SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 3, No. 28, January 24, 2005
assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form
with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant
Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution
As the people of Pakistan celebrated Id-ul-Azha, there was
an unexpected and uncertain lull in violence in the province
of Balochistan. In the days before the annual Muslim 'festival
of sacrifice', the Pakistan Army had moved nearly a division
into the Sui and Bugti areas, following crippling attacks
on the Sui gas purification plants and pipelines. There
were heightened anxieties that this was the beginning of
a new and brutal crackdown in this sprawling, restive and
has been simmering for decades, but temperatures have risen
drastically over the past year. 103
people died and over 300 were wounded in insurgency-related
violence in 2004. Things were brought abruptly to a boil
in Sui after the Army sought to cover up the brutal gang-rape
of a woman doctor at the Sui Refinery in the night of January
2-3, allegedly by an officer and personnel of the Army's
Defense Security Guards (DSG) who are charged with the protection
of the sprawling gas installation. While the status of women
leaves much to be desired in Balochistan, the incidence
of rape is extraordinarily low, and tribesmen react with
extreme violence to this particular crime.
Nevertheless, the ferocity of the attacks on the critical
gas infrastructure was symptomatic of a wider and more intense
anger than the reaction provoked by the rape incident. Just
between January 7 and January 12, for instance, Interior
Minister Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao disclosed that as much
as 14,000 rounds of small arms, 435 rounds of rocket and
mortars, and 50 to 60 rounds of multi-barrel rocket launchers
had been fired by the rebels. At least 15 persons had been
killed in these attacks and there was extensive damage to
the main purification plant and pipelines. The pipeline
has been frequently attacked in the past, but supplies have
seldom been disrupted for more than a couple of days. This
time around, however, it is estimated that a complete restoration
of supplies would take nearly a month. Sherpao also disclosed
that gas supply to 22 per cent of total consumers in the
country had been stopped. According to analyst Rashed Rahman,
moreover, the power and fertilizer sectors, almost the entire
industrial sector in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
some industries in Punjab and Sindh, and even commercial
and domestic consumers have been deprived of gas supply
either completely or at certain peak hours. A spokesman
for the Sui Southern Gas Pipelines Ltd. disclosed that gas-distribution
company had been "forced to implement a 14-hour load management
schedule for gas consumers in Sindh province". The Punjab
province was also facing a shortage of 460 million cubic
feet in its daily requirement of 1,650 million cubic feet
according to the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Ltd, which is
responsible for the distribution of gas to 2.25 million
consumers in about 430 cities, towns and villages in the
provinces of Punjab, the NWFP and the Federal capital, Islamabad.
Stung, President General Pervez Musharraf had warned the
rebels, "Don't push us… It is not the '70s. We will not
climb mountains behind them, they will not even know what
and from where something has come and hit them."
By January 17, Nawab Akbar Bugti, the sardar (chieftain)
of the Bugti tribe that dominates the Sui region, was complaining,
"There are activities in the area which suggest that they
intend only a war against us. For the last two days there
has been a full military build-up in the area. According
to my information, 36 trucks loaded with army men have reached
[the area] and more are coming from different [army] cantonments.
At Sibi air base, six gunship helicopters have landed. Today
[Thursday] aircraft and helicopters have been flying in
our skies for ground checks. They have also brought tanks
and 12 artillery pieces." It was Nawab Bugti who had widely
publicized the rape incident, and had publicly named the
alleged perpetrator, one Captain Emad and three soldiers
of the DSG, and intelligence sources indicate that the bulk
of the subsequent attacks on the Sui infrastructure had
been executed by members of the Kalpar sub-tribe of the
Bugti tribe. During combing operations in and around Dera
Bugti, some 80 persons were reported to have been arrested
and an unspecified number of weapons seized. On January
20, troops demolished houses allegedly used by the tribesmen
to launch the rocket attacks and secure areas near the gas
field. Apart from beefing up its Forces in the Bugti-Sui
areas, ostensibly to guard oil installations, the Army has
expanded its base of operations and efforts to consolidate
operational capacities are visible, including the buildup
of focused intelligence on specific targets that are to
be taken up in the next and potentially intensive phase
of operations. Sources indicate, moreover, that a Cabinet
meeting held on January 17, 2005, had secured near-unanimity
on the intensification of military operations against the
Baloch rebels, though a 'consensus' on securing a 'negotiated
settlement' with Baloch leaders was projected in the Press.
