June 26, 2010

What ails Indian Intelligence


(Written for the “Times of India” at their request. A slightly edited version of this has been carried by them at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Home/Sunday-TOI/Special-Report/It-is-unintelligent-to-have-no-humint-or-hi-tech/articleshow/6096416.cms )

Indian intelligence agencies are good in crisis management after a threat to national security has materialized, but inadequate in preventing a crisis.

Their often-demonstrated failure to prevent a national security crisis can be attributed to a lack of quality control in their internal management. This poor quality control is evident in their outdated recruitment procedures, which tend to presume mistakenly that police officers naturally make good intelligence officers and their poor man management which often leads to internal frictions.

Poor team work which affects their ability to co-ordinate and the tendency to treat the intelligence profession like any other government job where seniority prevails over merit are also an outcome of this. So too is their failure to keep pace with developments in science and technology which are adding to the threats and the over-focus on short-term tactics and the under-focus on a long-term strategy to foresee, forestall and control a national security crisis.

Unlike other countries, techniques of national security and intelligence management have not received in India the attention they deserve either in the agencies themselves, or at the senior levels of the general bureaucracy or in the political leadership. The result: The agencies tend to drift from crisis to crisis, from failure to failure and from surprise to surprise. The poor techniques are reflected in the low standards of our intelligence training schools and in the poor quality of research on national security and intelligence management in our think-tanks and academic institutions.

National security and intelligence management is not treated as a science to be constantly developed, but as an esoteric subject beyond the understanding of the generalists and hence better left to the intelligence careerists. Intelligence careerism stands in the way of our agencies coming up to national requirements and expectations. It also thwarts professionalism. We have many intelligence careerists, but not that many intelligence professionals. One finds professionals in increasing numbers in foreign agencies, but not in India. Our political class, which sees intelligence as an exploitable instrument of political survival and not as an indispensable instrument of national survival, has also contributed to this state of affairs.

Our agencies are not without good points. Our intelligence officers may be poor collectors of preventive intelligence, but make good analysts of the limited intelligence they collect. Foreign intelligence officers are good collectors, but poor analysts

The John Major Commission of Canada, which enquired into the blowing-up of the Kanishka aircraft of Air India by the Babbar Khalsa in 1985, has highlighted how the Canadian officers failed to analyse adequately the flood of intelligence reports available.
Crisis management comes to us instinctively. Despite being taken by surprise initially, we manage to prevail at the end. We saw this during the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and the Kargil conflict of 1999, and in the way we prevailed over the Mizo National Front, the Khalistani terrorists in Punjab and Al Ummah in Tamil Nadu. Even in Kashmir, though taken by surprise in 1989, we have retrieved lost ground after what appeared to be a hopeless situation in the 1990s.
Despite these good points, our agencies have failed to come up to expectations because there has been no continuous, independent and transparent evaluation of their performance. Our agencies continue to be evaluators of their own performance whereas in foreign countries, particularly in the West, their performance is regularly subject to external evaluation by the parliament as well as other bodies of experts not necessarily from the profession.

Detailed enquiries like those into the 9/11 terrorist strikes in the US, the London blasts of July 2005 in the UK and the recent Kanishka enquiry in Canada are more an exception than the rule in India. Our Parliament does not even know how much it is voting for the intelligence budgets and how that money is being spent. The intelligence allocations are concealed in the general budgets of other Ministries and Departments and are voted without independent scrutiny.

Intelligence agencies and chiefs can do no wrong. They are manned by honourable men who will not transgress laws and rules of propriety. So it used to be assumed before the Second World War, but no longer so. The post-Watergate enquiries in the US brought out that there are as many incompetents, opportunists and even law-breakers in the intelligence profession as in any other public service. The result: The opening-up of intelligence agencies to the extent possible due to security considerations to external evaluation. India is one of the very few democratic countries where the agencies continue to be closed houses not open to an external performance audit. Unless this changes, our intelligence management will not change for the better.

Past threats came more from state than non-state actors. Post-Second World War threats come as much from non-state as state actors. Before the World War, the intelligence profession was admired. It was seen as a profession of anonymous patriots of the highest order. The public considered it their duty and privilege to co-operate with them.

The intelligence profession is now tolerated as necessary, but it is no longer admired because of its seeming helplessness against the plethora of non-state actors. Public co-operation has consequently decreased. This has had a negative impact on the flow of human intelligence. Our ability to collect intelligence through gadgets has been improving, but not our ability to use human resources for intelligence collection.

How to deal with the new situation we are facing, which is marked more by threats to internal than external security? This is a question which needs attention. (25-6-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi. E-mail: seventryone2@gmail.com )



Mr.P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, has exhibited refreshing firmness during his talks with Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, in Islamabad on June 25 and 26,2010. He had gone to Islamabad to attend the SAARC Home Ministers' meeting, which was held after a gap of more than two years and availed of this opportunity to hold detailed bilateral discussions with Mr.Malik on terrorism-related issues.The focus of the discussions between the two and of their media briefings was on terrorism in general and Pakistani action against the Pakistan-based perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai in particular. He had gone to Islamabad determined to show that the willingness of the Government of India to resume the bilateral dialogue on various contentious issues would not mean a dilution of the focus on terrorism.

2. In his remarks in Islamabad, Mr.Chidambaram took care not to directly blame the State of Pakistan for the acts of terrorism in Indian territory committed by the Pakistani organisations, which are now collectively referred to even by Pakistani analysts as the Punjabi Taliban. However, he did not hesitate to highlight directly or indirectly the inaction or unsatisfactory action of the State of Pakistan against the anti-India terrorists in general and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in particular.

3. While keeping up an unrelenting pressure on Pakistan for action against the LET and its perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist strikes in Mumbai, including Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JED), the political wing of the LET, he saw to it that his observations and pressure did not spoil the current cordial atmosphere in the bilateral relations and would not come in the way of meaningful , forward-looking discussions during the visit of Mr.S.M.Krishna, our Minister for External Affairs, to Islamabad next month.

4. Keep up the pressure on Pakistan on the issue of terrorism, but at the same time don't allow justified concerns over terrorism stunt fresh thinking on other issues. That seems to be the new motto of the Government of India. It is apparent Mr.Chidambaram shares this motto despite his ill-concealed disappointment with Pakistan for failing to do all that it can and should to bring to book the Pakistan-based perpetrators of 26/11.

