January 27, 2009

ICELAND: When Govetnment trade sovereignty for short term prosperity

How Iceland's Government made one of History's Most Devastatingly Common Mistakes


There's a good chance that you've already heard more about Iceland in the last few weeks & months than you ever cared to. In fact, you probably didn't react much to yesterday's news that the government toppled under the weight of the country's financial collapse.

And why should you? The island's only home to 300,000 people - less than Wichita Kansas - and it's historically been the backwater of Western Europe. So why would you really care about what's going on in Iceland?

Because it's a perfect example of how governments trade their own sovereignty for prosperity. And how people remain complacent with this trade until they've lost both.

Today we're going to look back at Iceland...how it transformed from a handful of fishing villages into a financial metropolis...and how the same forces feeding that transformation led to the country's inevitable downfall.

All Thanks to One Man...

Meet David Oddsson.

Don't be fooled by the funny name and hair, this intrepid Icelander is almost singlehandedly responsible for the regulatory and legislative changes that fostered the country's frenzied, bubble-based economy.

An actor, writer and radio show producer by trade, Oddsson ascended into the realm of politics when he became mayor of Reykjavik. He then went on to become the country's longest-standing prime minister, from 1991 - 2004, before taking on a role as chairman of the board of governors at the Central Bank of Iceland in 2005.

Before Oddsson took office, as we mentioned before, Iceland was a backwater country. With less than half a million citizens and an economy based on the boom and bust of the fishing cycle, Iceland was one of Europe's poorest countries.

Oddsson vowed to change all that, to free the small country from the vagaries of the fishing cycle and the tyranny of a state-run commercial banking sector. "The crucial factor," he said in a 2004 speech, "was the iron grip that the Icelandic state had on all business activity through its ownership of the commercial banks."

And free them from that "iron grip" he did. Oddsson sold off all the country's commercial banks.

Icelanders savored the change. High interest rates brought boatloads of foreign money into the tiny island economy, and the highly educated locals put it to good use. They built a world-renowned network of alternative energy sources. New biotech and software companies started popping up, and existing companies became more competitive.

But the banks were where the real innovation happened. In 2000, Kaupthing (Iceland's biggest bank) had a total of 208 billion kronur in assets. By the end of June 2008, that figured had ballooned 30 times over to 6.6 trillion kronur. That the total assets of the country's three banks were equivalent to ten times the country's GDP only started to seem unnerving after the country started to sink.

Icelanders were also eager to embrace a more "American" kind of change. Flat-screen TV's, blue jeans and T-shirts all made their way en masse onto the tiny island. Consumers proved themselves ready and willing to keep their habits in step with the country's rapidly growing economy.

And it was a paradise...while it lasted. Since 2000, Iceland's repeatedly topped the list in several categories. From having the highest standard of living in the world to being the world's fifth-richest nation per capita - according to the OECD - few could've imagined that Iceland, darling of the bubble, could fall so hard and so fast.

But it Did.
And after ten whirlwind days, Icelanders stood aghast at the wreckage.

A currency worth half of what it was worth just the other day. A bombed-out stock market that lost approximately 90% of its value in a matter of days. Three insolvent banks and an anticipated 10% decline in GDP over the course of 2009. To make things worse, the country's fish harvest was seriously impaired by a virus infecting over half of the herring catch.

Here's the part where the Icelanders get angry.

The normally conservative and highly restrained Icelanders marched in protest. They gathered in town halls for cathartic meetings where they issued a call-to-action to the media. Protests turned into angry demonstrations...a serious development for the even-tempered Icelanders. The government responded to the rapidly deteriorating situation by stepping down and organizing interim elections for this May.

...History Repeating...
But where were the contrarians? Where were the cynics and the skeptics? Didn't anyone wonder where all that money was coming from? Didn't anyone wonder what had really changed, what justified all the flat-screen TV's and foreign money?

Someone certainly did. But the problem here is that so many people enjoy having more money and more stuff. It might sound overly simplistic, but it's the unfortunate truth the world over. People tend to get complacent when the going is good. Any skeptic, anyone doubting Iceland's meteoric rise would've been challenging the optimism and dreams of the entire nation. In the US, such a skeptic might've been called "unpatriotic."

But there's something deeper going on here. History's most devastatingly common mistake; Iceland traded its own sovereignty for the short-term prosperity of its people and its country. Sure, foreign investment is good, and Iceland's central bank was playing many of the same games played by other emerging market economies. But when bank assets outnumber GDP ten times over, a government is clearly powerless to exercise its sovereignty over its own financial system.

Indeed, the proximate cause of Iceland's swift catastrophe was a bailout payment intended to save one of those very banks. And the current government is stepping down not only because of humiliation over its role in the financial crisis, but as an admission that they're incapable of slowing the inevitable decline that Iceland will see in 2009.

Sovereignty - be it National or Personal - is an almost invaluable asset, one whose importance Icelanders didn't realize until it was entirely too late.

Today, the greatest nations in the world - home to the world's largest economies - battle what is becoming one of history's largest economic crises. Their victory or failure will be determined in large part by whether they have maintained enough sovereignty to truly exercise control over their realm. Unfortunately, like in Iceland, it may be all too late before they realize that they've traded that sovereignty away.

In light of that fact, we're going to spend the next few days looking at these economies - in the US, Germany, China and Japan - with a focus on how the government is dealing with the global slowdown and crisis. Perhaps in looking at the issue from the perspective of sovereignty, we'll better understand the health and welfare of these economies, and the likelihood that they'll emerge from this crisis at the head of the pack.

Economy topples Reykjavik

22:00 | 27/ 01/ 2009

MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin) - The entire Icelandic government has become the first victim of the crisis in Europe.

In late January, ministers and financial officials began to step down one by one, then the government coalition collapsed, and in the late hours of January 27, Prime Minister Geir Haarde said he and his cabinet would retire immediately. Early elections may be scheduled for February or March instead of 2011.

Judging by the tumult of mass rejoicing in the streets of the capital at this dramatic turn of events, the overwhelming majority of Icelanders are convinced that things could not get any worse. Almost the whole week before this, tens of thousands of people were demanding the government's resignation and early elections. As many as 30,000-32,000 people, or 10% of Iceland's entire population (320,000), took part in the political unrest burning effigies of the prime minister and his cabinet members.

What happened in Iceland was the quintessence of the most disgusting manifestation of the artificially triggered global financial crisis. The government did absolutely nothing to prevent the state's intentional, insane conversion into one mega unregulated hedge fund. Business seemed so successful that Iceland's banks issued securities and took out loans for almost $120 billion, six times more than the country's entire GDP. This was the most obvious sign that the bubble would soon burst but nobody foresaw the danger. It eventually burst last year, and the krona immediately fell in value by a quarter.

Within a few days, Iceland turned to a bankrupt. Nobody wanted to give money to Reykjavik because of its reputation as a financial pariah, and it had to turn to Russia and the IMF for help. The latter gave it $10 billion by the middle of January. The Viking brothers also helped. Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Sweden came up with a loan for $2.5 billion but this did not last long.

It is hard to say what country will follow Iceland but some may. In the Baltics, the wave of protests swept Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. This is only the beginning. In Eastern Europe, Hungary is suffering from a financial hangover, and the opposition is craving blood. The situation in Hungary is not much better than in Iceland.

Having finished the past year with the GDP's second consecutive quarterly fall, Britain has officially embarked on a recession with all its implicit political problems.

In Europe, only Chancellor Angela Merkel can hope to avoid the negative political consequences of the crisis. The next elections are scheduled for September 27. Circumspect Teutonic mentality has always prompted Germans to avoid serious moves during a crisis. So, Merkel is most likely to be re-elected.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Turkey: 'Deep State' conspiracy

27 Jan 2009

The Ergenekon investigation deepens distrust between the Turkish military and the country's police force, as the ruling AKP suspects the 'Deep State' of trying to undermine it in the name of secularism, Gareth Jenkins writes for ISN Security Watch.

By Gareth Jenkins in Istanbul for ISN Security Watch

Turkish anti-terrorism police on 22 January detained 37 people in simultaneous pre-dawn raids in 16 of the country's 81 provinces as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged covert organization known as "Ergenekon."

The operation was the 11th in a series of coordinated early morning raids over the last 18 months in which over 200 people have been detained and more than 120 formally arrested on charges of belonging to the Ergenekon "armed terrorist organization."

Those currently being held on charges of belonging to Ergenekon include retired high-ranking members of the Turkish military, academics, writers, journalists, businessmen, lawyers and medical personnel. Although a few have a background in covert activities, the only common denominator linking all of them is that they are outspoken opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has described the Ergenekon case as being similar to the Mani Pulite or "Clean Hands" judicial investigation in Italy in the 1990s to purge the state of corrupt elements. Pro-AKP elements in the media have characterized it as a final settling of accounts with the network of covert operatives within the security apparatus known in Turkish as the Derin Devlet or "Deep State."

However, the government's political opponents, particularly the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), have dismissed "Ergenekon" as a fabrication created by the AKP as an instrument with which to harass, intimidate and incarcerate its secularist opponents; and discredit the Turkish military, which has long been regarded by both its supporters and opponents as the ultimate guardian of the traditional interpretation of secularism in Turkey.

The Turkish 'Deep State'

The Turkish "Deep State" has its origins in the Gladio-style networks established in NATO countries during the 1950s in order to create the nucleus for resistance forces in the event of a Soviet occupation.

In Turkey, the core of the "Deep State" was a department in the Turkish military known as the Ozel Harp Dairesi or "Special Warfare Unit," to which selected members of the officer corps were seconded for specialized training in covert warfare; after which they returned to their units and combined their new clandestine responsibilities with an ostensibly normal military career.

The primary focus of their covert activities was on intelligence gathering against ideological threats, which initially primarily meant communism. However, there is evidence to suggest that some "Deep State" officers also occasionally became operationally active; particularly during the violent clashes between leftist and rightist groups in Turkey in the 1970s in which around 5,000 people are believed to have died.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the focus of "Deep State" activities shifted to the growing threat posed by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which in 1984 had launched a violent campaign for independence for Turkey's ethnic Kurds.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, "Deep State" operatives active in the predominantly Kurdish southeast of Turkey not only expanded their intelligence-gathering networks but formed small, self-contained groups to conduct covert operations against suspected PKK supporters and sympathizers; including intimidation, torture and assassination. The criteria for enlistment in what often effectively became death squads were ruthlessly utilitarian. Recruits included large numbers of turncoat former PKK militants, commonly referred to as itirafcilar or "confessors," and Turkish ultranationalist members of the criminal underworld.

