Wednesday, February 16, 2011

From Wikileaks to Hillaryleak

On 28 November 2010, website Wikileaks and its five international associates, namely, The New York Times, The Guardian, EI Pais, Der Spiegel and Le Monde, began to publish serially “Secret US Diplomatic Cables”. Worldwide repercussions followed and world politics looked a bit different. The US government was embarrassed. Information published by Wikileaks were considered to be true.
On the contrary, transcript of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s telephone conversation with Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Hasina published on 16 January 2011, has raised doubts about its credibility. Photocopies of this transcript (in English) have been circulating. Two English newspapers, an English weekly and a Bengali newspaper published abridged version of the transcript. But, the question remained, is this transcript, which may be termed Hillaryleak true? Not just Awami League supporters have dismissed it as untrue, but some BNP supporters have expressed doubts as well. So, is Hillaryleak true?
Before going into that, I would like to mention about Art Buchwald who was the top satirist of the last six decades. In 1925, he was born in an Austrian-Hungarian Jewish family in New York. His father was a tailor and very poor. Buchwald was sent to an orphanage. After some years, Buchwald returned home. At 17, he left home and joined the US Army. During World War II he was at the Pacific. After the war, he chose journalism as his profession. He left US and went to Paris. There he joined as an editorial staff of the European version of The New York Herald Tribune. Since then he became highly popular by writing humorous but sharp, satirical yet humanitarian, analytical yet easy reading socio-political columns. In 1962 Buchwald returned to US. Tribune Media Syndicate began publishing Buchwald’s column in 550 newspapers simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic. Buchwald’s column became an institution. For readers with sense of humour and political consciousness, Buchwald’s column became a must read. In 1982 Buchwald was awarded Pulitzer Prize.
I was introduced to Buchwald’s writings in early ‘80s. In 1979, I returned to Dhaka from London and felt the absence of good newspaper in Bangladesh. We had to depend on BBC World Service radio for international news. At that time I began to read International Herald Tribune and was deeply attracted to Buchwald’s column. I noticed, he was the only columnist who could write by mixing fictitious dialogue with facts. Of course, not all his writings were of this type. But, often he wrote fictitious dialogue based satirical columns. It is now said, after Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) who wrote Gulliver’s Travels, Art Buchwald was the topmost political satirist.
In April 1980, I began writing a weekly column, Jaijaidin, in a Bengali weekly, Sometimes, I began to follow Buchwald’s technique. In 1984, I began editing-publishing weekly Jaijaidin and there I began writing a weekly political column, called Diner Par Din. Occasionally, I wrote dialogue based columns. They were popular with the readers, but disliked by the rulers. Weekly Jaijaidin was banned first in 1985 and then in 1986. One of the reasons was, in Diner Par Din column, I published a fictitious dialogue between the then president HM Ershad and his foreign minister. I was sent to exile in London. I realised how dangerous it could be to write fictitious political dialogue.
I continued to read Art Buchwald’s columns and came to the conclusion, to avoid such dangers, the columnist must have deep knowledge on his characters, his power of imagination should be strong and maximum precaution must be taken in this kind of writings. In short, this is a difficult art to muster.
That is why, although in US and UK there are so many good columnists, we do not see someone like Art Buchwald who can write imaginary political dialogue.
And on this logic, I would say, tele-talks published in Hillaryleak may be true. Had there been a Bangladeshi writer who is capable of writing such imaginary tele-dialogue, we would have known long before. Had there been an American or a British columnist who is capable of writing such imaginary tele-talk, we would have read his columns long before.
So, the question is why some people are hesitant to accept Hillaryleak as true?
To answer that, we shall have to consider Hillaryleak’s contents which can be broadly divided into seven parts. Now read on.
One: After preliminary exchange of greetings Secretary of State said, Madame Prime Minister I have been updated by Ambassador-at-Large Stephen Rapp about his visit to Dhaka. Honestly, at the request of New Delhi, we sent him there and tried our best to help you better organise the trial. After listening from Amb. Rapp and our Ambassador Moriarty, I felt obligated to inform you that both I and President Obama take the issue of human rights in its proper spirit. It is on this context, I called you to inform you that United States does not support the trial in its form and content. Bangladesh has to reform the whole process in a way so that it doesn’t become a conduit of punishing opposition.
Comment: On 13 January 2011, in a press briefing in Dhaka Ambassador Rapp said that US attaches importance on a fair and transparent war crimes trial and on amending the law regarding International War Crimes Tribunal. So, nothing new came out here. The new information is Ambassador Rapp was sent to Dhaka at the request of New Delhi.
Two: In reply, Prime Minister said, Madame Secretary, I understand your concern and I already asked my Law Minister to take note of what Amb. Rapp suggested. This is a trial we undertook with active support and assistance of New Delhi. I am sure Indian Ambassador in Washington DC will brief you further on that.
Comment: It was generally regarded that the Prime Minister had begun the trial with active support and assistance of New Delhi. So, here too nothing new has come out. The new information is, the role of Indian Ambassador in Washington is significant.
Three: Secretary then said, Prime Minister, United States stands for a certain values and policies which may or may not be the likes of New Delhi. Of course, we have been attentive to New Delhi’s most of the suggestions but this one I thought I should forewarn you.
Prime Minister replied, Madame Secretary we noted your concerns and can tell you this much that this was in our manifesto and our people would like to see the trial should go on.
Comment: There is no new revelation. Hasina has always been saying, people would like to see this trial to go on.
Four: Secretary then said, absolutely, but that has to be done in a way so that it is accepted internationally. I am sure, even people who voted for your party, may not accept the trial in its form and format which is, to our view, flawed and politically motivated. President Obama working hard to bring peace to your part of the world, Madame Prime Minister. Therefore, United States would not allow any action that may only help some legitimate political forces going underground to create more problem for you and thereby, for us as well.
Prime Minister replied, I understand. I understand. Don’t worry we will fix it. Don’t take it that seriously. We are doing it as we have to do and there are some culprits who we need to straighten up.
Comment: Recently, US foreign policy has been changing to some extent. You can understand that when you see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is apparently supportive of the Egyptian people who are demonstrating against President Mubarak. The US does not want punishing religion-based parties on the pretext of weeding out terrorists. US now knows, such repressive measures against religion based political parties may drive party activists into underground and in this jet age, revengeful terrorists may arrive in US and pursue terrorism there. So, the US wants politics to remain open where religion based parties may participate without fear. But note, Prime Minister said, the matter should not be taken seriously. Can the Prime Minister say this in public? Of course, she is serious. That is why all the top leaders of Jamaat are in jail.