5. However, despite the refreshing firmness of Mr.Chidambaram, one felt disappointed to notice an apparent lack of adequate attention to questions of importance like the establishment of a networking relationship between India's Intelligence Bureau and its Pakistani counterpart, which comes under Mr.Malik, between the National Investigation Agency (NIA) of India and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan both of which are the central investigation agencies for terrorism-related cases and frequent interactions between senior police officers of the two countries. Mr.Malik did speak of the FIA and India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which already interact with each other during INTERPOL meetings, jointly investigating the 26/11 case. No elucidation on this was forthcoming from Mr.Chidambaram, who appeared to be over-focussed on the 26/11 case --- rightly so--- but under-focussed on the need for a web of institutional relationships between the intelligence collection and investigating agencies of our Home Ministry and Pakistan's Interior Ministry.

6.Mr.Malik suffers from professional and political handicaps as compared to Mr.Chidambaram. de jure, Mr.Chidambaram is the political head of only the IB and the NIA, but de facto, in counter-terrorism matters, all agencies of the Indian intelligence community----whether civilian or military---- report to him, keep him informed and carry out his instructions , even if they come under the control of the Prime Minister or the Defence Minister. Mr.Malik, an ex-police officer, is the political head of only Pakistan's FIA and IB, which has only limited powers and resources as compared to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other military intelligence agencies.

7. In India, the military intelligence agencies play a role in counter-terrorism and in counter-insurgency only in the border areas. In the rest of the country, it is Mr.Chidambaram as the Home Minister, who is the czar of counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence. In Pakistan, the ISI and other military intelligence agencies, which have more powers and resources than the institutions of the Interior Ministry, do not recognise the overlordship of Mr.Malik in counter-terrorism. They do not always keep him informed of all the intelligence coming to their notice and carry out his instructions. The heads of the military intelligence agencies avoid attending meetings convened by him.

8. Additional problems arise in Pakistan because the Army and the ISI do not look upon the LET as a terrorist organisation. The LET is the virtual covert action division of the ISI and its operations in India and Afghanistan against India are viewed as covert actions in Pakistan's national interests. If Mr.Malik wants to take effective action against the LET, he cannot do so due to the perception of the LET as the covert action wing of the ISI.

9. Despite these limitations of Mr.Malik and his Interior Ministry, we must build up our contacts with them and the Pakistani police and encourage other countries such as the US and those of the European Union to do so in order to contribute in the medium and long-term to building up the status and powers of the Interior Ministry in Pakistan's internal security management. In the years after Pakistan's independence, the Internal Security Ministry used to be the overlord of internal security management. After losing control of East Pakistan in 1971, the Army and the ISI have taken over this responsibility, reducing the Internal Security Ministry to a virtual non-entity.

10.The present civilian Government in Pakistan is trying to re-empower the Internal Security Ministry. This is a process which all democratic Governments should encourage. China has been doing so. It has given the Ministry over US $ 300 million for capacity-building. It had invited Mr.Malik twice to China to discuss counter-terrorism co-operation. It has two programmes for counter-terrorism co-operation with Pakistan---one between the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Pakistan Army and the other between China’s Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for internal security and intelligence, and Pakistan’s Interior Ministry.

10. It is hoped that Mr.Chidambaram would adopt this objective and work for it in the months to come.(27-6-2010)

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

June 25, 2010

Pakistan’s Islamic Odyssey: Dangers Ahead

By A. K. Verma

The movement for Pakistan, as envisaged by its chief promoter Mohammed Ali Jinnah, was not intended to produce a religion dominated theocratic state. No doubt he engaged in communal tactics and successfully executed a spurious doctrine, the two nation theory, to reach his goal of Pakistan, but the founders of the movement had planned for a state basically as a homeland for Muslims which would govern itself following the British traditions of liberalism and secularism. However the state soon turned Islamic, drove out most of its minorities, emasculated practically all traditions of liberalism and tolerance, spawned a breed of Sharia demanding clerics, slyly using terrorism as a tool of policy to pursue what it perceives as its national interests, and today is poised on the brink of uncertainty of what the future holds for it. Its conversion into hard core Islamic society, gradually embracing Islamization and Jehadi fundamentalism, another name for Talibanisation, takes it miles away from whatever dreams Jinnah might have had about the state he struggled so hard to establish.

An interesting question to examine would be: was this end product fundamentally inevitable. In other words once Pakistan was created was it in its destiny to be driven to this state?

There are people in Pakistan who think that Pakistan started incubating a millennium ago when the first Muslim stepped on the soil of the subcontinent. Such a perception implied a belief that once introduced Islam developed roots and quickly spread out. Such a view would have us believe that the Pakistan movement was not an avoidable phenomenon and that Islam was ultimately to become its raison-de-etre. In fact people like Osama-bin-Laden do not hide their conviction that at the end of another millennium Islam would be becoming the raison-de-etre of the entire world.

A look at the historical evolution of Islam world wide provides indicators how it was to grow in Pakistan. Starting from a small enclave in Medina in the 7th century, Islam over the next 13 centuries, spread like a whirlwind, overpowering boundaries, borders, frontiers, countries, peoples, civilizations, religions and traditions. Much of the advance took place under the shadow of the sword. Rulers and clerics, not sanctioned under the original scriptures, took roots later, mutually assisted each other, promoting favored brands. Many schools of thought and jurisprudence erupted, sometimes tragically in confliction to one another. But this did not come in the way of the growing sweeps of Islam. The power of faith has carried Islam down to every nook and corner of the globe. Today every sixth human being in the world is a Muslim. Islam remains the fastest growing religion in the world. However, the concept of Umma, a novelty introduced by Islam, could not ensure unity within the length and breadth of Islam. Unity remained susceptible to powerful influences, generated by ethnic, linguistic or regional forces. Within the Islamic world questions of identity have been settled more by such forces than the religion itself.

Islamization of Pakistan, therefore, fulfilled the inherent tendencies contained in Islam. Emergence of Islam as the dominant ideological factor was predestined in Pakistan. Basically, democracy as developed in the West by the liberating influences of renaissance and reformation in Europe, and Islam with its centrifugal and converging influences, are concepts largely anti-thetical to each other. Islam wants unreservedly the rule of Sharia everywhere. Democracy has not, therefore, found a hospitable home in Pakistan. Emergence or re-emergence of democracy in Pakistan depended upon the influence the Mullah class could bring to play on the civil or military rulers, directly or from behind the scenes. Nearly always the rulers capitulated to the Mullahs to stay in power.

