Friday, December 2, 2011

Delhi’s Betrayal And Dhaka’s Incredible Reaction Over Tipaimukh

Well known and acclaimed Indian journalist Kuldip Nayyar called the Indian decision to construct the Tippaimukh Dam a break of trust. He then wrote a scathing article in one of the leading newspapers of Dhaka where he blamed India for failing to match Bangladesh on the major concessions that Prime Minster Sheikh Hasina made to India. Teesta to him was a major disappointment and now the decision on Tippaimukh is a letdown of major significance.

The Indian journalist also wrote that Sheikh Hasina’s popularity is on a sharp decline. Indian letdown is adding to her current predicament. He however felt that despite the Indian letdown, the anti-Indian feelings in Bangladesh have not increased. He gave high marks to Sheikh Hasina for her firm commitment to secularism.

Hasina’s political risk
Sheikh Hasina had taken great political risks by giving India assurances from day one of her tenure against terrorism and insurgency and subsequently by handing over the ULFA terrorists to India, albeit secretly. Bangladesh also offered India land transit early in Sheikh Hasina’s present tenure that has gone to operation on a trial basis recently. At literally the 11th hour, indeed the evening before the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Dhaka, the Indians withdrew from the table the agreement on the Teesta after assuring Bangladesh that the deal would be the icing on the cake for celebrating the success of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit. Thus the visit of the Indian Prime Minister ended disappointingly.

Now the news about the Tippaimukh Dam and the manner in which the Indians have treated Bangladesh when it sought news on the Dam has added salt to the injury. It is not that the Indians did not know the bipartisan feelings in Bangladesh against the Tippaimukh Dam or fears about it. The recent earthquake of major significance in Sikkim close to Bangladesh has only enhanced public concerns and fears over the Tippaimukh Dam.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had more than convincingly communicated this to the Indian Government during her official visit to New Delhi in January, 2010. Her concerns and those of Bangladesh were duly reflected in the Joint Communiqué of that visit. The Indian Prime Minister again acknowledged the concerns of Bangladesh when he spoke to a cross section of Bangladesh’s intelligentsia in Dhaka University.
Thus the news that India would build the dam has caused widespread concern and anger in Bangladesh. The Prime Minister herself vowed that she and her government would not allow the Indians to do anything that would harm Bangladesh. She announced in parliament that she would send a Special Envoy to India to discuss with the Indians the concerns of Bangladesh on the Tippaimukh Dam.
Unbelievable Govt. stance
Yet against the Prime Minister’s stand, strange as it may seem, there have been some unbelievable statements in the press from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Water Resources. The State Minister of Water Resources in an interview to a local TV station said that it is India’s internal matter whether or not it decides to construct a dam at Tippaimukh. He then went to say something absolutely incredible. He said that India has the right to do whatever it pleases with any of the international rivers we share with it as the lower riparian. By his incredible stand he gave away Bangladesh’s rights under international laws and conventions of waters of all rivers flowing to Bangladesh from India! He said that the opposition is playing politics with the issue of Tippaimukh.

The Foreign Ministry, instead of contradicting the suicidal comments of the State Minister, backed him instead. In a press interview at the MFA, the Foreign Minister thought that the hue and cry raised over the Tippaimukh Dam are unwarranted and that it is part of the opposition ploy to fiddle in troubled waters. She assured the nation that there is no reason to doubt Indian intentions. India, she has no doubt, would not harm Bangladesh. The Foreign Secretary also joined his Minister and addressed the media to assure that India can and must be trusted!

There is clearly a major disconnect between the Prime Minister and her team. By implication, her team is telling her that she too should have full trust in India! They are not bothered that India has dismissed our concern over Tippaimukh by a curt reply to go to the MEA’s website for details about the dam. To them, trusting India is more important than finding out, first why India chose to go ahead with the dam without informing Bangladesh and second, whether or not the dam when eventually built would harm Bangladesh!

The Indian arrogance has infuriated many well known Indians like Kuldip Nayyar. Yet such arrogance has not had any impact on our team that is currently dealing with India. In fact, they are, accepting each act of Indian betrayal as proof of Indian friendship and concern for us. They have given to India the guardianship to decide our interests and have written our rights off even to question Indian intent.