Five: Secretary then said, Ambassador Rapp also informed me about your government’s influence on the judiciary and I was told how judiciary is giving verdict the way you want. This is not good at the end. You have to be watchful.
Prime Minister replied, thank you, thank you. I always value suggestion from yourself and President Clinton.
Comment: Everybody knows that the judiciary has been set up. The US also knows it. That is why secretary is forewarning that such a judiciary may be bad for the country at the end.
Six: Secretary then said, Madame Prime Minister, let me come to the core point for which I called you. As you have seen even Washington Post picked up your treatment to Dr. Yunus and Grameen Bank. I thought it is about time to tell you how upset we are in Washington DC. I am personally upset because Dr. Yunus has been a family friend to the Clintons long before his wining of Nobel Prize. President Clinton is equally upset. Hope you are aware how hard he worked to see Dr. Yunus gets this award. I know people may have personal issues, but when it comes to national icon like Dr. Yunus, I thought Bangladesh shouldn’t demonise country’s only Nobel Laureate.
Prime Minister tried to stop her. Madame Secretary, please listen, please listen …
But Secretary continued, Madame Prime Minister, please let me finish first. I hope you are aware that President Obama is a big fan of micro-credit. He is a fan of microfinance since his mother had her thesis on this subject. So, I am making this call to let you know how upset both of us — President Obama and I — at your continued effort to demonise Dr. Yunus.
Prime Minister replied, Madame Secretary, I hope you are aware that it is not us who brought up this issue. Norway is the first to complain about Dr. Yunus’ misplaced fund. After all, this is our domestic issue and Madame Secretary we will do it as per our own rules and regulations.
Comment: It is well known that Dr Yunus has a close relationship with Clinton family. Also known to some is that Bill Clinton had put his efforts to secure a Nobel Prize for Dr Yunus. What has now been revealed by this tele-talk is current President Obama is also a fan of Dr Yunus and Obama’s mother had written a thesis on micro-credit finance. Note that, Prime Minister blamed Norway’s initiative. But she did not say Norway had investigated and cleared Dr Yunus before awarding him Nobel Prize. Neither did the Prime Minister say that the prime drive of the documentary telecast in a Norwegian television was to criticise the concept of micro-credit. Although, Prime Minister did not mention these, clearly Secretary was aware of the real position.
Seven: After this, Secretary said, Madame Prime Minister, I thought I would not have to go that far. But, unfortunately, I was wrong. I hope you know as much we know, how your government came to power. Don’t forget that we helped you by congratulating you after the election terming it as a free and fair. You know Prime Minister, how this election result was pre-arranged at the behest of our good friends in New Delhi. We acted the way they suggested us. And please don’t forget that Gen. Moeen, who brought you to power, now in the USA and perhaps, we now know, more than you could possibly imagine. Prime Minister, I am not saying that we will disown you so soon. I am just trying to place issues in the order of history demands it.
At this point, Prime Minister tried to change the subject and said, Madame Secretary we are aware of your support and assistance. We will do all we can to keep you happy. Don’t worry. We noted your point. Now let me know when you are coming to visit my country.
Secretary replied, Thanks for the invitations, Madame Prime Minister. I thank you for your time.
Prime Minister said, Madame Secretary, please bring President Clinton and your daughter and son in law.
Hilary hangs up on the other side …
Comment: It was generally understood that Awami League had won the last election (December 2008) with the help of General Moeen and India. But, it was unknown how much support was given by US to Awami League.
The two most significant information to emerge from Hillaryleak are:
a. the results of the elections were pre-arranged, and
b. US had supported this.
So, this then was the main points of Hillaryleak. Those who are saying that this is not reliable are arguing that the full identity of the source is not known and the language of the Secretary is not befitting.
First, consider the source. It was published in Facebook on 16 January 2011 at 10:28 am by Hidden Truth. Obviously, people behind Hidden Truth did not wish to take risks like that of Julian Assange and refrained from publishing their real identity.
Note the date and time of the publication.
Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad in a press statement said, Secretary had telephoned Prime Minister on Saturday 15 January 2011 at 9:30 am (BST). It was then 8:30 pm in Washington DC on Friday 14 January 2011, After this tele-talk, the transcript was published in US on Sunday 16 January at 10:28 am Washington DC time. In other words, in US, people concerned, had 36 hours to take action on Mr Azad’s statement. Clearly, concerned people in US were deeply annoyed because something quite opposite regarding the tele-talk had been stated by Mr Azad. He claimed Secretary of State had praised the Prime Minister and had promised to act jointly on different issues.
Perhaps that is why, someone in US, who was informed and concerned, disclosed the text of tele-talk in the Facebook.
Regarding the Secretary’s language, anybody who had been listening to her regularly, will know, terms such as, absolutely, honestly, conduit, demonise, let me come to the core point, are typically hers. She also called Clinton as President Clinton. Because, once elected President of US, he is always called President. The Secretary knows this. She also knows that President Obama’s mother had written a thesis on micro-credit financing. Not many people (American or Bangladeshi) would have known this.
And, Prime Minister’s language is also typically hers. Note that how she repeats, I understand I understand, thank you thank you, please listen please listen.
Actually, Bangladeshis already know about the close relationship of Awami League with India and that India has been assisting the government on many issues.
Hillaryleak has merely confirmed what was widely known. So, why hesitate to accept it as true? Why be reluctant to accept that the 2008 election results were pre-arranged?
We should understand that, that is why Sheikh Hasina after returning from US in November 2008, decided to contest in the December election, but did hardly do any election campaign. Whilst her rival, BNP Chairperson criss-crossed some 10,000 km in two weeks, Sheikh Hasina stayed back in Dhaka conducting video conferencing. Sheikh Hasina knew strenuous campaign was unnecessary, a pre-arranged win was waiting.
People will judge whether Hillaryleak is true. It is curious that so far US has not given any rejoinder on this.
However, if Hillaryleak is true, then we must conclude that, December 2008 election did not bring back democracy — conspiracy was established.
But where does that leave the Election Commission?
Before answering that, let me go back to Art Buchwald. Due to kidney failure Buchwald died on 17 January 2007 at age 81.
He wrote his own video obituary which was published the next day by The New York Times. It showed Buchwald smiling and saying, “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald. I just died”.
Perhaps, after the publication of Hillaryleak, the Election Commission may say, “Hi, we’re Election Commission. We just died”.
But, does the Election Commission have the honesty and sense of humour like Art Buchwald?

