooted out militancy in Punjab. Is the ‘secular’ Indian state listening?

By Saikat Datta and Bhavna Vij-Aurora

Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti was bombed and then later executed -- Indian Intelligence



In Balochistan, Gen Musharraf's record is far more grim. He ordered the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and tried to justify it by saying Bugti posed a serious threat to Pakistan's integrity. Bugti's hide-out was bombed by rockets and mortar shells and he was later executed. For all the bombings, as detailed by the official spokesman, Bugti's spectacles and wrist watch remained unharmed. And, why was Gen Musharraf hell bent on keeping his coffin padlocked and buried without his family being present? Was it to conceal state execution?




Bugti's killing is not the only instance of state killing dissenters in Balochistan. During the year-long stand off between the tribals and the military, several young Balochis were picked up from their homes, never to return. These Balochis had the gumption to criticise or protest the state's demonic oppression. The Balochis want a share in the progress which the military regime led by Gen Musharraf is not willing to accept. A large number of Balochis were charged under false cases and jailed after brutal interrogations. Several of them were either liquidated or died in police custody. These deaths and disappearances could not have taken place without the consent of the establishment headed by Gen Musharraf.




West winks at Musharraf


Wilson John

Source: Daily Pioneer


Will the allies of the Pakistani dictator scrutinise the role of Pervez Musharraf in ordering air raids on his own people?

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been a really clever dictator, successfully hiding from the world his regime's gross human rights abuses. While former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has been sentenced to death for killing and torturing his own countrymen, the international community seems blind to the atrocities committed by their "staunch ally" in the war on terrorism.



Early last week, Gen Musharraf ordered bombing of a madarsa in Waziristan saying it was training Al Qaeda and Taliban jihadis. Some 80 persons were killed. Gen Musharraf insisted that they were all militants. It was a lie. A majority of the dead were children at the religious school. In any case, spy cameras had caught only students doing calisthenics and other exercises; no weapon was found in the precincts.



Though it is true that Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists are regrouping in Waziristan, thanks mainly to Gen Musharraf's truce two months ago, it cannot be anybody's argument that all the tribals, children and women included, are terrorists. Knowing the truth about the death of innocent young students, Gen Musharraf's justifications only betrays his dictatorial tendencies. The bombing was instigated by a wrong US intelligence.



In Balochistan, Gen Musharraf's record is far more grim. He ordered the killing of Baloch leader Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and tried to justify it by saying Bugti posed a serious threat to Pakistan's integrity. Bugti's hide-out was bombed by rockets and mortar shells and he was later executed. For all the bombings, as detailed by the official spokesman, Bugti's spectacles and wrist watch remained unharmed. And, why was Gen Musharraf hell bent on keeping his coffin padlocked and buried without his family being present? Was it to conceal state execution?



Bugti's killing is not the only instance of state killing dissenters in Balochistan. During the year-long stand off between the tribals and the military, several young Balochis were picked up from their homes, never to return. These Balochis had the gumption to criticise or protest the state's demonic oppression. The Balochis want a share in the progress which the military regime led by Gen Musharraf is not willing to accept. A large number of Balochis were charged under false cases and jailed after brutal interrogations. Several of them were either liquidated or died in police custody. These deaths and disappearances could not have taken place without the consent of the establishment headed by Gen Musharraf.



In PoK, Gen Musharraf has managed to keep Kashmiri refugees in virtual bondage. The families of terrorists who had fled the Indian Kashmir to PoK fearing detention by Indian security forces are forced to live in tented camps and other encampments surrounded by deplorable conditions.



Amnesty International has cited gross human rights violations in the area by Pakistani authorities.



In the Northern Areas, Gen Musharraf's regime is playing another diabolical game. The regime is systematically widening the sectarian divide by provoking the Shias by inserting objectionable chapters and sentences in school textbooks and by encouraging Sunnis to settle down in otherwise Shia-dominated area. In fact, it was Gen Musharraf as Brigadier, on the orders of President Zia-ul Haq, who led a mixed contingent of soldiers and tribal fighters to put down a Shia rebellion in the region. The operation witnessed slaying of women and children.



Elsewhere in Pakistan, the oppression is reflected in the way media is bridled. Criticism is rewarded with deportation. Pakistan has no institutional mechanism to reward journalists for courageous or investigative reporting. On the other hand, journalists daring to criticise or investigate are browbeaten and intimidated physically.



