Posts Tagged ‘Inter Services Intelligence’

What if Indira Gandhi had been shown this pic?

31 July 2010

The cover of the 9 August 2010 issue of Time magazine. For a change, all four editions—US, Europe, Asia and South Pacific—have the same cover story.

Time‘s choice is doubtless provocative, one reason journalism exists.

Yet, such eagerness and such a desire to provoke isn’t visible on home turf, where squeamish self-censorship kicks into play each time news organisations ponder the possibility of printing the pictures of US marines killed while killing others , or the bodies of victims of 11 September 2001 attack on New York City.



The leakage of 92,000 secret military intelligence documents is sensational anywhere any time. When the documents pertain to the war against Taliban-Al-Qaeda, it is also disturbing because it shows (a) that America is in a trap and is unlikely to win this war, and (b) that India is in for trouble, big trouble.

Let’s not forget that the information now leaked is new only to us, the lay public.

To the top echelons of leadership in America, the facts were known all along. They also knew that the records had leaked. Two months ago, in May, the US Army criminal investigation command had arrested an intelligence analyst in the army and charges were filed against him early this month, well before the leaked documents hit world headlines.

The arrested man, Bradley Manning, is 22 years old. If he is indeed the man who leaked the secrets, he must have done so as a matter of conscience, appalled by the atrocities American troops were committing. This is a “problem” with American democracy. One man with conscience will always be around to do the unexpected.

Remember those pictures of Iraqi citizens being humiliated and tortured by fun-loving American soldiers? Earlier Vietnam war secrets were published by Daniel Ellsberg, another military analyst then working for the Rand Corporation.

The latest documents had much to reveal about Pakistan’s complicity in terror network in the region. This led to some patriotic drum-beating in India—as if Pakistan had been caught with its pants down and now America would be forced to act.

Nothing of the kind will happen.

America has been seeing Pakistan with its pants down for quite a while. For example, it said more than once in recent weeks that Osama bin Laden was living in Pakistan. Blandly Pakistan denied it. And America let it rest at that. Pakistan is for America a pill that is too bitter to swallow and too sweet to spit out, a classic diplomatic trap.

Pakistan’s military leaders, especially the smart strategists of the ISI, know this very well, hence their audacious policy of helping al-Quaida and the Taliban. Some of the terror outfits the ISI trains and equips are fighting America. Knowing this, America goes on giving Pakistan one billion dollars in aid every year. That is how smart the ISI is.

By contrast, India gives America everything America wants—nuclear treaty clauses as stipulated by the American Congress, favouritism to companies like Union Carbide, virtual immunity clauses in the event of future industrial accidents, even a false declaration to ex-President George W. Bush that the people of India loved him.

What does India get in return? Repeated verbal declarations that Pakistan must do more to contain terrorism.

Why doesn’t America do more to contain Pakistan?

The fact is that today’s political dispensation in India has no clearcut strategy about countering Pakistan’s known terror tactics. It does not know how to call Pakistan’s bluff or how to tell America and its allies that enough is enough.

There are unofficial strategic experts in India who have been proposing covert action to counter Pakistan’s covert action. This makes sense in a volatile theatre where everyone is engaged in shadow-boxing. If India can mobilise the kind of strategic brilliance the ISI displays, it can hit Pakistan where it hurts. It may even get the tacit support of the CIA and M16.

What is required is an iron will on the part of policy makers.

Perhaps Indira Gandhi would have found that will.

If softness and diffidence continue in Delhi, eventually the Taliban will replace the Americans in Afghanistan, then the Taliban will have a say in the running of Pakistan, then Pakistan will become the operational headquarters of al-Quaida and all allied groupings.

When someone finally scores a hit in New York or London, the West will wake up—too late of course. What of Bombay and Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad? The ISI’s singleminded focus is India and that’s where the maximum danger lies.

Photo portfolio: The Big Picture

CHURUMURI POLL: Is Chidambaram a saboteur?

17 July 2010

Of all the millions of words that have been expended since Thursday night to examine and re-examine the collapse of the Indo-Pak talks into a slugfest between the two subcontinental S.M.s—Krishna and Qureshithe most incisive 1,042 words come from the editor of the Madras-headquartered New Indian Express, Aditya Sinha, who lobs the grenade the Delhi media cannot fine the ball bearings to: did Union home minister P. Chidambaram sabotage the dialogue?


Even as Krishna is flying into Islamabad, Chidambaram’s top bureaucrat, home secretary G.K. Pillai, accuses the ISI of being behind the 26/11 attack in an interview with the Chidambaram-friendly Indian Express. Predictably, at the mention of ISI, Qureshi flies off the handle and accuses Krishna of taking orders on his cellphone, etc, and soon enough taglines like “Big Chill”, “Tu-tu-main-main“, “Aman ki Ashes” start crawling on TV screens.

Sinha’s entirely plausible theory sparks a bigger question: is the veshti-wearing, Harvard-accented Chidambaram what he is cracked up to be—a high IQ dude competently running his ministry unlike the bandgala-worshipping Shivraj Patil? Or is he just pursuing an agenda all his own that is often at odds with the weltanschaaung of the Congress and is perhaps even deliberately intended at causing discomfort to prime minister Manmohan Singh who has made foreign policy the signature tune of his second term?

The suggestion could have been dismissed off-hand if only if were the first such indiscretion. It isn’t.

# Witness the Telangana tamasha, manufactured mostly by Chidambaram’s breakneck speed in announcing the formation of a new State after TRS chief K. Chandrashekar Rao‘s fast-unto-death, that has turned Congress’ most profitable state into a liability.