Press freedom has its limitations in Bangladesh

In the last decade, the growth of print and electronic media and a new generation of journalists have changed the face of the media in Bangladesh. But there is a long way to go until there is true press freedom. Politicians, criminals, and businessman exert undue influence, and the industry itself lacks the professionalism to withstand it. 
Pressure from political quarters is much less than it was when the military-backed government was in power only two years ago, Nazrul Islam, chief reporter of the English-language Daily Sun, told me in a telephone interview. Still, progress is slow to take hold. In 2009, the ruling Awami League government adopted the Right to Information Act. Journalists who had fought for transparency welcomed it, but the government needs to provide more information, because people still do not know how to take advantage of it. So we remain deprived of information from government offices.
Other limits are still in place. Zahid Newaz Khan, news editor for the private television station Channel I, told me that some topics are off-limits, because of limited access, or fear of official reprisal. "It's very tough to report the inside story of the armed forces and judiciary," he told me by telephone from Dhaka. In August 2010, Amar Desh newspaper editor and former politician Mahmudur Rahman was sentenced to six months in prison for publishing an article that accused the Supreme Court of bias towards the state.
There is still pressure from powerful groups, particularly on broadcast and electronic media, journalists say. Increasingly, these groups include businesses as well as political organizations, according to journalists I spoke with. The media in Bangladesh used to be primarily government-owned. Now, it is primarily owned by private enterprises. News is published or broadcast by big businesses that pay good salaries and benefits to journalists--but also have the power to make them report what suits their interests. Ownership of the media is influenced by politics, and both the government and big businesses use advertizing as a weapon to control the media.
"Journalists try their best to maintain professionalism amid pressure from these many adversaries," Islam told me. "In a transitional society like in Bangladesh, I believe, lack of democratic practices in almost all spheres of life hinders the growth of purely professional journalism. The state-owned media is highly controlled by the government and lacks professional standards. They work as mouthpiece of the government, regardless of which party is in power." That is significant in a country which is increasingly partisan, "pathologically divided," in Islam's words, "between two major political camps," the Awami League, and the opposition Bangladesh National Party.
Anwar Hossain Manju, former deputy chief news editor of national news agency Bangladesh Sangbad Snagstha, agreed. "It's not a matter of which party is in power," he told me. The ruling parties, whether in government or opposition, don't like criticism, and as a result, many journalists are facing not only defamation cases, but also death threats, said Manju, now special correspondent for the New York-based weekly Ekhon Shomoy. Both media outlets and journalists are under the close scrutiny of government agencies, he said. "Democracy in Bangladesh has not brought full press freedom," he told me.
Media is widely seen as a tool of empowerment in Bangladesh and successive governments have come to realize that it is safer to let it work freely than to curb it. However, media freedom will significantly improve if the government allows state-run media outlets to enjoy freedom of expression. At the same time, the media should work to raise their own professional standards and reduce political bias.