The outcome of all these are going to take Bangladesh and India at directions of conflict instead of friendship. Kuldip Nayyar is right in expressing his concerns at Indian attitude that is causing Bangladesh-India relations to fall apart and pushing the ruling party on a steep decline politically. . He is however mistaken in thinking that it is not causing anti-Indian feelings to grow. In fact, today, the anti-Indian feelings are growing faster than Kuldip Nayyar may be willing to admit.

Indian arrogance is rendering justification to the BNP’s anti-Indian stance in politics that could have been contained if the Indians had not been as insensible and insensitive as they have been. Many in the AL camp are also beginning to question Indian intentions. In the process, a great widow of opportunity opened by Sheikh Hasina upon assuming power for a paradigm shift in Bangladesh-India relations is also being wasted.
Hidden agenda
A former colleague with first hand experience about Bangladesh-India relations asked me bluntly why India first aborted the Teesta agreement and now unilaterally went ahead with Tippaimukh fully aware that it would place a government both covertly and overtly out to please it in political trouble. I had no answer except blame it upon the dynamics of domestic politics in India. He disagreed. He said firmly that the Indians have some hidden agenda for which they are subjecting the Bangladesh Government to pressure. He had me thinking. Is India changing sides aware that the Government, as Kuldip Nayyar has written, has made a mess of governance? Or is India trying to force this government to sign some agreement with which it could hold the next government responsible to serve its interests?

There is a postscript to Bangladesh’s absurd ways of negotiating with India. The Minister for Water Ramesh Chandra Sen has said Bangladesh would take India to the international court for protecting its interests! Does he know what his Deputy has said in public or the trust that the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Secretary has in India? Perhaps not. Our negotiators are behaving like children lost in a maze without grasp of reality in their pursuit to please India at any cost.

BY :  M. Serajul Islam.

Pakistan: Between The Devil And The Deep Sea

On Nove-mber 25, less than 24 hours after the Nato commander in Afghanistan met Gen. Kayani in Islamabad to discuss matters related to the Pak-Afghan border, troops at a Pakistani border check post at Salala became targets of Nato fire that killed twenty-four of them. This was by far the deadliest incident of its kind, although not the first. A similar strike in September 2010 took the lives of two soldiers and another in June 2008 killed 11.

The incident couldn't have happened at a worst phase, both in the so called GOWT in Afghanistan and in the state of US-Pakistan bilateral relationship. Pakistan has reacted predictably. Strategically significant is its decision to close the Nato supply route to Afghanistan and ask the US to vacate the Shamsi Airbase Baluchistan used by the US as a base for drone attacks on militants in FATA. And Pakistan has expressed its intention to bring under review the entire gamut of Pak-US relationship.

Relationship between the two had had been going from bad to worse for quite sometime. The level of mistrust of Pakistan in the US mind had shot up particularly with the increasing perception about Pakistan's tendency to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. And Pakistan has done very little to remove the impression about its double game-play in Afghanistan. The blame-game on the other hand is seen by some observers as an attempt to shift the responsibility for the US failure in Afghanistan on Pakistan. 

In the backdrop of the US plans of phased withdrawal from Afghanistan the latest incident assumes more significance than merely being a "mistake" for which a "detailed investigation" has been launched. American apology accompanied by the usual excuse of firing in self-defence has been dismissed by Pakistan.

The real question is not whether the relationship will be derailed but what will be the extent of the setback and the consequent impact of it on not only the future of Pak-US ties but also on the strategic equation in the region and the global war on terror. Some have even gone so far as to ask whether this is a prelude to an US intervention in Pakistan. 

Perhaps there are basically three options open to Pakistan and each of them in its own way bears heavily on how things turn out in the future.

Firstly, Pakistan can choose to go along with the process of inquiry that Nato/ISAF have promised with the hope that, as one analyst suggests, the crisis will get "papered over," but with the distinct possibility that the "U.S. will face even less prospect that Pakistan will really crackdown on insurgent groups in the border area." The sense of outrage in Pakistan is much too deep for the government to allow it to die down. And given that the GWOT has no public support in Pakistan, anything that looks as compromise risks not only the future of the government but may well ignite a serious upheaval in the country that is likely to be exploited by the religious extremists. That is a situation that neither the people of Pakistan nor the US would like to see happen. Therefore, for the Pakistan government, "just to grin and bear it" as suggested by some, is just not an option. 

