November 27, 2009
The Indian Community in Myanmar is one of those forgotten children of Mother India. The tragic status of the community has not been sufficiently brought to light by any institution in India..
The Singhvi Committee Report:
According to the Singhvi Committee Report, the total Indian population in Myanmar is estimated to be 2.9 million, of which 2,500,00 are People of Indian Origin (PIO), 2,000 are Indian citizens, and 400,000 are stateless.1 Regarding the Stateless category, it must be mentioned that all of them are born in Myanmar, they belong to the third or fourth generation. But since they do not have any “documents to prove their citizenship under the Burmese citizenship law of 1982” they are deemed to be “stateless.”2 As T. P. Sreenivasan, former Indian Ambassador to Myanmar has pointed out “they had no rights either in the land of their origin or in their land of adoption, and neither the two governments seemed concerned.”3 In fact, of the Indian diaspora, Myanmar has the largest number of “stateless” people.
Historically, like other parts of Southeast Asia, Burma came under the spell of Indian cultural influences. Thanks to priests, princes, poets, and artists, the Indian culture spread into Burma in a big way; the spread of Buddhism directly from India and indirectly through Ceylon profoundly influenced all aspects of Burmese life.
If one leaves aside this glorious chapter in the history of India, the contacts with the outside world, especially during the colonial period, had been accompanied by sorrow, misery, and impoverishment. Imperialist domination made India the pivot of the British Empire and the vast reservoir of manpower were exploited to serve the colonial interests of Britain. Large armies of labourers, soldiers, clerks, and traders migrated to different parts of the Empire to serve the politico-economic interests of Britain. Few money lenders and educated people also went to those countries on their own initiative.
Indigenous and Alien Minorities
An important clue to the understanding of modern Burmese history is to keep in mind the demographic and ethnic diversity in the country. With more than 100 ethnic groups, languages, and dialects, no other country in Southeast Asia displays such a diversity. It is a veritable kaleidoscope. Historically Burma had been the buffer among the neighbouring countries of China, India, and Thailand.
More than 2,000 years of cultural interaction among various races and ethnic groups has resulted in the development of diverse ethnic settlements, residing both in the mountainous frontier zones and lowland plains. Burma has a population of 56 million, the majority Burman number nearly two-thirds. The largest minorities are Shan – 9 per cent and Karen – 7 per cent. Other indigenous minority groups include Mon, Rakhine, Chin, Kachin, Kayan, Danu, Akha, Kokang, Lahu, Rohingyia, Tavoyan, and Wa peoples. They constitute nearly 5 per cent of the population.
Until the annexation of Burma as an integral part of the Indian Empire in 1886, the country had never existed as a unified State. What is more, the British permitted many indigenous groups living in the frontier areas to have their own administrative set up. It was only after independence that the Government made attempts to integrate the various ethnic groups into one nation. The nation-building experiment was based on the language, culture, and religion of the majority Burmans. This policy was resisted by the minority groups, many of them belonging to the Christian faith. The post-independence history of Burma is full of struggles by the minority groups for autonomy and self-determination.
The Chinese and the Indians who migrated to Burma under the protective umbrella of the British rule are considered to be alien minorities, unlike the ethnic groups mentioned before, who are indigenous minorities. It may also be pointed out that the history of Myanmar is riddled with two types of struggles, one fight against the military junta for restoration of democracy and the struggle by the minorities for autonomy and self-determination. The problems of the alien minority groups – Indians and the Chinese – for citizenship and fair treatment have not attracted the attention that they richly deserve.
The Chinese have one advantage, compared to the Indians, though their number is less than that of the Indians, they have far greater economic clout and they own a disproportionate share of the Burmese economy. The good relations between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the military junta have also led to a situation where their problems are attended to with greater sensitivity by the military rulers. According to media reports, the number of Chinese has been increasing in the country with many of them settling down in the Burmese side of the Sino-Burma border.
Indians not Homogenous
The geographical contiguity, with India sharing both land and maritime boundaries with Burma, facilitated large-scale migration of Indians into Burma. Though the term Indians encompassed all sections of people who migrated from British India – which today consists of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal – the Indians were not a homogenous group. In terms of religion, there were Hindus, Moslems, Sikhs, and Christians. In terms of language, there were Bengalis, Hindi-speaking people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, Tamil-, Telugu-, and Malayalam-speaking people from the former Madras Presidency and Punjabi-speaking people from Punjab. They belonged to various caste groups and were also economically stratified, the rich Chettiars, the poor Tamils, and Hindi-speaking people, and the English educated middle classes from all parts of the country.
What must be remembered is that the Burmese perception of Indians depended upon which strata of society various Indian groups occupied in the Burmese society. The Burmese had contempt for the poor Indians, who monopolised jobs such as scavenging, rickshaw pulling, and other menial jobs, which the Burmans themselves were reluctant to do. They hated the Chettiars, who lent money at exorbitant rates and gradually became absentee landlords in Lower Burma.
Social tensions began to build up when the Moslems from Bengal began to marry Burmese women, exploiting the simple traditions of the Burmese. Since Islamic law permitted polygamy, intermarriages became a common practice among the Indian Moslems. What added fuel to the fire was the fact that many of them deserted their wives when they returned to their native villages. The educated Indians, who became doctors, lawyers, teachers, and political leaders, were an object of envy and admiration and there was friendly interaction between the Indian and Burmese intelligentsia. The Burmese nationalist leaders had great admiration for leaders like Gandhiji and Nehru and the educated Indian middle classes represented the best of Indian nationalist traditions.
Indian Influx into Burma
Condemned and despised in their native villages, whether in Bengal, Bihar, United Provinces, and Madras Presidency, the Indian working classes braved the seas, provided the much needed labour to clear the swamps in Lower Burma and malaria-infested jungles and in that process also became the most exploited and vulnerable section of the Indian population. The laissez-faire policies of the British Raj and the xenophobic and ultra-nationalist policies of the governments in independent Burma have contributed to this unprecedented saga of human misery.
As the nationalist movement in Burma began to gather momentum, it also took an anti-Indian dimension. The alienation of vast tracts of agricultural land to Indian Chettiars, the Burmese entry into the labour markets following the depression of the 1930s, which was hitherto an exclusive Indian domain; the opening of the University of Rangoon and consequent turning out of Burmese graduates searching for clerical jobs – all these provided the fertilizer for the growth of anti-Indian sentiments. There were large scale riots against the Indians in the 1930s, due to social, economic, and cultural reasons. The Burmese nationalists wanted freedom not only from the British political domination but they were also equally keen to throw out the yoke of Indian economic stranglehold.
The period of Japanese Occupation, 1942–45, was the darkest period in the history of the Indian community in Burma. The war entirely destroyed the pre-war economy and the commanding position which the Indian community enjoyed. Some Chettiars saw the writing on the wall and even before the war began they repatriated their vast wealth from the country. The majority of Indians suffered untold misery and hardship. Nearly 500,000 Indians left the country and out of these nearly half of them died on the way. Those who were left in Rangoon joined the Indian National Army in large numbers. At a later period, they also supported the Burmese demand for independence.
Introduction Of Citizenship Rules and Land Reforms
The independent Government of Burma introduced large number of progressive measures to give the land back to the tiller. These measures naturally hit the interests of Chettiars very badly. The Standard Rent Act, Tenancy Disposal Act, Agricultural Debt Relief Act, Land Nationalisation Act, Agricultural Bank Act, and Burma Foreigners Act – all these had the cumulative effect of depriving the Chettiars of their enormous wealth. No one, with a tinge of social conscience, could protest against these progressive measures. At the same time, the compensation paid to the landlords was meagre; what is more, the Chettiars found it difficult to repatriate their money into India due to stringent foreign exchange restrictions.
When the new Constitution was promulgated, it was stipulated that those who had been in continuous residence in Burma for eight out of the past ten years immediately preceding war years were eligible for citizenship. But the immediate prospects of stability in the country were so uncertain that most Indians preferred to sit on the fence and did not apply for citizenship
Adding to the political uncertainty was the assassination of Aung San, who was generally considered to be a great friend of India and the Indian community. Only 400,000 applications were received for citizenship and out of these only 10,000 were granted Burmese citizenship. The rest were treated as aliens. When the Government introduced Burmanisation of public services in the 1950s large number of Indians employed in the railways, water transport, customs, post and telegraph, and public works and other departments were retrenched. In the 1960s under the Burmese Socialist Programme, the government even nationalized petty trade. These measures sounded the death knell of the poorer sections of the Indian community in Burma. To add insult to injury, they were not even allowed to bring back their savings to India. Women were not even allowed to take back their Mangalyasutra. The repatriates also complained of demonetization of currency notes, expropriation of properties, confiscation of valuables, and unimaginable humiliations. According to the Policy Note issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu, from June 1963 onwards, 1,44,353 Burmese repatriates have returned to India.4 What is more tragic, even after the lapse of forty-five years, the compensations due to these people have not been settled.