The activities of the different groups were never centrally controlled or coordinated. Indeed, the authorities tended to adopt a policy of willful ignorance, endowing the groups not only with de facto judicial immunity but also with almost complete operational autonomy. No reliable figures are available for the number of people who were killed by the groups, although it is conservatively estimated to have been several thousand and may have been many more.

By the late 1990s, with the PKK in retreat on the battlefield, the always diffuse agglomeration of covert groups began to fragment further. Many of the groups disbanded. Others turned full-time to criminal activities such as extortion and narcotics trafficking. Although some remained in touch with members of the security apparatus, the contacts tended to be personal rather than institutional. There were even turf wars as rival groups fought and killed each other.

Today, although military intelligence continues to target perceived ideological threats to the Turkish regime - whether from Islamism or Kurdish nationalism - the focus of "special warfare" training has shifted to conventional anti-guerilla warfare rather than the destabilization of an alien regime.

The AKP and secular discontents

The victory of the AKP in the general election of November 2002 came as a shock to many Turkish secularists. Most of the AKP's leaders, including Erdogan, had begun their political careers in parties committed to the abolition of secularism and the creation of an Islamic state. Few hard-line secularists trusted their protestations that they had now abandoned the radicalism of their youth, and the months following the AKP's victory were characterized by lengthy debates about what could be done to protect secularism.

Yet the discontents remained disparate. There was no attempt to translate their concerns into concerted action. Indeed, when one high-ranking military commander attempted to persuade his colleagues that they should stage a coup, they swiftly quashed the idea, arguing that it was not a solution.

Nevertheless, there were also concerns that frustration in the lower ranks could lead small groups of young officers to try to take matters into their own hands; not by attempting to stage a coup but by stockpiling weapons and carrying out a bombing or an assassination against the AKP government.

However, the only concrete plan to stage a campaign of violence to destabilize the AKP government was formulated by a small group of retired covert operatives who had been active in southeast Turkey during the 1990s. Acting on their own initiative, they attempted to create a completely new group, recruiting a small number of other former covert operatives and hard-line secularist nationalists. It is unclear whether the group, which the Turkish media has dubbed "Ergenekon," carried out any attacks. If it did, they are likely to have been relatively small in number and in scale.

The existence of Ergenekon became public when police followed up on the discovery of a cache of 27 hand grenades in an Istanbul shantytown on 13 June 2007. The finding of the grenades and the subsequent arrest of retired members of the security forces was a gift for AKP supporters. The vast majority of Turkish Islamists are genuinely appalled by the bloodshed that is sometimes perpetrated in the name of Islam, and frequently try to distance their religion from violence by ascribing it to improbably complex conspiracy theories and false-flag "provocations" instigated by mysterious dark forces.

Unlike the still staunchly secularist Turkish military, in recent years there has been a rapid increase in the number of AKP sympathizers in the Turkish police force. Through late 2007 and 2008, as the number of those detained as part of the Ergenekon investigation continued to rise, the pro-AKP media gleefully quoted anonymous police sources as claiming that they had discovered evidence linking Ergenekon to almost every act of political violence in Turkey over the previous 20 years. They claimed that Ergenekon had effectively controlled not only the numerous violent indigenous Islamist groups but radical left-wing organizations and - perhaps most bizarrely - even the PKK.

Suspicions that the Ergenekon investigation was becoming politicized were reinforced by the seemingly incongruent identities of many of those detained. For example, on 19 September 2008, the police detained one of Turkey's most famous actresses, a transsexual concert organizer, some military cadets and several alleged Turkish members of the transnational radical Islamist organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir - all on suspicion of being active members of Ergenekon.

Nor were the doubts assuaged by the opening of the trial of 86 suspected members of the organization on 20 October 2008. The 2,455-page indictment presented to the court included an extraordinary mixture of fact, fantasy, rumor, speculation and frequent self-contradiction, but no concrete evidence of Ergenekon's involvement in any acts of violence.

After a lull in late 2008, the waves of detentions resumed on 7 January this year, when 37 people were taken into custody in simultaneous pre-dawn police raids in 12 provinces. They included Professor Kemal Guruz, the former head of the Supreme Electoral Board which oversees university education in Turkey. Guruz had been an outspoken opponent of the AKP's attempts to lift the ban preventing women from wearing headscarves to university.

Other detainees included three retired high-ranking military commanders, all of whom had played a major role in forcing the government of the Islamist Welfare Party (RP), a predecessor of the AKP, from power in 1997. Police also spent five hours painstakingly searching the home of former Chief Public Prosecutor Sabih Kanadoglu, who had unsuccessfully filed a case for the closure of the AKP when it first came to power in 2002.

Although the pro-AKP media trumpeted the raids as another victory in the government's campaign against the Ergenekon terrorism organization, to most impartial observers they looked more like revenge.

On the evening of 7 January, Chief of Staff General Ilker Basbug called a five-hour meeting of the military high command. The following day, Basbug demanded and was granted an emergency meeting with Erdogan. Although the contents of their 75-minute meeting have not been leaked to the media, Basbug is believed to have warned Erdogan against allowing government sympathizers to use the judicial process to pursue a vendetta against the military.

Over the next few days, Gurel and the retired military commanders were all released without charge. But the detention of serving members of the armed forces in the raids of 22 January suggested that the AKP sympathizers overseeing the Ergenekon investigation were still prepared to target military personnel; even if those detained were of relatively low rank.

From politicization to polarization

Both the police investigators and the pro-AKP media have tended to regard Ergenekon as being virtually synonymous with their pre-conceived notion of the "Deep State" and intent on destabilizing the AKP government. Indeed they see the group as anchors for a conspiracy theorist's template of a vast, centrally coordinated clandestine organization which includes virtually all of the AKP's most outspoken opponents. The paucity of hard evidence to support such a theory, and the many contradictions and absurdities in the indictment presented to the court in October 2008, have been ignored.

However, the manifest flaws in the Ergenekon investigation have enabled the AKP's political opponents to dismiss it all as politically motivated fabrication; including the handful of genuine plots to use violence against the government.

Perhaps more dangerously, the Ergenekon investigation has deepened the distrust between the Turkish military and the country's police force, which it now suspects of tapping its telephones and trying to undermine its public prestige as part of a power struggle over the future of secularism in Turkey.

The Ergenekon investigation has also exacerbated the already dangerous social polarization between the pro-AKP Islamists and Turkey's traditional secularist elite, and it has shaken the latter's trust in the forces of law and order.

"If the police can arrest the most important professor in the country, throw him in jail and accuse him of being a terrorist, what can they do to someone like me?" said a 51-year-old schoolteacher who asked not to be named.

Gareth Jenkins is a writer and analyst based in Istanbul and specializing in civil-military relations, political Islam and security issues. His is the author of Political Islam in Turkey: Running West, Heading East? (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).



President Barack Obama has been in office hardly for a week now. It will be too early to expect a comprehensive security strategy in the Pakistan-Afghanistan region to emerge from his administration. All one can say is that an exercise to evolve a strategy, which will be considerably different from that followed by George Bush, has been undertaken at various levels in the White House itself, in the National Security Council, in the State Department and in the Pentagon and that some Pakistani analysts such as Ahmed Rashid, the well-known Afghan expert, are playing an active behind-the-scene role in this exercise There has been no involvement of any Indian analyst----either India or US based--- in this exercise. As a result, non-American inputs for this exercise have been coming largely from Pakistan.

2. On the basis of the initial comments of Obama himself, Vice-President Joe Biden, Richard Holbrooke, the newly-appointed Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and others, one could already make a reasonable assessment that certain aspects of the policy followed by the Bush Administration are unlikely to change and that certain other aspects are likely to change.

3. What are the aspects that are unlikely to change?

The US commitment to the war against the remnants of Al Qaeda operating from sanctuaries in the Pakistani territory till Al Qaeda ceases to be a threat to the security of the US homeland and US interests abroad. This commitment is expected to be reinforced with the induction of more US troops (an estimate given is about 30,000) into Afghanistan. The US is prepared to face the risk of increased American fatalities resulting from this surge.

The primacy given by the Bush administration to the military option will stay.Holbrooke has been quoted as saying on January 25,2009: " We plan to work closely with General Petraeus, Centcom, Admiral Mullen, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General McKiernan and the command in Afghanistan, to create a more coherent programme.”

The rules of engagement against suspected terrorists operating from the Pakistani territory as formulated by the Bush Administration will be adhered to. These rules provided for unilateral Predator (unmanned aircraft) strikes against suspected terrorist hide-outs in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan without prior intimation to Pakistan lest the information leak out. Such strikes in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) will be more an exception than the rule and will be avoided in Balochistan where the command and contreol of the Afghan Neo Taliban, headed by its Amir Mulla Mohammad Omar, is allegedly based. There has already been at least one--possibly two--- Predator strikes in Pakistani territory after Obama assumed office. The Bush policy of avoiding ground strikes in Pakistani territory unless there is specific intelligence about the presence of high-value targets such as Osama bin Laden himself and his No.2 Ayman al-Zawahiri will continue.

4. What are the aspects that could change as a result of the on-going exercise?

A greater priority to non-military aid to Pakistan than to military aid as was the case under Bush.

Linking all aid----whether military or non-military---- to Pakistan's performance in acting against Al Qaeda and the Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. In an article, which appeared in the "Foreign Affairs" magazine last year, Holbrooke said that the Obama Administration would face many tough challenges with regard to the war in Afghanistan and global peace, but the toughest was the insurgent sanctuaries in the tribal areas of Pakistan. There will, however, be no such linkage with the Pakistani action against anti-India terrorist sanctuaries such as those of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET, which was involved in the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29,2008. The pressure on Pakistan in respect of Al Qaeda and the Taliban will be diplomatic as well as punitive. There will be no punitive element in respect of the anti-India terrorist infrastructure.

A greater attention to the political dimensions of the security strategy than was given under the Bush Administration. While continuing to say that the US wants to strengthen democracy and improve governance in both Pakistan and Afgfhanistan, but has no interest in specific personalities, the Obama Administration will work discreetly to strengthen the position of Asif Ali Zardari in Pakistan and to have Hamid Karzai eased out-----if possible, before the Afghan Presidential elections due in October,2009, or at least during the elections. Obama's advisers are evidently worried that if Zardari is discredited and falls, his replacement may be either the army or Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League, who has been strongly critical of the US policies in the region. Obama and his advisers do not feel comfortable with either.Disappointment with the alleged unsatisfactory record of Karzai----without, however, namimg him--- whether in improving governance or security is evident in all statements on Afghanistan emanating from Obama and his entourage.
Giving a more strategic dimension to the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban than was done under the Bush Administration. It is in the context of this strategtic dimension that one has been seeing repeatedly comments from Obama and others about the need for a regional approach----whether in relation to the restoration of normalcy in Afghanistan or the fight against jihadi terrorism emanating from the Pakistani territory.