The second option is to reassess the pattern of relationship with the US, as has been repeatedly stated by the Pakistani prime minister. The situation in Afghanistan is in a very critical state and the US is fully aware of the imperative of Pakistan's role in stabilising the situation. By the same token it cannot be lost on Pakistan that it is Afghanistan that makes it relevant to the US and that twice in three decades the developments in Afghanistan had brought the two countries together as strategic partners. The first being the erstwhile Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan starting in December 1979, and the second being the Coalition invasion of the same country under the banner of "Operation Enduring Freedom" starting October 2001. 

Pakistan is still suffering the consequence of the first foreign intervention in Afghanistan and is grappling with the problem of how to emerge unscathed from the second. Therefore, what will be the character of their ties after reassessment is a matter of conjecture. But no Pakistani policy maker can either overlook history or Pakistan's strategic compulsions in composing its strategic narrative. 

The third possible option is de-linking from GWOT. Given the deep dependence of the US on Pakistan's support in pursuing its campaign in Afghanistan this option has ominous consequences for Pakistan. US' need for unhindered supply through Pakistan, although there are other alternatives, and for operational intelligence and admin support, may force the US to take any step to ensure Pakistan's cooperation, at least till it withdraws completely from Afghanistan. What might be the form of that persuasion is left to the readers' imagination. 

The Pak-US conundrum has come to such a pass that it is perhaps time for Pakistan to choose between the devil and the deep sea. One wonders which is the better of the two. 

BY :   

India In Breach Of Its Obligations

Rivers are gifts of nature and their flow knows no territorial boundaries. Human beings and rivers have symbiotic relations. Water is life and water sustains nature with all its bounties.
India proposes to build a dam (39-metre long and 162.5 metre high) on the Barak River at Tipaimukh near Manipur-Mizoram border, off Bangladesh Zakiganj border in Sylhet, for generating 1,500MW hydropower. 

The trans-boundary Barak River enters Bangladesh near Amalshid of Sylhet, where it is bifurcated -- with one branch becoming the Surma River and the other the Kushiara River. Both the rivers unite in Habiganj district and flow down as the Kalni River. The Kalni River meets with Ghorautra River near Bajitpur of Kishoreganj district to become the Meghna River.

The Barak River and Meghna River belong to a common basin. Therefore, any interference in natural flow of in any segment of the river will have an impact on the other segments of the river.
During the visit of Bangladesh prime minister in January 2010, India's prime minister gave assurance that "India will not take steps on the Tipaimukh project that would adversely impact Bangladesh." This was reiterated when the Indian prime minister visited Dhaka last September.

On October 22, the Indian Union government concluded an agreement (promoter's agreement as India calls it) with the purpose of setting up a joint venture company between the government of Manipur, NHPC Ltd and Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd. 

The signing of the agreement has not only surprised the people of Bangladesh but also caused deep resentment because, given the prevailing trustful atmosphere, India did not inform the Bangladesh government of its recent steps, let alone share relevant information on the project.

On November 22, the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement urging India to "share all relevant details of the proposed project in full transparency and also about any further step that it may take in connection with the project….. Bangladesh, as a co-riparian, would like to underscore the need for prior consultations before there is any intervention on common rives like the Barak."

On November 23, the Bangladesh prime minister reportedly said in the Parliament: "It cannot be that one country will unilaterally conduct a survey on Tipaimukh dam." The prime minister hit the nail on the head on the subject and said she would send a special envoy to New Delhi.

The Indian prime minister's assurance, that India "will not take steps on the Tipaimukh project that would adversely impact Bangladesh," means that only a joint study of experts from both countries can come to that conclusion. They will examine, among others, the impact of geographic, geological, hydrographic, hydrological, climatic, ecological and other factors on both countries.