Each capitulation strengthened the thread of Islamization. The story of capitulations begins with the Sandhurst trained whiskey guzzling Gen. Ayub Khan, Pakistan’s first military dictator; who established the Council of Islamic ideology, to check whether the systems in Pakistan conformed to the precepts of Islam. The left leaning self proclaimed socialist, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who came to the helm in Pakistan after an ignominious exit of Ayub’s successor Gen. Yahya Khan, following the Bangladesh debacle, moved Pakistan many notches towards an Islamic polity. He succumbed to pressure for declaring the Ahmedia community non Muslims and accepting the demands of the Nizam-e-Mustapha movement. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq who deposed Bhutto and usurped power in Pakistan acted like a Mullah in a general’s uniform and gave an Islamic orientation to a wide spectrum of administration including the armed forces to get the clergy on his side in political battles with the opposition. The democratically elected Nawaz Sharif gave in to the obscurantist demand for capital punishment for violation of blasphemy laws. He also had the Shariat bill for uniform application of Shariat in Pakistan passed by the lower house of Parliament but was unable to muster majority for its passage through the upper house. More recently, the left oriented provincial ANP govt. of NWFP, now rechristened Khyber-Pakhtunkhwah, and so called liberal PPP members of the Parliament joined together to permit Sharia in Swat and Malakand to appease the rabid forces demanding such application there. The religious extremism, manifesting itself in Pakistan today and the increasing chaos in the country, can be described as gifts to the nation by these rulers and their supporting classes, through the impact of their cumulative actions. Rise of fanaticism signals that the power and might of the Mosque now overshadows the power and the might of the armed forces. The preference of the leaders of all hues for Sunni Islam also widened the sectarian divide in Pakistan.

Afghan war 1 transformed the nature of the Islamic movement in Pakistan. It is worthwhile to understand some of the phenomena responsible for the cataclysmic changes in the psychology of the rulers and the ruled in Pakistan. War against the Soviets was converted into a morally unambiguous Jihadi war of Islam against them. Western powers, notably the US, and Muslim countries from other parts of the world, liberally funded the Jihad and copiously supported it with arms and ammunition. Muslims from all over the world came to join the Jihad. The volunteers became today’s Janissaries who had a played a major role in the in the expansion of the Ottoman Empire of Turkey, which after world war II was broken up into 28 independent countries. The fine distinctions that the scriptures prescribed to distinguish between higher and moral Jihad on one hand and the lower on the other never came into play in the Jihad against the Soviets. The Pakistani military and intelligence establishments were the lead managers of this Jihad, controlling exclusively the supply of funds, arms, ammunition, training and deployment of the Jihadi warriors. Their actions and approach received widespread support from practically all sections of the polity within the country. Groups like Harkat-al-Ansar, HIzb-ul-Jihadi- e- Islam, Markaz-e-Dawatul-Irshad, Lashkar- e- Toiba, Lashkar- e- Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahiban etc. sprang into existence, recruiting volunteers from the Madrassas and hinterland, for participating in the Jihad in Afghanistan. All such organisations were the creatures of Pakistani ISI that had also worked out plans to deploy the trained Mujahideen in Kashmir against India after the war in Afghanistan ended.

Not so well noticed immediately was the fact that the Pakistani role in the Jihad was fomenting a Jihadi culture among various sections of the people and within elements in the armed forces and the intelligence organisations. The liberal fringe in Pakistan was horrified by these developments but the growing muscles of the Mullahs and extremist organisations stilled them in to silence. The liberals failed to remove the confusion over the role of religion in society where a radical mindset was taking shape with a widening acceptance of an arch conservative philosophy. It became evident that a nation, in which a majority had earlier believed in a liberal ethos and had wanted religion to be a personal affair of the individual, was becoming a nation a majority of which wanted Islam to become a dominant influence on the political life of the country. This majority included students, ruralites, labour classes, intelligentsia, teachers, clergy and politicians among others.

Such an overgrowth was also being fueled by the decadent educational systems Pakistan had introduced in the country. The Madrassa schooling as well as the state controlled curriculum in other schools overdosed students with heavy Islamic bearings which prepared them to accept Jihad as a duty of every Muslim for which they should be ever ready. There was a constant refrain on two themes: Islam remains in perpetual danger and India a permanent enemy. These themes lay a strong foundation of a siege mentality which then regards violence and Jihad as natural and desirable options. Rationalism and prudence get targeted out. Foreign funding for education coming from Islamic countries promoted the precepts of Wahabi and Salafi doctrinaire Islam from where extreme radical Islam remained just a step away. Most of rural Pakistan and its tribal regions received their education through Madrassas. They have, therefore, become the breeding grounds of Jihad. Even higher educational institutions have not escaped the attention of youth bodies of conservatives and orthodox religious institutions such as Jamait-e-Islami, which force others to fall inline with an intolerant culture about music, art, dress etc. that is sought to be imposed by these in the name of an Islamic way of life. The education system was intended to create an explosive new thinking, to bind Pakistan together with a new identity.

At the end of the Afghan war I Pakistan succeeded in establishing the Talibans at Kandahar who soon took over the political control of almost the whole of Afghanistan. These Talibans had graduated from the Madrassas of Pakistan and its tribal regions and personified obscurantism, orthodoxy and intolerance. They took no time in showing a culture of fanaticism in Afghanistan which went beyond the Wahabism in which they had been schooled. Their leader Mullah Mohammed Omar turned into an arch fundamentalist and asked all the Muslims the world over to follow his precept and example by styling himself Emir-ul-Momineen, the overlord of all the faithful. Talibanism now became a new philosophy, a state of mind, which really needed no more ideologues. This was a parallel development to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaida. The Al Qaida can now do without Osamas: it has transcended from a personality cult to a set of ideas, beliefs and convictions which is receiving acceptance in the world wherever Muslims find themselves oppressed or believe that they are oppressed. Talibanism and Al Qaida are now in tune with each other and while AL Qaida as an ideology is making itself felt in many parts of the world, and Talibanism is not except in Pakistan, the two are synonymous, born of the same parent, the Salafi doctrine. Both have set their eyes on identical geopolitical objectives, establishment of Islamic Caliphates all over the world.

Apart from the pull of the fundamentalist ideology other ground realities in Pakistan were factoring in, to conditioning of the Pakistani mindset. The absence of an enlightening education system has already been mentioned. Its harmful effects got compounded by a miserable all round failure of governance in Pakistan which has led to economic deprivation, corruption, inflation, social inequalities and injustice, and an environment of violence, and insecurity. A majority of citizens live well below the poverty line, deprived of adequate means of subsistence, making them desperate for the emergence of a messiah. Mainstream political parties offered them no succor as they were unable to rise above hypocrisy. The clergy have exploited the people’s misery, claiming absence of piety relegated them to such a fate. All these put together make radical Islam irresistible. Many recent independent public polls in the country show a disturbing trend towards increasing radicalization. The disturbing part is that members of the elite or upper classes are also getting inclined towards orthodox religion in search of a panacea for their ills. The drift in the country, therefore, is unmistakably towards fascism. The Pakistani middle classes are no longer immune from its virus.