Annadurai’s Initiative to Settle Compensation
C.N. Annadurai, who became the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu when the DMK was voted to power in the 1967 elections, was very concerned about the developments in Burma and was keen to resolve the issue of compensation expeditiously. In a conversation with the author, Thomas Abraham, then Minister Counsellor in the Indian Embassy in Rangoon, recalled his meeting with Annadurai in the Chief Minister’s residence in Mambalam. The meeting was arranged through the good offices of common friends. After discussing the pros and cons of the matter, Annadurai wrote a letter to the central government suggesting that India should enter into a long term agreement with Burma for the import of rice and the compensation due to Burmese repatriates could be adjusted in the proposed deal. It may be recalled that during 1967 India was facing an acute crisis in food grains. On his return to Rangoon, Thomas Abraham also made a similar proposal to the Ministry of External Affairs. It is unfortunate, but true, that these concrete proposals did not elicit any favourable response from New Delhi
New Delhi’s Hands off Policy Towards The Indian Community in Myanmar
The author had discussions with several Indian diplomats based in Rangoon as to why the issue of the status of the “stateless people” of Indian origin in Myanmar never figured in the bilateral discussions between the two countries. Ambassador Parthsarathy, who along with J.N. Dixit, played a big role in re-establishing cordial relations with the military junta, informed the author that after establishing good rapport with the military junta, he wanted to take up the question of stateless people and arrive at an amicable solution.
Attempts made by Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan to kindle interest in the subject turned out to be a futile exercise. In his recently published memoirs, Words, Words, Words: Adventures in Indian Diplomacy, T.P. Sreenivasan has described the consequences of New Delhi’s “hands off policy” with regard to the Indian community in Myanmar. Though the Ne Win government expelled the Indian petty traders, the authorities wanted the Indian farmers to stay back to provide continuity in rice cultivation. When Sreenivasan visited them, he found the farmers had become “totally impoverished.” Their quality of life was “extremely poor.” Ironically they did not have even “rice to eat” as the procurement authorities “lifted their produce wholly.” They had to consume low-quality rice, which the State did not want to procure for export.5
Future of Indian Community in Myanmar
Two contrasting views about the prospects of the Indian community in Myanmar are given below, one by a Burmese bureaucrat and the other from the Singhvi Committee Report. Thet Lwin, who is a member of the Myanmar Academy of Arts and Science, Ministry of Education, Government of Myanmar, in a recent essay on Indians in Myanmar has presented an optimistic view. To quote Thet Lwin, “Indian presence in Burma is a historical legacy; a section of Myanmar’s Indian community is engaged in business while a majority is in agriculture or in menial labour … The younger generation through education is moving fast towards integration into the mainstream Myanmar society. The rise of India has a profound impact on the image-building attempts of overseas Indians. For Myanmar Buddhists, India is the place for pilgrimage, and for those of Indian stock, it is the country of their forefathers. Culture and religious links could be strengthened by promoting tourism.”6
Unlike the above statement, which is couched in the best diplomatic parlance, but which hides the actual reality, the comments made in the Singhvi Committee Report reflects the reality. To quote the Singhvi Committee Report, the Indians are “fairly impoverished in Myanmar,” the more prosperous elements having left, following waves of nationalization and other measures which hurt their livelihood. The educational scene is pathetic. At one time, the faculty and alumni of the University of Rangoon comprised mainly of Indians. Today, “there are hardly any Indian students in the Universities,” and results in a virtual extinction of a professional class. The main reason was that “between 1964 and 1988, Indians were denied admission to the Universities and professional courses.”7
In early January 2010, the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas will be celebrated with great pomp and splendour. The ministers of the Central Government, the concerned government officials, and the assembled delegates will harp on the necessity to speed up the administrative procedures relating to Overseas Indian citizenship. In June 2010, the DMK government in Tamil Nadu will be organizing another equally important conference in Coimbatore on Tamil as a classical language. True to Dravidian traditions, Chief Minister Karunanidhi and his loyal lieutenants will sing paeans of praise about the greatness of Tamil Language and how Tamil culture has spread and enriched the traditions of several countries in the world. Will the delegates in these two conferences have the time to discuss about the abject living conditions of the Indian community in Myanmar, many of them Tamil-speaking people of Indian Origin? Unlikely, because New Delhi and Tamil Nadu are more keen to provide legitimacy to the authoritarian government in Myanmar. Naturally they will not like to focus on embarrassing issues, which impinge upon bilateral relations such as the plight of the unfortunate children of Mother India.
(Dr. V. Suryanarayan is Senior Professor (Retd), Centre for South and Southeast Asian Studies, University of Madras. He can be reached at e-mail email@example.com)
1. Singhvi Committee Report, pp. xvii–xx.
2. T.P. Sreenivasan, Words, Words, Words: Adventures in Indian Diplomacy (New Delhi: Pearson Longman, 2008), p. 198.
5. Sreenivasan, Words, Words, Words, pp. 195–202.
6. Thet Lwin, “Indians in Myanmar,” K. Kesavapani, A. Mani, and P. Ramasamy, Eds., Rising India and Indian Communities in East Asia (Singapore: ISEAS, 2008), pp. 485–98.
7. Singhvi Committee Report, pp. 259–62.
President Barack Obama is expected to announce on December 1,2009, a mid-course correction in his strategy to win the campaign against the Taliban in the Af-Pak region. One has been promised a comprehensive strategy which would focus equally on the military and non-military components of the fight with the objective of winning it in a foreseeable time-frame.
2. The campaign, launched in October,2001, by the previous Administration of George Bush under the code-name Operation Enduring Freedom, has already lasted eight years. No end is in sight. In the meanwhile, there are indications of a growing fatigue in public opinion over a campaign that seems to be leading nowhere.
3. Battle fatigue of the NATO forces is what the Taliban and Al Qaeda want. There are signs in plenty of such fatigue. The fatigue is presently confined to sections of the civil society. If it spreads to the security forces, the campaign will be unwinnable.
4. While Obama has promised a comprehensive strategy and is taking his time to formulate it without being hustled by critics and detractors, much of the discussion and speculation in the US is focussed on one aspect---- the likely surge in the troop strength.
5. If a surge alone can win the campaign, a decision ought to be easy.Unfortunately, neither surges nor body counts determine the course of a campaign and its ultimate outcome. Without better tactics and better understanding of the adversary's tactics, no war or military campaign can be won whatever be the number of troops at one's disposal.
6. The question of the appropriateness of the tactics currently followed by the US troops in the Af-Pak region has hardly figured in the various reports submitted by the US military commanders on the ground to the Pentagon and in the discussions preceding a decision by the President.
7. While the Taliban in Afghanistan has been following a variable modus operandi in respect of its terrorist attacks through suicide bombers, its MO in relation to its insurgent attacks has shown hardly any variation. The MO of its insurgent attacks can be described as follows: avoid a frontal confrontation with a superior enemy on the offensive, withdraw, bide your time, regroup and attack by surprise. Territorial control is an objective of only variable importance. Where territorial control could mean large casualties and a large commitment of insurgent forces to safeguard territorial control, there is no hesitation in abandoning it.
8. This a much tried and often successful MO of many insurgent organisations from the days of the Vietcong in Vietnam and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviet troops. The US troops have been countering this MO in the same way as they did in Vietnam and the Soviet troops did in Afghanistan.
9. Is there an unconventional response to the conventional insurgent tactics of the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan? How to create battle fatigue in the Taliban and Al Qaeda? How to deny them sanctuaries and opportunities for re-grouping? What will be more effective---a large number of troops with advantages of numbers and better equipment centrally commanded and controlled or a large number of small groups of special forces such as the Green Berets operating autonomously of each other and enjoying operational flexibility? How to modify the current centralised command and control to suit such operational autonomy and flexibility?
10. To win the campaign against the Taliban in its territory where the US forces are strangers, the surprise element is important. The frequent Drone strikes from the air provide one such surprise element which has been effective time and again, but there is hardly any surprise element on the ground because of the continuing emphasis on large forces fighting set-piece battles.
11. The Af-Pak region is not the place for set-piece, predictable battle tactics. What is required is battle tactics of growing unpredictability to the Taliban that will confuse it, impose on it a high rate of attrition and ultimately lead to battle fatigue in its ranks.
12. One cannot expect Obama and his advisers to discuss battle tactics in public, but greater attention needs to be paid to it than seems to be the case till now. (27-11-09)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Qurratulain Zaman, 27 November 2009
Brutal rule by Pakistan’s security agencies in Balochistan has radicalised moderate Balochs in this largest and poorest province. Now Pakistan’s government has offered a conciliation package. But it looks as if it is too little, too late.
About the author
Qurratulain Zam is a journalist who has worked with Pakistan’s leading daily “Daily Times” and Germany’s international broadcaster “Deutsche Welle”. She is currently working as a freelancer in Bonn, Germany“They ordered me to rape her. She was so thin and was crying when they brought her in the room. I was terrified to look at her, as I thought she was a spy or an agent”, says Munir Mengal, a 33- year- old Baloch, living in forced exile in Paris.