It was the dissent of the Mohajir Quami Movement (MQM)
leaders in the Cabinet that has, however, imposed a measure
of caution in this process. The exiled MQM leader (currently
in London) Altaf Hussain had also threatened that his party
would pull out of the Government if there is a crackdown
in Balochistan, and another prominent Sindhi leader, the
National People's Party (NPP) Chief, Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi,
had turned Musharraf's threat on its head, declaring that
the Sindhis would not abandon the Baloch and that "It is
no more an era of the 1970s, everyone now possesses lethal
While the Government at the Centre would not be affected
by an MQM pull-out, the coalition Government in Sindh could
collapse, and the sectarian violence that long dominated
the province could revive. With Sindh and Balochistan destabilized,
an opportunistic escalation in NWFP would be a distinct
possibility, and the whole situation in Pakistan could acquire
a 'house of cards' profile. As commentator Ayaz Amir expressed
it, "The Pakistan Army cannot afford another operation against
its own people."
There is, however, a strong constituency, particularly within
the Army and intelligence, who believe that the 'low-intensity'
approach to the Baloch insurgency has failed and that a
change in tactics is now necessary.
Nevertheless, attempts at political management have gone
side by side with the beefing up of Forces in the province.
There have been unsuccessful efforts to neutralize the MQM's
sway in Sindh by reviving the Pakistan People's Party (PPP)
and sources indicate that Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)
Chief, Lt. Gen. Pervez Kiani, and National Security Advisor,
Tariq Aziz had flown to meet the exiled PPP Chief, Benazir
Bhutto, in Dubai to try and work out a deal. A deal with
the PPP at this stage is, however, impossible, since Bhutto
can hardly afford to be seen as bailing out the military
regime and supporting a military crackdown.
At the same time, a Parliamentary sub-committee on Balochistan
headed by Mushahid Hussain has recommended a 15 to 20 per
cent increase in gas royalties (a long-standing grievance
has been the pittance Balochistan receives as compensation
for its natural resources; Sindh, according to one report,
receives Rs. 140 as royalty per million BTU (British Thermal
Unit), Punjab, Rs. 80 to 190; Balochistan receives just
Rs. 36); 20 to 30 per cent resource allocation for local
development; and constitutional changes for greater provincial
autonomy. The Committee has emphasized a political solution
to the problems of the Baloch.
All this may, however, be too little, too late. Earlier,
on December 17, 2004, Ataullah Mengal, a Baloch nationalist
leader, Chairman of the Pakistan Oppressed Nations Movement
(PONM), and chief of the Mengal tribe, had walked out of
the Parliamentary sub-committee declaring that 'nothing
could come of it.' Nawab Bugti has also declared that "Military
operation and negotiations could not continue side by side."
Underlying the entire conflict is a crisis of faith. Islamabad
has never trusted the Baloch. And the Baloch find little
reason in their history to trust Islamabad. Worse, recent
developments in the province have immensely intensified
their apprehensions. One of their greatest fears, as articulated
by Nawab Bugti, is that "They are trying to change the Baloch
majority into a minority by accommodating more than five
million non-locals in Gwadar and other developed areas."
Another is that the power of the Sardars and the relative
autonomy long enjoyed in wide areas of the province is being
destroyed by Musharraf's plans to transform
all 'B areas' into 'A areas', and to
bring them under centralized systems of policing and administration.
The sheer distance the situation in Balochistan has traversed
is reflected in the irony of the fact that Nawab Bugti,
one of the most vehement voices of opposition to Islamabad
today, was, in fact, the Governor of Balochistan during
the rebellion of the 1970s, and sided with the Army in the
widespread repression that crushed that movement.
The truth is, Musharraf's plans for Balochistan - whether
military, economic or political - stand in irreducible opposition
to perceptions of local interest among the people of the
province. That puts Islamabad squarely between a rock and
a hard place in this strategic and resource-rich land that
has long remained on the periphery of Pakistan's projects
adds Venom to Politics
Guest Writer: Ameen Izzadeen
Deputy Editor, Sunday Times and Daily Mirror,
Sri Lanka is being hit by another, metaphorical, tsunami
as the two main actors in the larger ethnic war see different
scenarios of another devastating wave of terror.
For Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),
what visited Sri Lanka on December 26 was the second tsunami
- the first had already wreaked devastation on the Tamil
people in Sri Lanka's Northern and Eastern provinces in
the form of Sri Lanka's military.
On the other
hand, when President Kumaratunga was shown photographs,
during a National Security Council meeting last week, of
at least two light aircraft in the LTTE's possession she
is reported to have exclaimed that she was being hit by
a second tsunami. The Army's Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),
which hovered over the North and East during a supposed
mission to photograph the devastation caused by the tsunami,
had stumbled on the presence of an aircraft on an airstrip
in Mullaitivu. A second UAV mission undertaken in the night
collected photographic evidence of another LTTE aircraft.
But for most ordinary people the first tsunami not only
brought in death and devastation, but also created conditions
apparently ideal for national unity. The prompt aid by civil
society organisations to the tsunami-affected people - even
while the Government appeared to be in complete disarray
- was seen as a precursor, not only to rebuilding Sri Lanka
but also to achieving an elusive national unity. Everyone
was helping the affected people without differences of race,
ethnicity, caste or class. For a moment it seemed that even
the divisive politics, which has long been the bane of this
country, had been swept away by the great waves. Many believed
that a real peace was now possible, since the tsunami had
weakened the LTTE's ability to resume the war, and an apparently
over-confident President Kumaratunga declared that she could
say for certain that there would not be another war. The
opposition United National Party (UNP) also joined the Government
in extending support for the relief and rehabilitation effort,
and became an active member of the all-party committee formed
by President Kumaratunga to deal with the situation. The
LTTE also indicated, initially, that it was ready to cooperate
with the Government on relief and rehabilitation, and the
LTTE leader, Prabhakaran, sent a message of condolence to
the people of the South, even as the Government-LTTE 'peace
secretariats' sought to streamline aid flows to the North-East.
Politics seemed to be a dirty word for the first time since
universal adult franchise had been introduced in Sri Lanka
Unfortunately, all the positive signs are now disappearing,
as Sri Lanka reverts to its fractious politics. Both the
Government and the LTTE seem to be inclining to their respective
hardline positions, while, in the South, political leaders
are trying to exploit the misery of a million affected people
to secure mileage in this year of Presidential elections.
As one opposition front-liner expressed it, they are 'all
playing politics over dead bodies.'
Amidst growing indications of mistrust between the two parties
in conflict, the visit of a high-powered Norwegian delegation
has appeared as a beacon of hope. However, the seasoned
facilitators who met President Kumaratunga on January 21,
and Prabhakaran on January 22, achieved little in terms
of the peace process per se. They are, nevertheless,
trying to bring the two sides together on post-tsunami relief
and rehabilitation matters.
But old habits die hard. Both the government and the LTTE
are once again trying to secure concessions by holding firm
to their respective hardline positions. One of the main
irritants was the Government's refusal to allow UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan to visit Tiger areas devastated by the
tsunami. The Government cited security as the reason behind
its decision, but the LTTE argued that other dignitaries,
such as the European Union's External Affairs Commissioner,
Chris Patten, and Japan's special peace envoy, Yasushi Akashi,
had been given access; it also pointed to the fact that
several UN agencies were working in the LTTE areas.
Another irritant has been the centralisation of the relief
and rehabilitation effort. LTTE Peace Secretariat Chief,
S. Pulithevan, and Government Peace Secretariat Secretary-General
Jayantha Dhanapala, had several rounds of talks at the Norwegian
Ambassador's Colombo residence, to work out a formula for
the North-East, which was the worst affected in the tsunami,
to get its just share of aid.
The LTTE alleged that the Government discriminates against
the North-East areas in distributing relief aid, and proposed
the formation of an apex body - including its own representatives
- to supervise the aid flow and rehabilitation projects
on a national level. But the Tigers were told that they
should concentrate only on the North-East, though, in the
immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, President Kumaratunga
had invited the LTTE to join its all-party committee. The
committee, however, was seen by the Tigers as a mere 'talking
shop'. Again, after days of negotiation, the LTTE came up
with a formula according to which relief and rehabilitation
in the North East would be handled by an 11-member apex
body (six Tamils, three Muslims and two Sinhalese). But
the LTTE proposal was again shot down by the President who
was unwilling to relax her hold on the multi-billion dollar
A third irritant was the declaration of a state of emergency
by the President, ostensibly to deal with the post-tsunami
law and order situation. But the Tigers, as well as civic
rights groups, see the new emergency regulations as sweeping
measures that erode civil liberties and tend towards a presidential
dictatorship. These emergency provisions have also enabled
the President to appoint military officers as coordinators
in the relief and rehabilitation work. The Tigers were incensed
with the imposition of the state of emergency not only because
it included Tiger areas, but also because it strengthened
the role of the military in Tamil areas. The presence of
Government forces in refugee camps added to the tension.