Investigative journalist Ghulam Husnain was picked up by ISI and locked up in a secret cell for a few days after he reported Dawood Ibrahim living in Clifton, Karachi, in Herald, an English monthly. His expose appeared when Pakistan had denied all knowledge about Dawood.



Another investigative journalist Kamran Khan was made to tow the line after he wrote articles on the Daniel Pearl murder case in The News, an English daily. In fact, Pearl, the American correspondent for the Asian Wall Street Journal, was killed for probing ISI's links with Al Qaeda in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Several foreign journalists were intimidated and deported if they asked disturbing questions. Gen Musharraf's dirty tricks department in the ISI has intimidated Indian and American scribes for reporting on jihadi and nuclear issues in particular.



Two years ago, Mr Brad Adams, Executive Director, Asia Division of the Human Rights Watch, aptly summed up Gen Musharraf's despotic regime: "Since the coup, the Pakistani Government has systematically violated the fundamental rights of members of the political opposition and former Government officials. It has harassed, threatened, and arrested them. It has removed independent judges from the higher courts, banned anti-Government public rallies and demonstrations.... in addition, the last four years have also witnessed the rise of extremist political activity and an increase in sectarian killings.''

Afghanistan strikes back at Pakistan

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Source: Asia Times

KARACHI - After a number of recent incidents, it is emerging that for the first time since the fall of the communist regime in Afghanistan 13 years ago, Afghan intelligence, likely with foreign assistance, is active in Pakistan.

At the same time, several attacks on Pakistani military bases - the most recent a suicide attack on Wednesday morning that killed at least 35 soldiers - add to the overall volatility of the country. And this comes at a time that the top brass are gathering at



General Headquarters in Rawalpindi to make a vital decision on Pakistan's role in the "war on terror".

Last week, a car bomb ripped through the office of the inspector general of police in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Pakistan's Balochistan province. One policeman and two other men were killed.

This followed a bomb attack in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), in which nine people were killed and more than 30 injured.

And on Tuesday, NWFP Governor Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai escaped unhurt in a rocket attack while he was addressing a council in Wana, headquarters of the South Waziristan tribal agency.

Initial investigations into the Quetta attack pointed to suspects of Afghan-Uzbek origin. A subsequent massive raid netted more than 70 Afghans, a few of whom admitted connections with Afghan intelligence.

A joint investigation team comprising Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau then grilled these suspects and concluded that the sophisticated and organizational nature of the operation was beyond the known capabilities of Afghan intelligence on its own.

"KHAD [Khadamat-e Etela'at-e Dawlati, Afghanistan's secret police] was the most active agency in the region throughout the 1980s, but most of its counter-intelligence missions were assisted by the [Soviet] KGB. KHAD's external wing carried out bomb attacks in cities such as Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi, as well as assassinations of mujahideen leaders," a senior security official told Asia Times Online on condition his identity not be revealed.

"Now, no KGB services are available to Afghan intelligence, and none of the old Soviet-trained Afghan officials remain. Thus it is a matter of surprise for Pakistan to see Afghan intelligence using methods which only a few intelligence agencies, considered the best in the world, are capable of applying,"
the security official said without giving names but clearly hinting at British, US and Indian intelligence.

Information acquired from the suspects rounded up in Quetta and other parts of the country revealed a network working through the Afghan consulates in Karachi and Quetta, where the Afghan Foreign Ministry had attached a number of staff who were not career diplomats but activists of the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance, a mostly non-Pashtun grouping, bitterly opposed the Taliban during their rule from 1996-2001.

According to Asia Times Online contacts, during interrogation some of the suspects talked of plans for death squads to launch attacks in Karachi and Islamabad. The facilitation was to be through the Afghan consulates in Quetta and Karachi.

The death squads were to target top religious leaders considered pro-Taliban. One of the names learned by this correspondent is Maulana Noor Mohammed (a member of parliament from Quetta), in addition to some non-political clerics in the tribal and border areas.

Certainly, such killings would anger the large pro-Taliban following in Pakistan; at the same time, they would likely fuel sectarian strife in the country as the blame would fall on Shi'ites.

More instability would be the obvious result.

Army in the firing line

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at an army parade ground in the town of Dargai in NWFP, killing at least 35 soldiers and wounding 20. Dargai is mostly pro-Taliban.