5. India comes into their policy calculations with regard to this regional approach. Pakistani analysts such as Ahmed Rashid have been able to sell the idea to the advisers of Obama that a regional approach to the question of restoration of normalcy In Afghanistan would have to address the concerns of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment over what they view as the increasing Indian presence in Afghanistan. This presence is viewed by the military-intelligence establishment as detrimental to Pakistan's historic interests in Afghanistan and its internal security, particularly in Balochistan. Till 2004, the Bush Administration was attentive to Pakistani concerns and sought to discourage an increase in the Indian presence in Afghanistan. Its policy changed thereafter due to the belief that greater interactions between India and Afghanistan could contribute to the strengthening of democracy and governance in Afghanistan.

6. Similarly, analysts such as Ahmed Rashid have been able to convince Obama and his advisers that without a more active role by the US in facilitating a search for a solution to the Kashmir issue, there will be no incentive for Pakistan to act sincerely and effectively against the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistani territory. The Bush Administratiion was disinclined to follow an activist policy on Kashmir and accepted India's stand that it was a bilteral issue between India and Pakistan in which others should have no role. Obama and his advisers are prepared to revisit this policy, if not immediately, at a later date.

7. In response to Indian sensitivities, the announcement regarding the appointment of Holbrooke and his terms of reference have avoided any reference to India or Kashmir. Despite this, it was clear from the confident remarks of Ahmed Rashid in his interview to Karan Thapar telecast by the CNBC-TV 18 TV channel on January 27,2009,that while Kashmir may not figures in his terms of reference just now, the question of addressing Pakistani concerns over India's relations with Afghanistan would be very much part of his agenda even though not openly so stated. According to Ahmed Rashid, for this purpose Holbrooke will have to interact with India. There are wheels within wheels and invisible hyphens within hyphens in the whole exercise relating to Obama's policy making on the security strategy in this region and the expected role of Holbrooke in it.

8. It is important for India to make it clear to the Obama Administration at an appropriate stage that any departures from the past US policies on these two issues will have a negative impact on the growing strategic relationship between India and the US. A frank and firm expression of the Indian views on this subject and a strict adherence to those views in our policy-making will be necessary not on the basis of what interested analysts such as Ahmed Rashid have been saying, but in response to any discreet pressures from the Obama Administration. (28-1-09)

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

January 26, 2009

Fighting Terror: Renovating the Internal Security Mechanism

By Divya Kumar Soti

NIA is not a panacea for deeper deficiencies in our C-T mechanism

Thousands of ideas are freely floating around these days to strengthen our Counter-terrorism mechanism and so are the terrorists. Terrorism is increasing in co-relation with number of these ideas. We are living in midst of hysteria that is amplified by a jittery media which speculates about ‘who is involved?’ following each terror attack and stories that make up this speculation seems to come straight out of some cheap roadside novels. This stuff generally ends up portraying terrorists as some mysterious cult with extra-terrestrial genius, for whom we helpless ordinary human beings are no match. And then finally some talk about new terror laws and of course new agency and mechanisms. This is summary of our response to terrorism.

Actually, it is not so that terror groups have made some revolutionary progress over past few years. Instead we have failed to keep pace with there modest velocity. We adopted an ostrich like approach to escalating threat and refused to read Graffiti on the wall. Every careful observer was aware that this is coming. Patterns were clearly indicating that. Terrorists were spreading there network from metros to small villages but our intelligence network was never supplied with enough manpower and resources to spread itself in accordance with situation. Police Local Intelligence Units received no training to fight this new trans- national menace. This left a huge gap in our homeland security mechanism which terrorists discounted to fullest extent. We over past relied on ‘target hardening’ but as terrorists shifted their focus to soft targets things worsened very fast.

Lot has been said about our new innovation i.e. NIA. It is being portrayed as a panacea for all our security disasters. But before anybody cultivate such expectations; let us do some critical examination. Let us start with some rough thoughts.

Firstly, NIA will draw its cadre from existing agencies with old arrangement of deputations which is no improvement over the existing mechanisms. This will create new unhealthy competitions and unseen complexities. Secondly, there will be a new co-ordination problem. Thirdly, due to multi layered nature of terrorism in India, State Police and old Central agencies will still need to continue in parallel domains thus making whole cycle more complex.


What NIA will do is a postmortem and subsequent prosecution. On the other hand, objective of offensive C-T even in most moderate form is to either detect a cell that is still sleeping or to disrupt a plot which may be passing through discussion among plotters or when it has just gone few steps away from their minds and so on. This deals with everything before the plot is carried by conspirators. On the other hand, an investigative agency deals with bringing culprits to justice in an environment when the cell after being activated by its handlers implemented its aims and members have their noses above the surface. Government should focus on strengthening such offensive capabilities.


In US there is no FIS sponsored terrorism. Although, plots hatched by terror organizations are generally massive but cells that plan to carry them out are not recruited, supported or guided by any FIS. This leaves such cells less professionally handled, coordinated, managed and thus imparts to plots characteristics of criminal conspiracies. Moreover, the penetration of American society by terror groups stands nowhere in comparison to penetration levels that terror groups have achieved in India and surrounding nations. India faces a multi layered and multi dimensional terror threat which require a different kind of treatment. Instead of importing everything from US we should look towards Britain. Security scenario there is similar to that of India in many respects.


The things are not going to show any qualitative improvement until some lacunas will not be removed. First thing is to do away with the system of deputations. The people coming on deputation from States generally have no major stakes in activities of organization they are deputed to. They happen to be there mainly because some unfriendly party comes to power in their home state so either they themselves lobby for such deputation or are thrown as a spare item towards New Delhi. Most of them do not see the organization to which they are sent as a place where they will have to serve for next 20 years or so, as a place where their contributions will decide the future course of his career. Advocates of this system must be asked a very valid question. If in their opinion this system holds so much merit how about start deputing officers from paramilitary forces to army? After all that will be a magic pill for the huge problem of vacant commissioned ranks in Army!

Second point is about rank mismatch between field officers from Intelligence Bureau and State Police officers. It will not be appropriate to go into much detail but IB JIO and ACIO counterpart quite lower ranks of State Police although sometimes they may be in charge of gathering intelligence and carrying out C-T actions over a vast area. In such a system, an expectation of deriving or extracting healthy co-operation from State Police machinery is totally unreasonable.

The Local Intelligence Units of Police are in very bad shape. They are poorly trained, under staffed and extremely corrupt. LIU operatives are totally untrained and unfit to carry out counter-terrorism operations, which is so absurd in this age of trans-national terrorism. LIUs are generally unable to even enforce visa restrictions. These units are one of the most neglected organs of Police. Working conditions are so poor and importance in eyes of political bosses so low that postings in these units are considered a punishment. They are most poorly led wing of State police. The condition is so pathetic that these units now almost completely depend upon newspaper cuttings and hearsay. Even in case of ordinary agitations LIU operatives may be seen asking the leaders of agitation about their future plans.

Another major drawback in our internal security policy is that there is a huge disproportion between intelligence penetration by security agencies and penetration achieved by terrorist organizations. Intelligence penetration by security agencies has declined to extremely low levels especially in hinterland while the penetration by terror groups and foreign intelligence services is increasing by each passing day. That is why there is a huge spurt in FIS sponsored covert actions inside India over last few years. It should not be our aim to create a Police state in India but at the same time we must not forget the basics of fighting intelligence wars results of which have the capability of changing the fate of States. During Cold War years, intelligence agencies used to contact and engage large number of people from all sections of society for all kind of purposes so as to counter adversary ideology. Even today in many European countries like UK where terror penetration is quite high, security service regularly engage lot of people from general public. However, in India we have no such policy. We still live in our sweet memories. Whether we create one new agency or five no qualitative change will happen in such self-inflicted pathetic security scenario.

It will be wiser to update existing mechanisms than creating new ones. Centre can take necessary ‘constitutional measures’ to ensure co-ordination from States on subject of ‘terrorism’. Center has necessary powers to make required amendments that can create ‘a resonating national counter-terrorism mechanism’. Intelligence Units of Police can be placed under Central directives on terror matters. These units supplied with even modest human and technical resources will prove a lethal weapon against terror mechanisms. This will enlarge counter-terrorism mechanism instead of bifurcating or trifurcating existing ones as these units will be self-reliant in the same way as terror cells are becoming. Separate cadre can be created for these units and a redesigned recruitment process has to be adopted. We should do away with process of filling these units with deputations from regular policing ranks.

Time has come when we should take steps towards formation of an Indian Intelligence Service with a separate and new recruitment process. This nation should start to take care of its intelligence agencies professionally as they are our first as well as last line of defense in this war against terrorism.

The Starbucks/Ethiopian Coffee Saga

Source: Nordic Africa Institute
Geographical Indications as a Linchpin for Development in Developing Countries

A coalition of Ethiopian coffee producers and the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) set up a programme to acquire trademarks in important export markets, with a view to increasing the profits on these brands for the producers.In March 2005, the Ethiopian government filed its first US trademark applications for three contested coffee names. After 15 months the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) agreed that the name Sidamo was generic and therefore could not be trademarked. This led to an outcry by some commentators, including NGOs and Intellectual Property Rights professionals. Yet, the arguments in favour of protecting indigenous knowledge under international trade rules as a linchpin for economic development and poverty eradication has been forcefully put forward by
African countries and other developing countries in both regional trade negotiations and at the World Trade Organization. With the Ethiopian and Starbucks dispute in mind, James Watson and Jeremy Streatfeild eloquently explain in this piece how geographical indications can be used to enhance the capacity of farmers and economic development in Africa and other least developed countries.


Migration in sub-Saharan Africa

The recently published book Migration in sub-Saharan Africa (Current African Issues no. 37) by Aderanti Adepoju was praised in a recent review in the Swedish journal Omvärlden (no. 7, December 2008). Reviewer Mats Wingborg calls the book “a pioneering contribution”, in particular by tracing the circular movement of labour within Africa. The book is available for free download here.