Once the Soviets were ousted from Afghanistan, the Jihadi fever was not allowed to subside and other targets were located. The Pakistan Establishment saw in this continued Jihad an opportunity to seek Pan Islamic leadership as well as to settle scores with India. This new Jihad was to be carried in all Islamic centers of trouble by volunteers drawn from various parts of the world but trained under Pakistani auspices, to emphasize the inherent strength of Islam and to inspire the Muslim Diaspora to remain relentless in their struggle wherever Muslim interests were being targeted or threatened.

Identifying the US as the main target of this Jihad has landed Pakistan in a complex problem. Firstly, Pakistan was forced to join the US war on terror against the Talibans. This step leads to a pervasive and widespread anger against the US in Pakistan, displacing India as the main enemy of Pakistan in public mind. Secondly, withdrawal of support to the Talibans went against the fundamental instincts of Pakistan and upset its strategic calculus. Following the new US war in Afghanistan, Afghan Talibans and their foreign supporters had been given refuge and shelter by Pakistani Pushtoons in the tribal regions of the Northwest as they themselves had been Talibanised in thinking and practice by the fall- out of Afghan war I. Compliance of Pakistan to the new US strategy was secured by threats of stoppage of financial aid. However, the Pakistani Establishment, past masters in duplicity, and deception, had no intentions of accepting fully the US dictates. They now followed a policy of hunting with the hound and running with the hare. However, such a policy has had dangerous consequences for Pakistan this time. The American pressure on Pakistan is for action against the entire spectrum of Talibans living in Pakistan including Baluchistan as well as the Pakistani Talibans themselves. The US also engaged in independent action in the frontier regions of Pakistan using drones and Special Forces against Taliban targets hiding there.

The difficult question facing the Pakistani military and intelligence authorities is to what extent they should accommodate the US demands. They have deployed their forces in Swat, Malakand, South Waziristan and certain other tribal regions to take out foreign Taliban elements allied to Al Qaida and to establish control over the territory but they have so far refrained from moving into North Waziristan and Baluchistan where key Taliban leadership and ISI’s own powerful infrastructure of a support mechanism for Talibans are sheltered. The US appears to have privately made it clear that failure on the part of Pakistan to take action in these areas will compel them to move into these areas themselves for counter insurgency and counterterrorist operations. North Waziristan is home to the Jalaluddin Haqqani network, deadly enemy of the US but regarded as an invaluable strategic asset by Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, the Pakistani COAS.

The Pakistanis have been very obdurate in the past in their responses to American demands. Often the US has had to back down from pursuing its objectives in order to preserve what they considered to be their more important larger interests. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq’s rejection of President Carter’s offer of aid of $64 m as ‘peanuts’ is famously known. During the entire course of Afghan war I, the repeated efforts of the CIA to get a foothold in the distribution of funds, arms and equipment to Mujahideen were consistently turned down by Pakistan despite the reality that CIA was the original source of most of the supply and funding. In this war the US needs to humor Pakistan was so intense that they looked the other way while Pakistan was developing its nukes and proliferating nuclear technology and equipment to many of its friends.

Now, however, the situation is qualitatively and dramatically different. The US feels directly threatened by the terror of Al Qaida philosophy which seeks to reawaken the somnosolent impulses and aspirations of Islam, and has a self imposed deadline of July 2011 to quit from Afghanistan. The US now well recognizes that Pakistani tactics and strategic objectives are proving counter-productive but compelling Pakistan to strike at the Taliban leadership hiding in Baluchistan and Haqqani network in North Waziristan has proved till now almost impossible. Will the confrontation between the two governments reach a breaking point? Will the US troops themselves actually enter Baluchistan and North Waziristan to clear these areas of Talibans? At the moment these are imponderable questions but the moment of truth seems to be fast approaching. A turning point is perhaps being reached demanding a public re-evaluation by US of its relationship with Pakistan. The US had once threatened Pakistan to bomb it to the Stone Age for refusing to fall in the line.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Talibans have reacted by taking up arms against the Pakistani armed forces not only in the tribal regions but also in the heart of Punjab in cities like Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The resultant situation is akin to a civil war which is inflaming public opinion, resulting in deepening radicalism. Punjabi radicals, mostly belonging to extremist groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and perhaps Lashkar-e-Taiba, by engaging in terror strikes against the state, have already demonstrated that their sympathies lie with the Pak Pashtoon tribals. The Pakistani ISI had been the patron of such groups and the terror syndicates and continues to be so. These surrogate outfits had been recruiting Jihadis for Afghanistan and Kashmir in their largest numbers from Punjab as compared to other provinces of Pakistan. Their leaders, though nurtured by ISI for covert proxy wars in J&K and Afghanistan, have now slipped away from their control and no longer obey the authority of the ISI. These leaders dominate a vast tract of area between Jhang and Bhawalpur in Punjab. With their large militias they will play a crucial role if the rebellion against the state reaches this heartland. A stage may also be reaching for doubts to arise whether the Pashtoon elements of the Pakistan Army, comprising 20 to 30% of its strength, and its other extremist fringes, could continue to be counted on for loyalty towards the state.

Religion had created a nation but never succeeded in creating a composite nationalism or a new identity in Pakistan. The country was kept unified by its Armed Forces but if they splinter what happens to Pakistan? There are many observers of the Pakistani scene who worry that a Jihadi or Islamist take over of Pakistan is not an unrealistic fear. Such fears take into account the fact that Islam alone can not prove integrative or overcome completely the pulls of ethno-nationalism. Further, multiplicity of interpretations of scriptures allow also in practice contradictory definitions of religion.

The overarching threat that looms ahead for Pakistan apparently is of a likely fragmentation. Western countries and China can be expected to jump in to save Pakistan and prevent its nuclear arsenal from falling into the wrong hands. US have already intensified its war against the Talibans in Pakistan through massive increases in the number of US Special Forces. Recent statements indicate its readiness to move deeper into Pakistan if driven by circumstances. If these steps also fail to stem the tide of radical Islam the US might be willing to recommend more drastic remedies to the Pakistan establishment such as re-imposition of the Army rule and to allow counter insurgency campaigns by it within Pakistan.