The BDR Mutiny-Revenge For Padua And Boraibari

It is now widely believed that the barbarous mutiny at BDR HQ (Pilkhana) in Dhaka was perpetrated in revenge for the death of 19 BSF jawans killed ( after they intruded on to Bangladesh territory) in the counter-attack by the BDR at Padua of Sylhet and Boraibari of Roumary on April 18 , 2001. The BDR was then headed by Maj. Gen. ALM Fazlur Rahman who has since maintained that the three BDR soldiers killed in that encounter should be decorated with National Sword as Birsreshtho and should be commemorated in exactly the same way as the martyrs of 1971. This has regrettably not been done by any of the governments since the incursion by the BSF into Bangladesh in 2001 and it was surprisingly not one of the demands of the rebellious BDR soldiers in the Pilkhana mutiny of 2009. While the mutineers were able to recall many injustices committed against them over the several decades since independence this single most glaring example just managed to escape their over- wrought attention. Revenge for Padua and Boraibari was the principal justification for the planning and execution of the mutiny but another important objective was to have Bangladesh accept a Peace Mission from India to protect the Kolkata-Dhaka Friendship train service as explained in some news reports. The real purpose for this Peace Mission would be to act as an occupying force and spark further trouble and enmity between the army and the BDR that was likely to ensue after the savage murders at Pilkhana. This would have held out the double benefit and advantage to India of furthering their agenda for securing a transit facility across the country and at the same time cripple the defence and security services of Bangladesh . This would merely be the fulfillment of what had been planned after the 1971 war with Bangladesh having no standing army and the defence needs of the country being organized under Indian army tutelage and control as spelled out in the 7 point agreement signed by the Mujib Nagar government which had only been partly implemented after liberation. The internal law and order situation would according to this agreement be handled by a paramilitary force trained and equipped by India ’s external intelligence agency RAW. The first part of this plan was thwarted when the Indian army was forced to leave ( which would probably be the same fate of this proposed Peace Mission but with more violent and disturbing consequences for India) after resentment began to grow amongst freedom fighters and the ordinary people of Bangladesh against their prolonged presence which was seen to be tantamount to being an occupying force. The second part of the 1971 plan was suddenly disrupted after the August 15 , 1975 coup when the paramilitary force called the Rakkhi Bahini was disbanded soon thereafter. The Rakkhi Bahini earned the reputation of being an undisciplined, brutal and violently vindictive force under the direct control of Sheikh Fazlul Haque Moni and later Tofail Ahmed. It has now been recommended that after the mutiny at Pilkhana the BDR force should similarly be disbanded and like the Rakkhi Bahini have its members assigned to other security forces of the country. In its place a new paramilitary organization would be established and given the name - as one senior army officer has proposed - the Bangladesh Border Force or BBF. This would be the appropriate outcome for the BDR which has by its despicable and heinous acts condemned itself to utter oblivion. A further comparison may now be made with the situation prevailing immediately after 1971 relating to the suspicious role played by the Awami League leadership. The conduct of the AL government during the recent mutiny is increasingly coming under close and intense scrutiny especially in its failure to act in a timely fashion to counter the revolt by sending in the army directly into Pilkhana compound on the very first day of the uprising. To stall such a move the AL administration sent Sahara Khatun, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Mirza Azam to negotiate terms with the mutineers. None of these individuals have any experience or expertise in conducting such negotiations and they carry little weight or influence within the country or party but were nevertheless chosen. There were, however, several senior leaders in the party who were far better qualified to undertake this task but were simply not asked by the Prime Minister. It is a surprise and a miracle that after the number of civilians that were killed or injured outside the gates of Pilkhana these ‘negotiators’ ( Sahara Khatun, Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Mirza Azam) managed to successfully dodge the bullets and were not automatically set upon by the rebels on their entry into the compound. Another aspect of the AL handling of the crisis that has raised objections relates to their deliberate policy of dividing the country on purely partisan lines on the issue of the rebellion. In a time of national emergency it would be expected that the government would attempt to unite the country by calling for all-party involvement in the decision making process. Instead the AL (on the basis of accusations made in the Indian press and media) started pointing fingers at the opposition parties for complicity in the mutiny. The view has been expressed in some quarters that this self- defeating approach to the revolt was deliberate so that the army would be undermined in revenge for their role in the 1 /11 takeover and also in their pursuance of corrupt politicians in the AL and their ultimate trial and prosecution during the tenure of the two year caretaker government. This is entirely consistent with the AL ’s inherent distrust of the armed forces –originally encouraged and inspired by India – which also existed during the government of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and became greatly intensified after the coup’s of 1975 which saw the AL pushed into the political wilderness for the next two decades. Against this inclination of the AL the people of Bangladesh will expect this government to declare the victims of the mutiny as martyrs to be honoured in the same way as the freedom fighters who lost their lives in the 1971 war but which still has not been done for the BDR soldiers who died in Padua and Boraibari while protecting the territory and borders of the country against Indian intrusion and aggression.