Munir Mengal spent 16 months in underground jails of the Pakistani intelligence agencies. “The low rank officers came back to the room and started beating me because I didn’t obey their orders. They took off my clothes by force, and hers too, and left us alone. In her sobs I heard her praying in Balochi language. She was praying for someone named Murad. That’s how I got to know she is my fellow Baloch. That gave me the courage to talk to her.” Munir says that, still sobbing, she told him her name was Zarina Marri. She used to be a school teacher. She and her son Murad, who was only a few months old, were picked up by the intelligence agencies from Kohlu.
Munir said, “Zarina was crying and asking me to kill her. Meanwhile, 3 or 4 low-ranking officers came in the room with a toolbox and told me that if I refused to rape her they would make me impotent. I didn’t have a clue why they were doing this to me. I fainted. In the morning, before the faj’r prayer they kicked me and took Zarina Marri with them. I have no idea what happened to her.”
Munir said he was tortured physically, mentally and emotionally every day. A chartered accountant by education and training, Munir wanted to open up a Baloch TV channel in Pakistan. He was working on his TV channel “Baloch Voice”, when he was picked up for the first time when he flew into Karachi international airport on April 4, 2006.
“After 5 months in an underground jail in Malir (Karachi), one day they took me to Major Nadeem’s office. He said they hadn’t found anything against me and wanted to negotiate with me.” The Military Intelligence (MI) officers informed Munir they had changed their plans. “They were going to take me to meet President Pervez Musharraf. They trained me how to talk to the president. They told me I had to address him as ‘your Excellency’ and should not tell him anything about what had happened to me in the torture cell”, remembered Munir. “On October 26, they gave me a haircut, new clothes and blindfolded me. Then they took me to some military barracks to meet the then president, Pervez Musharraf.”
Munir said the president expressed concern about the Balochistan issue. “He said he would take care of my family’s future now, although according to him I was becoming more dangerous than the Baloch rebel leaders Nawab Akbar Bugti and Attaullah Khan Mengal. He said it was just a few sardars, tribal leaders, who were making things bad in Balochistan with foreign aid. “I stayed quiet most of the time”, says Munir.
“They offered to make me the liberal, educated voice of Balochistan against the sardars. They said the’d give me and my family full protection. But I refused to become a part of their game. That is why in the end I fled Pakistan.”
Munir Mengal’s is not an isolated story.
The largest province of Pakistan, Balochistan is witnessing its 5th insurgency since 1947. Many Balochs say that their region was annexed by Pakistan. They believe the centre and the most populous province Punjab has usurped their resources. It is the most impoverished and underdeveloped province of Pakistan. Balochs will tell you, for example, that although vast amounts of gas are extracted from Sui, Balochistan, there are many parts of the province without gas until today.
The Baloch nationalists kept demanding autonomy and an equal share in the resources. However, they never got it. The Pakistan federal government distributes resources on the basis of population, and Balochistan accounts for only four percent of Pakistan’s population.
24 year old Shahzeb is a law student. He was picked up by the intelligence agencies in March this year. In their traditionally decorated first floor living room in Balochistan’s capital, Quetta, Shahzeb’s mother said “We were worried about Shahzeb’s life. My family and I prayed every day for him.” Shahzeb was taking his sister-in-law to a neighbouring district in Quetta when he was picked up. “They tortured me every day”, said Shahzeb Baloch. “During interrogation, my hands were tied and I was blindfolded. They asked me questions about the Baloch liberation movement. They kept accusing me of being an agent of the Indian intelligence agency RAW and insisted that I had provided weapons to militants.”
Shahzeb was careful not to share details about his three months’ ordeal in the military detention centre in front of his mother. He switched to English in her presence. “I don’t want to repeat all these things in front of her. She starts crying. They released me on the condition that I won’t get involved in student politics.”
Both Munir and Shahzeb said that they came across many Baloch detainees in the military-run secret jails - Munir under the military dictatorship of Musharraf, and Shahzeb after the civilian government had taken over last year. According to the Baloch Women’s Panel and the Baloch Student Organization (BSO), 4,000 Baloch are still missing. Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said this week that the government had a list of 1,011 missing people.
Most observers agree that things became worse in Balochistan during the Musharraf years, after Musharraf sent the army in against the Baloch tribes. Nawab Akbar Bugti, head of the Bugti clan, a former chief minister and governor of the province in his eighties, was forced to hide in a mountain cave and finally killed in an airstrike by the Pakistan air force.
Suriya Ameeruddin is a senator from the ruling Pakistan People’s Party in Balochistan. “A few years ago, we used to live in harmony, in peace. Pashtuns, Baloch, Hazaras and Punjabis - all of us used to live next to each other but since the day Pervez Musharraf martyred our Nawab Sahib, the situation has turned violent”, she said.
Relations between the different ethnic groups have become bitter. Senator Suriya Ameeruddin is not an ethnic Baloch, but a “settler” in Quetta. But she lives in a Baloch-populated area. “Every day when my son and daughter- in- law leave for work I am afraid. Boys come on motorcycles in busy markets and residential areas, kill and vanish. Not a single ‘target killer’ has been caught so far. No one has the courage to catch them. It’s the law of the jungle here.”
Quetta looks like a war-zone, with army checkpoints even in the markets and parks. The city is clearly divided in two parts. One is the “cantonment” fully controlled by the army and paramilitary forces; the other area is a stronghold of Baloch separatist groups – like Balochistan University.
A 24- year- old former president of the Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) said, ‘’you feel you are entering a garrison, not a university. Pakistan’s security agencies have left us no political way forward. They have radicalised all the liberal forces by torturing them.’’
According to him, the BSO serves as a nursery for nationalists who are in hiding or fighting in the mountains. The student leader’s father was an active member of the established Balochistan National Party (BNP), which traditionally stood by Pakistan, while demanding more rights for the Balochs. But he and his brothers advocate a “free” Balochistan. ‘’We have convinced our father after long fights and arguments. Today he is a radical like me.’’
Not long ago, the student was a patriotic Pakistani. He had a poster of a war hero, Captain Karnel Sher Khan as a teenager. “Pakistan needs to reflect upon what made me hate Pakistan”, he said. “They make us feel that we are slaves. I can wear western clothes and move freely in the city but if I’m wearing my baggy Baloch shalwar, they’ll strip search me.”
The one and a half year old democratic government has finally tabled the long awaited Balochistan package named “a beginning of Balochistan rights” in the national assembly this week. Prime Minister Gilani promised to bring back the missing people to their families, to re-integrate exiled Baloch leaders into the political scene and to withdraw the army and paramilitary forces from the province.
Balochistan will finally enjoy political autonomy like the other provinces, and economic development, the government promises. However, all Baloch parties have rejected this package. They say they were not consulted, and after sixty years they have lost their trust in Pakistan.
Malik Siraj Akbar, the bureau chief of the English national paper “Daily Times” in Quetta, said, “although the democratic government has taken over, the machinery is run by the security agencies. The chief minister and governor have no role. There are more than 50 ministers in the government, but they have nothing to do.”
Mukhtar Chalgiri, the regional director of the Strengthening Participatory Organization, one of the few NGOs still working in the province, added:
“Ordinary people are unhappy. Inflation, poverty and a sense of deprivation leads to all this violence we see in our society today. Every cabinet member in this government is corrupt. They are selling jobs.”
Many Baloch parties are boycotting the political process altogether. Their demands have become more radical over the years.
Dr Abdul Hakeem Lehri, a senior leader of the Baloch Republican Party said, “we’re not interested in living with the corrupt Pakistani elite any more. We want freedom.”
The Baloch Republican Party (BRP) is considered the political face of the underground, separatist Baloch Republican Armay (BRA). Hundreds of their activists have disappeared. Party chief Brahamdagh Bugti, a grandson of the slain leader Akbar Bugti, is in hiding. For many youngsters, the handsome 28- year- old Bramdagh is a kind of Baloch Che Guevara. Pakistani officials say he is in Afghanistan, and have accused India of supporting him through its consulates there. But party leader Lehri rubbished all claims that the separatist movement is run by a “foreign hand”:
“If Pakistan had any real evidence that India supports us, would they have spared us? Every Baloch household has a reason to fight with them. This version is just to satisfy the Pakistani elite.”
From his forced exile Munir Mengal too rejects the economic package proposed by the Pakistani government. He pointed out that many Baloch nationalists are socialists and abhor religious fundamentalism. “There is no solution with packages, and our problem can’t be solved with dialogues either. Our ideology is different from Pakistan’s. We can’t live under an imposed and fake religious identity. We are secular people.” And he added a question: “Do you really think these economic packages will satisfy Zarina Marri’s mother?“
Former school teacher Zarina Marri is still missing, and no official record exists about what happened to her after she was last seen by Munir Mengal in Karachi.
The tragic Mumbai attacks in November 2008 unfortunately derailed the India-Pakistan peace process in its wake. It should have brought both countries closer instead. The humanistic traditions and values of the Indian sub-continent and Indus Valley civilisation demanded so. On the contrary, masterminds of the terror attacks are succeeding so far because disruption of South Asian peace process was one of their prime targets. India legitimately expected that Pakistan would do its best to pursue and prosecute those involved in the heinous crime but in its hour of pain and grief it forgot that Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism and is passing through turbulent times.