The Indian policy makers should remain well tuned to the nuances of the surge of radical Islam in the neighborhood and its possible repercussions across the border in our country. Another alarming situation like the rise of Naxalism in the country should never be permitted.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: verma_anandkumar@yahoo.com)



The visit of Mrs.Nirupama Rao, India's Foreign Secretary, to Islamabad on June 24,2010, for preparatory talks with Mr.Salman Bashir, Pakistani Foreign Secretary, could not have gone better than it did. Those, who had seen the bad vibrations which marred the atmosphere during Mr.Bashir's visit to New Delhi in February last for the first meeting with her, would have been taken by surprise by the good vibrations which were to the fore during her entire stay in Islamabad and her official discussions with the Pakistani Foreign Secretary and courtesy call on Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Pakistani Foreign Minister.

2. During Mr.Bashir's visit to New Delhi in February, the two Foreign Secretaries could not even agree on a joint press conference. They held separate press conferences----Mrs.Rao in the Indian Foreign Office and Mr.Bashir in the Pakistani Chancery. They projected two different versions of what transpired during their discussions. Mrs.Rao's version was balanced and devoid of polemics. Mr. Bashir's was polemical. He was even sarcastic regarding India's concerns over terrorism and couldn't resist ridiculing India's case for action against Hafeez Mohammad Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).He insisted on India accepting a so-called road map, which Pakistan had given for resuming the dialogue process. India saw no merit in the so-called road map.

3.Within four months, one saw on the TV the two Foreign Secretaries addressing a joint press conference and projecting cordial images of themselves----- persons of reason looking for ways of narrowing the divide between the two countries instead of aggravating it as was done in February. One could be certain that this change for the better would have been preceded by intense back channel discussions and informal interactions to prevent a repeat of what happened in February. A choreography as impressive as what one saw could not have been spontaneous or the product of the goodwill of the moment. It had been prepared beforehand.

4.Mrs.Rao's emphasis was still on terrorism----but terrorism in general, but not terrorism in specific emanating from territory under the control of Pakistan and used by the State of Pakistan against India in an attempt to force a change of the status quo in Jammu & Kashmir. When Mr.Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, the emphasis was not on any terrorism, but on terrorism of Pakistani origin emanating from territory under the control of Pakistan and sponsored by the State of Pakistan. This emphasis found mention in the formulation accepted by Gen.Pervez Musharraf during his talks with Mr.Vajpayee at Islamabad in January 2004.

5. Since taking over as the Prime Minister in 2004, Dr.Manmohan Singh had been veering away from this formulation, slowly but steadily and this process was taken one step further during the just-concluded meeting of the two Foreign Secretaries. Will India's apparent gesture to Pakistan, which spares Islamabad the dilemma of having to cut off the links of the State with the LET and other like-minded Punjabi Taliban organisations, help in India's 30-year fight against terrorism sponsored by the state of Pakistan---- initially in Punjab, then in J&K and subsequently in the rest of India?

6. Dr.Manmohan Singh seems to be hopeful and even confident that it will. If it does, one may see a turn for the better in the bilateral relations. If it does not, it will not only add to the prevailing public distrust of Pakistan, but could even discredit Dr.Manmohan Singh and embarrass his party.

7. There are two questions involved in matters relating to terrorism. Should India continue to link the question of a resumption of the dialogue to Pakistan satisfying Indian expectations even before the talks begin? Our past policy of linkage, justified till now, has started yielding diminishing returns with no fresh ideas coming up. One can, therefore, justify the delinking of the terrorism issue from the question of a resumption of the dialogue. But Dr.Manmohan Singh has gone one step further by delinking the terrorism issue from the issue of the Pakistani sponsorship of it and from the progress on the ground during the process of the dialogue. What we have agreed to is a "comprehensive, sustained and substantial dialogue" irrespective of the progress on the question of Pakistani action in discarding terrorism.

8. Mr.Bashir's emphasis was strill on the dialogue process in general and the Kashmir issue in particular. He seemed inclined to give up expressions such as "a comprehensive dialogue", a "road-map" etc with which India seemed to be uncomfortable. Pakistan is still determined to achieve its objectives ( terrorism plus more river waters) relating to J&K -----through talks if possible and through terrorism, if necessary.

9. We have to keep the dialogue going. We have to continue the exercise for reducing distrust. At the same time, we have to ensure that our national interests are not jeopardised as a result of unwarranted concessions to Pakistan The talks can create an enduring partnership between the two countries only if they lead to a total Pakistani break with the use of terrorism as a State weapon and with a change in Pakistani focus from territory-related issues to questions having a bearing on the mutual economic and other interests of the people of the two countries.

10. How to conduct the dialogue in such a manner as to promote these objectives? That is the question which needs to be examined lucidly before our Foreign Minister goes to Islamabad on July 15 to meet his Pakistani counterpart in the next stage of the dialogue process. Mr.P.Chidambaram, our Home Minister, who arrived in Islamabad on June 25 for the SAARC Home Ministers’ meeting and bilateral discussions with Mr.Rehman Malik, the Pakistani Interior Minister, has kept a laser sharp focus on the terrorism issue even while welcoming the dialogue process. (26-6-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventytone2@gmail.com )



According to reliable sources in the Uighur diaspora in Pakistan, the authorities in some of the towns of the Xinjiang province have made it mandatory for all religious sermons to be approved in advance by the local officials of the Ministry of Public Security, which is responsible for internal intelligence and security. Prior permission of the Ministry is also required for holding any religious gathering. Members of the Communist Party of China have been banned from attending religious congregations.

2.Earlier, a directive issued by the Religious Affairs Department of Shayar county in the Aksu Prefecture of the Xinjinag province in April had stated as follows: " All religious groups must register with the village branch of the Religious Affairs Department, allow monthly inspections of religious sites and special meetings by authorities, and obtain prior approval of the content of any religious services. Before village members gather for worship, the Religious Affairs Department must review the content of the texts in question. An information officer for religious activities will verify the content of the texts and must be advised of the specific situation in which the texts will be used in worship."

3.According to the same sources in the Uighur diaspora of Pakistan, due to pressure from the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan's Ministry of the Interior has ordered the closure of the Omer Uighur Language School in Rawalpindi. The Chinese authorities have accused the school of having links with the Munich-based World Uighur Congress (WUC). The Chinese Embassy has advised the members of the Uighur diaspora in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad area that in future they should send their children to a school at Rawalpindi set up earlier this year by the Chinese Embassy.

4. In July 2007, the Chinese authorities had exercised pressure on the Government of Gen.Pervez Musharraf to organise a commando raid into the Lal Masjid and its two madrasas in the Islamabad area following the kidnapping of some Chinese employees of beauty parlours by the students of the madrasas. It was anger over this raid which led to the formation of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the wave of terrorist strikes by the TTP and other jihadi organisations. There were also attacks on some Chinese working in the Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa province and Balochistan.