A study in 2005 by the Bangladesh Institute of Water Modeling suggests that during a drier monsoon season, when Bangladesh will need water for cultivation and fisheries, the dam will hold 27% more water in June, 16% in July, 14% in August and 4% in September, than an average monsoon year.
Another hydrological impact study in Bangladesh suggests that if India builds Tipaimukh dam on the Barak River, 26% of haors (wetlands) in Sylhet and around 11% in Moulvibazar will run dry.

One noted Bangladesh water expert says that it has been a common characteristic of dams that they increase water inflow in summer, which may cause flash floods in the Sylhet region during the harvesting time of boro (April-May). Furthermore, the geological structure of the region is like a bowl, where water gets stuck for a longer period than it does on the plains. If the water inflow becomes irregular, it will hinder agriculture.
The proposed dam will be adjacent to the well-recognised Taithu fault. Many experts say a major earthquake may cause the failure of the dam. Generally, a dam-break wave travels at a minimum velocity of 10km per hour and is expected to reach Bangladesh in a short time, which would be catastrophic.

On Tipaimukh dam, it is reported that Dr. Soibam Ibotombi of the Department of Earth Sciences, Manipur University, (India), in an article, said that the "Tipaimukh dam is a geo-tectonic blunder of international dimensions." 

Another academic Dr. R. K. Ranjan Singh, former Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Manipur University, now chairman of the Citizen Concern for Dams and Development, reportedly warned of potential earthquake dangers to the dam and told the media: "The area of the dam zone is rated five and therefore if the water in the upper catchments is dammed, it may actually increase the chances of triggering a seismic event."
Besides the above, it is strongly argued that India will be in breach of its obligations if it proceeds unilaterally with the project because of the following reasons:
* It goes against the preamble (Paragraph 6), Article 2 (common basin management of common rivers) and Article 6 (collaboration on preservation of common eco-systems), of the recent Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development between India and Bangladesh signed last September during the Indian prime minister's visit to Dhaka; 

* It is contrary to the spirit of the preambular paragraph of the 1996 the Indo-Bangladesh Ganges Water Treaty, (in particular, Paragraph 4), wherein it stipulates that water resources of the two countries should be utilised for the "mutual benefit of the peoples of the two countries;"

* The dam goes against the 1989 ILO Convention concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (Article 6 of the Convention). It came into force in 1991 and is binding on all ILO member-countries, including India;
* It is contrary to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. The Convention recognises that the conservation of biological diversity is "a common concern of humankind;"
* India will violate customary and conventional international laws if it does not hold consultations with Bangladesh before any project is undertaken on the Barak River.

Finally, if India goes ahead unilaterally, it will be generating only 1,500MW from the Tipaimukh dam at the cost of friendship of Bangladesh people when, according to Indian water expert B.G. Verghese, India can generate 54,000 MW from the Tsangpo/ Brahmaputra which falls 2,450 metres (8,000 feet) over a few kilometres in China just before it reaches the Indian border and Assam.

Given the state of knowledge and technology of various sources of energy, India's proposed construction of Tipaimukh dam for hydropower is baffling, and it is highly desirable that India take a pioneering role in pursuing the "ecological approach" in harvesting trans-boundary Rivers that flow into Bangladesh.

BY :

Tipaimukh Dam

With the signing of a pact between the National Hydro Power Company, Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN) and Government of Manipur on October 22 to form a joint venture, which will be the implementing body, the government of Manipur is well set to give the final push to make the controversy dogged Tipaimukh dam project a reality.

Immediately after the signing of the pact, Bangladesh which has been against this project right from its inception made its opposition to the dam known. The opposition parties there accused the Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of imprudence, and for believing India on its non binding commitment.

It is widely believed that construction of the Tipaimukh dam would dry up rivers and water bodies downstream in Bangladesh, which in turn, will render vast areas arid thereby affecting its agricultural output.

Bangladesh, on many occasion and forums, had made known its apprehension to India about the proposed Tiapaimukh Hydro Electric Project (HEP) by damming the Barak river with a view to generate 1500 MW and India on its part has been assuring that nothing will be done which will be detrimental to the interest of Bangladesh.

But now, with Government of Manipur signing the, the Government of Bangladesh has officially asked India not go ahead with the construction of the Tipaimukh dam project without consulting it.