Pakistan has faced enormous challenges in 2009. It has been confronted with the growing menace of terrorism — ranging from militancy in the Swat valley to insurgency in parts of the Pashtun-dominated Federally Administered Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan. Dozens of suicide bombers have targeted urban centres of Pakistan, killing civilians and security forces alike. Police and law enforcement have lost hundreds of their personnel in this battle this year alone. The fact that even Pakistan army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) offices in Lahore and Peshawar were also attacked indicate that terrorists consider them their arch enemy. Somehow, the significance of these developments has not been fully recognised in India.
Pakistani public opinion about the identity of militants and terrorists has transformed in to a great degree. The earlier denial and misperception that ‘outsiders are doing all this’ has given way to acceptance of the fact that country’s internal dynamics are largely responsible for the rise of violence. There is also an understanding that religious extremism has played a gruesome role in all of this. People increasingly acknowledge that domestic and foreign policy mistakes of 1980s and 1990s are coming back to haunt the country.
Many Pakistanis, however, also believe that India leaves no stone unturned in making things more difficult for Pakistan whenever it can. Alleged Indian interference in Baluchistan for instance is often referred to in this regard. The matter was even mentioned in the joint statement issued after the Prime Ministers of the two countries met at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in August 2009. More recently, Pakistani security forces operating in South Waziristan have also hinted that they have found some evidence of Indian support to militants in FATA. Whether true or false, the real issue is the widespread Pakistani belief that India is involved in destabilising Pakistan.
Pakistan’s response to Mumbai attacks must be understood in this context. The initial Pakistani public reaction to the attacks was one of shock and alarm. Pakistanis become distressed, however, when the electronic media started showing clips from live Indian television channel transmissions declaring that Pakistan was the culprit. Once the facts of the case started getting disseminated, especially about the identity of Mohammad Ajmal ‘Kasab’ — the lone surviving member of the terrorist group that created havoc in Mumbai — there was initially disbelief in Pakistan. Pakistan’s various media channels wasted no time in sending their investigative teams to Faridkot, ‘Kasab’s’ hometown in Punjab. To Pakistani journalists’ credit, they confirmed ‘Kasab’s’ nationality and exposed his links to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani militant group known for its activities in the Kashmir region. Despite delay and reluctance on the part of Pakistan’s government to acknowledge this connection, the independent media fulfilled its professional responsibility without fear or favour.
Consequently, Pakistan deputed some of its finest law enforcement officials in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to spearhead the investigations. Despite concerns about LET’s old connections with security agencies of the country, the political leadership acted quite swiftly. The arrest of important suspects like Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai terror attacks, would not have been possible without the help from country’s intelligence services, too. The clamp-down on the Jamaat-ud Dawa, the charity cum proselytising group associated with LET, all across the country was no small job as well. Since then, Pakistan and India have exchanged many dossiers containing their respective investigations and questions for the other side. India legitimately expects quick progress in this case and it is in Pakistan’s interest to proceed in the matter in a transparent fashion. It is worth remembering, though, that any law enforcement organisation’s evidence-gathering exercise, as per standard legal guidelines, takes time. Indian law enforcement has also taken many months to investigate and prepare the case for prosecution in Indian courts.
One of the reasons for a disconnect between Indian and Pakistani positions on the subject relates to the varying views about the alleged role of Pakistani intelligence services in all of this. The difference between acts of omission and commission should be clearly understood. Prosecution in the court of law needs concrete evidence rather than suspicion or bad reputation. Pakistan’s judiciary has earned a lot of respect in the last couple of years and it will guard its newly won independence irrespective of anything else. This alone should make India comfortable with the trial stage of the case.
Pakistan has an ideal opportunity to show to India that it is fully committed to defeat terrorism in all its shapes and forms. Political rhetoric for public consumption on the subject, both in India and Pakistan, should not be allowed to disrupt honest and professional investigations of the Mumbai attacks. All other disputes between the two countries should be dealt with and tackled separately from this case and no quid pro quo arrangement or expectation should come in the way of giving an exemplary punishment to those responsible for this crime against humanity. This includes all who are to be found involved in planning, facilitating, or orchestrating the atrocity. My opinion on this is not a minority view in Pakistan. Pakistani writers, journalists and politicians have said this repeatedly. President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, and prominent political leaders like Nawaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain are all on record supporting such an outcome. A renowned Pakistani lawyer and writer Babar Sattar very aptly says: “It is not the Pakistani identity of Ajmal ‘Kasab’ that makes Pakistan guilty of having a hand in Mumbai. But it is the misguided inclination to hide unflattering truth born of false pride and misperceived patriotism that could make us complicit.”
Pakistan is learning the hard way that religious extremists and militants of all stripes are bad for the country. There is no such thing as ‘Good Taliban’ or ‘Bad Taliban.’ Those who have distorted religious ideals and are involved in brainwashing many youngsters in Pakistan are looking to expand their space in the country. Lack of education and economic distress strengthen their role in society further. Pakistan is currently taking unprecedented military action against these forces, but it will not be able to defeat these forces of darkness comprehensively without regional stability and help from India. A good beginning in this direction can be more interaction and cooperation between the civilian law enforcement agencies of the two countries.
No one can deny that both countries have produced fanatics of one kind or the other and insurgencies of various intensities are brewing in various parts of both the countries. The longer the South Asian peace process remains frozen, more extensive will be the damaging impact of extremism and mutual mistrust.
( Dr. Hassan Abbas is a Bernard Schwartz fellow at the Asia Society and senior adviser at the Belfer Centre, Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the author of Pakistan’s Drift into Extremism.)
BN Prasad, 80, who handed over the Rs 10-lakh ransom to the kidnappers to get his son freed Sub Maj BN Prasad at Leh in 1971
Shyam Kishore, who was kidnapped
Raj Kishore, the air force group captain and Shyam Kishore’s brother who wants to fight the Maoists
New Delhi, Nov. 26: Forty-eight-year-old Raj Kishore Prasad is a fighter pilot whose tear-filled eyes reflect competing conflicts in the country, so violently has his life swung from 26/11 to a Maoist attack on his family.
A son of parents who were forcibly evicted from their land, along with tribals, by the government in Jharkhand, Group Captain Raj Kishore Prasad now wants to use his special skills to hunt down the militants. Many of the tribals who were evicted like his parents are Maoist supporters.
Raj Kishore was the director on duty at the operations centre in Vayu Sena Bhavan, Air Headquarters, in New Delhi on the night of November 26-27 exactly a year ago. The Directorate of Air Operations is also called the “war room”. Its personnel work 24 hours, monitoring and clearing air traffic.
He was the point man for the Western Air Command, Union home ministry and the National Security Guard, mobilising aircraft to fly commandos to Mumbai and alerting the Indian Air Force’s own helicopter squadrons.
BN Prasad, 80, who handed over the Rs 10-lakh ransom to the kidnappers to get his son freed
Today, the fighter pilot who has flown 1,000 hours in a MiG-21 combat jet and has since converted to flying helicopters, is eager to use his training in special operations against the Maoists.
He is angry that they kidnapped his brother in June this year, from McCluskie Ganj, once a resort favoured by Anglo-Indians and celebrities from Calcutta, in Jharkhand.
Raj Kishore felt humiliated because the Maoists forced him “to go around with a begging bowl” to raise the Rs 10 lakh they had demanded as ransom. After 28 years in service in the IAF, he still does not have Rs 10 lakh in his provident fund, his friends say. (A group captain earns about Rs 1 lakh a month since the recommendations of the sixth pay commission were implemented earlier this year.)
The fighter pilot has met defence minister A.K. Antony and home secretary G.K. Pillai. He has written to home minister P. Chidambaram detailing his circumstances and making his plea that he be allowed to hunt down Maoists.
The IAF has asked the government for permission to open fire in self-defence. Antony told Parliament yesterday that the government was framing the “rules of engagement” in the offensive against the Maoists.
Military service rules bar Raj Kishore from speaking to the media but a soulmate of the officer told The Telegraph: “Raj wants his actions legitimised, he does not want to be called a murderer.”
The group captain’s story is now told and retold by his friends and serving officers in the armed forces, many of whom, like him, come from families that have reared professional soldiers for generations.
Raj Kishore’s father B.N. Prasad, now 80, retired from the army after moving up the ranks to honorary captain.
His younger brother Shyam Kishore Prasad, 44, who was taken hostage, retired from the army after 12 years in service. Raj Kishore’s son Ashwin was this year commissioned into the IAF as a flying officer and is now a MiG-21 combat pilot like his father was.
Raj Kishore’s daughter Neha, 20, has opted to go into the army. She has been selected for the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, which trains women for the Short Service Commission.
So moved was a retired colonel, a former batchmate of Raj Kishore’s since his days in the National Defence Academy, that he published the letter to Chidambaram in a trade journal, the Indian Defence Review.