Russia to rebuild army by 2016

19:48 | 22/ 01/ 2009

MOSCOW. (Nikita Petrov for RIA Novosti) - The financial crisis has affected Russia's military reform plan. That became clear after Dmitry Medvedev signed a corresponding decree, now posted on his website.

In contrast to Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov's order issued last year to finalize the army and navy reforms by 2012, the new presidential decree sets the date at January 1, 2016.

It is not the transition from the "district-army-division-regiment" hierarchy to "district-operations command center-brigade" pattern, or the reduction in number of cadre units, reshaping the regiments and divisions into permanent readiness brigades, which is a major challenge in terms of organization and expenditure, that is the main obstacle to Russian military reform.

The biggest headache is the reduction of 200,000 officers and the abolition of chief warrant officers and midshipmen. During the reform, all the reduced personnel with a service record of over 10 years are to be provided with housing.

Estimates show that 60,000 officers and 60,000 warrant officers who will be dismissed from service or transferred to the reserve, have no personal residences. Given that by mid-2008, around 122,400 servicemen needed official or personal housing, while the Defense Ministry provides only 30,000 apartments annually by construction or purchasing, it is clear that it will be a complex task to execute the social protection measures envisioned by law in the next two or three years.

A decision not to speed up the reform in some directions, including the reduction of officers and WOs, however, would help resolve housing issues.

Military education is another problem. Currently, there is no demand for the 15,000 to 16,000 officers that graduate from Russia's 65 higher military education institutions each year. By 2016, the total strength of the Russian Armed Forces will be at 1,000,000 men, including 150,000 officers; and they will therefore require as few as 7,000 to 7,500 graduates. This will decrease the number of military schools to approximately 10 backbone institutions.

According to the plan, the first stage will involve the creation of three military training and research centers for the Army, Navy and Air Force.

The bulk of the funding will apparently be allocated for the establishment of a Naval Academy on Kotlin island in the Kronshtadt district outside St. Petersburg, which will include five military schools, professional officer courses, three naval research institutes, the Nakhimov Naval Academy and St. Petersburg-based Naval Cadet Corps. The transfer will require the construction of educational and laboratory buildings, houses and dormitories. The infrastructure will include operational models of surface ships and submarines and separate compartments. The project requires enormous funding, and it is unclear what the amount will be.

The transfer of naval schools from St. Petersburg to Kronshtadt will be performed only after the new station is commissioned. It could take three to five years. It is clear that the military education reform cannot be finalized by 2012, let alone the military reform itself.

Along with the naval training and research center, other branches of the armed forces need similar facilities. Additional funding is needed to finance troop exercises, including sea exercises and aviation training, and also to purchase modern combat equipment.

Military experts regard the presidential decree signed on December 29, 2008, as reasonable. There is no need to hurry, as there's no large-scale war in sight, and quality is therefore a higher priority than time. If no unnecessary haste takes place, it looks possible that by 2016, Russia could have the army it deserves.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

A Comparative Study of the Counter-Terrorism Strategies in the West with Objective of an Effective Strategy for Indian Scenario

Guest Column by Sivasathivel Kandasamy
(The views expressed by the author are his own)

