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Weekly Assessments & Briefings
Volume 3, No. 49, June 20, 2005

Data and assessments from SAIR can be freely published in any form with credit to the South Asia Intelligence Review of the
South Asia Terrorism Portal





A Government on the Edge
Guest Writer: Amantha Perera
Contributor, Inter Press Service and The Sunday Leader, Colombo; Lecturer in Journalism, Sri Lanka College of Journalism

With the pullout of the Marxist coalition partner, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, the People's Liberation Front) from Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) Government, the country has once again been plunged into uncertainty.

  Also Read
Tsunami Reconstruction and the Illusion of Peace -- G H Peiris
TRO and Tsunami -- Bandula Jayasekara

The JVP pulled out of the coalition midnight June 15 when Kumaratunga refused to rescind her willingness to sign the Joint Mechanism (JM) with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to handle Tsunami related aid in areas under the latter's control.

JVP leader Somawansha Amarasinghe said that the JM was an open invitation to the Tigers to eliminate rivals. "By establishing the Tsunami relief structure, the Government of Sri Lanka is attempting to hand over part of the power legally vested in it by the people to a group (the LTTE)," the JVP central command said when it issued an ultimatum to Kumaratunga to reject the mechanism proposals.

As soon as the pullout was made official, stories appeared on websites and papers aligned with the Front that, in the event the JM became functional, the Karuna faction would intensify attacks on the main Vanni faction of the LTTE. In fact, two days before the pullout, on the night of June 13, the regional office of Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) in the eastern town of Batticaloa came under attack by suspected Karuna loyalists. TRO has been the main agency working in Tigers held areas, coordinating all reconstruction efforts including those connected with the Tsunami rebuilding programme. The TRO has come under heavy criticism as a mere Tiger front, despite being registered as an international non-governmental organisation.

Some observers took the attack as a signal from the Karuna faction that it will increase similar targeting of Tiger fronts working on humanitarian projects, if the JM is operationalised. Military sources in Batticaloa however said that it was too early to assess the consequences. "It will not be very good PR when you go around disrupting civilian reconstruction work," said a high ranking officer at the Batticaloa Brigade Command.

In the capital, Colombo, military spokesperson Brigadier Daya Rathnayake said that the military was prepared to meet an escalation of attacks following the signing of the mechanism. He, however, added that he was not aware of any intelligence warnings about an escalation of attacks.

The Karuna faction, which broke ranks in April 2004, has been successful in eliminating key LTTE figures in the East, including Kaushalyan, the former LTTE eastern political wing leader in February 2005. Kaushalyan has been the highest ranking LTTE leader to be killed in the internecine violence since the ceasefire and his murder unleashed a fresh bout of killings.

Against such a backdrop, the possibility of an escalation in violence cannot be completely ruled out. The killings had stopped for about one and half months after the Tsunami, but took off in earnest with the Kaushalyan murder and now there are reports of attacks in the East every day.

The Karuna faction has also said that it was not supportive of the JM. Lanka a pro-JVP Sinhala newspaper reported last week, quoting anonymous Karuna sources, that the faction welcomed the pullout and said that the JVP stance would be helpful to its operations in the East.

The JVP has been very vociferous in its support of the Karuna faction. When recent press reports in Colombo established the presence of armed Karuna cadres within Government-controlled areas in the East, JVP stalwart Wimal Weeravansha branded the reporting as a threat to national security. The JVP also shared a platform with T. Rajarathnam, the former General Secretary of the anti-LTTE Eelam National Democratic Liberation Front (ENDLF) last year, after he returned to Colombo from India late last year to assist the Karuna faction in setting up a political party. Rajarathnam was abducted by the LTTE soon afterwards.

In any event, the JM would be a big blow to the Karuna faction, since it would be the first time that the Kumaratunga administration would enter into an agreement with the LTTE. It would be a big boost towards thawing icy relationships between the LTTE and the Government. President Kumaratunga herself has said that the JM could be the prelude to the resumption of negotiations. When the idea of the JM was first mooted, the Norwegians were quick to point out that it was a God-sent chance.

On the flip side, Jehan Perera of the National Peace Council, a non-governmental organisation campaigning for the JM, notes, "If the mechanism fails, the LTTE and the Government will feel more estranged, the drift towards war rhetoric will be accelerated."

Despite a three-year ceasefire, peace talks between the LTTE and Colombo have stalled since April 2003. The ceasefire agreement was signed between the Tigers and an administration headed by present opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe. Wickremasinghe's United National Party (UNP) was defeated by the Kumaratunga-JVP alliance in April 2004. The alliance campaigned on a platform that projected the Ceasefire Agreement as a sell-out to the LTTE.