5. In the past, the Chinese Embassy was insisting on action only against Uighurs in Pakistan suspected of supporting the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET), an associate of Al Qaeda.Now, they are insisting on action against Uighur supporters of the WUC too.

6.The Chinese Ministry of National Defence announced on June 24 that the third joint counter-terrorism exercise between the Chinese and Pakistani Armies will be held at Qingtongxia in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region from July 1 to 11. The first exercise was held in 2004, in Xinjiang's Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County bordering Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. About 200 soldiers from both countries participated. The second exercise was held in 2006 in the Abbottabad area of Pakistan. About 400 soldiers from both sides participated. The third exercise was to have been held in China in 2008, but was postponed for unexplained reasons. According to the Uighur sources, the authorities of the two countries were probably concerned that a joint exercise in the wake of the anger over the Chinese role in the Lal Masjid raid could lead to fresh attacks on Chinese nationals in Pakistan.

7.Though no joint exercise has been held since 2006, the close co-operation in counter-terrorism continues at two levels---between the two armies and between the Interior Ministry of Pakistan and the Ministry of Public Security of China. Mr.Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, had visited China in 2009 and again earlier this year to discuss counter-terrorism co-operation, including exchange of intelligence. China is reported to have pledged assistance amounting to more than US $ 300 million to enable Pakistan strengthen its counter-terrorism capacity.

8.The "Los Angeles Times" reported on May 25,2009, that the Obama Administration had appealed to China to provide training and even military equipment to help Pakistan counter a growing militant threat and that Mr.Richard C Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, had visited Beijing in this connection for talks with the Chinese authorities. According to unconfirmed reports, Abdul Haq Turkestani, the Amir of the IMET, was reported to have been killed in a US Drone (pilotless plane) strike in the North Waziristan area in February last. During his visit to China earlier this year, Mr.Rehman Malik claimed that this information was correct, but neither the US nor the IMET nor the Chinese have confirmed his reported death so far.

8. In December last, a mixed group of 20 Muslim and Christian Uighurs, helped by a Macau-based Christian organisation, had managed to reach Phnom-Penh in Cambodia from Xinjiang and sought political asylum from the local office of the UN High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR). Before the UNHCR office could intervene, the Cambodian authorities had them arrested and deported to China. Three Muslim members of this group have since been projected by the Chinese authorities as terrorists, who were members of the IMET.

9.Mr.Wu Heping, a spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, told a press conference at Beijing on June 24 that the authorities of the Ministry had arrested a group of over 10 Uighurs belonging to the IMET. The details of the arrested persons given at the press conference indicated that the terrorist cell which the Chinese claimed to have broken up included three Muslim members of the group which had sought political asylum from the UNHCR office in Phnom-Penh in December 2009. It is not known what happened to the other 17 handed over by the Cambodian authorities.

10. Two persons were killed in an explosion in an oil storage tank in the Midong area of Urumqi on June 22,2010. According to the local authorities, the explosion took place when some welding work was going on. However, they have stated that it has not yet been established whether the welding caused the explosion. ( 25-6-2010)

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

Outsourcing Indians for India

By Vijay Shertukde

“The innovation revolution” by Vivek Wadhwa is very interesting article. Recently I came across few such articles



The innovation revolution

claiming India to be a major global power, India as an innovative nation, India surging ahead, etc. These are all excellent articles with lots of research behind it. I commend the authors for their work. However, while reading these articles I strongly felt that we are missing one very important aspect. The write up below is an attempt to bring that aspect up front. In doing this I may be undermining some of the points discussed not only in the present article but also various articles I read before. I apologize up front and assure you that there is no intention to heart anybody’s feeling.

Let us look at India’s capabilities as identified in the present article:

  • Outsourcing - call centers doing low-level tech support and information technology IT.
  • world-class research and development (R&D) machine,
  • patient care for US hospitals,
  • optimize financial transactions for Australian banks,
  • streamline parts management for European engineering firm,
  • IT companies are developing mission-critical avionics systems,
  • next-generation telecom technologies,
  • complex medical device,

According to the contents of the article, India did this despite the limitations imposed by the country’s weak infrastructure and antiquated education system, and India has rapidly evolved into a global knowledge and innovation hub. They used techniques to improve their productivity such as:

  • Hiring for competence rather than skill
  • Employee training
  • employee development
  • Managerial development
  • Performance management

The article states that the answer lies in the ability of Indian entrepreneurs to rise above all the hurdles the government and society throw at them and this is India’s greatest innovation.

Wow, what a great achievement. Indians really take pride in serving other’s interests. They work for US and other nations, provide them intellectual labor, solve there hospital problems and financial problems, provide call centers or provide whatever help they need and then after the days toil has taken its toll Indians pat their own back and take pride in their achievement for what a great service they have done for others. Neither US, nor Australians, nor Canadians, nor UK, nor European nations care for India or their achievement as long as India keeps on providing them intellectual labor and solve their problems.

I do not want to get into politics but few examples will suffice to prove my point.

  • US still hesitate to support India to become a UNSC veto power in spite Condoleezza Rice in 2005 pledging to make India a great power.
  • US still help Pakistan with arms and money knowing that probably this help will be used against India and help promote terrorist activities in India
  • India has to go around US to stop China supplying Nuclear Reactor to Pakistan.
  • NPT fiasco is well known

The article accepts the fact that India has weak infrastructure and antiquated education system. India has many problems. It is a poor nation despite the fact that 25% of the population is extremely rich, but remaining 75% of the population is below poverty level. Literacy level is also low and India faces many social and religious issues.

The question that comes to mind, instead of helping others why not so called Indian intellectuals help India build better infrastructure, advance education system and provide support system to deal with social and religious issues.

Many of these articles like this article claim that India is doing fantastic, India has evolved into a global knowledge and innovation hub, India has become a world-class research and development (R&D) machine, and soon will become a major global power. Although most of these claims are true, let us be pragmatic; no one becomes a global power by serving the needs of other nations, or building the manufacturing facilities within India whose ownership lies with other nations. It is nice to have these capabilities, no one is denying that but India needs more. A servant is not a master. Master needs power, power needs strength. Strength comes from technological power, industries within the country, manufacturing capabilities within the country, not just a technological know how, IT capabilities and call centers.

Think for a moment, US retaliated when World Trade Centers were destroyed by terror attack. US took their army, navy, and air force to Iraq and Afghanistan. US did not need anybodies help. US have the manufacturing capabilities for warplanes, for naval ships, for ammunition, for missiles and whatever logistics that was required to continue and sustain the warfare thousands of miles away from the homeland. China, Israel, and many other nations also have similar capabilities.