Source: South Asia Analysis Group

India and Israel could be considered as the countries most affected by Jihad Terrorism, especially from across the border. While the actions of Israel might not be the best of favorites in the agenda of Indian Policy makers, a thorough study is required to formulate the policies and strategies to deal with terrorism that has come into existence both as an endogenous and exogenous entity. In this work, counter-terrorism strategies of some multi-cultural countries are studied in an attempt to identify the past mistakes in the Indian System as well as extract lessons for an effective counter-terrorism strategy suiting the Indian scenario.
CounterTerrorism Strategies in Netherlands [1]
Islamist terrorism is put on high alert after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent wave of ‘powder letters’ both in the national and international agenda and Netherlands reacted accordingly with an attempt to prevent such attacks in the soils of Netherland.
Netherlands believes that terrorist threats are largely intertwined with the international threat i.e., for example, if terrorists are focusing on American or Israeli targets, these targets are also in danger in Netherlands. “Islamist Terrorism is to realize a society that is in accordance with the fundamentalist Islamic polity based on the extremist nterpretation of the sources of Islam by means of politically motivated violence and threats of violence”
“Experience has shown that Islamist Terrorists are operating thoroughly and patiently, and we can therefore expect the threat to remain highly in the near future. The waning vigilance that is creeping into the society in Netherlands is therefore undesirable and even increases the risk of a terrorist attacks. A recent development is the fact that cells within the network that responsible for supporting, preparing and committing attacks are operating autonomously than in the past. Another new trend is the increasing focus on lowsecurity targets”
The article also states that the threat represented by the Islamist terrorist groups is not directly related to violence. The Islamist fighters (mujahedin) resident in Netherlands involved in the democratic legal order by purposefully influencing members of Muslim communities in Netherlands in order to create a polarization in the society and to alienate Muslims from the rest of the population. These activities of the Mujahedin reinforce the purposeful efforts by radical Islamic persons and organizations within and outside Netherlands to prevent Integration of citizens with a Muslim background and to create a religiously based antagonism between Muslims and their non-Islamic environment. These radical groups increasingly succeed in convincing religious brothers that a society should established in accordance with the ‘pure’ Islam. “The strength of their recruitment does not lie in the fact that they can show that Islamic laws and regulations will solve all problems, but in their appealing idea that the rights and interests of ‘good’ Muslims are being violated again and again, also in the west”.
Young people particularly appear to be susceptible to indoctrination by charismatic spiritual leaders. General Intelligence and Security Service of Netherlands (AVID) conducts investigations into organizations that and persons who give cause of serious
suspicions that they pose a threat to the continued existence of the democratic legal order to national security or to the vital interests of the state. The objective of these investigations is to make the threat visible and promote or take measures against these threats.
When dealing with terrorism, AVID embarks upon a ‘wide approach’, which implies that terrorism should not be dealt with as an isolated phenomenon but in combination with interfacing phenomena like radicalization and recruitment. It also believes that the relevant signals should be identified at an early stage in order to make effective intervention possible. The article mandates a thorough intelligence work and active measures to frustrate terrorist activities and an adequate coordination with criminal investigation and prosecution should be essential elements of counter-terrorism. Interventions aimed at disrupting and prosecuting terrorist activities would go beyond judicial proceedings with an objective to frustrate or stop plans for violent activities at an early stage. Thus making exposing the Islamists organization and its clandestine operations would make its undisturbed continuation of its activities impossible. Such exposures apart from preventing terrorist attacks would also serve in increasing social awareness and thereby increase resistance against to radicalization and extremism.
The article states that the effective counter-terrorism mainly consists of preventive measures. Freezing of assets in combination with other measures not only help to disrupt and weaken infrastructure of the terrorist organization but also can reveal information on the activities of the terrorists groups and their supporters. The article asserts that the problem of Islamic terrorism is largely rooted abroad, which makes it essential to be abreast with relevant developments abroad including the emergence of potential hot spots. Coordination with international and national agencies becomes a necessity and hence European Counter-Terrorism Group was set on the initiative of EU Council of Justice.
The article states that Police are the organization whose core business is to know the local society down to its capillaries. And youth detectives know youngsters whose behavior show relevant signs.
Conclusions of the article are as follows:
Radical Islamic groups and individuals increasingly succeed in convincing moderate Muslims of the fact that the realization of a society that is in agreement with the pure Islam is the perfect solution to the injustice in the present society
A number of Muslims underwent radicalization process and were successfully recruited for the jihad, with the ultimate prospect of the martyrdom.
Terrorism is not approached as an isolated phenomenon, but in combination with interfacing phenomena of radicalization and recruitment and it is necessary to identify relevant signals at an early stage to enable effective interventions.
Effective Counter-Strategies are anyway aimed at the following relevant categories: terrorists, supporters, sympathizers and the Muslim Community.
Combating Islamist terrorism not only requires enormous effort from the intelligence and the law-enforcement authorities but also alertness in other policy fields such as immigration and alien policy and integration.
Identification of terrorists networks and the prevention of attacks are core tasks of AVID
Major elements of Counter-Terrorism are the identification and, if necessary, monitoring of the radical cells and networks, as well as the prevention of radicalization and issuing alert against this phenomenon. Intensive co-operation is essential in this respect.
Regional Intelligence services are the link between the police and the AVID
Lessons for India
Terrorism should not be approached in isolation but in combination with radicalization and recruitment. Unfortunately, is Terrorism still approached in isolation in India, which makes it a breeding ground for radicalization and recruitment. It should also be noted that such radicalization apart from giving shelter and recruitment for terrorists’ activities would also give a cause for repercussions from other affected communities manifesting as religious extremism disrupting the political process, which should be thwarted at any cost especially given the fact that India is a secular and multi-religious society.
Polarization could contribute much to the spawning of terrorism and disruption of activities in pursuit of national interests.
Effective coordination is required between the different organizations within the country is required.
Counter-Terrorism should be aimed not at post-mortem but to prevent incidents, which could be achieved by disrupting and frustrating the Islamic organizations involved in such activities.
Investigation to curb finance and support for terrorist activities is mandatory
CounterTerrorism in UK [2]
The Counter-Terrorism Strategy of United Kingdom, called the CONTEST, is divided into four principal strands:
PREVENT – Prevent Terrorism by tackling radicalization
Identification of potential factors that is likely to catalyst any given individual to become a terrorist and address them through media reforms and other means
A Commission on Integration and Cohesion was announced in June 2006, which considers how local areas themselves can play a role in forging cohesive and resilient communities.
Support reforms and modernization to address the political and socio-economic environment that is exploited by the extremists.
Deterring those who facilitate terrorism. The Terrorism Act of 2006 has made it a criminal offense directly or indirectly to encourage the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism or to disseminate terrorist publications.
In February 2006, the first national training event for HM Prison Service Imams was delivered as a result of direct intervention and support from the HMPS Police Advisors Section.
“This terrorism will not be defeated until its ideas, the poison that warps the minds of its adherents, are confronted, head-on, in their essence, at their core” – UK Prime Minister on 21 March 2006. Hence radicalization is tackled by challenging the motivations that extremists believe to justify the use of violence and work with communities to discourage susceptible individuals from turning towards extremist activity.
Working with national and international communities
PURSUE – Pursue Terrorists and those who sponsor them
Intelligence – Joint Terrorism Analysis Center, created in 2003, has continued to analyze and assess intelligence relating to International Terrorism
Disruptions – the Security Service (MI5) in close collaboration with police forces across the country and anti-terrorist branch of Metropolitan Police conducts covert operational counter-terrorist activity in UK.
Successful Prosecution in courts based on gathering the necessary evidence and apprehending those involved in planning acts of terrorism before they can carry out their intentions
Deportation of foreign nationals involved in activities of terrorism including those supporting or helping terrorists activities directly or indirectly
Controls on Financial assets – the UK’s money laundering and terrorist finance measures requires financial institutions to ‘know their customer’, keep proper reports and report suspicious activity. Irrespective of any final charges, every terrorist suspect is subject to financial investigation
Disrupting terrorists’ ability to raise, move and use funds. An effective and collaborative partnership between specialist law enforcement officers, government and the private financial sector in UK has raised awareness of vulnerabilities and has helped developed solutions
Proscription of terrorists and extremist organizations, working with communities and the international agencies
PROTECT – Protecting UK interests overseas, and national services
Concerned with reducing the UK vulnerability of the UK and UK interests overseas to a terrorist attack
Improve intelligence sharing in support of border operations
Jointly identify and manage risks
Provide a more effective border control
Minimize the impact on legitimate traffic and business partners including critical national infrastructures
PREPARE – Prepare for consequences
Identification of Potential Risks
Assessment of their Impacts
Building Capabilities to respond to them – Contains 17 workstreams falling into 3 groups: 3 Streams dealing with national, regional and local response capabilities, 5 are concerned with the maintenance of essential services, 9 are concerned with the resilience of the response of the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks
Regularly and honestly evaluating and testing preparedness
Identifying lessons from exercises and real-life events
Lessons for India
Prevention should be the objective of Counter-Terrorism and not on postmortem of the incidents as terrorists increasing inclined towards suicideterrorism
A close cooperation between the different agencies is a requisite
Coordination with the communities concerned is required to challenge the ideologies of the terrorists
Effective border management and immigration control is required
Counter-Terrorism Strategies of US [3]
In contrast to the countries studied previously, use of force dominates the US counter/Anti – Terrorism strategy. The US Policy tools for countering terrorism are as follows:
Diplomacy/Constructive Engagement – To develop global anti-terror Coalition
Economic Sanctions – Economic Sanctions to countries listed as state sponsors of terrorism
Economic Inducements – to change the economic and social conditions that provide the breeding grounds for terrorists under the assumption that terrorism is due to economic deprivation. But Osama’s huge personal fortune and his far-flung business empire contradict this view
Covert Actions – Intelligence gathering, infiltration of the terrorists groups and military operations. Seek to exploit vulnerabilities in the terrorists’ organization like spreading disinformation about leaders, encouraging defections, promoting divisions between political and military factions or exploiting conflicts between organizations. It is worth noting the US legal doctrine that allows an individual’s trial to proceed regardless of whether he is forcefully abducted from another country, international waters, or airspace.
Rewards for Information Program
Extradition/ Law Enforcement cooperation
Military Force
International Conventions
While the strategies of other studied nations concentrated in prevention of radicalization of the Muslim youth and put-forth a 3 tier strategy, US strategy mainly assumes that the terrorist attacks on its soil is mainly foreign and concentrates on exterminating them at the roots of their origin. However, approach this may not be possible for all countries.
Chinese CounterTerrorism Strategy [5]
China’s terrorism scenario is not the same as that in India. In China, terrorism is mostly homegrown and in India it both home grown and state-sponsored. Moreover, China’s bond with Pakistan, a Muslim state, makes it worthy of sympathy from the Jihadi terrorists and Pakistan won’t sponsor terror in China fearing repercussions.
Chinese Counter-Terror Mechanism including intelligence counterbalance follows a Top-to-bottom approach. China’s National Anti-Terrorism Coordination Group (NATCG) is under the command and control of the Chinese President under which comes the Anti-Terror Bureau (ATB), which is responsible for the research, planning, guidance, coordination and accomplishing national level antiterror agenda. Resources for day-to-day functioning are drawn from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS). It is also mandatory for every province to setup their own anti-terrorist co-ordination Group and office.
The divisions or systems under NATCG/ATB is as follows:
Early Warning and Prevention System (EWPS) – This module is similar to the PREVENT strand of UK. The main charter of the system is monitoring of the terrorist groups with an objective of forestalling any impending attack. It gets updates on regular basis from all the intelligence outfits. Collation, interpretation and dissemination of actionable intelligence on terror outfits are the major task of EWPS. It also simultaneously keeps a tab on intellectual writings
Quick Response System (QRS) – is responsible for follow-up actions in response to specific intelligence report and/or a terrorist activity to have taken place. The two units of QRS or the Immediate Action Unit (IMU) and Counter Terror (CT) unit which are trained and equipped for Close Quarter Combat with emphasis on stealth and performing missions with minimum casualty. The units also hold “Take-Over-Force”, “Snipers”, “Explosive Ordnance Disposal EOD)/ Impoverished Explosive Devices Disposal (IEDD) experts, dog operators, and counter-terror intelligence officers.
Consequence Control and Management System (CCMS) – responsible for activities to limit the aftermath of terrorist attacks and restoration peace in the shortest possible time.
Mass Education and Mass Mobilization System (MEMS) – endowed with the responsibility of public participation in the counter-terror effort. Popularization of anti-terror awareness and Public emergency responsiveness are considered as the twin-pillars of this system.
Lessons for India
The objective of counter-terror efforts should be to prevent attacks and instead of charging the presence intelligence agencies, which is also endowed with other responsibilities a dedicated department to prevent terrorist attacks
Suggestions for an Indian Counter-Terrorism Strategy
From the study it could be seen that the strategy for Counter-Terrorism of the above mentioned countries usually contain the four components: Prevention, Response, Control and Prepare for the consequences. Terrorism faced by India is unique is many ways. Terrorism though nurtured by neighbors do have a home-gown component of terrorism. Though the link between the homegrown movements and the Jihad terrorism is yet to be established a possible link or cooperation of the different terrorists organization would result in a situation of countering Guerilla-warfare and not terrorism. Second distinguishing factor is the presence of ‘pressure groups’. While the governments of the countries have either silenced these groups or put sense into them, in India these groups are still dominant pressurizing the government and authorities from taking any steps against terrorism for petty political gains or other ulterior motives which benefits the outfits and their perpetrators both indirectly and directly. Given the situation the following could be held as some suggestions for a Counter-Terrorism strategy:
Most of the terrorist attacks are now suicide attacks. Hence, enacting laws and investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice is never going to work. Moreover, by bringing them to justice will not prevent the objective of attack i.e. to cause terror. In the worst case, it gives them publicity. Hence, any effective counter-terrorism strategy should incorporate means to prevent incidents and not investigate the incident after they occur. This mandates the need for efficient HUMINT and ELINT capabilities.
Home movements like the ULFAS and NAXALS should never be allowed to team-up with the LeT or other terrorists’ outfits. This requires the need to increase our capabilities to disrupt any possible connection with them, if already present or prevent any other future connections.
Though the government does not acknowledge the signatures of the homegrown Jihad, it is either an undeniable fact or it is just impending. The letters of the IM didn’t bear connection to Kashmir. It talked about the injustice to Muslims. Hence, denying the fact is only like allowing the virus to incubate. The involvements of techies in the blasts have clearly demonstrated that the previous theory of poverty leads to terrorism no longer holds.
These homegrown jihads are taking cover under the pressure groups present in the country and any open action to prevent radicalization will only result in political turmoil. Hence, the need for covert strategies (not actions) becomes necessity. For example, certain broadcast and TV shows tend to kindle the adrenaline of the youths to get into the path of fanaticism and radicalization. The process starts with a very simple and apparently legal process but the way and time that information is conveyed gives a different effect. These broadcasts should be taken down using technologies like hiring or developing hackers to bring down the websites, etc.
Technologies could aid in countering terror in multiple ways. For example, a remotely controlled UAV micro-bots could be used to obtain intelligence in a terrorist scenario. Sometimes, these devices could also be used offensively. Chemical technologies are also to be developed. An effective agent to induce immediate lack of consciousness could help in preventing the loss of many lives. However, the usage of Chloroform or other such agents is harmful. Hence, safe technologies are in need. Increasingly terrorists tend to use the of the shelf technologies, which are becoming increasingly difficult to intercept. This also mandates the need for developing technologies especially to counter terrorism
Covert actions are the only viable means to prevent cross-border terrorism. While International pressure is mandatory these actions is a necessity. Both going hand in hand would prove to be effective against terrorism.
Strict immigration policies are also to be enacted. And all possible means of funding and fund disperse should be identified and kept under radar though not officially announced. Usually these people, who support would occupy high posts or hold good status in the society, which they use as a clout for their activities.
While NSG hubs are being setup the local authorities are also to be trained to deal with cases of emergencies.
Basically, Indian strategy should include fundamentally all the components but to counter both cross-border and within border terrorism. However, some cannot be made publicly as in other countries. Hence, India is in a situation to use covert strategies both with in and abroad. When these strategies are enacted within the nation care should be taken to prevent their misuse. Technology and science should increasingly play a vital role in the process to improve efficiency.
1. “Counter-Terrorism in Netherlands” by E. S. M. Akerboom, Director Democratic Legal Order, General Intelligence and Security of the Netherlands (AVID) published and available in www.fas.org
2. “Countering International Terrorism: The United Kingdom’s Strategy June 2006”, Presented to parliament by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the State. Published by TSO (The Stationery Office) and available online from www.tsoshop.co.uk
3. “Terrorism, the Future and US Foreign Policy” updated in April 11, 2003 by Raphael Perl, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, Congressional Research Press. Available in www.fas.org
4. “Terrorism, the Future and US Foreign Policy” updated in March 9, 2006 by Raphael Perl, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade Division, Congressional Research Press. Available in www.fas.org
5. “Chinese Counter Terror Intelligence Module – Compatibility to Nov 26 Mumbai Type Terror Attacks”, Dr. Sheo Nandan Pandey, Paper 2993, 27- Dec-2008, http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers30/paper2993.html
6. “Jihadis Hold India to Ransom” by B.Raman, dated 20-Sept-2008, Paper 2850. www.southasiaanalysis.org/paper29/paper2850.html
(Sivasathivel Kandasamy Universitaire De Bourgogne, Dijon, Franc and can be contacted at sivasathivel@yahoo.com)

Swat — towards a Wahhabi state?