The first reaction would be to assume that this attack had nothing to do with Afghan intelligence operatives - why should they attack the Pakistani army, which is ostensibly on their side?

But if it was Afghan intelligence, as a section of Pakistani intelligence is convinced, the argument is the same as it was for the Quetta attack. In that incident the attackers selected the office of the inspector general of police because insurgents in Afghanistan target Afghan police and the Afghan National Army (ANA), in what the Afghan government calls Pakistan-sponsored attacks. So these would be tit-for-tat responses.

Wednesday's attack could also have been undertaken by al-Qaeda-linked militants. Indeed, they would be the immediate suspects. This would be because they are seeking revenge for the air attacks on a madrassa (seminary) in Bajour agency last week in which 80 people died. US drones are believed to have been involved in the attack, which officials said targeted militants.

Further, the militants would want to sabotage peace deals between Islamabad and the tribal areas. North and South Waziristan recently concluded deals under which the army would withdraw in exchange for the tribals stemming the flow of militants across the border into Afghanistan. Bajour agency was on the brink of signing such a deal when the air attacks came.

Shifting tides

According to Asia Times Online contacts, the Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan (HIA) led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, once the favorite of Pakistan's groups, has come out into the open in southwestern Afghanistan in a form of alliance with local Afghan governments. Gulbuddin has been considered an important player in the Taliban-led insurgency.

HIA commanders have taken control of many villages and towns. Here they have hoisted HIA flags alongside those of the local Afghan administrations, which are already filled with former HIA members. Hekmatyar has already signaled for a deal with the Afghan administration in Kabul.

Certainly Hekmatyar would not have changed his attitude toward foreign forces in Afghanistan and still demands that they announce a schedule for leaving. But Hekmatyar has always been against killing ANA or members of the police. The present arrangements in parts of the southwest between the HIA and Afghan administrations are purely local and not between North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces and the HIA.

Nevertheless, this is an important development and a positive one from Kabul's point of view.

At the same time, a number of Baloch insurgents, including top commanders of the Baloch Liberation Army, are in Kabul - again, for the first time since the fall of the communist regime in Afghanistan in 1992. The Pakistani government has been battling an insurgency in Balochistan province for many years. The last thing it would want is the insurgency to receive support - moral or any other form - from Afghanistan.

Pakistan's choices
Pakistan has been walking between the devil and the deep blue sea ever since it signed on to the "war on terror" in 2001 after ditching the Taliban.

It has constantly been criticized by Washington and Kabul for not doing enough to root out al-Qaeda militants and Taliban elements in its territory, while at the same time President General Pervez Musharraf has drawn open hostility (including assassination attempts) from militants, clerics and even sections of the armed forces.

As stated above, Pakistan recently tried to bring some security to the semi-autonomous tribal areas by signing agreements with the Pakistani Taliban in North Waziristan and South Waziristan, and was about to strike one with Bajour.

Pakistan tried to convince Washington that such deals would be beneficial to the "war on terror", but Washington thought just the opposite, with visions of a vast uncontrollable zone emerging in Pakistan as the strategic backyard of the anti-US movement in Afghanistan. Thus the widespread conviction that the US took matters into its own hands by launching the Bajour attack.

Apparently, Musharraf wanted to follow up this action with further attacks on suspected militants, but was dissuaded from doing so by his top brass, who argued for reconciliation with the Taliban at all costs.

As a result, Musharraf is back to square one with regard to Washington and the Taliban: he just doesn't know which way to turn. The reports of Afghan counter-intelligence activity in Pakistan make the decision all that much more difficult.

Boiled down, Pakistan has three choices, all of them tough:


Go head-to-head with Pakistan's militants and face intense instability in which Afghan intelligence would be ready to play its part;

Strike a Waziristan-like deal with militants and face Washington's wrath in the shape of more air strikes and other conspiracies, including even a coup;

Reassess its whole policy in the region and come up with something that would allow Islamabad once again to gain friends in Kabul as well as keep its Western allies happy.


According to reports from Waziristan, a new video by al-Qaeda leader Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri will be released soon in which he will call for a global jihad against the US and its ally, Pakistan.

Against this background, Pakistan's top brass will debate the options above. Whichever path they choose, it will have a defining influence on the "war on terror".

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at saleem_shahzad2002@yahoo.com.

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