Despite the rhetoric, in recent days Kumaratunga has appeared more and more accommodative of the Tigers. Last week, she gave orders to transfer Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera from a restive Trincomalee in the East. Weerasekera headed the Eastern Naval Headquarters and had extended his support to the erection of a Buddha statue in the city.

Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgessen is also due in the island this week. He will hold talks with both Colombo and Kilinochchi in an attempt to bolster the rapprochement efforts. On June 13, Sri Lanka's main donors endorsed the JM at Washington DC. "We urge the immediate signing of the agreement in order to ensure proper flow of reconstruction aid to Tsunami victims in the North East," the Co-chairs of the Sri Lanka Donor Group, the US, Japan, Norway and the European Union said, in what was seen as a massive boost to Kumaratunga. The donors also gave subtle indications that the aid flow might be disrupted without a proper mechanism for implementation. "We believe such a structure will facilitate effectiveness and equity in Tsunami assistance," they added. Kumaratunga desperately needs the foreign funds not only for the massive reconstruction effort but to stem double digit inflation and poor economic indicators.

However, Kumaratunga is gearing up to face a torrid time in the south if she goes ahead with the JM. The JVP has already brought 10,000 protestors to Colombo. Two Buddhist monks have gone on hunger strikes in the last two weeks, while hundreds have braved teargas and water canons and marched to her official residence in Colombo.

JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva said that the party would be mobilising supporters against the JM and would forge a new alliance with other political parties opposed to the mechanism. Amarasinghe's parting shot was, "We leave with the mission to return soon, stronger in purpose and greater in numbers."

The JVP pullout has reduced Kumaratunga to leading an 81 seat Government in Sri Lanka's 225-member Parliament. She is now dependent on the support of the main opposition party, the UNP and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The TNA has been very much pro-Tiger in its approach. Both parties have, however, come forward with conditional support for Kumaratunga.

This has left Kumaratunga supporters talking of a fresh coalition with the JVP almost as soon as the party pulled out of the coalition. Thus, deputy minister Dilan Perera, who has been working closely with the President on the JM, declared, "The UNP and some sections of the media would want to believe that the partnership is over. This is not the end of SLFP-JVP cooperation. We have an on going dialogue and we will be talking, and we will work together."

All this manoeuvring has left Colombo a hive of confusion even before the Tigers announced their final decision on the joint mechanism. Without a fresh mandate, Kumaratunga would be a weak leader and will find it hard to proceed with peace negotiations. But in any coming election, the JVP would stand to gain the nationalist vote-base at the expense of Kumaratunga's own Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), weakening her hand even further. The only chance she has at consolidation would be if she can revive the peace process, a dead-beat Tsunami reconstruction effort and a lagging economy, all at the same time.


J&K: Proxies on Tour
Kanchan Lakshman
Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management; Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution

Among aspects of the 'collateral damage' inflicted by 9/11 on Pakistan's enterprise of terror and covert warfare in South Asia is the increasing uncertainty it confronts in managing both the underground and the 'overground' movements it created and sustained over the past decades. In Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), the underground has been forced to de-escalate under increasing international pressure and media focus; the 'overground' - front and proxy organizations of the the Pakistani intelligence apparatus and of the Islamist terrorists - have, consequently, been recipients of increasing largesse from Islamabad.

  Also Read
Summer Mayhem: The Dances of Death and Dialogue in Jammu & Kashmir -- Praveen Swami
A Bus-ride to Uncertainty -- Kanchan Lakshman

The first formal visit of a faction of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) to Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and subsequently, though unsanctioned by Indian authorities, to Pakistan between June 2-16, 2005, was thus projected as a major event and 'development' in the process of 'solving' the 'Kashmir issue', and was dominated by lengthy photo-ops and, importantly, by the separatists' vigorous reiteration of the Pakistani line on the peace process and the Kashmiri jihad. Indeed, the visit strongly reiterated the fact that the APHC continues to be a faithful Pakistani proxy, although its dramatis personae may be gradually changing.

By conferring a 'one-to-one' audience on the Hurriyat faction chairman Mirwaiz (a hereditary title of one of Kashmir's important religious seats, and also head priest of the Jamia Masjid) Umar Farooq, President Pervez Musharraf, anointed the 'moderate' separatist leader as Pakistan's new surrogate, suggesting that Syed Ali Shah Geelani, head of the 'hardline' faction of the Hurriyat (who refused to travel to PoK by the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus) may have finally fallen out of favour. After his meeting with the President, Umar Farooq declared that discussions had covered "two-three proposals in great detail", though he refused to elaborate on the Hurriyat roadmap. He did, however, add that, "We want Kashmir to be divided on geographical grounds. We don't want Kashmir to lose its identity.... we support his [President Musharraf] approach."