Source: The News , Pakistan
Link: http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=157847

Monday, January 19, 2009
by Khurshid Khan

In his article, “Behind the crises in Swat” (Nov 27, 2008), Sartaj Khan described the conflict in Swat as a class struggle. Farhat Taj (Dec 18) responded with “No class war in Swat.” Sartaj’s contentions are believed by many as the real depiction of the current turbulence, but that is not the case. Before coming to any conclusions about the current turbulence in the valley we have to keep in view the weaknesses of the state institutions, people’s grievances and the impacts of international politics on the valley.

Fredrik Barth, a Norwegian social anthropologist author of Political Leadership among Swat Pathans, carried out considerable research in Swat in the 1950s and wrote numerous papers. His work is of great importance but the situation has immensely changed since then.

Since the early 1970s people travel to the Arab states in search of lucrative employment opportunities. The inflow of foreign remittances transformed the socio-economic structure of Swat’s society. Education increased and people acquired employment in various fields across the country. Emigration to America, Canada and Europe and the Far East in the 1980s increased overseas remittances creating a new prosperous society in Swat.

During this period Swat witnessed numerous changes, both positive and negative. Fertile soil and abundance of irrigation water paved the way for innovations in farming. New varieties of fruits and crops were introduced and farming became more profitable. Being a tax-free zone trade, Swat saw commerce flourishing. The scenic beauty and rich heritage made Swat a favourite spot for national and international tourists. The hotel industry became a big contributor to the economy of Swat.

The tenants/peasants, on the whole, became comparatively prosperous in Swat. A section of them have purchased cultivated land from the previous owners and manage it properly with latest technology. A study has revealed in Upper Swat that in one village a Khan has 20 jaraib of cultivated land (one jaraib is equal to approximately 1,100 square feet) while a Gujjar has 150 jaraib. The Gujjar community has earned billion of rupees in the Arab states. Another community, the ”Shapankyan” or “Shpoon” (shepherd) are the wealthiest community today in Swat. Most of them they have now settled permanently and abandoned nomadic life. They have given up rearing herds and are employed. Many of them run businesses in Arab states. Both communities enjoy a relatively high standard of living and have western-style houses. The shepherd community belongs to the Wahhabi sect and is better organised than the other groups.

In the 1970s the regulations of PATA (Provincially Administered Tribal Areas) were promulgated in the whole of Malakand division which gave enormous powers to the civil bureaucracy and paved ways for corruption. The people of Swat were unfamiliar to the new setup. The new judicial apparatus did not appeal to the masses, as they were conversant with the judicial system of the former state of Swat. This state of affairs created a gap between the state and the people. The state-sponsored peasant movement in 1974 created hatred and tension between tenants and landowners, and bloody clashes took place in some areas in Swat. The landowners and a number of the other side went for justice to the civil courts but the complex judicial system disappointed them, persuading them to seek other solutions to their disputes. Many landowners sold their land to peasant occupants in various areas of Swat.

The Afghan war also affected the valley like other Pashto-speaking areas. Religious seminaries mushroomed and jihadi organisations established their offices in Swat. Those subscribing to the Wahhabi school of thought tried to establish their seminaries but were opposed by the local traditional clerics belonging to the Deobandi school of thought. This coincided with the emergence in the 1980s in Swat of the staunch Wahhabi Sufi Muhammad, who set up a seminary in Sangota, which was razed to the ground by those loyal to the dominant religious figures of the time.

The TNSM was founded in 1989 in Dir and penetrated into Swat. It was tacitly supported in Swat by the then commissioner of Malakand Division through a so-called loya jirga. The jirga demanded the implementation of Sharia in Swat and joined hands with Sufi Muhammad, a close friend of Major Amir, the then director of the Intelligence Bureau. This support encouraged him and he freely started visiting Swat. The people, who were disappointed by the judicial system, the police and the revenue department, supported the demand for the enforcement of the Sharia. In 1994 bloody clashes occurred between local people and the security forces. In 2001, Sufi Muhammad declared jihad against the US in Afghanistan and went there along with thousand of followers. Hundred of people lost their lives and hundreds are still missing. On his return the political agent of Kurram Agency imprisoned him under the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR) without trial.

During the TNSM movement in Swat the Wahhabi school of thought spread its roots and established its religious seminaries. In the absence of Sufi Muhammad, his son-in-law, Fazlullah, filled this gap and became popular in the area. The Wahhabis joined his group and seized all the important areas. Besides other, Maulana Shah Dawran and Maulana Muhammad Alam are key clerics who keep important portfolios in the Taliban movement in Swat. They are known for their hard and harsh beliefs, and hence it could be said that the Swat Taliban are completely under the influence of violent jihad doctrines.

They loathe the Barelvi school of thought and have assassinated many renowned religious scholars in Swat during the ongoing turbulence and unrest. They consider them mushrik (one who ascribes partners to Allah). The assassination of Pir Samiullah and the hanging of his mutilated body in a square for public display show their attitude towards their opponents. The militants said that they have buried Pir Sami at an unidentified place ostensibly to stop his followers from building a shrine at his grave. Besides, Buner police arrested a suspected bomber last Ramazan. During interrogations he revealed that his target was the tomb of Pir Baba. He insisted that the shrine is the principal centre of shirk.

They consider amulets, visits to shrines and offerings on on shrines on specific days to be shirk. Someone who used to write amulets (good luck charms) was killed in Khwazakhela. The valley is witnessing a surge and dominance of the Wahhabi doctrine which was until recently alien to the local culture.

The Wahhabis are making a state within a state in Swat. Fazlullah has established his own administration on the pattern of the Saudi monarchs. He has created his own trained army equipped with the latest weapons and controlled by his loyal commanders. A well functioning judiciary is established across the valley dealing with cases of various natures and the verdict is always enforced. People are inclined towards these Islamic courts. He has established a baitul maal (treasury) and has a mechanism for revenue generation and collection. His commanders collected ushr (one tenth of agriculture produce) in some areas of the valley during the 2008 winter harvest. (The rulers of Swat used to collect ushr which was a major source of their revenue.) Taliban also collected skins of the sacrificial animals on Eidul Azha this year worth billion of rupees. Donations and war booty are also the major sources of their revenue.

The information and broadcasting wing of the Taliban is working effectively. A spokesperson and FM channels broadcast important announcements, decrees and counter-propaganda against them. A strong communication network or secret services is the main characteristics of this new monarchy in Swat.

The present upsurge, therefore, is an attempt to create a sort of a state within a state and is not a manifestation of a class war in Swat.

The writer is a social activist living in Swat. Email: udyana64@yahoo.com

President Obama's Policy Options in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA)

- Dr. Hassan Abbas

Report by Institute of Social Policy and Understanding (http://www.ispu.org/), January 25, 2009
Excerpt: There is an emerging consensus among foreign policy experts that the growing insurgency and militancy in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) poses the greatest security challenge not only to Pakistan and Afghanistan, but also to the United States. Some scholars even project that a major terrorist act with al-Qaeda footprints in the United States might result in an American strike and ground invasion of this area. President Barack Obama has repeatedly talked about stepping up military action in Afghanistan as a panacea to the expanding crisis in that country and hinted as early as August 2007 that if elected, he would sanction direct military strikes in FATA if there were “actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets” and if Pakistan failed to act. Situation has deteriorated in the region during the last year further complicating Obama’s policy options for stabilizing South Asia.

Contents: Historical Context; Basic Ground Realities; US Policy during Bush Era (2001-08); Early Policy Indicators from President Obama; 10 Steps that Pakistan Should Take; 10 Steps that the American Government Should Take; Concluding Thoughs; Ennotes

Full Text (Pdf): http://www.ispu.org/files/PDFs/fata_report.pdf

Pakistan in Peril

Volume 56, Number 2 · February 12, 2009

By William Dalrymple

Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia
by Ahmed Rashid

Viking, 484 pp., $27.95
Lahore, Pakistan

The relative calm in Iraq in recent months, combined with the drama of the US elections, has managed to distract attention from the catastrophe that is rapidly overwhelming Western interests in the part of the world that always should have been the focus of America's response to September 11: the al-Qaeda and Taliban heartlands on either side of the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The situation here could hardly be more grim. The Taliban have reorganized, advanced out of their borderland safe havens, and are now massing at the gates of Kabul, threatening to surround and throttle the capital, much as the US-backed Mujahideen once did to the Soviet-installed regime in the late Eighties. Like the rerun of an old movie, all journeys out of the Afghan capital are once again confined to tanks, armored cars, and helicopters. Members of the Taliban already control over 70 percent of the country, up from just over 50 percent in November 2007, where they collect taxes, enforce Sharia law, and dispense their usual rough justice; but they do succeed, to some extent, in containing the wave of crime and corruption that has marked Hamid Karzai's rule. This has become one of the principal reasons for their growing popularity, and every month their sphere of influence increases.
The blowback from the Afghan conflict in Pakistan is more serious still. In less than eight months, Asif Ali Zardari's new government has effectively lost control of much of the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) to the Taliban's Pakistani counterparts, a loose confederation of nationalists, Islamists, and angry Pashtun tribesmen under the nominal command of Baitullah Mehsud. Few had very high expectations of Zardari, the notoriously corrupt playboy widower of Benazir Bhutto. Nevertheless, the speed of the collapse that has taken place under his watch has amazed almost all observers.

Across much of the North-West Frontier Province—around a fifth of Pakistan—women have now been forced to wear the burqa, music has been silenced, barbershops are forbidden to shave beards, and over 140 girls' schools have been blown up or burned down. In the provincial capital of Peshawar, a significant proportion of the city's elite, along with its musicians, have now decamped to the relatively safe and tolerant confines of Lahore and Karachi. Meanwhile tens of thousands of ordinary people from the surrounding hills of the semiautonomous tribal belt—the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) that run along the Afghan border—have fled from the conflict zones blasted by missiles from unmanned American Predator drones and strafed by Pakistani helicopter gunships to the tent camps now ringing Peshawar. (See the map.)