Like Raj Kishore, the armed forces are fed up with police. “The superintendent of police in Ranchi and the other officers were useless,” one officer said. “These people cannot distinguish the barrel of an LMG (light machine gun) from its butt,” said another.
Raj Kishore, his friends said, is acutely aware how poverty and anger have fuelled the Maoists’ movement. He built his house in McCluskie Ganj after his family, along with others from nearly 20 villages, was forcibly evicted by the government because it wanted to use the land for coal mining.
At that time, the family had about eight acres and lived in a village off the Ranchi-Hazaribagh road. The total compensation amounted to Rs 6.5 lakh, which was shared by his father and brother. In most of the villages, the tribals either got nothing or paltry amounts.
Using his savings and those of his father and an elder brother, Raj Kishore built two houses in McCluskie Ganj — one for his immediate family and the other for his parents. Another elder brother is mentally challenged and has to be cared for. Shyam Kishore, Raj Kishore’s younger brother, took premature retirement to care for the family. He is now a technical hand with Central Coalfields.
On June 16 this year, Raj Kishore drove from Delhi to McCluskie Ganj with his wife and daughter. The family halted for the night in Allahabad. The next day, shortly after reaching McCluskie Ganj, he walked over to his parents’ house from his own. It was dusk.
There was a power failure and even the mobile phone network was switched off because there was no supply to the transmitter.
Raj Kishore was taken aback when he saw about 15 youths around his parents’ house. One of them, obviously the leader, who was about 30 years old, came up to him and asked who he was and what his business was. He told them and asked for Shyam Kishore.
“Bhaiyya, tu aa gaya (brother, have you come)?” a feeble voice from behind the house asked. Raj Kishore walked around and found Shyam Kishore surrounded by more youths holding what looked like country-made rifles to him.
The youths left, taking Shyam Kishore with them. The parents and the brothers were panicky. Raj Kishore informed police the next morning. Around 4pm, his phone rang. The call was from his brother’s number. It was from the kidnappers. They demanded two self-loading rifles or Rs 10 lakh in cash. His father pleaded with them, to no avail.
“I must confess that it was heartrending for me to witness the helplessness of the man who had never compromised his dignity and honour and who had fought all the wars for the country from 1948 to1971,” wrote Raj Kishore in his account to Chidambaram.
The kidnappers set a 24-hour deadline and asked his 80-year-old father to reach Tori village on a two-wheeler with the cash. Raj Kishore was bereft. He sought help from acquaintances he had made during a posting in Ranchi where he was director with the National Cadet Corps “trying to make soldiers out of hungry tribals”.
Two old builder/contractor friends provided the bulk of the amount and others pitched in with smaller sums.
Raj Kishore kept the police informed of his movements even as he followed his father to the appointed place. It was nearly 11 in the night when his father came out of the jungles with Shyam Kishore.
Raj Kishore told the home minister that even after that the police, who had given him the impression they would go after the kidnappers, did not move. Instead, police officers briefed him on the histories of the different Naxalite factions and told him that the gang that had taken his brother hostage was with the Maoists but had since fallen out.
It is only a matter of months, Raj Kishore wrote to the home minister, before “these gun-toting, trigger-happy youths roam the streets of Jharkhand with rockets and grenade launchers and the latest automatic weapons, much like the Taliban in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province”.
Air power must be used because the ground forces (the police) have been overtaken by the Maoists, he told superiors in the defence and home ministries. “I have also flown helicopters in the IAF for 10 years and qualified in special operations. I sincerely feel I would be able to evolve strategies and tactics for aerial operations to effectively neutralise such rogue elements in a respectable time frame,” he wrote to Chidambaram.
From Group Captain R K Prasad
Jt Director Operations
Directorate of Operations Room
Air Headquarters (Room No 490)
Vayu Bhavan, Rafi Marg
New Delhi - 110011
22 Jul 2009
To Sri P Chidambaram
Union Minister for Home Affairs
Govt of India.
Honourable Minister Sir,
At the outset, I must express my deepest sense of gratitude to you for taking bold and firm steps towards eradicating the Naxal menace plaguing various states. It also gives me a sense of security and reassurance to be able to address my problems to you through the opportunity granted through your ministry's website.
I am a pilot with the Indian Air Force with 28 years of meritorious service, with most part as a fighter pilot and subsequently as a helicopter pilot. I am presently employed as a Joint Director in Directorate of Operations Room at the Air Headquarters, Ministry of Defence, New Delhi.
It may not be out of context to mention here that my father, Honorary Capt BN Prasad, is a proud ex-serviceman who retired in 1975 after 30 years of military service as an infantry man. My younger brother, Sri SK Prasad, with whom my parents live as both are more than 80 years old, served for 12 years in the Indian Army before he took premature retirement in 1990 due to the poor health of my parents. My son, Flying Officer Ashwin Prasad, is also a fighter pilot with the IAF, commissioned in June 2008. And I wish to mention here that my daughter, Ms Neha Prasad is no less motivated and is all set to join the IAF and go for training at the Air Force Academy in January 2010.
Sir, such pride and honour in military service and uniform, to commit three generations to take the pledge to make even the Supreme Sacrifice, when called upon for the sake of the nation, could not have been possible without faith and absolute trust that honourable and great leaders like you are at the helm of affairs, and are examples to ordinary citizens like us, in leading the nation ahead in it's march to glory.
However, not all is as well as it sounds.
Image: The author's father, Sub Maj BN Prasad at Leh in 1971. Picture copyright Group Captain R K Prasad. Unauthorised reproduction prohibited.
November 26, 2009
Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, before the Pakistani Army launched the South Waziristan offensive.
By Bill Roggio November 26, 2009 11:37 AM
The Taliban leadership and the bulk of its fighters have eluded the Pakistani military during the current operation in South Waziristan.
The Pakistani military had billed the South Waziristan offensive, which was launched in the eastern half of the Taliban-controlled tribal agency on Oct. 17, as the decisive battle that would break the back of the group. Instead, the leadership of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, including its leader Hakeemullah Mehsud and its South Waziristan commander Waliur Rehman Mehsud, have escaped to neighboring tribal areas, and the terror attacks in Pakistan continue.
The military has claimed that more than 550 Taliban fighters and 70 soldiers have been killed during fierce fighting in South Waziristan. The information cannot be confirmed, as it is filtered through the Army's Inter-Services Public Relations branch because reporters have been barred from the battle zone, save for escorted day trips.
The South Waziristan operation has involved more than 30,000 regular Army and Frontier Corps troops backed by artillery, attack helicopters, and Pakistani Air Force ground attack fighters. At the outset of the operation, the Army claimed that more than 10,000 Taliban fighters backed by 1,500 foreign fighters, largely from Central Asia, were dug into the region and prepared to wage a pitched battle to defend their turf.
But instead, the Taliban chose to preserve their forces rather than sacrifice them to the advancing Pakistani Army, US military and intelligence officials who closely monitor the region told The Long War Journal. Previous operations in South Waziristan have involved fewer forces and were often led by the poorly trained and equipped paramilitary Frontier Corps, which allowed the Taliban to stand and fight.
"This time, it was clear the Army meant business, and like any smart guerilla force, the Taliban decided not to blunt their best forces while fighting a losing battle," one official said. "They learned from Swat," the official continued, referring to the Army's spring and summer offensive that resulted in thousands of Taliban fighters killed or captured.
The Taliban were aided by a long delay in the launch of the South Waziristan operation. The military initially claimed it was moving into South Waziristan in force in mid-June, but instead the plan was changed, and the Army decided to blockade the region and hit Taliban bases with air and artillery strikes. Several US officials contacted by The Long War Journal believe the delay in the offensive’s ground phase was engineered by pro-Taliban elements within the military to allow the leadership the time needed to escape the offensive.
"Not one single senior Taliban leader has been killed or captured so far," a senior official said. "I don't think this was by accident."
Instead of going toe-to-toe with the Army, Hakeemullah left a dedicated rearguard of fighters behind in South Waziristan to slow the Army advance and "buy time for its forces to reestablish command and control in the alternate locations," outside of South Waziristan, a US official said.
The Taliban did put up some strong resistance in the towns of Kotkai, Kanigoram, a region inhabited by Uzbek fighters, and at several other locations during the early stages of the offensive. Kotkai exchanged hands several times, while large clashes were reported in and around Kanigoram. But after these battles the Taliban ceded the important strongholds of Ladha, Makeen, and Sararogha with relatively little resistance.
While the Pakistani military has said the Taliban have been defeated in South Waziristan and attribute the success to better tactics, US officials observe that the Taliban's decision to conduct a tactical withdrawal is the reason for the military’s relatively bloodless success.
"The Taliban in Swat, which is far less capable than their counterparts in South Waziristan, put up a tougher fight and delayed the Army's advance for months," one official said.
"The South Waziristan Taliban have been fighting the Army since 2004 and have experience fighting NATO forces in Afghanistan,” the official continued “They are better trained and armed. The reality is that Hakeemullah decided it was wiser to live to fight another day."