Pakistan: Terrorism As Military Doctrine

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, earlier this week, the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari wrote an op-ed in The New York Times urging India and Pakistan to work together to battle terrorism. He argued that terrorists are out to destroy Pakistan and that India and Pakistan have a shared interest in combating terrorism. That is an argument hard to argue with. In the op-ed, Zardari however makes the claim, often repeated by Pakistani leaders, that terrorism was brought into Pakistan during the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980 s. Zardari writes: These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic. Zardari makes the same false claim that his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, has made numerous times in trying to point the finger at the West for a terrorism problem that is very much homegrown in Pakistan. Zardari, the son-in-law of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, should know better (and certainly does). It is often argued that terrorists have support of “rogue” elements of Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It is often argued that the ISI is a “state within a state”. The argument is that these terrorists are acting outside of the control of their masters in the ISI. However, it is clear from a look at Pakistani history that for most of the past half century the Pakistani government has used Islamists as an extension of the Pakistan military. Islamists, and terrorism, has been a government sanctioned component of Pakistani military doctrine since the inception of the Pakistani state. In every military conflict Pakistan has been engaged in since its inception, the Pakistani government has employed Islamists alongside its regular military forces to wage war. In August 1965 , the Pakistani military launched “ Operation Gibraltar “. Pakistani army soldiers, special forces units, and Islamist “ mujahideen” infiltrated Indian- held Kashmir in an attempt to incite an insurgency by Kashmiri Muslims against India. The plan failed miserably. The Kashmiri Muslims did not rise up against the Indian government and no large- scale guerilla warfare took place to “liberate” Kashmir. In its counterattack, India launched a full scale war on Pakistan in what has become known as the Indo- Pakistan War of 1965 . In many ways, the Pakistani military’s attempt to incorporate Islamists into war planning was met with failure in 1965. By 1971 , however, the military and the Islamists had learnt to work together as a more cohesive and successful killing machine. On the night of March 25 , 1971 , in the name of “ God and a United Pakistan “, the Pakistan army, with Islamist support, launched “ Operation Searchlight ” in East Pakistan to crush Bengali nationalism by force. By the end of the night, 7000 Bengalis lay dead in the city of Dhaka. This was the beginning of nine months of war and genocide that would see the emergence of the nation of Bangladesh. During the nine months of 1971 , the Pakistan military formed local “ Peace Committees ” and paramilitary forces from the student organizations of the Islamists parties Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Muslim League. The paramilitary forces, known as the Razakars, were grouped into two wings – the al-Badr and the al- Shams. The al-Badr were fighters drawn mainly from the Jamaat-e- Islami while the al-Shams were drawn from the Muslim League. The “Peace Committees” consisted mainly of political leaders of the Islamist parties. The “Peace Committees” pushed out much of the propaganda , of “jihad” and also reported on the activities of local Bengalis, especially Hindus – the committees gathered vital intelligence for the Pakistan army. The Razakars carried out much of the unsavory work of the genocide. The Islamists were fighting for “the establishment of Islamic society” and “to save Muslims from Un- Islamic influences”. Together, the Pakistan military and their Islamist allies killed up to 3 million people in 9 months. To make the relationship between the military and the Islamists official, the Pakistan Government passed the “ East Pakistan Razakars Ordinance ” in Summer of 1971 to formally create the Razakar force. The Islamists who fought as Razakars were paid by the Pakistani government. For their efforts, in December 1971 the Pakistan government raised their salaries: an Islamist working as a Razakar would get a salary of Rs. 120 per month, a Razakar platoon commander would get Rs. 180 a month, and a Razakar company commander would get Rs. 300 a month. In addition to receiving a salary, the Razakars also received formal military training from the Pakistan army. Though successful at terrorizing the population and mass killings, the Pakistan army strategy resulted in unconditional surrender to India on December 16 , 1971 – two weeks after India intervened to stop the genocide in Bangladesh. Since 1971 , the relationship between the Pakistani military and the Islamists has continued. The Islamists in Pakistan got a significant boost when in 1979 the Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul- Huq promulgated the Hudood Ordinance bringing Sharia law to Pakistan. After losing East Pakistan in 1971 , the Pakistan military has continued to cultivate Islamist militants in its proxy war over Kashmir. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the Pakistan army already had a ready-made relationship with Islamist fighters. Augmented by American weapons, CIA training and Arab fighters, the Pakistani Islamists joined with Afghan fighters to form the Afghan Mujahideen . However it was not the Aghan war that radicalized Pakistani Islamists – that radicalization was homegrown and battle tested in at least two major wars prior to the Afghan war. Today, when the Pakistani president protests that militants on Pakistani territory are “non-state actors”, it is a difficult claim to accept. The Pakistani military has a well-documented history of arming, training, paying and fighting alongside Islamist militants. Just as in 1965 with “ Operation Gibraltar”, the Pakistan military, with the assistance of Islamist militants, launched a similar attack in 1999 on Kashmir that resulted in the Kargil War with India. Since then, Pakistan based militants have continued to launch high-profile attacks inside India. Given the history of Pakistani military support, it is hard to argue that these Islamist militants are rogue actors. So, Asif Ali Zardari is right. These militants did not arise from whole cloth. These militants were born with the idea of Pakistan as the “ land of the pure”, they were nurtured by the Pakistan military, and they have been a prominent part of Pakistani military doctrine. Islamist terrorism is a homegrown Pakistani problem. It is time for the Pakistan government to clean its own house.