Can India claim these capabilities or just bask in the glory of their achievements for their global knowledge and innovation, for the call centers, for their world-class research and development (R&D) machine, for helping patients in US hospitals and optimizing financial transactions for Australian banks or streamlining parts management for European engineering firm.

As a visionary one must ask questions- can India build a better infrastructure with all the innovative knowledge and technical knowhow they possess. Can India establish a better education system to reduce the level of illiteracy? How many ammunition factories are there in India, what type of war planes can they manufacture, what missiles and tanks can they produce, what kind of weaponry logistics they have in case of prolonged warfare without depending on other countries? Can they sustain a war with China or Pakistan? Can India maintain the border integrity?

Unless we respond to all these issues there is no point talking about India as a major world power or India as likely to become the world’s second-largest R&D centre or taking pride in global knowledge or call centers. Because all India is doing is solving the problems of other nations, providing probably cheap labor to other nations, while India’s internal problems and issues are slowly ruining the country.

These articles make India look glorious, but with this self basking glorification India is becoming sluggish and lazy. India is loosing a desire to become a powerful nation. India is loosing the real perspective. I can imagine a boy or girl from India taking pride in such achievements. But academia and intellectuals should go beyond that. India needs self sustaining capabilities to face any emergencies, military or otherwise, to become a major world power. India possesses excellent technical knowhow and innovativeness to attack any issues whether they are military issues, technical issues, manufacturing issues, educational issues or social issues. India should make use of it to make the country stronger.

Looking back at the history one incident comes to mind that happened when Shree Atal Bihari Bajpai ji was the Prime Minister of India. Approximately 250000 Indian soldiers were on the Pakistan border ready for the battle that never took place. What happened? All of us may have different answers. No one knows for sure. One could guess that Shree Atal ji may have realized that India dose not have adequate supply of warfare logistics to sustain the war over a long period of time while China and US could provide continuous supply of warfare equipments to Pakistan. He might have saved India’s honor by accepting the blame. It is a courageous act. It is very easy to blame the leader of the country, call them coward, but the truth is difficult to swallow.

Therefore, India should now focus on some real issues, revive education system, build infrastructure, build more manufacturing facilities for all kinds of product including items required for warfare activities. Then only India becomes a strong nation. The time is now for India to take a step back from outsourcing the brains to other countries and utilize the brainpower to promote real internal growth in which India’s future generation can take real pride.

It may not be an easy task. It is also not prudent to cut back from the present activities. Although this write up criticizes some of the achievements, author is fully aware that efforts in the past by outsourcing and carrying out similar activities have provided India with a strong platform, knowledge and experience that India can use to build self sustainable India. India could not have progressed from under developed third world country to such advanced stage to claim India as innovative nation or entered in the arena of major global power without the experience and knowledge acquired through these activities of outsourcing, call centers, doing low-level tech support, and information technology IT. But times are changing. India just cannot sit back and continue doing what they are doing now. India may do well by diverting their focus.

India is facing complex challenges with the global politics of the 21st century. Power politics, nuclear issues, terrorism, cultural or civilizational clashes are emerging in the global world politics. India will have to deal with them if necessary with military response, including prolonged wars in their backyard. It may become absolutely necessary to divert India’s brain power from call center, financial IT programs, and telecom technologies to more complex internal issues and military technologies to respond to these challenges. India should establish a better education system; build a better infrastructure; establish their own major industries and factories to produce goods, build ammunition factories, war planes, missiles, tanks. The innovation revolution of the emerging India will have to discover out of the box solution to deal with the challenges of the 21st century.

If you have any ideas how India can do that, please respond to this write up


. I would like to hear from all of you, Indian citizens, NRIs, OCIs, friends of India. But one thing for sure, India needs to focus the attention on these tasks to make the country self sufficient and strong. Then India can discuss to become a global world power and outsource their innovative brain power to resolve the issues of other nations.

Vijay Shertukde



The EU’s expulsion machine

Fortress Europe sets its ramparts further out


A new detention centre at Le Mesnil-Amelot on the periphery of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport (postponed at the last minute) was to be part of the ever-growing expulsion machine; control of migrants is now coordinated at European level by deals that shift the surveillance of frontiers towards the East and South. The cost in human lives is rising

by Alain Morice and Claire Rodier

The world’s democracies unanimously welcomed the fall of the Berlin Wall as a victory for freedom 20 years ago; article 13 of the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights – “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own” – would finally be upheld. The Council of Europe congratulated itself in 1991 that “political changes now allow for free movement throughout Europe, which is a fundamental condition for the survival and development of free societies and flourishing cultures.” It was not long before the fallout from this freedom frightened Europeans. Initially, it was stressed that, “the right to free movement as set out by international conventions does not imply the freedom to settle in another country”. There was concern about “the spectacular rise in the number of asylum seekers in western Europe and some central European countries who have been tempted to use the Geneva Convention to bypass immigration restrictions” (1).

New fronts appeared at the end of the cold war and along them, ramparts real and virtual were thrown up, all formidable. In the East, the EU negotiated enlargement in return for a commitment by new member states to control their borders. Every state had to build its own Berlin Wall. For countries around the Mediterranean, the 1999 European summit at Tampere had already advocated “regional cooperation between EU member states and neighbouring third countries in the fight against organised crime”, including people trafficking.

Migrants are called stowaways or victims, but are severely reprimanded as soon as they help each other, as though they were people smugglers. They have now become the target of a discourse that justifies combating them to help them. The summit of heads of state at Seville in June 2002 made the fight against illegal immigration the EU priority in its negotiations with neighbouring countries.

As a result, Old Europe, considering itself unable to control its borders, has scorned existing international accords, and set out to unload this task onto migrants’ countries of origin or transit. The research network Migreurop has popularised the term “outsourcing”, borrowed from economics, to describe these obstacles to the free movement stipulated by international treaties.

The external borders of the Schengen area (see main map) now benefit from a second, outer perimeter, which depends on the collaboration of third countries. Called the “external dimension of immigration and asylum” policy by the 2004 Hague programme (2), outsourcing has many ideological excuses. In reality, its purpose is to transfer border controls to non-European states within a partnership that is as opaque as it is unfair. But the leaders of the 27 EU countries see it as their duty to present the matter as the concerted management of immigration flow.

Outsourcing means putting in place a flexible system that consistently moves a little further away from the EU’s borders, through expatriating controls and subcontracting the fight against illegal immigration. What is lost is the right to asylum – although all EU countries have committed themselves to respecting it by ratifying the Geneva Convention on refugees – and the right to leave “any country including one’s own”, found in several international treaties.