The tribal areas have never been fully under the control of any Pakistani government, and have always been unruly, but they have now been radicalized as never before. The rain of armaments from US drones and Pakistani ground forces, which have caused extensive civilian casualties, daily add a steady stream of angry footsoldiers to the insurgency. Elsewhere in Pakistan, anti-Western religious and political extremism continues to flourish.
The most alarming manifestation of this was the ease with which a highly trained jihadi group, almost certainly supplied and provisioned in Pakistan, probably by the nominally banned Lashkar-e-Taiba—an organization that aims to restore Muslim rule in Kashmir—attacked neighboring India in November. They murdered 173 innocent people in Bombay, injured over six hundred, and brought the two nuclear-armed rivals once again to the brink of war. The attackers arrived by sea, initially using boats based in the same network of fishing villages across the Makran coast through which a number of al-Qaeda suspects are known to have been spirited away from Pakistan to the Arab Gulf following the American assault on Tora Bora in 2001.
In November, on a trip to Pakistan, I tried to visit Peshawar, which functions as both the capital of the North-West Frontier Province and the administrative center for FATA. But for the first time in twenty-five years, I was warned by Pakistani journalist friends not even to attempt going. In one week, an unprecedented series of events made up my mind for me.
On Monday, November 11, some sixty militants identified with the Pakistani Taliban looted thirteen trucks carrying military supplies and a fleet of Humvees going up the Khyber Pass to US troops in Afghanistan. Twenty-six people were kidnapped. The next day, a suicide bomber narrowly missed killing the governor and some of the ministers of the North-West Frontier Province, as they left a stadium. Three people were killed in the attack. On Wednesday of that week, unidentified gunmen shot dead Stephen Vance, a US aid worker, and kidnapped an Iranian diplomat, who joined the Chinese engineers, Pakistani truck drivers, and Afghan diplomats now being held in Taliban captivity. On Thursday, two journalists—one Japanese, the other Afghan—were shot at and wounded. Peshawar suddenly seemed to be becoming as violent as Baghdad at the height of the insurgency three years ago.
All this took place in the vacuum created by the temporary flight from the province of the chief minister and leader of the ruling Awami National Party of the NWFP, Asfandyar Wali Khan. This followed a suicide bombing on October 2 that killed three guests and a member of his staff while he was greeting visitors during Eid celebrations marking the end of Ramadan. Immediately after the bombing, a rattled Asfandyar fled from the province in a helicopter sent to him by Zardari, then flew straight on to Britain. He was persuaded to return only with some difficulty. In February 2008, Asfandyar's party had been elected with a huge majority, breaking the power of the MMA Islamist alliance, a coalition of Islamic groups that has been a major force in Frontier politics, and that had ruled the province for the previous five years. The election seemed to mark a moment of hope for Pakistani secular democracy; but that hope was soon shattered by the apparently unstoppable advance of the Pakistani Taliban out of FATA.
Since then there have been several more suicide bombings and a number of daring attacks on US convoys and depots in and around Peshawar, including one that led to the burning of two hundred trucks and dozens of Humvees and armored personnel carriers, and another that led to the capture by the Taliban of fifty containers of supplies. Other civilian convoys have been allowed to continue, but only after paying a toll to the Taliban, who now, in effect, control the Khyber Pass, the key land route between Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the moment more than 70 percent of supplies for the US troops in Afghanistan travel through the NWFP to Peshawar and hence up the Khyber Pass. The US is now trying to work out alternative supply routes for its troops in Afghanistan via several Central Asian republics—Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, which has the important Manas Air Base—all of which have themselves been markedly radicalized since 2001.
Far from the frontier, in Pakistan's artistic capital of Lahore, at the heart of the prosperous Punjab, the usually resilient members of the liberal elite were more depressed than I have ever seen them, alarmed both by the news of the Taliban's advances and by the economic difficulties that have recently led Pakistan to seek a $7.6 billion IMF loan. The night I arrived I went to see Najam Sethi and his wife Jugnu, editors of the English-language Daily Times and Friday Times newspapers, who now found themselves directly in the Taliban's crosshairs. Three weeks earlier they had begun to receive faxes threatening them with violence if they didn't stop attacking Islamist interests in their columns. One such fax had arrived that morning. The two have bravely survived years of harassment by various governments and agencies, but now felt powerless to respond to these anonymous threats.
Another old friend in Lahore, the remarkable human rights campaigner Asma Jahangir, had also received fax warnings—in her case to desist helping the victims of honor killings. Asma, who had bravely fought successive military governments, was at a loss about what to do: "Nobody is safe anymore," she told me. "If you are threatened by the government you can take them on legally. But with nonstate actors, when even members of the government are themselves not safe, who do you appeal to? Where do you look for protection?"
These events dramatically illustrate Ahmed Rashid's central contention in his brilliant and passionate book Descent into Chaos. Throughout the book Rashid emphasizes the degree to which, seven years after September 11, "the US-led war on terrorism has left in its wake a far more unstable world than existed on that momentous day in 2001":
Rather than diminishing, the threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates has grown, engulfing new regions of Africa, Asia, and Europe and creating fear among peoples from Australia to Zanzibar. The US invasions of two Muslim countries...[have] so far failed to contain either the original organization or the threat that now comes from its copycats...in British or French cities who have been mobilized through the Internet. The al Qaeda leader...is still at large, despite the largest manhunt in history....
Afghanistan is once again staring down the abyss of state collapse, despite billions of dollars in aid, forty-five thousand Western troops, and the deaths of thousands of people. The Taliban have made a dramatic comeback.... The international community had an extended window of opportunity for several years to help the Afghan people—they failed to take advantage of it.
Pakistan...has undergone a slower but equally bloody meltdown.... In 2007 there were 56 suicide bombings in Pakistan that killed 640 people, compared to just 6 bombings in the previous year....
In 2008, American power lies shattered.... US credibility lies in ruins.... Ultimately the strategies of the Bush administration have created a far bigger crisis in South and Central Asia than existed before 9/11.
It is difficult to disagree with any of this. Eight years of neocon foreign policies have been a spectacular disaster for American interests in the Islamic world, leading to the rise of Iran as a major regional power, the advance of Hamas and Hezbollah, the wreckage of Iraq, with over two million external refugees and the ethnic cleansing of its Christian population, and now the implosion of Afghanistan and Pakistan, probably the most dangerous development of all.
Ahmed Rashid's book convincingly shows how the Central and Southern Asian portion of this tragedy took shape in the years since 2001. Rashid has long been an authority on the politics of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, and his welcoming house in Lahore has for many years been the first port of call for visiting journalists and writers. An urbane, witty, bookish, Cambridge-educated bon viveur, with a Spanish Galician wife, he is a writer whose high spirits can easily make one forget both the immense bravery of his consistently fearless reporting in such a dangerous environment over thirty years—Rashid was recently sentenced to death in absentia by the Pakistan Taliban—and the deep scholarship and research that give his work its depth. Rashid, a contributor to TheNew York Review, came to world attention after the Islamist attacks on America when his book Taliban1 was recognized to be virtually the only serious work on the regime that had given shelter to al-Qaeda. As a result it quickly sold nearly 1.5 million copies in twenty-six languages across the world.
In his new book, Rashid is particularly perceptive in his examination of the causes of terrorism in the region, and the way that the Bush administration sought to silence real scrutiny of what was actually causing so many people in South and Central Asia violently to resist American influence. Serious analysis was swept under the carpet, making impossible
any discussion or understanding of the "root causes" of terrorism—the growing poverty, repression, and sense of injustice that many Muslims felt at the hands of their US-backed governments, which in turn boosted anti-Americanism and Islamic extremism.... Bush did more to keep Americans blind to world affairs than any American leader in recent history.
Instead, terrorism was presented by the administration as a result of a "sudden worldwide anti-Americanism rather than a result of past American policy failures." Bush's speech to Congress, claiming that the world hated America because "they hate our freedoms—our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote," ignored the political elephant standing in the middle of the living room—US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, with its long history of unpopular interventions in the Islamic world and its uncritical support for Israel's steady colonization of the West Bank and violent repression of the Palestinians. As the Department of Defense Science Board rightly pointed out in response to Bush's speech: "Muslims do not 'hate our freedom,' but rather they hate our policies."
It was partly the intense hostility to Islam emanating from both the press and the government of the United States that made it so difficult for moderates in the Islamic world to counter the propaganda of the extremists. How could the moderates dispute the notion that America was engaged in a civilizational war against Islam when this was clearly something many in the administration, and their supporters in the press, did indeed believe? It also had a strongly negative effect on policy decisions. By building up public hysteria and presenting a vision of an Islamic world eaten up with irrational hatred of America, an unspoken feeling was generated among Americans that, as Rashid puts it,
if they hated us, then Americans should hate Muslims back and retaliate not just against the terrorists but against Islam in general. By generating such fears it was virtually impossible to gain American public attention and support for long-term nation building.
It also made possible the comprehensive pattern of human rights abuses that the administration presided over—the torture and "rendition" program—that Rashid describes here with shocking and uncompromising clarity. As well as the damage this did to the image of the US abroad, it also encouraged repression among its regional allies: "By following America's lead in promoting or condoning disappearances, torture, and secret jails, these countries found their path to democracy and their struggle against Islamic extremism set back by decades," Rashid writes.
But while laying part of the blame for the current disaster on the "arrogance and ignorance" of the American administration, Rashid is also well aware of the large share of responsibility that must be put at the door of Pakistan's army and its Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, or ISI. For more than twenty years, the ISI has, for its own purposes, deliberately and consistently funded and incubated a variety of Islamist groups, including in particular Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Since the days of the anti-Soviet Mujahideen, the Pakistani army saw the jihadis as an ingenious and cost-effective means of both dominating Afghanistan—something they finally achieved with the retreat of the Soviets in 1987—and bogging down the Indian army in Kashmir—something they succeeded in achieving from 1990 onward.
As Hamid Gul, the director of the ISI who was largely responsible for developing this strategy, once explained to me, if the ISI "encourages the Kashmiris it's understandable." He said, "The Kashmiri people have risen up in accordance with the UN charter, and it is the national purpose of Pakistan to help liberate them. If the jihadis go out and contain India, tying down their army on their own soil, for a legitimate cause, why should we not support them?" Next to him in his Islamabad living room lay a large piece of the Berlin Wall presented to him by the people of Berlin for "delivering the first blow" to the Soviet Empire through his use of jihadis in the 1980s.
For Gul the usefulness of the jihadis was self-evident, and in this view he had plenty of company. As Steve Coll put it in Ghost Wars :