It is amply clear that in Bangladesh, across the political divide, there is no resting on the assurances given by the government of India. Bangladesh Water Resources Minister went as far as to say that, "… we will go to International Court to preserve our existence".

While the main opposition leader Khaleda Zia, understandably the most vocal opponent of the Tipaimukh, is demanding a joint survey to find out the impact of the project, while the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had assured the Bangladesh Parliament that a high-level delegation would be send to India to latest development on the issue.

If anything, it would appear that the Government of India would be finding it difficult to brush aside or ignore the opposition from Bangladesh over Tipaimukh HEP Project.

And the fact that Sheikh Hasina is in power and that she is known to be close to India will make her vulnerable to charges of selling out to India. This would force her to adopt a more tougher stand on the Tipaimukh dam, and more so considering the likely negative impact of the project.

The opposition within the country or more precisely in the state is well documented. Several studies have pointed out the social, environmental and economic impact of the project.

Of the total area of 29150 hectare to be submerged as a result of 27550 hectare is in Manipur while in Mizoram it is 1600 hectare, displacing and dislocating thousands of people from their land, livelihood, roots, history and traditional practices.

And the sad part is, the benefits from the project will be go the already well off while they make the sacrifice for 'development' and 'common good', move on to a new place, try adapting to a new environment, learn a new trade and put the scattered pieces of their life together.

Despite opposition, despite arguments against it, despite physical evidences against it, the Tipaimukh Dam is most certain to be constructed for there are too many vested interest groups which will benefit enormously from it and they will not let go of such an opportunity.

The general public will have their share of regular electric supply which of course will be a huge thing, given the present power supply scenario. Many experts have opined that Mega Projects, like the proposed Tipaimukh is detrimental to the environment and not sustainable in the long term, and need not have been taken up to met the domestic demand of Manipur.

In its place several micro sustainable hydro projects which are least likely to degrade the environment could have been taken up.

Clearly, such an option was never seriously explored, and why is that so? And why is the Government of Manipur pursuing this mega project despite clear dissuasive evidence and despite the experience of the Loktak Project which has almost laid waste one of the most pristine of lakes in the world with very little return for the state ? 

BY :  Hueiyen Lanpao Editorial :: November 29 2011

RAW: India’s External Intelligence Agency And Its Impact On Neighbours

India’s external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has long faced allegations of meddling in its neighbours’ affairs. Founded in 1968, primarily to counter China’s influence, over time it has shifted its focus to India’s other traditional rival, Pakistan. RAW and Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), have been engaged in covert operations against one other for over three decades. The ongoing dispute in Kashmir continues to fuel these clashes, but experts say Afghanistan may be emerging as the new battleground. Islamabad sees India’s growing diplomatic initiatives in Afghanistan as a cover for RAW agents working to destabilize Pakistan. It accuses RAW of training and arming separatists in Pakistan’s Balochistan Province along the Afghan border. RAW denies these charges, and in turn, accuses the ISI of the July 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

The genesis of RAW
Until 1968, the Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is responsible for India’s internal intelligence, also handled external intelligence. But after India’s miserable performance in a 1962 border war with China, the need for a separate external intelligence agency was clear. During that conflict, “our intelligence failed to detect Chinese build up for the attack,” writes Maj. Gen. VK Singh, a retired army officer who did a stint in RAW, in his 2007 book, India’s External Intelligence: Secrets of Research and Analysis Wing.

As a result, India established a dedicated external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Founded mainly to focus on China and Pakistan, over the last forty years the organization has expanded its mandate and is credited with greatly increasing India’s influence abroad. Experts say RAW’s powers and its role in India’s foreign policy have varied under different prime ministers. Successes that RAW claim it contributed to include:

The creation of Bangladesh in 1971;
India’s growing influence in Afghanistan;
Sikkim’s accession to India in the northeast in 1975;
The security of India’s nuclear program; and
The success of African liberation movements during the Cold War.
The first head of RAW, Rameshwar Nath Kao, who headed the IB’s external intelligence division, led the agency until he retired in 1977. Many experts, including officers who worked with him, credit him with RAW’s initial successes: India’s triumph in the 1971 war with Pakistan, and India’s covert assistance to the African National Congress’s anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. “To a large extent, it was Kao who raised RAW to the level of India’s premier intelligence agency, with agents in virtually every major embassy and high commission,” writes Singh. But the organization has been criticized for its lack of coordination with domestic intelligence and security agencies, weak analytical capabilities, and complete lack of transparency.