# Witness the  operation against Naxals that has turned vast swathes of the hinterland into a graveyard posting for CRPF jawans. (Arundhati Roy has called him “CEO of the war” because he appears to be furthering the cause of his former clients by using State power to clear tribal land for their mining and business interests.)

# Witness the upsurge in violence in Kashmir after the CRPF, which is getting slaughtered in the Naxal badlands, opens fire on teenagers throwing stones and plunges the State into the kind of chaos not since the militancy began in 1989.

# Witness the Afzal Guru issue which again gained traction following a report (obviously in Indian Express) that the Delhi chief minister Shiela Dixit is sitting on it that causes further embarrassment to a party bending backwards to avoid it.

Chidambaram has, for long, been a slightly distrusted individual in the Congress. Partymen salute his obvious brilliance in dealing with complex issues like the Bhopal gas compensation, but he is seen as a bit of an upstart who left the party and became finance minister in non-Congress Third Front and United Front governments. There are some who whisper that the careerist very nearly joined the BJP.

Even if you put all that down to professional jealousy, it cannot be denied that he enjoys a fair degree of middle-class sympathy, especially among the NDTV viewing sections of it, especially for his muscular stance against Naxals and his “proactive” approach to policing by mouthing hollow American tripe like the “Buck Stops Here”. He is, in a manner of speaking, the English-speaking Narendra Modi, without evoking the same visceral venom.

Nevertheless, the Indo-Pak kerfuffle is a good time to ask if Chidambaram is playing his own tune in the government, (which is why he routinely runs afoul of party loyalists like Digvijay Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar). Is he doing it on his own volition or to some higher power’s script? On the other hand, if Chidambaram is eyeing the “7, Race Course Road” address on his visiting card should such an eventuality arise, will such antics necessary earn points on the Congress high command’s scorecard?

Did Manmohan Singh miss a golden opportunity by not accepting Chidambaram’s resignation (not since offered) after the first Dantewada massacre of CRPF jawans?

Or is there something here that falls short of logic?

Also read: Is Chidambaram positioning himself for PM role?

Ten per cent of ten per cent of ten per cent is…

17 December 2008

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes from Bombay: I was going to the Mysore Café at King’s Circle in Matunga when I spotted the Ace Political Expert (APE) walking ahead of ahead of me.

Here was a chance to understand what happened in Bombay straight from the horse’s mouth, I thought.

We ordered Mysore Masala Dose and as we were waiting I asked APE: “How does one convince Pakistan about the involvement of terrorists from its soil in the terror attack through evidence that is pouring like cats and dogs?”

APE  rolled the question over and while artfully poking a hole in dosa replied: “First we have to drum it into President Asif Ali Zardari‘s head that even though by his own admission Pakistan is by and large a ‘Stateless’ State and terrorists may be “non-State actors”, Faridkot is very much part of the State of Pakistan and that is where Kasab is from.”

I was surprised about APE’s impression of the President of the Republic of Pakistan, but may be this is what the whole world thinks of him, I thought.

“What about ISI’s role in training terrorists? Why doesn’t Zardari admit this evidence which India has given them time and again?”

“As the man who is known as “Mr Ten Per Cent”, Zardari genuinely thinks ISI stands for Indian Statistical Institute. Their Army feeds such information to him daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He thinks these organizations are meddling in Pakistan’s affairs. Their Army has still not told him that they have a body called Inter Services Intelligence which foments, assists terror modules,” replied APE.

Zardari appeared to be a kid in the park lost in the wilderness and not used to the brainwashing methods of the Generals in his country.

“At least he must be aware of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its network all over the world and what they have done in India, especially in Bombay?”

“Pakistan’s Army has told Zardari that it is LTTE which is actively spreading terrorism all over the world including Sri Lanka and India. In the tuition books given to him by their Army, LeT  stands for the abbreviated Urdu version of LTTE,” replied the APE.

At this rate, I thought, Pakistan would face lot of problems if Zardari continued to be President.

Imagine saying to India “I will send ISI chief to India” and next day saying “I meant a junior officer”.

Or telling Larry King ‘Kasab is not a Pakistani’ when Kasab’s father confirms the same to The Dawn.

Still, I thought. Zardari must be good in something. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been found fit enough to become President? “He can’t all be that bad as you say or the Pakistani Army make him to be. He must have some strong Unique Selling Proposition (USP).”

“He has a USP which is a USP itself! Whatever he gets from the world to fight terrorism, he hears only ten per cent. Of that he understands only ten per cent. Of that he implements only ten per cent. Ten per cent is his only USP!” replied the APE as we finished coffee and got up.

CHURUMURI POLL: Bombay attack, whodunit?

2 December 2008

The terror attack on Bombay has turned into a fullblown war of words between India and Pakistan, on the diplomatic and media fronts.

On the one hand, Indian intelligence officials claim, through anonymous leaks in the media, that the nationality of the nabbed terrorist, telephone intercepts when the terrorists were at work, GPS maps found on the seized boat that brought them to Bombay, and the origin of one of the emails sent, leave no doubt that there is a definite Pakistani hand behind the audacious assault.

They are not saying the democratically elected Pakistani government was directly involved, but they are hinting that “rogue elements” within the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) have been sufficiently rattled by the heat on the Afghan border to try to open up a new flank through the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba, possibly in collusion with Al Qaeda, so as to distract the attention of the Pakistan Army.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s politicians, military officials and the media pooh-pooh the claims. They say the Indians have not produced any evidence to back the claims. How can a country, which knew nothing of the oncoming attack for months, be so sure of everything within a few hours after the incident. India, they say, is in league with the United States and Israel to put down Pakistan. Instead of blaming Pakistan, India should look inward at its own troubles.

Who do you believe is behind the Bombay attack? Is India demonising Pakistan without producing hard evidence? Or is Pakistan protesting too much?