A further irritant was a defence deal the Government has
entered into with Iran in the aftermath of the tsunami catastrophe.
The LTTE has charged that the defence purchases from Iran,
through a 150 million dollar credit line offered to Sri
Lanka by the Islamic Republic, have tilted the military
balance in violation of the February 2001 Ceasefire Agreement.
On January 22, the LTTE voiced its concern over the possibility
of tsunami relief aid being diverted to defence purchases.
Worried about the impact of such allegations on the flow
of aid, the Government denied the LTTE charges on Sunday,
January 23. These apprehensions, however, appear to be mutual.
The Government also fears that channelling aid to the LTTE
and its front organisations would only help the rebels build
up their fighting force, which, according to military intelligence
estimates, lost as many as 2,000 cadres in the December
Adding to these irritants is the presence of more than a
thousand US marines in Sri Lanka. The Tigers certainly have
some apprehension about their role, and analysts believe
that their continued presence may complicate matters vis-à-vis
the ethnic conflict in the country.
It is unlikely that these irritants will be removed even
after the entire coastal belt of Sri Lanka is cleared of
the tsunami debris. President Kumaratunga appears to be
indulging in a measure of one-upmanship since she is in
a much stronger position than she was before the tsunami.
Indeed, for weeks even before the natural catastrophe, she
had begun consolidating her power by wooing opposition Members
of Parliament to the Government side, offering them ministerial
posts and perks, while the Supreme Court incarcerated her
bitter political opponents on a contempt charge. The only
missing link in her power scheme was the foreign aid required
to rebuild the economy, which was heading for a crash. The
tsunami came as a blessing in disguise. Sri Lanka's economy
is now upbeat, with billions in foreign aid being promised
and Western nations offering sweeping trade concessions
on sympathetic grounds.
Armed with these advantages, a churlish President publicly
said that there would be no elections in the country for
the next five years, and her stance suggests that she would
not mind if the peace process is pushed to the backburner.
She had, of course, discussed, among other matters, issues
relating to the peace process during her meeting with the
visiting Norwegian Foreign Minister, Jan Peterson, on January
21, and spoke of a constitutional package which could address
some concerns of the LTTE. Earlier in the week, however,
a visibly upset LTTE Political Wing leader, S.P. Thamilselvan,
told European envoys that the Government's mishandling of
the relief and rehabilitation efforts only bolstered the
LTTE's case for an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA).
The President, however, is in no mood to discuss the ISGA,
claiming that her Government's priority is to rebuild the
However, LTTE Chief Negotiator, Anton Balasingham, who was
airlifted to the Tiger-territory by a Government helicopter
after he arrived in Colombo from London, made it abundantly
clear in a media conference that the tsunami had not swept
away the deadlock on the peace process and that no new stand
by the Government had been conveyed to the Norwegian team.
"The tsunami has not swept away the aspirations of the Tamil
people in their freedom fight," he declared, accusing the
Government of attempting to portray the disaster as an end
to the struggle of the Tamil people. "Until such time that
the Tamil people realize their goal, we will continue with
our freedom struggle."
At this point in time, however, the LTTE is not pushing
hard on the ISGA either, since it is also eyeing the substantial
foreign aid. It has negotiated, with some success, the channeling
of aid from foreign NGOs and envoys, to the LTTE's Tamil
Rehabilitation Organisation, a Government-recognized NGO,
arguing that the Government is largely concentrating on
the development of the southern areas while throwing only
a few crumbs to the North-East.
On the southern political front, the Presidential remarks
that there would not be any elections for the next five
years have galvanized the main opposition UNP into action.
The UNP has called on the President to clarify her position
and warned that it would withdraw support to the Government
in relief and rehabilitation work if this was, indeed, the
Evidently, Sri Lanka is gradually coming back to 'normal':
the dirty politics which puts self before the country is
returning, and 'aid politics' is simply adding more venom
to the warped interface between the major players in this
troubled island nation.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts
in South Asia
data compiled from English language media sources.
forces fire mortar shells on Indian positions along Line of Control:
In the first violation of the 14-month-old cease-fire along the
Line of Control (LoC), Pakistani forces fired mortar shells on
Indian positions in the Poonch sector on January 18, 2005. Brig.