As early as the 1990s, the EU sent technical advisers abroad, especially to EU accession countries, to block migration at source. A network of immigration liaison officers was formally established in 2004 with the objective of “helping to prevent and combat illegal immigration, return illegal immigrants and manage illegal immigration”. Immigration was labelled illegal before it happened. The main task of these liaison officers has been to assist local authorities in verifying the validity of travel documents in airports, which can lead to the sovereignty of the country of departure being flouted.

Strong deterrent

In 2001 an EU directive established a system of financial sanctions against haulage contractors found guilty of moving people whose passports or visas were invalid. These sanctions are a strong deterrent, with fines of up to $630,000, and the return of any intercepted people being billed to the company. They force staff without special training to carry out pre-boarding screening of travellers. This privatisation of controls reduces screening on arrival. It has serious consequences where it affects the departure of asylum seekers in need of protection. In principle, their lack of papers or visas cannot be held against them once they have arrived in the host country – if they can reach it. In August 2007 seven Tunisian fishermen were found guilty and imprisoned by an Italian judge for abetting illegal immigration. Their boats were confiscated. They had rescued a small craft that was sinking and transported its passengers to the closest port, Lampedusa in Sicily, as stipulated by maritime law (3).

Since 2005 the EU agency Frontex has coordinated interceptions between the coast of Africa and the Canary Islands, and in the Strait of Sicily. Last year the Spanish prime minister José Luis Zapatero congratulated himself on having halved the number of illegal arrivals in Spain by sea. But mortality rates among migrants, at sea or in the desert, have not fallen (see small maps, bottom of page). Reinforced departure barriers certainly force migrants to turn to circuitous, and more dangerous, routes. Nobody knows how potential asylum seekers are identified during Frontex interventions, although this identification is theoretically mandatory under European norms. The decentralisation symbolised by Frontex takes place beyond any democratic oversight, and it also enables European countries to evade the obligations that apply to their territory because of commitments made to fundamental rights.

The outsourcing of border controls runs through the global partnership with countries of origin and transit consecrated by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum concluded between the 27 members in 2008. The pact was initiated by France, which at the time held the EU presidency and had made the fight against uncontrolled immigration its pet subject. In the name of “synergy between migration and development”, the treaty obliges the countries from which migrants come, or through which they pass, to become border guards. They are compelled to protect Europe’s boundaries in exchange for financial or political compensation.

The advanced status that Morocco was granted by the EU in 2008 rewards a country that did not stint in its efforts in migration management. In autumn 2005 some 20 sub-Saharan migrants trying to cross the Spanish-Moroccan border fence at Ceuta and Melilla died from falls, suffocation or bullets fired by the Moroccan army (4). This and the ensuing deadly relocations into the desert beside the (closed) Algerian border had extensive media coverage arranged by the Moroccan government, anxious to show its zeal. The tragedy off al-Hoceima in northeast Morocco on 28 April 2008 had less press coverage: some 30 people, including four children, drowned after their rubber craft was – according to witness statements – deliberately pierced by the police. No independent enquiry has been able to shed light on this.

See maps

The readmission agreements signed with neighbouring countries are a key element. To be able to expel from European soil a foreigner whose residence papers are not in order, he must be recognised by his country of origin or the last country he passed through. European states are aware that third countries see little interest in accepting the return of their citizens and even less the return of migrants who merely transited. They have therefore thrown themselves into a never-ending cycle of deals, which has led to corruption and a general decline of rights in Senegal, Ukraine and some Balkan states (5).

The right to asylum is a direct victim of the war of the EU and its member states against asylum seekers. Those who might be eligible for refugee status are deprived of the possibility of demanding it by being repulsed or retained in buffer countries, tasked to protect Fortress Europe. The EU pretends to believe, in the name of burden sharing, that the asylum seekers it no longer wants to accept will be hosted in good conditions by allies whose cooperation it has bought. It encourages xenophobia against people resented and forced to live precariously in countries that have neither the logistical capacity nor the political will to integrate refugees.

The EU has also encouraged – and financed – the development of retention camps. Since 2004, these have been built in the Ukraine, which has at least signed the Geneva convention on refugees. That is not the case with Libya, where the ill-treatment of migrants and refugees is well documented. And yet, since May 2009, Italy has been driving immigrants’ boats back to the Libyan authorities, violating international maritime law and the principle of no return, which makes it illegal to return persons who might require protection (6).

Co-development myth

These are principles that the EU must uphold as part of its commitment to fundamental rights. Yet the violations were perpetrated by a member state without provoking any reaction. In July 2009 the European Commission suggested to Libya that it cooperate in an effort to create a joint balanced management of migration, while the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offered to act as a mediator for a humanitarian management of detention centres.

The EU’s partnership with third countries not only violates the rights of refugees but seriously threatens a fundamental freedom: that of being able to come and go. The concept of co-development, which might seem generous in associating migration with development, aids this decline. Officially, border security issues are only a part of co-development, but in reality they are predominant: many of the measures planned and monies promised concern the fight against illegal immigration (illegal as viewed from the incoming side). This April the president of Mali, having listened to his diaspora, protested against migrants being systematically escorted back to the border.

The co-development discourse makes unilateral European decisions palatable for populations suddenly described as “players in their own development”, and propagates the idea, not just in Europe but also at the points of departure, that the development of countries of origin will halt illegal immigration. In fact, a country’s economic takeoff encourages its population to be more mobile. And as for aid, this is often misappropriated by leaders. But it is an efficient trick because these countries do lock down their borders and transform themselves into prisons for their own nationals to carry out screening work.

These are the results of the cooperation between Spain and some of its African neighbours: in Algeria and Morocco, illegal emigration is a crime punishable by law, while in Senegal it is punished de facto. Locals are not fooled by this reverse blockade. As the Senegalese daily Le Soleil put it on the eve of the 2006 EU-African conference in Rabat, outsourcing means that Europe is closing our borders.

Alain Morice is an anthropologist with the CNRS, Paris; Claire Rodier is a lawyer with Gisti and vice-president of Migreurop

(1) Conclusions of the fourth conference of European ministers in charge of immigration, Luxemburg, 1991.

(2) Five-year plan establishing the EU’s priorities. See “The Hague Programme : strengthening freedom, security and justice in the European Union” (PDF).

(3) See Philippe Rekacewicz, “Migrations, sauvetage en mer et droits humains”, Visions cartographiques, 27 September 2009.

(4) See Behzad Yaghmaian, “At the gates of paradise”, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, September 2007.

(5) See “Open letter about readmission agreements”, Migreurop.

(6) Report on Italy (PDF) by the Committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (CPT) of the Council of Europe, 28 April 2010.