The functions of RAW
Not much is known regarding the structure of RAW, say experts. The organization started with 250 people and about $400,000. It has since expanded to several thousand personnel, but there is no clear estimate of its staffing or budget, as both remain secret. However, an estimate by the U.S.-based Federation of American Scientists suggests that in 2000, RAW had about eight to ten thousand agents and a budget that experts place at $145 million. Unlike the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Britain’s MI6, RAW reports directly to the prime minister instead of the Ministry of Defence. The chief of RAW is designated secretary (research) in the Cabinet Secretariat, which is part of the prime minister’s office. Some officers of RAW are members of a specialized service, the Research and Analysis Service, but several officers also serve on deputation from other services such as the Indian Police Service.

RAW had two priorities after its formation, writes B. Raman, a former RAW official, in the 2007 book, The Kaoboys of R&AW: Down Memory Lane. The organization worked to strengthen its capability for intelligence gathering on Pakistan and China and for covert action in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Some experts say that RAW’s efforts in East Pakistan, which was created from the partition of the Indian state of Bengal and completely separated from the rest of Pakistan, was aimed at fomenting independence sentiment. Over time, RAW’s objectives have broadened to include:

Monitoring the political and military developments in adjoining countries, which have direct bearing on India’s national security and in the formulation of its foreign policy.

Seeking the control and limitation of the supply of military hardware to Pakistan, mostly from European countries, the United States, and China.

Experts disagree on the amount of influence RAW asserts on India’s foreign policy. Sumit Ganguly, a professor of political science at Indiana University, says the agency has no influence on foreign policy. However, Dipankar Banerjee, a retired army official and current director of the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, a New Delhi-based think tank, says the head of RAW has direct access to the head of state, to whom he provides input and analysis.

From the early days, RAW had a secret liaison relationship with the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency. The main purpose was to benefit from Israel’s knowledge of West Asia and North Africa, and to learn from its counterterrorism techniques, say experts.

RAW’s role in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka
But it was the support for the Tamil separatist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, that brought RAW much criticism from human rights organizations. RAW helped to train and arm the LTTE in the 1970s, but after the group’s terrorist activities grew in the 1980s-including its alliances with separatist groups in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu-RAW withdrew this support. In 1987, New Delhi made a pact with the Sri Lankan government to send peacekeeping troops to the island and Indian forces ended up fighting the group RAW had armed. In 1991, Rajiv Gandhi, prime minister of India at the time of the peacekeeping force deployment, was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber.

Covert action
Since its inception in 1968, RAW has had a close liaison relationship with KHAD, the Afghan intelligence agency, due to the intelligence it has provided RAW on Pakistan. This relationship was further strengthened in the early 1980s when the foundation was laid for a trilateral cooperation involving the RAW, KHAD, and the Soviet KGB. Raman says RAW valued KHAD’s cooperation for monitoring the activities of Sikh militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Sikhs in the Indian state of Punjab were demanding an independent state of Khalistan. According to Raman, Pakistan’s ISI set up clandestine camps for training and arming Khalistani recruits in Pakistan’s Punjab Province and North West Frontier Province. During this time, the ISI received large sums from Saudi Arabia and the CIA for arming the Afghan mujahadeen against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. “The ISI diverted part of these funds and arms and ammunition to the Khalistani terrorists,” alleges Raman.