Dhruv Katock of the 16 Corps Headquarter said that 15 shells fell
in the northern part of Poonch sector between 1930 hours and 2000
hours (IST). "This is certainly a violation of the ceasefire.
This has happened for the first time since the ceasefire," stated
Lieutenant Colonel R.K. Chibber, spokesperson of the 16th Corps.
However, denying its Army's involvement in the shelling, Pakistan
said on January 21 that India should investigate the matter itself
as the firing incidents have taken place in its territory. The
Hindu, January 22, 2005; Indian
Express, January 19, 2005.
62 political activists with 'militant background' identified
in Andhra Pradesh: At least 40 members of the Telangana Rashtra
Samithi (TRS), including a legislator, reportedly figure in a
list of 62 political workers with 'militant background' identified
by the intelligence wing of the police in Andhra Pradesh. These
62 workers, hailing from the Telangana region, represent the TRS,
Telugu Desam Party, the ruling Congress, the Communist Party of
India-Marxist Leninist (New Democracy), Communist Party of India-Marxist
and the Bharatiya Janata Party. While there are six women among
them, the legislator, identified as Koppula Easwar, who represents
Medaram constituency, was a 'militant' of the Singareni Karmika
Samakhya, frontal organisation of the erstwhile People's War Group
in the coal belt. The
Hindu, January 22, 2005.
Left-wing extremist outfits announce withdrawal from peace
talks in Andhra Pradesh: On January 17, 2005, the two left-wing
extremist (also known as Naxalites)
outfits, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and the
Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML Janashakthi)
announced their withdrawal from peace talks with the Andhra Pradesh
Government. Naxalite leaders Ramakrishna and Amar, 'state secretaries'
of the CPI-Maoist and Janashakthi respectively, declared they
were not keen to continue with the peace talks as the State Government
had deployed the elite Greyhound commando force in the forests
to wipe out Naxalites. A joint statement released to the media
stated, "We have seen through the conspiracy of the Government
to keep us bound by the ceasefire agreement while the police and
anti-Naxalite forces run amuck in the forests killing our activists."
Meanwhile, within hours of the announcement, the Andhra Pradesh
Home Minister, K. Jana Reddy, appealed to the Naxalites to reconsider
their decision since the Government remained committed to continuing
the peace talks. The
Hindu, January 18, 2005.
prove costly, says Maoist 'Chairman' Prachanda: In a statement
released on January 19, 2005, Maoist
chief, Pushpa Kamal Dahal alias Prachanda, said, "the election
rhetoric of Deuba [Prime Minister], instead of making conducive
atmosphere for a democratic settlement through reliable international
mediation and the constituent assembly will prove costly." He
also stated, "Our party urges the political parties, the civil
society and the common people to rebel against the reactionary
regime in order to give completion to the democracy that is overdue
in history" and further claimed, "The victory of the people over
the reactionaries is quite near." Nepal
News, January 20, 2005.
to deal with Pakistani nuclear weapons from falling into extremists'
hands, says Condoleezza Rice: Foreign Secretary-designate,
Condoleezza Rice, indicated on January 20, 2005, that the United
States is prepared to deal with Pakistan's nuclear weapons from
falling into extremists' hands. Questioned by Senator John Kerry
during her confirmation hearing for Secretary of State about the
possibility of extremists taking control of Pakistan's nuclear
weapons if President Pervez Musharraf was overthrown, she said
the US was "prepared to try to deal with it." During the hearing,
Rice claimed that Pakistan had come back from the "brink of extremism"
over the last five years due to Gen. Musharraf's policies in favour
of moderate Islam. Daily
Times, January 21, 2005.
Government resolves to protect Sui gas field in Balochistan
province: The Federal cabinet on January 17, 2005, endorsed
the provincial request of safeguarding Sui gas fields and decided
to utilise all its resources for the protection of vital installations
in Balochistan. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who chaired the cabinet
meeting, reportedly declared that the Federal Government would
use all its resources to protect the national assets, as the Government
could not afford to expose these vital installations to danger.
January 18, 2005.
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