A Horrendous Discovery In The BDR Mutiny Investigations

All that being part of history now, one wonders how it all happened, who did it, and why? While that is precisely the undertaking of the investigators who will unearth the real intent of the carnage and identify the culprits, the incident demonstrates a serious lapse in military intelligence . The following facts, gathered from over a dozen of reliable sources, further corroborate that fact. One: Investigators have learnt that a team of 25 trained foreign commandos entered Bangladesh illegally from India through various bordering areas on or within January 11 , 2009. They were received and sheltered in Dhaka by individuals working under cover as diplomats. Two: At the same time, a small group of 10-12 BDR members, including two Deputy Assistant Directors ( DADs), were recruited as the internal moles and coordinators to provide precise information to the foreign team via three senior political leaders of the country until the hours of the carnage. Three: The occasion for the operation was chosen carefully to ensure availability of all senior BDR officers who had gathered in Pilkhana for the annual BDR day celebration. Over 3 ,000 extra troops also came to Pilkhana for various administrative duties as well as to launch a tattoo show for which the BDR has been historically famous. Four: The mutiny was slated for February 24 , while the PM was in Pilkhana to take salute in the BDR day parade. In consideration of likely collateral harm to the political personalities and other dignitaries who accompanied the PM, the date was changed. However, final coordination and reconnaissance were done that day by some guests who attended the parade, masquerading as VIPs. Five: Upon conclusion of final reconnaissance, at about 10.30 PM, on February 24 , a segment of the foreign killing squad and over 25 BDR soldiers - plus three young - leading politicians of the country - met in a briefing in one of suburban Dhaka residences. The precise timing of the operation and the responsibilities of each small group were decided in that meeting. Six: As per plan, one of the DADs ensured that members of the BDR cell would be posted on duty on gate number 4 that morning when the DG would sit for the slated Darbar in the Darbar hall. Seven: On February 25 , the D- day, the foreign commando team entered the Pilkhana compound through gate number 4 , at 8.10 AM, using a BDR vehicle ( Bedford ) which the designated DAD had arranged to send for them about an hour ago. Dressed in sports gear (long camouflage trouser, vest, and PT shoe) - in order to be able to quickly change into civil clothes while fleeing after the massacre - the killers entered the Pilkhana compound undetected. Eight: The BDR vehicle that carried the killers was followed by an ash-colour pick up van which carried initially used arms and ammunition from outside. In order to begin the massacre, one of the Bengali speaking commandos, armed, was ordered to enter the Darbar hall without permission to engage the DG into a provoking altercation. Nine: Once the DG was shot, other officers, all unarmed, tried to obstruct the lone killer. Within seconds, the action group of the killer team entered the Darbar hall and started killing other officers while the cover up group cordoned the area. Ten: In the following hours, part B of the mission began by inducting other troops into the team under gun point and the armoury - as well as the intelligence equipments - was looted. The foreign killers and their local henchmen used BDR soldiers on gunpoint to show the locations of other officers, their families, and the offices where vital national security documents remained preserved. Highly classified border security maps, troop deployment plan and initial action plan, etc. were taken away by the foreign commandos. Eleven: Eyewitnesses say, two of the last foreign commandos - one male and one female - left the BDR compound in the afternoon on February 26 , following the surrendering of arms by BDR members who knew nothing about the mutiny even a minute before. These two are presumed to be the leaders of the foreign commando team. None of the above could have been materialized if the two main national intelligence outfits of the country (DGFI and NSI) have had prior clues about what was being conspired to destroy the armed forces of the country. The foreign commandos took control of BDR's own intelligence outfit, RSU, at the initial stage and used RSU equipments to communicate among themselves during the mutiny. The commanding officer of RSU too was assassinated during the carnage. That aside, there were other intelligence lapses during the mutiny. In the more than 30 hours while the mutiny prolonged, neither the NSI, nor the DGFI, had any clue about who were being shot at and what exactly went on inside. They also ignored SMS messages from fellow officers, on ground that there was no order from the government to do anything. In reality, these two agencies were too busy, as they often are, in ensuring security to the VVIPs and VIPs; not the country and its vital institutions that they are oath-bound and mandated to serve and protect

How ISI Works: Inside Of Inter Services Intelligence ISI

The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (also Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI) is the largest intelligence service in Pakistan. It is one of the three main branches of Pakistan's intelligence agencies.

After independence in 1947, two intelligence agencies were created in Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI). However, the weak performance of the MI in sharing intelligence between the Army, Navy and Air Force during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 led to the creation of the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in 1948. [1] The ISI was structured to be attended by officers from the three major uniformed services, and specialize in the collection, analysis and assessment of external intelligence, either military or nonmilitary. The ISI was the brainchild of Australian-born British army officer, Major General R. Cawthome, then deputy chief of Pakistan Army. Initially, the ISI had no role in domestic intelligence gathering, with the exception of North West Frontier Province and Azad Kashmir.
In late 1950, when Ayub Khan became the president of Pakistan, expanded the role of ISI in the control of opposition politicians, and sustaining military rule in Pakistan. The ISI was reorganized in 1966 after intelligence failures in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and expanded in 1969. Khan entrusted the ISI with the responsibility for the collection of internal political intelligence in East Pakistan. Later, during the nationalist revolt in Balochistan in the mid-1970s, the ISI was assigned to perform a similar gathering.
The ISI has lost its importance during the regime of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was very critical of his role during the 1970 general elections, which triggered the events that led to the partition of Pakistan and the emergence of Bangladesh.
After General Zia ul-Haq seized power in July 1977, the ISI was expanded and it is responsible for collecting intelligence on the basis of Communist Party of Pakistan Sindh and several political parties like the Pakistan People's Party ( PPP).
The Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s saw the improvement of the covert action capabilities of the ISI by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). A special section was set up in Afghanistan under the command of Colonel Mohammed Yousaf to oversee the coordination of the war. A number of officers of the Division of Covert Action ISI trained in the U.S. and many covert action experts of the CIA were attached to the ISI to guide their operations against the Soviet troops by using the Afghan Mujahideen.

ISI is one of the best and well-organized intelligence service in the world. It was founded in 1948. In 1950 he officially gave the task to guard the interests of Pakistan's security and national security within and beyond the scope primery country.Its not only to safeguard the interests of Pakistan but also reinforcing the base to Pakistan in the region.

The ISI is tasked with gathering foreign intelligence and national coordination of intelligence functions of the three military services, the watch on his table, the foreign media, politically active segments of Pakistani society, the foreign diplomats accredited to Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats serving outside the country, the interception and monitoring of communications, and conducting offensive operations and covert war. ISI functions include the collection of foreign intelligence and national intelligence synchronization of the military. The agency maintains surveillance of foreign diplomats in Pakistan, Pakistani diplomats abroad, and politically active members of Pakistani society. It monitors its own staff, the media and foreigners. It monitors and intercepts of communications and covert operations is devoted to the offensive.