In retaliation, in the mid-1980s, RAW set up two covert groups of its own, Counter Intelligence Team-X (CIT-X) and Counter Intelligence Team-J (CIT-J), the first targeting Pakistan in general and the second directed at Khalistani groups. The two groups were responsible for carrying out terrorist operations inside Pakistan (Newsline), writes Pakistani military expert Ayesha Siddiqa. Indian journalist and associate editor of Frontline magazine, Praveen Swami, writes that a “low-grade but steady campaign of bombings in major Pakistani cities, notably Karachi and Lahore” was carried out. This forced the head of ISI to meet his counterpart in RAW and agree on the rules of engagement as far as Punjab was concerned, writes Siddiqa. The negotiation was brokered by then-Jordanian Crown Prince Hassan bin-Talal, whose wife, Princess Sarvath, is of Pakistani origin. “It was agreed that Pakistan would not carry out activities in the Punjab as long as RAW refrained from creating mayhem and violence inside Pakistan,” Siddiqa writes.

In the past, Pakistan also accused RAW of supporting Sindhi nationalists demanding a separate state, as well as Seraikis calling for a partition of Pakistan’s Punjab to create a separate Seraiki state. India denies these charges. However, experts point out that India has supported insurgents in Pakistan’s Balochistan, as well as anti-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan. But some experts say India no longer does this. As this Backgrounder explains, Pakistan is suspicious of India’s influence in Afghanistan, which it views as a threat to its own interests in the region. Experts say although it is very likely that India has active intelligence gathering in Afghanistan, it is difficult to say whether it is also involved in covert operations.

Relations with CIA
The CIA assisted in the creation of RAW, says South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen of the Brookings Institution. However, India’s intelligence relations with the CIA started even before the existence of RAW, note experts. After India’s war with China in 1962, CIA instructors trained Establishment 22, a “covert organisation raised from among Tibetan refugees in India, to execute deep-penetration terror operations in China,” writes Swami.

But the CIA’s operations with the ISI to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s made RAW very wary. However, it did not stop RAW from seeking the CIA’s assistance in counterterrorism training. Raman writes: “One had one more bizarre example of how international intelligence cooperation works.” The CIA trained the officers of the ISI in the use of terrorism against an adversary, and at the same time, he writes, it trained RAW and IB officers “in some of the techniques of countering that terrorism.” India’s intelligence agencies also feel the lack of an equal relationship with the CIA, say experts. Swami says RAW’s grievance is that there is little information they get on Pakistan from the United States; however, Washington expects New Delhi to provide it with intelligence on Afghanistan.

In 1997, Prime Minister I.K. Gujral shut down both the CITs aimed at Pakistan on moral grounds. Before Gujral, Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao had ended RAW’s eastern operations in the early 1990s, as part of his efforts to build bridges with China and Myanmar, say analysts.

Successive RAW leaders attempted to gain fresh authorization for deterrent covert operations, but without success, says Swami. Siddiqa writes: “The Indian government probably realized that encouraging covert warfare would not only destabilize bilateral relations but was also dangerous for the peace and stability of the entire region.”

Weaknesses in RAW
The intrusion of Pakistan-backed armed forces into the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir (Global Security) in 1999 prompted questions about RAW’s efficacy. Some analysts saw the conflict as an intelligence failure. However, RAW officials argued they had provided the intelligence but political leadership had failed to act upon it. The Indian government constituted a committee to look into the reasons for the failure and recommend remedial measures. The report of the Kargil review committee was then examined by a group of ministers, established in 2000. The group recommended a formal written charter and pointed out lack of coordination and communication within various intelligence agencies.

Following the review, a new organization was set up-the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO) – modelled on the U.S. National Security Agency – which would be the repository of the nation’s technical intelligence – spy satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and spy planes. The government also decided to create a Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), whose head would be the adviser to the Chief of Staffs Committee and the defence minister. The DIA was empowered to conduct trans-border operations.

However, the shake-up of the intelligence apparatus has not removed the problems that persisted, especially relating to the overlap of agency activities, say experts. Earlier, RAW was the only organization permitted to conduct espionage operations abroad. Now both the IB and DIA have also been given the authority to conduct such operations, writes Singh.

There have also been occasional media reports of penetration inside RAW by other agencies, in particular the CIA. Swami writes that RAW is exceptional amongst major spy agencies in maintaining no permanent distinction (Hindu) between covert operatives who execute secret tasks, and personnel who must liaise with services such as the CIA or public bodies, such as analysts and area specialists. “As a result, personnel with sensitive operational information are exposed to potentially compromising contacts,” he writes.

BY : Jayshree Bajoria.