Every Pakistani general, liberal or religious, believed in the jihadists by 1999, not from personal Islamic conviction, in most cases, but because the jihadists had proved themselves over many years as the one force able to frighten, flummox, and bog down the Hindu-dominated Indian army. About a dozen Indian divisions had been tied up in Kashmir during the late 1990s to suppress a few thousand well-trained, paradise-seeking guerrillas. What more could Pakistan ask?[2]
It is for this reason that many in the army still believe that the jihadis make up a more practical defense against Indian dominance than even nuclear weapons. For them, supporting a range of jihadi groups in Afghanistan and Kashmir is not an ideological or religious whim so much as a practical and patriotic imperative—a vital survival strategy for a Pakistani state that they perceive to be threatened by India's ever-growing power and its alliance with the hostile Karzai regime in Kabul.
The army's senior military brass were convinced until recently that they could control the militants whom they had fostered. In a taped conversation between then General Pervez Musharraf and Muhammad Aziz Khan, his chief of general staff, which India released in 1999, Aziz said that the army had the jihadis by their " tooti " (their privates). Yet while some in the ISI may still believe that they can use jihadis for their own ends, the Islamists have increasingly followed their own agendas, sending suicide bombers to attack not just members of Pakistan's religious minorities and political leaders, but even the ISI headquarters at Camp Hamza itself, in apparent revenge for the army's declared support for America's war on terror and attacks made by the Pakistani military on Taliban strongholds in FATA. Ironically, as Rashid makes clear, it was exactly groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, which were originally created by the ISI, that have now turned their guns on their creators, as well as brazenly launching well-equipped and well-trained teams of jihadis into Indian territory. In doing so they are severely damaging Pakistani interests abroad, and bringing Pakistan to the brink of a war it cannot possibly win.
It was the military dictator General Zia ul-Haq, between 1978 and 1988, who was responsible for initiating the fatal alliance between the conservative Pakistani military and the equally reactionary mullahs that led to the use of Pakistan's Islamic radicals in the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. Their recruitment was always controlled by the ISI, but was originally jointly funded by the CIA and Saudi intelligence. Militant mosques such as the Lal Masjid near the ISI headquarters in the center of Islamabad were turned into recruiting centers for potential Mujahideen, and places where the intelligence services could be in touch with young radicals.
This vital period under Zia, when the jihadis were first harnessed to the use of the Pakistani state, is brilliantly described in a history of the Pakistani army by Shuja Nawaz, the Washington-based brother of a former Pakistani army chief of general staff. One of the most telling passages in the book describes the "strange non-military atmosphere" in the ISI in the early 1990s at the end of the reign of one of the most overtly Islamist directors of the agency, the Zia-appointed Lieutenant General Javed Nasir. When his successor turned up to take over, he found that "the corridors were filled with bearded civilians in shalwar kameez," the pajama-like traditional dress, "many of them with their shalwar hitched up above the ankle, a signature practice of the [ultra-orthodox] Tablighi Jamaat to which Nasir belonged."
He was shown a strong room that once had "currency stacked to the ceiling" but was now empty as adventurist ISI officers had taken "suitcases filled with cash" to the field, including to the newly independent Central Asian republics, ostensibly to set up safe houses and operations there in support of Islamic causes. There were no accounts or any receipts to these money transfers....Most officers were absent from their offices for extended periods, often away for "prayers."[3]
Rashid's book takes up the story where Shuja Nawaz leaves off. Descent into Chaos breaks entirely new ground in making explicit, in strikingly well-researched detail, the degree to which the army and ISI continued this duplicitous and risky policy of supporting radical Islamic groups after September 11, 2001, despite President Musharraf's many public promises to the contrary. The speed with which the US lost interest in Afghanistan after its successful invasion and embarked on plans to invade Iraq, which clearly had no link with al-Qaeda, convinced Pakistan's military leaders that the US was not serious about a long-term commitment to Karzai's regime. This in turn led to them keeping the Taliban in reserve to be used to reinstall a pro-Pakistani regime in Afghanistan once the Americans' attention had been turned elsewhere and the Karzai regime had been left to crumble.
So it was, only months after Septem-ber 11, that the ISI was giving refuge to the entire Taliban leadership after it fled from Afghanistan. Mullah Omar was kept in an ISI safehouse in the town of Quetta, just south of the tribal areas in Baluchistan, near the Afghan border, while his militia was lodged in Pashtunabad, a sprawling Quetta suburb. Gulbuddin Hikmetyar, the leader of the radical Mujahideen militia Hizb-e- Islami, was lured back from exile in Iran and allowed to operate freely outside Peshawar, while Jalaluddin Haqqani, one of the most violent Taliban commanders, was given sanctuary by the ISI in north Waziristan, a part of FATA.
In order to keep contact with such groups beyond the radar of Western intelligence, the ISI created a new clandestine organization, staffed by former ISI trainers and retired Pashtun officers from the army, who armed, trained, and supported the Taliban in camps around Quetta. In view of the high level of military training of the Lashkar jihadis who attacked Bombay, it may well be that some similar arrangement involving former ISI officers was used to prepare the Bombay terrorists for their mission too.
By 2004, the US had filmed Pakistani army trucks delivering Taliban fighters to the Afghan border and taking them back a few days later, while wireless monitoring at the US base at Bagram picked up Taliban commanders arranging with Pakistani army officers at the border for safe passage as they came in and out of Afghanistan. By 2005 the Taliban, with covert Pakistani support, was launching a full-scale assault on NATO troops in Afghanistan. As Rashid notes in his conclusion:
Today, seven years after 9/11, Mullah Omar and the original Afghan Taliban Shura still live in Baluchistan province. Afghan and Pakistani Taliban leaders live on further north, in FATA, as do the militias of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hikmetyar. Al Qaeda has a safe haven in FATA, and along with them reside a plethora of Asian and Arab terrorist groups who are now expanding their reach into Europe and the United States.
The foot-dragging response of Zardari to the attacks on Bombay last November shows the degree to which the two-faced dual-track policy of courting both the US and the various jihadi groups remains effectively in place with the Pakistani military. For the last decade Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba, has been allowed to operate from Muridke, near Lahore. Although, in reaction to US pressure after September 11, Lashkar has officially been banned, in reality it continues to function under the name of Jamaat-ud Daawa, while Saeed continues openly to incite attacks on India and Western targets. The speeches quoted by Rashid show how easily such attacks could have been anticipated, and how they should have been stopped: "The powerful Western world is terrorizing Muslims," Saeed told an Islamabad conference in 2003. "We are being invaded, humiliated, manipulated and looted.... We must fight against the evil trio, America, Israel and India. Suicide missions are in accordance with Islam. In fact a suicide attack is the best form of jihad."
Even now, after the mass murder in Bombay, although Saeed is himself now under house arrest for masterminding the attacks (an accusation that he denies), his organization's madrasas and facilities remain open and appear to benefit from patronage offered by Pakistan's authorities. Only this year the Zardari government cleared the purchase of a bulletproof Land Cruiser for him. Zardari does indeed seem to be in what the Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, calls "a state of denial" about the involvement of Pakistani jihadi groups in the Bombay massacres.
Yet viewed in the light of Pakistani power politics, Zardari's position has a certain dangerous logic. Army insiders say that General Ashfaq Kiyani, the current chief of staff, who is already involved in a full-scale conflict with the Pakistani Taliban in the frontier tribal areas, does not feel sufficiently strong to open a second front with the jihadis in the Punjab; while Zardari, even though he may wish to be rid of Lashkar and the Punjabi jihadis, cannot afford to be seen to cave in to Indian pressure. It is a classic South Asian catch-22, which allows Lashkar to continue functioning with only cosmetic restrictions, whose main function is to impress the US. Yet the fact remains that until firm action is taken against all such groups, and training camps are closed down, the slow collapse of the Pakistani state will continue, and with it the safety of Western interests in the region.
Several factors will determine the future. Rashid makes it clear that only a radically changed policy by the United States under Barack Obama can hope to begin turning things around. He writes:
South and Central Asia will not see stability unless there is a new global compact among the leading players...to help this region solve its problems, which range from settling the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan to funding a massive education and job-creation program in the borderlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan and along their borders with Central Asia.
As Obama has hinted, such an approach could be coupled with negotiations with some elements of the Afghan Taliban.
The second factor, of course, has to be reform of the ISI and the Pakistani military. The top Pakistani army officers must end their obsession with bleeding India by using an Islamist strategic doctrine entailing support of jihadists, and realize that such a policy is deeply damaging to Pakistan itself, threatening to turn Pakistan into a clone of Taliban-dominated Afghanistan rather than a potential partner of a future Indian superpower.
A third factor, which Rashid does not discuss in this book, is somehow finding a way to stop the madrasa- inspired and Saudi-financed advance of Wahhabi Islam, which is directly linked to the spread of anti-Western radicalization. On my last visit to Pakistan, it was very clear that while the Wahhabi-dominated North-West was on the verge of falling under the sway of the Taliban, the same was not true of the Sufi-dominated province of Sindh, which currently is quieter and safer than it has been for some time. Here in southern Pakistan, on the Indian border, Sufi Islam continues to act as a powerful defense against the puritanical fundamentalist Islam of the Wahhabi mullahs, which supports intolerance of all other faiths.
Visiting the popular Sufi shrine of Sehwan in Sindh last month, I was astonished by the strength of feeling expressed against the mullahs by the Sindhis who look to their great saints such a Lal Shabaz Qalander for guidance, and hate the Wahhabis who criticize the popular Islam of the Sufi saints as a form of shirk, or heresy: "All these mullahs should be damned," said one old Sufi I talked to in the shrine. "They read their books but they never understand the true message of love that the prophet preached. Men so blind as them cannot even see the shining sun." A friend who visited shortly before me met a young man from Swat, in the North-West Frontier Province, who said he had considered joining the militants, but their anti-Sufi attitude had put him off: "No one can deny us our respected saints of God," he said.
The Saudis have invested intensively in Wahhabi madrasas in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab, with dramatic effect, radically changing the religious culture of an entire region. The tolerant Sufi culture of Sindh has been able to defy this imported Wahhabi radicalism. The politically moderating effect of Sufism was recently described in a RAND Corporation report recommending support for Sufism as an "open, intellectual interpretation of Islam." Here is an entirely indigenous and homegrown Islamic resistance movement to fundamentalism, with deep roots in South Asian culture. Its importance cannot be overestimated. Could it have a political effect in a country still dominated by military forces that continue to fund and train jihadi groups? It is one of the few sources of hope left in the increasingly bleak political landscape of this strategically crucial country.
—January 15, 2009
[1]Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale University Press, 2000).
[2]Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA , Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (Penguin, 2004), p. 495. See also the review in these pages by Ahmed Rashid, May 27, 2004.
[3]Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the War Within (Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 46–48. This is by far the fullest and most authoritative analysis yet published of Pakistan and its army and intelligence services.