ISI is headquartered in Islamabad and operates under a Director General, a service of Lieutenant-General of Pakistan Army. There are three Assistant Directors General appointed Deputy Director General (Policy), Deputy Director General (External) and DDG (General). The ISI is mainly composed of seconded personnel from the police, paramilitary forces and some specialized units of the Army. There are over 25,000 active men of his staff. This figure does not include informants and assets. It is organized into six to eight divisions.

ISI Key Objectives are:
  1. Safeguard Pakistani interests and national security inside and outside the country
  2. Monitor the political and military developments in adjoining countries, which have direct bearing on Pakistan's national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy and to collect foreign and domestic intelligence in such cases
  3. Co-ordination of intelligence functions of the three military services
  4. Keep vigilant surveillance over its cadres, foreigners, the media, politically active segments of Pakistani society, diplomats of other countries accredited to Pakistan and Pakistani diplomats serving abroad

How ISI Operates

ISI's headquarters are located in Islamabad and currently the head of the ISI is called the Director General who has to be a serving Lieutenant General in the Pakistan Army. Under the Director General, three Deputy Director Generals report directly to him and are in charge in three separate fields of the ISI which are Internal wing - dealing with counter-intelligence and political issues inside Pakistan, External wing - handling external issues, and Analysis and Foreign Relations wing.
The general staff of the ISI mainly come from paramilitary forces and some specialized units from the Pakistan Army such as the some chosen people from special services group(SSG) . While the total number has never been made public, experts estimate about 10,000 officers and staff members, which does not include informants and assets.

Joint Intelligence X: JIX

It serves as the secretariat which co-ordinates and provides administrative support to the other ISI wings and field organizations. It also prepares intelligence estimates and threat assessments.It provides administrative support to the other major divisions and regional organizations of the ISI.

Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB)

One of the largest and most powerful divisions of the ISI, monitors political intelligence.The JIB consists of three subsections, with one subsection devoted to operations involving India, other operations involve, anti-terrorism and VIP security.

Joint Counter Intelligence Bureau (JCIB)

Responsible for oversees intelligence operations in Central Asia South Asia, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Israel and Russia also responsible for field surveillance of Pakistani diplomats stationed abroad, if need be monitoring foreign diplomats as well .

Joint Intelligence/North (JIN)

Conduct ISI operations for Jammu and Kashmir , including monitoring Indian forces deployed within disputed Kashmir forcefully held by India.

Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM)

Responsible for covert offensive intelligence operations and war time espionage.

Joint Signal Intelligence Bureau (JSIB)

It includes Deputy Directors for Wireless, Monitoring and Photos, operates a chain of signals intelligence collection stations, and provide communication support to its operatives. It aslo collects Intelligence through monitoring of communications channels of neighboring countries.It has a chain of stations that track and collect intelligence signals along the Indo-Pakistani border, and it provides communications assistance for freedom campaigns in Kashmir.
A sizeable number of the staff is from the Army Signal Corps. It is believed that it has its units deployed in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.

Joint Intelligence Technical (JIT)

Not much is know about this section however it is believed that JIT include a separate explosives section and a chemical warfare section.

The ISI maintains one more primary sections in addition to the seven outlined above that is the Joint Intelligence Technical division.

At first, the ISI focused primarily on domestic espionage, such as tapping telephone conversations and monitoring internal political affairs. Because of its narrow scope, it was reportedly unable to locate an Indian armored division during the Indo-Pakistani War in 1965. When the war was over, Ayub appointed General Yahya Khan to chair a committee to evaluate the ISI and its subdivisions . From 1983 to 1997, the ISI reportedly trained over 80,000 Afghan Mujahideen for campaigns in Afghanistan. During the 1990s, the ISI grew into a powerful and questionable organization. It is said to function as an invisible government and is frequently called a state within a state.On September 2001, President Musharraf appointed a new Director General for ISI, Lieutenant General Ehsanul Haq

  1. Major General R. Cawthome. 1948-1956
  2. Brig Riaz Hussain. 1959 - 1966
  3. Maj Gen (then Brig) Mohammad Akbar Khan. 1966 - 1971
  4. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Ghulam Jilani Khan. 1971 - 1978
  5. Lt Gen Muhammad Riaz. 1978 - 1980
  6. Lt Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman. 1980 - March 1987
  7. Lt Gen Hamid Gul. March 1987 - May 1989
  8. Lt Gen (retd) Shamsur Rahman Kallu. May 1989 - August 1990
  9. Lt Gen Asad Durrani. August 1990 - March 1992
  10. Lt Gen Javed Nasir. March 1992 - May 1993
  11. Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi. May 1993 - 1995
  12. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Naseem Rana. 1995 - October 1998
  13. Lt Gen Ziauddin Butt . October 1998 - October 1999
  14. Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed. October 1999 - October 2001
  15. Lt Gen Ehsan ul Haq. October 2001 - October 2004
  16. Lt Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. October 2004 - October 2007
  17. Lt Gen Nadeem Taj. October 2007 - October 2008
  18. Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha. October 2008–Present

India And Pakistan Border Dispute

Contrary to a spate of speculative reports and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi welcoming the “surrender” of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) leaders “responding to the wishes of the people of Assam”, its ‘chairman and deputy commander in chief’, Arabinda Rajkhowa alias Rajiv Rajkonwar, Raju Baruah and Raja Bora were handed over to India near the India-Bangladesh border in Dawki, on 4 December, 2009. Earlier, in a well planned Indian intelligence operation, based on inputs about Rajkhowa’s plans to escape from Bangladesh received soon after the “surrender” of ULFA finance secretary Chitrabon Hazarika and foreign secretary Shashadhar Chowdhury in early November, he was apprehended at Cox’ s Bazaar near Chittagong, while trying to cross over to Myanmar. All this has been made possible, albeit 20 years after ULFA top leaders crossed over to Bangladesh, owing to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s the commitment to cooperate with India by denying shelter to ULFA, following her coming to power again with Awami League’s (AL) unprecedented 2008 electoral victory. Mr Hasan Mahmud, Bangladesh’s foreign minister and special assistant to Sheikh Hasina, during his visit to New Delhi on 18 February 2009 , promised a Bangladeshi crackdown on militant groups. However, ULFA’s ‘commander- in- chief’, Paresh Baruah along with a sizeable group, escaped to China just before AL assumed charge.