Pakistani Army has some success in South Waziristan
But US officials were quick to praise the Pakistani Army for launching the offensive in the first place and said the operation, at least in the short run, has denied the Taliban and al Qaeda the safe haven in the region.
"This is an area the Paksitani Army has dodged for years," one official said. "It became a Taliban and al Qaeda haven because the Army has not wanted to go in and take them head on."
Pakistani Army tactics have improved as the military better used close air support and patiently moved to take the high ground and strategic points before advancing into towns.
"Had the Taliban decided to stay and fight en masse, the military still would have had success, their tactics were by and large sound," a US military officer said. "But again, they over-relied on artillery and leveled entire towns. If they aren't quick about rebuilding they will have major problems."
In the course of the operation, the Pakistani Army uncovered several Taliban and al Qaeda training facilities in the region. At one site, passports belonging to one of the 9/11 plotters and the wife of a senior al Qaeda operative in Europe were among several that were found.
The questions that remain unanswered are: Will the military stay in the region? Will the returning Mehsud tribesmen support the Army’s occupation? And will the Taliban return to launch a much-touted guerilla campaign during the winter and spring?
Taliban skip the Army net intact
While the operation has succeeded in denying a safe haven for the Taliban and al Qaeda in the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan, the leaders and the vast majority for the fighters have either melted away with the more than 400,000 refugees who have fled the fight, or have sought shelter in neighboring tribal regions. Taliban leaders and large numbers of fighters have left the Mehsud tribal areas in South Waziristan and have found shelter with allied Taliban groups in Arakzai, Kurram, Hangu, Khyber, and North and South Waziristan.
In North Waziristan, the Taliban have regrouped in the town of Shawal, according to a report in AKI. Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the leader of the Taliban in North Waziristan, is "hosting the families of two top Pakistani Taliban leaders," The New York Times reported last week. Bahadar is hosting the families of Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
In South Waziristan, Taliban fighters have sought shelter with Mullah Nazir in the Wazir tribal areas, and the rearguard fighters still opposing the Army's advance into the Mehsud areas are receiving support from Nazir's forces, US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal.
The support by Bahadar and Nazir highlights a major problem with the offensive's limited scope and the military's reliance on "peace agreements" with neighboring Taliban leaders that allowed the offensive to take place. Just before the offensive began, the Army cut a deal with Bahadar and Nazir that allowed the military to move through their tribal areas without being attacked. One of the conditions of the agreement requires Bahadar and Nazir not to provide shelter to fleeing members of the Mehsud branch of the Taliban. The violations of these agreements go unpunished, and the Taliban leadership survives to fight another day.
Large elements of the Taliban have relocated to Arakzai, as well as to regions in Kurram and Hangu [see LWJ report, "Pakistani military hits Taliban in Arakzai"].
"Arakzai is the traditional power base of Hakeemullah, so it makes sense that he would go there if threatened," a senior military intelligence official told The Long War Journal.
Hakeemullah was the commander of Taliban forces in Arakzai and Kurram prior to taking control of the terror alliance after the death of its former leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in August. Hakeemullah is known to have an operations center in Ghiljo in Arakzai. Some of the most deadly Taliban groups operate from Arakzai, and many of the suicide and military attacks carried out in Pakistan have originated from this tribal agency.
Taliban forces have also relocated to the Jamrud, Bara, and Tirah Valley regions in the Khyber tribal agency, according to US officials.
"The Taliban are using these alternate hubs to launch its terror offensive against Pakistan's major cities, particularly Peshawar, the provincial capital," a senior military intelligence official said. The Taliban have pounded Peshawar with suicide attacks against police, the military, and civilians. One such attack leveled the headquarters of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, while others have hit police stations, checkpoints, and even crowded bazaars. Anti-Taliban tribal leaders and politicians have been the targets of a Taliban assassination campaign.
Military forced to address Taliban escape from South Waziristan
The Taliban's escape from South Waziristan and their continued terror offensive have forced the Army to conduct operations where it did not plan to. But the offensives are limited in scope, and will not dislodge the Taliban from these areas, US officials said.
"The Pakistani Army thought they could strike a single blow and cripple the Taliban, but they can't," a military officer said. "This problem has always been bigger than South Waziristan."
This past week, the Pakistan Army conceded that the Taliban had bled out to other areas after it launched offensives in Arakzai, Hangu, and Khyber.
The Army has focused on the Shahu Khel regions in Arakzai and Hangu, and has already claimed success. The offensive consisted largely of artillery and air strikes against known Taliban hideouts and training camps.
In Bara, the military is conducting yet another operation aimed at the Lashkar-e-Islam in the Bara region, a radical group allied with the Taliban.
Army seeking to avoid other Taliban havens in North and South Waziristan
While the Army is conducting limited operations in Arakzai, Hangu, and Khyber, its top spokesman has signaled that success in South Waziristan means that Nazir, Bahadar, the Haqqani Network, and other powerful Taliban groups will not need to be tackled.
"You have defeated the main, strongest terrorist organization of the area and it will create effects all around," Major General Athar Abbas told Reuters on Nov. 18.
"It creates voids all around and will open more options for the state and military," Abbas continued. "Maybe you don’t have to conduct more operations. By those effects you can achieve those objectives."
Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/11/taliban_escapes_sout.php#ixzz0Y2W7B3V4
By Richard Adhikari TechNewsWorld 11/17/09 10:37 AM PT
Countries around the world are preparing for cyberwarfare, according to a new report from McAfee. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States have set up organizations to study cyberattacks and possibly trigger a physical response, for example. In fact, some international relationships could be described as a state of cyber-cold war, the report suggests.
The world's increasing reliance on information technology, combined with the growing sophistication of cybercriminals and cyberattacks, is leading to a sort of cyber-cold war, according to a new report from computer security research firm McAfee.
DOWNLOAD COMPLETE REPORT
For example, Estonian government and commercial Web sites were hit by a series of denial of service attacks over a period of weeks back in 2007. Technical analysis showed the attacks came from sources in Russia, but the Russian government denied any responsibility and refused to help find or prosecute the suspects, the report states.
In August, tensions between Georgia and Russia overflowed onto the Web when Russians apparently attacked the Web site and blog of an Estonian writing about the problems between the two countries. The attacks denied millions of people around the world access to their Twitter and Facebook pages.
"Those people were collateral damage in the attack on the Georgian blogger," Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee, told TechNewsWorld.
Getting Ready for Cyberbattle
Governments around the world are preparing for future cyberattacks, the McAfee report says. NATO has set up a "Center of Excellence" for cyberdefense in Estonia to study cyberattacks and determine under what circumstances such an attack should trigger NATO's common defense principle. That principle holds that an attack on one member is an attack on all.
In June, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced the formation of the U.S. Cyber Command. This is an organization under the U.S. Strategic Command led by a four-star general that will defend vital U.S. military networks, according to McAfee's report.
The UK government has recently announced plans to create a central Office of Cyber Security to deal with the rising level of online attacks. The office can mount a cyberattack in response to intrusions in extreme cases, the McAfee report states.Other countries are contemplating similar measures.
The Dogs of War
So far, the hostilities have been confined to cybercrime and cyberespionage and do not amount to war, James Lewis, director and senior fellow of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told TechNewsWorld.
However, countries have probably planned systematic attacks to use in a crisis, Lewis said. The major players are the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, Israel and China, according to Lewis. Turkey, India and Taiwan may also be players, he added.
Other countries are engaged in cyberhostilities also. "I was in a meeting in Malaysia where I was told that there are a number of attacks coming from Indonesia," Randy Abrams, director of technical education at ESET, told TechNewsWorld. "But Malaysia and Indonesia are not at war, so I wouldn't call it 'warfare.'"
Defining when intrusions should be considered acts of war is critical, and McAfee's report lays out four criteria.
The first is the source. Cybersleuths have to ask whether the attack was carried out or supported by a nation-state. Second is consequence -- did the attack cause any harm? Third is motivation -- was the attack politically motivated? Fourth is sophistication -- did the attack require customized methods and/or complex planning?
Determining just who launched a given attack is seldom easy. "One of the problems we have is attribution," McAfee's Alperovitch pointed out. "Also, the weapons themselves are used both by nation-states and by cybercriminals, and separating the two is very difficult."
"It's difficult to attribute activities to a specific country due to the use of proxies and the nature of the public network," said Rick Caccia, vice president of product marketing at ArcSight.
Cybercriminals could have a major role to play in the event of a cyberwar. "Foreign governments use cybercriminals as irregular forces," CSIS's Lewis pointed out. "Left to their own devices, cybercriminals are only going to attack places where they can make some money; when they attack a government, it's usually someone else's idea."
Reworking the Web
The very nature of the Internet lays countries open to cyberespionage and cyberwar. "Networks are more open and porous than before, and that makes attacks easier," ArcSight's Caccia said. "More information is online in those networks and is more valuable, so they are more vulnerable to attack."
That means the Internet may need some amount of restructuring, according to McAfee. "We need to rework the infrastructure of the entire Internet," McAfee's Alperovitch said. "It's not going to be done overnight; it's going to be done piece by piece."
That will be a very expensive proposition, but the cost could be shared among governments, private companies and individuals, Alperovitch said. "The cost of security now is enormous, with people losing billions of dollars, and governments having national security compromised because of this."
India has done the right thing by rejecting a US-China attempt to involve the latter in India-Pak issues after a joint statement in Beijing appeared to give China a greater monitoring role in the region.
Ever since Barack Hussein Obama became the US President, Indo-US relations seemed somewhat adrift. The new US administration has been giving the impression of patronising Pakistan in a way to make India suffer and trying to hyphenate the growing, democratic India with an imploding Pakistan whose collapsing, US-dependent regime has become reduced to a caricature. It is interesting how Obama has misread Indian sensitivities at a time when India’s Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, considered unduly concerned about the US proclivities, is undertaking an official visit to the US.
America has its reasons to be kow-towing before China. It is in the decline as a superpower. Its economy is on a free fall. It is beholden to China. The latest pursuit of sharing the hegemonistic role with an ambitious China raring to usurp a larger role in the international arena is more a necessity of the US than the needs of ushering in world peace. Reports suggest that Beijing virtually micromanaged Obama’s visit in every respect. For the first time, the US accepted the Chinese claim on Tibet and ignored His Holiness Dalai Lama’s genuine worries on the future of his country and his people. China in turn rejected US pleas on almost every major issue including monetary policy, climate change, human rights violations and talks with Dalai Lama. Obama was returned empty handed after that strained diplomatic embrace, as some US journals reported.
The momentum in the Indo-US relations, which the previous US President George W Bush so painstakingly cultivated, is now lost. US aiding and abetting in Pakistan and messing up the entire West Asia have always been looked with suspicion in this country. India’s geo-political interests were at variance with the US vested interests in the region. Despite that majority of Indians welcomed the Indo-US nuclear treaty and improved relations with that country because of the shared values of democracy, free society and trade benefits. Conversely, majority of Indians look at China warily if not dislike and trepidation. It makes unreasonable claims on Indian territory, betrayed our trust repeatedly, helped Pakistan acquire nuclear arsenal and oppose India at almost every international forum. The present decline of the CPI(M), many experts feel, is the result of the people’s despair with that party, for it was seen as promoting Chinese interests in India. This is the reality of the Indian situation Obama has failed to appreciate.
The best both China and America can do is not to meddle in other nation’s affairs. World would be a better place, more peaceful and prosperous without their policing.
The US is a declining power. China is rising. Both face its peculiar challenges. Rude and crude intrusive diplomacy is not helpful for either. China’s relentless pursuit of strategic clout at any cost has only vitiated the Asian scene. So is the case with the US flawed policy on fighting terrorism with its eye on West Asian oil wealth. India does not need either the US or Chinese intervention in its dealings with Pakistan. Even in that country, if truth be told, the US is unwelcome, India is more popular, if many opinion polls are any indication. The US economic downturn is clearly the compulsion for Obama to sing Chinese tune. But India is under no obligation to let either China or the US interfere in its bilateral affairs.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net
It should be clear to the Manmohan Singh government that India's survival depends on strategic independence, says N.V.Subramanian.
25 November 2009: The PM will return from the United States empty-handed. And even while Manmohan Singh was on his "first official state visit" to Barack Obama's America, the Agni-II failed on its first night launch. What do these two developments add up to?
There was never any expectation that the Manmohan-Obama summit (if it can be called that) would produce definable returns. This writer, at any rate, had nil expectations, and had described the general course of Manmohan Singh's US tour in a commentary titled "Manmohan's US visit" (6 November 2009), closing that with the advice that, at best, the PM should try to be Obama's "friend" in the US's hour of distressing decline. By calling Manmohan Singh "wise" and a man of "honesty and integrity", Obama has sought that close friendship with the PM that the previous US president, George W.Bush, had so successfully won. That friendship, as was predicted, will come about. But, ironically, it will not get the US and India any closer.
Why is that? However you look at it, America is in decline. This decline is unlike the faux decline after the 1929 Great Crash, the post-1973 Oil Shock, the reverses in Vietnam leading to withdrawal, the disastrous Carter term, the latter Clinton years (although without the Soviet Union, the US lost its competitive greatness), and so forth. Nor is Bush II entirely to blame for the decline, although he surely speeded it up. Obama, in contrast, US strategists say, is leading the country down through a process that they call "elegant decline", which is, in part, an angry denunciation of his masses of elegant but basically meaningless rhetoric.
Obama is essentially chasing three things, in which India serves only to be extracted from, but to be gifted zilch in return. One is Obama's "Nobel cause". This is a World Without Nuclear Weapons. Obama has to justify the Nobel Peace Prize which was given precisely to produce this never-never land without nukes. Indian nukes, that fall outside the NPT regime, are one of the principal threats to the Nobel-Obama "vision". India won't sign the present NPT because it will out-treaty its own nuclear weapons. So what's the way out? Choke its weapons' programme, not directly, which is not possible, but put limits on its fissile materials' production (through FMCT, which Manmohan Singh has agreed with Obama to negotiate), and freeze its weapons' quality in their present primitive stage (via CTBT; Manmohan Singh has again committed to the voluntary test moratorium).
The Indo-US nuclear deal also stands against the Nobel-Obama vision. The US non-proliferation lobby has succeeded with its canard that the nuclear deal frees India's domestic uranium resources for weapons' use. Even without the lobby, the Democratic president Obama is not only persuaded about the non-proliferation ideology, he is its active, enthusiastic and leading proponent. It is true that Obama mentioned India as a "nuclear power" while welcoming Manmohan Singh, but it was a passing reference, and it would be perilous to build on it, as Manmohan Singh's spin masters are engaged in doing. If the US can pause and, who knows, even retract from a signed 123 (as it is trying to do on generic power-reactor and specific ENR-technology exports), what does a mere reference in a welcoming speech count? It is simply rhetoric, and Obama is all (and only) about rhetoric. This writer's considered opinion is that the US will not operationalize the nuclear deal at least in Obama's first term (Bush II was looking to make History with the deal; Obama has completely the opposite plans), compel India's dependence on non-US, imported power reactors, and then force those importers to make further fuel provisions conditional on India drinking up the entire noxious alphabet soup of discriminatory WMD so-called non-proliferation regimes.
The second of those three things Obama is chasing (mentioned in the foregoing) may be loosely termed presidential purpose I. This is to end the US engagement in Afghanistan-Pakistan. On 1 December, Obama is expected to announce his planned surge in Afghanistan, and it is this writer's analysis that it will fall far short of what his Afghanistan commander, General Stanley McChrystal, has demanded (forty thousand soldiers), which again at least ten times underestimates the troops' strength required to put down both the Taliban-led insurgency/ terrorism and Al-Qaeda's terrorism in Afghanistan, which ultimately will be directed against continental United States. Speaking to reporters in the presence of Manmohan Singh, Obama said that the international community (meaning US allies) had to shoulder the burden of Afghanistan, and that the Afghan people had eventually to provision for their own security. It needs little genius to figure from this that the US is on its way out from Afghanistan.
What's the extraction from India on Af-Pak? The Obama administration may resurrect the bogus link between Pakistani good behaviour in Afghanistan and India bending on Kashmir. Richard Holbrooke has said no to US mediation between India and Pakistan, but Obama in wanting a small increase of troops (that does not qualify to be a surge) to succeed in Afghanistan may want partners and near-neighbours to "pitch in", and pitching in for India would mean a dialogue with Pakistan leading to concessions on Kashmir. Concessions on Kashmir are a closed option, but that doesn't prevent the US from trying again, working on the Obama-Manmohan chemistry. There is after all the example of Sharm-el-Sheikh. On the other hand, India anxieties about Afghanistan won't be addressed, because India directly cannot assist US goals in that country by deploying its military. But Pakistan and, because of China's leverage on Pakistan, China can, at least in theory, be of assistance to the US in Afghanistan, although both countries are working hand-in-hand to rid America from there. So in Obama's presidential purpose I, India does not fit, unless it can be wrung dry on Kashmir.
Obama's third chase may be called presidential purpose II, which is to revive the US economy with China's help, and overcome American indebtedness to the Chinese. Despite Obama's most abject genuflection to the Chinese on his latest China visit, totalitarian Beijing is not bending. Obama does not have plan B to make China amenable. An emerging counterweight to China (like India, for example) would make its one-party leadership reassess its arrogance, but Obama, tellingly, did not meet the India-residing Dalai Lama before his summit with Hu Jintao, and he has brought his infamous dither to the Indo-US nuclear deal, which China persistently has objected to as a countervailing instrument to its rise. Obama's final bidded extraction from India, which India rejected in time, was offering China a policing role in South Asia. But an opened door like that won't shut easily or for long.