India: The Islamization Of The Northeast

India’s insurgent-ridden northeastern region has long given foreign powers a gamut of exploitable secessionist movements to use to prevent India from emerging as a major global player. Though India has grown accustomed to the ongoing volatility in its northeastern corridor, growing Islamization in the region — spurred by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency and instability in neighboring Bangladesh — will give New Delhi a good reason to pay closer attention to its porous northeastern border. Analysis Northeastern India is a region wracked by secessionist violence, where wide networks of drug smuggling, extortion and arms trafficking run rampant. India has traditionally dealt with the myriad secessionist movements through force, fearing that any concessions made to one group would only exacerbate the others’ secessionist tendencies and further undermine the country’s territorial integrity. The balkanization of the region and the constant drain on Indian resources required to deal with these rebel movements was all part of the United Kingdom’s blueprint for the Indian subcontinent to prevent its former colony from developing a strong national identity and emerging as a major Asiatic power. Up until the partition in 1947 , the British played a major role in encouraging tribal, ethnic, religious and linguistic identities, and in isolating various tribal groups from the mainland and the plains areas in Assam for the British East India Co. to secure its commercial enterprise. Pakistan did not hesitate to jump in where the British left off in the post-partition period, and has since used its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency to fund, train and arm these rebel groups in order to keep India’s hands tied. The largest and most powerful of the northeast secessionist movements is the United Liberation Front of Asom ( ULFA). Once a student movement with populist aims to redistribute the state’s oil wealth, ULFA has gradually changed into what appears to be a moneymaking machine with a strong willingness to do the ISI’s bidding. ULFA runs an impressive extortion racket in the northeast, where Assam’s tea plantation owners and corporate leaders are regularly targeted. The group maintains that its armed campaign will not let up until the Indian government engages it in unconditional peace talks. Yet, when New Delhi makes such an offer, ULFA usually responds with a bombing, as was the case in the April 9 bomb attack near Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s motorcade in the Assamese capital of Guwahati. ULFA’s leadership understands that New Delhi is not about to reward the armed movement with political concessions, and does not wish to disturb the financial networks it has running throughout the region. Moreover, to preserve their militant proxy, the group’s handlers in both Pakistan’s and Bangladesh’s intelligence services have told ULFA not to hold peace talks with the Indian government. Pakistan’s ISI, in cooperation with Bangladesh’s Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), appears to be investing a considerable amount of resources in solidifying India’s militant corridor. There are growing indications that these two agencies are working clandestinely in Bangladesh to bring all the northeast-based insurgent outfits and jihadist elements under one umbrella. The ISI has facilitated cooperation between ULFA and other northeastern militant outfits with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, Islamist militant groups in Kashmir, Islamist groups in Bangladesh and a growing number of al Qaeda- linked jihadist groups operating in the region. Religion, ethnicity and ideology lose relevance within this militant network, as each group has a common interest in furthering their militant and financial capabilities by working together. For example, Tigers cadres organize training camps in the northeast and use their maritime contacts to assist ULFA in transporting arms and narcotics up to Cambodia in ULFA- owned shrimp trawlers that operate out of Bangladesh’s Chittagong port. The Tigers have also been known to train Maoist rebels in Nepal and India at camps in the jungles of India’s eastern state of Bihar. ULFA’s growing links with Bangladeshi Islamists and jihadist elements in the area are increasingly coming to light. The April 9 attack timed with Singh’s visit to Assam marked the group’s, a tactic that was pioneered by the Tigers (a non-Islamist, majority Hindu group) and has been frequently employed by Islamist militants. Prior to the attack, ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa warned that New Delhi’s offer for unconditional peace talks was not acceptable, and that that ULFA cadres “have reached such a stage they would strap bombs on their chest and attack.” ULFA’s adoption of suicide bombing looks to be the result of the group’s increased Islamization caused by collusion with Islamist outfits in the region. The bomber in the April 9 suicide attack was Ainul Ali, a Muslim. Indian security sources revealed that ULFA did not have many Muslim cadres in its fold in the past, but the increasing flow of Bangladeshi refugees across the border has given the group more — and more capable — members willing to sacrifice their lives for the group’s cause with nudging from the ISI. Collaboration between ULFA and the Islamist militants will expand further, as political conditions in Bangladesh appear to be indirectly contributing to the empowerment of Islamists there. Using the Pakistani military regime as an example, Bangladeshi army chief Lt. Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed is reasserting the army in Bangladeshi politics — which have long suffered from a bitter political feud between the family dynasties represented by the Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by Begum Khaleda Zia. With both party leaders driven into exile, a political vacuum has started to take root in the country, and Bangladesh’s Islamist parties are anxiously waiting to fill it. India will be taking note of these political developments in Dhaka, though there is not much New Delhi can or wants to do to intervene. As a result, New Delhi is facing a bleak situation in which the ISI’s maneuvers and Bangladesh’s political troubles are sure to further constrain India’s ability to dig itself out of the militant trap Pakistan has set.