Which leads to Obama's quest for an "elegant decline" for the US. Pulling out of Afghanistan (where India can play a no more pro-US role than now) remains a sine qua non for giving elegance to that decline (some elegance, that), because it will considerably staunch the economic-military haemorrhaging of the US, and Pakistan and China are key to that exercise. And feeding on the US economy like a "vampire squid", China almost dictates American financial choices. So where does it leave India in US plans? Nowhere. China's rise has come at considerable cost to the US (although the US remains innocent to this reality), but India's rise has not hurt anyone terribly (the Bangalore phenomenon is vastly exaggerated). By a quirk of national fate, though, India is being called to account, in a fashion, because its rise has largely been autonomous (internal demand fueling growth more than exports) and non-threatening.
That takes you to the second critical development during Manmohan Singh's US tour mentioned in the opening paragraph, which is the failure of the first Agni II night launch. It is strange that while the military is insisting on retesting missiles before accepting them, it is not exercising the same degree of due diligence in the matter of nuclear warheads to be fitted on them, especially miniaturized thermonuclear warheads. It is undeniable that the Pokhran II thermonuke failed to explode as planned. If a tested Agni II fails on a new mission, how can the government sit pretty with a thermonuke that flunked in its first and only test?
Manmohan Singh's non-visit to the US and the failed Agni II night launch add up to this. India, as this writer has indicated before (Commentary, "The coming isolation," 11 November 2009), is on its own, as it has been for so much of its post-Independence history. There is nothing to suggest that Barack Obama is fundamentally ill-disposed towards India (like say Nixon), but he can do little for this country, both because he is weak and indecisive (decisively indecisive), and since the US is in irreversible decline. It would be very advisable, therefore, to plot India's political and military rise and to enhance its abilities to influence international decision-making and outcomes in the same manner as the country has become an emerging economic power -- by tapping on its own genius and great internal strengths.
On the strategic/ military aide (since this writer is more concerned with it), the minimum beginning to make is that India restores confidence in its deterrent. The threat from China and Pakistan will multiply in the foreseeable future, and it is instructive that if the Chinese won't bend to the US president, New Delhi can expect little reprieve from Beijing. At a time of its choosing (which has to be soon), India has to conduct a third series of nuclear tests on an array of thermonuclear weapons. India's survival rests on strategic independence.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi).
Please visit N.V.Subramanian's blog http://courtesanofstorms.blog.com/ and write to him at email@example.com
Column: Right Angle
Published: November 25, 2009
New Delhi, India - With each passing day it is becoming increasingly obvious that the United States´ Afghanistan-Pakistan policy under President Barack Obama´s administration is simply not working. Secure in their safe sanctuaries in Pakistan´s Waziristan region, the Taliban and al-Qaida have been launching highly successful attacks on Afghan and NATO troops.
Obama is desperate for Pakistan to do something to contain these elements within its territory. In return, he is pursuing the traditional policy of rewarding Pakistan through military and economic assistance, which over the past seven years has exceeded US$12 billion. That Pakistan is not doing the needful and is diverting most of the U.S. aid towards measures against India is another story.
In fact, the fundamental flaw in the U.S. war on terror in Afghanistan happens to be the reliance on and belief in Pakistan. A stable and secure Afghanistan is not in the interest of the forces that run Pakistan today.
There are many reasons for this, including the so-called strategic depth that Afghanistan provides to Pakistan in its war against India. But most important is the fact that once Afghanistan becomes strong, secure and stable, it will demand the return of its territories, particularly Waziristan. And this is something Pakistan will not easily allow.
Waziristan covers an area of 11,585 square kilometers (4,473 square miles) and is divided into what are defined as North and South Waziristan agencies. The total population today is estimated to be around 1 million. The region is one of the most inaccessible, has an extremely rugged terrain and has remained outside the direct control of the Pakistani government.
The Wazir tribes, along with the Mehsuds and Dawars, inhabit the region and are fiercely independent. They did not bother the Pakistani government till the fall of the Taliban government in neighboring Afghanistan, when the region became a sanctuary for fleeing al-Qaida and Taliban elements.
Endowed with a fierce sense of "individual independence," the overwhelming majority of inhabitants in Waziristan do not consider themselves to be Pakistanis in any legal sense. But what they do not realize is that the Durand Line, which marks the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has made them Pakistanis.
This line for them is artificial in every sense of the term. The other side of the line, which is Afghan territory, is as much their land as the Pakistani side. They have never seen or accepted any restrictions on their movements or those of their "guests" across the Durand Line, nor are they in a mood to accept such restrictions.
In fact, going by history and ethnicity, they have more affinity with the people of present-day Afghanistan than those in Pakistan. And most importantly, no government in Afghanistan has formally accepted Waziristan as part of Pakistan.
Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, who was foreign secretary in the colonial government of British India, signed a document with the king of Afghanistan Abdur Rahman Khan on Nov. 12, 1893, relating to the borders between Afghanistan and modern-day Pakistan, which was then India. The international boundary line was named the Durand Line. However, no legislative body in Afghanistan has ever ratified the document and the border issue is an ongoing contention between the two countries.
The Durand Line, which runs though areas inhabited by the Pashtuns, was never accepted by either the Afghan government - which signed it under duress - or the Pashtuns that sought to create their own homeland called Pashtunistan.
In fact, in April 1919 during the Anglo-Afghan war, Afghan General Nadir Khan advanced to Thal in southern Waziristan to reclaim Afghan rights over the region. The area was recovered after a long fight where many were killed by the British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer.
Besides, Afghanistan's loya jirga or political meetings of 1949 had declared the Durand Line invalid as they saw it as ex parte on their side, since British India had ceased to exist in 1947. It proclaimed that the Afghan government did not recognize the Durand Line as a legal boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This being the situation, every government in Islamabad, military and non-military, has desperately tried to reach a bilateral agreement with successive regimes in Kabul to convert the Durand Line into an international border, but without success. Even when the Taliban took over Afghanistan, Pakistan, which aided and abetted the Taliban during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, expected, in vain, a favorable response.
Pakistan´s former Interior Minister Moinuddin Haider called for the revival of the sanctification of the Durand Line, as it had legally lapsed in 1993. It may be noted that the document between British India and Afghanistan was to remain in force for 100 years. But the Taliban regime ignored the Pakistani pleas.
Similarly, frequent press statements from 2005 to 2007 by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf calling for the building of a fence delineating the Afghanistan-Pakistan border met with resistance from numerous political parties in both countries.
Pashtun leaders on both sides of the border continue to ignore the Durand Line, while Afghanistan´s President Hamid Karzai has been systematically avoiding the issue.
This explains why Pakistan will always want a dependent government in Kabul, which is more likely to ensure the de facto preservation of the lapsed and abrogated Durand Line even if it cannot be converted into an international border.
Of course, there is the added advantage of a Pakistani-dominated Afghanistan constituting forward strategic depth on Pakistan's western flank vis-à-vis India; but that is a different matter altogether.
(Prakash Nanda is a journalist and editorial consultant for Indian Defense Review. He is also the author of "Looking East: Evolution of India´s Look-East Policy." He may be contacted at Prakash.firstname.lastname@example.org. ©Copyright Prakash Nanda.)
Deba Prasad Dash
First Published : 26 Nov 2009 03:51:00 AM ISTLast Updated : 26 Nov 2009 09:17:17 AM IST
MALKANGIRI: The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) Task Force’s recent report on national security and terrorism has painted a grim picture for Orissa. With 100 fatalities in Maoist violence, Orissa ranks third in 2008, the report reveals. With 113 fatalities, neighbouring Jharkhand stands first followed by Chhattisgarh with 102 fatalities.
Out of 100 fatalities in Orissa, 76 are security personnel and 24 are civilians. While Naxals have lost 32 of their cadres during the period in Orissa, in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand the number of Naxals killed stands at 66 and 40 respectively.
The report said CPI(Maoist) has consolidated its position in several parts of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and Orissa which offer almost a contiguous territory to the armed cadres.
It said the armed guerrillas are spreading their tentacles across the states holding sway over many parts of country. It is a far more complex insurgency. Maoism is deeply entrenched in the socio-economic realities of the poor and the Maoists enjoy wide support among the locals and are drawing strength from the inefficient government structures present in their area of influence, the report pointed out. In 2003, 55 districts spread over nine states were Maoist affected, but by the end of 2005, the number of Maoist-infested districts jumped to 160 spread over 13 states.
The Maoist rebels are drawing strength from the deprived and the alienated section of the people and trying to establish liberated zones to dispense with basic state functions. Citing various reasons which contribute to growth of Naxal movement, the report said various government-sponsored employment schemes are dogged by corruption. The report quoting an audit report on NREGS in Orissa in 2007 said out of Rs 700 crore development funds, Rs 500 crore did not reach the beneficiaries. Meanwhile, intelligentsia and police officials in southern Orissa said decade-long neglect of tribal areas has led to alienation of people. The government should not adopt the same strategy to deal with Maoist activities as it is doing for jehadi terrorists. There must be an end to the battle between the Maoists and cops to restore peace in the area, a top police officer said. Socio-economic development coupled with a sincere dialogue with Maoist rebels will help restore peace in the region, he said.