In May 2005, Musharraf had told a conference of South Asian Parliamentarians in Islamabad that "We do understand the Indian sensitivities of their secular credentials therefore it (the solution to the Kashmir issue) cannot be on any religious basis… Therefore it should on a people basis and on regional basis." Disingenuously, he had earlier pointed out at a meeting with editors and senior journalists in October 2004, "The beauty of these regions is that they are still religion-based even if we consider them geographically". He outlined his 'formula' further: "To identify a region, allow maximum self governance to the people, de-militarize and take some actions to make border irrelevant."

A further endorsement of the Pakistani position was discernible in the claim of Bilal Lone, son of the assassinated Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone, that Kashmiris should have no problem with the thinking of President Musharraf on Kashmir as long as there is a consensus. Gen. Musharraf was quoted as saying in Canberra on June 14, 2005, that an 'autonomous Kashmir' was his 'earnest desire' and that complete independence for Kashmir would not be acceptable to either India or Pakistan.

The visit broke little new ground, and Hurriyat leaders have been routinely airing these views, and have been meeting visiting Pakistani leaders on a routine basis in Delhi, even as they have tended to receive their instructions, and at least on several occasions, substantial sums of money, from the Pakistani High Commission in India's capital. The only novelty, as Pakistani analyst Mariana Baabar noted, was that the Mirwaiz impressed the people of Pakistan with his sartorial elegance, sporting a new outfit for every public appearance, although he seemed devoid of ideas. The biggest gainers of this inflated public relations exercise have been the Mirwaiz, Bilal Lone and JKLF chief Yasin Malik, the last of which created some space for himself with his controversial statements on Pakistan's Minister for Information, Shiekh Rashid Ahmed, who Malik claimed played host to at least 3,500 Kashmiri terrorists who received training at his farm house and lands at Tarnol near Rawalpindi in the end 1980s and early 1990s. Malik's disclosure was subsequently confirmed by, among others, the ex-army chief of Pakistan, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, a statement from the Pakistan People's Party, former Interior Minister Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Naseerullah Babar, and Choudhury Nisar Ali Khan, acting president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The other visiting Hurriyat leaders, including Abdul Gani Bhat and Maulana Abbas Ansari, were completely sidelined, both in the talks and the media.

Mirwaiz Farooq's new pre-eminence implies that a new equation is emerging in the separatist camp in Srinagar. This may lead to Geelani's marginalization. Geelani, who once described himself as a proud Pakistani, has of late been as critical of Pakistan's Kashmir policy (too flexible, he alleges) as of Delhi. With the Mirwaiz endorsing the Pakistani line unequivocally, a war of claims and counter-claims has already begun, with Umar Farooq announcing at the Jamia Mosque after Friday prayers on June 17 that the leadership in PoK has recognised his faction as the "true representatives" of the people of J&K.

The Hurriyat leaders also met Mohammad Yusuf Shah aka Syed Salahuddin, 'chief commander' of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and 'chairman' of the United Jihad Council. Although Salahuddin, a Kashmiri from village Soibagh in Budgam district, has in the more recent months hinted at possibilities of a ceasefire, he is reported to have told the Hurriyat that India must first withdraw troops from the State. Salahuddin also asserted that he would only support the Hurriyat moves or any future solution to the Kashmir issue if Geelani is also taken on board.

On their return, the Hurriyat leaders have set about the task of convincing their miniscule support base in Srinagar that they now have Islamabad's endorsement, and have also 'offered to talk to' Delhi.

Nevertheless, despite efforts by the Hurriyat and their handlers to present a united face, fissures within the separatist conglomerate were unambiguous. The Hurriyat faction led by the Mirwaiz claimed that their 'historic' visit had made a solution to the Kashmir issue more likely in the 'immediate future'. The JKLF, led by the terrorist turned overground separatist Yasin Malik, however, reiterated that Kashmiris alone would decide their fate, an euphemism for an 'independent Jammu and Kashmir'. While the Mirwaiz-led faction seeks a place in a triangular process of talks with India and Pakistan, Malik seeks a central place for 'Kashmiris' at the negotiating table.

The Hurriyat-JKLF visit to Muzzafarabad, Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad has, however, also drawn some criticism on the grounds that the delegation should rather have spent time in Gilgit and Skardu, to meet other Kashmiris as well as some of the refugees there. Gilgit and Baltistan in the Northern Areas of PoK are, in more ways than one, integral to any eventual solution of the Kashmir issue. However, these areas, with their Shia majority and their cultural proximity to the Kargil region of Indian J&K are an embarrassment both to Pakistan and the Sunni hardliners within the Hurriyat. Shia Hurriyat leader Abbas Ansari has maintained a studied silence on the issue as well. While Islamabad's control over 'Azad Kashmir' is fairly complete, its position vis-à-vis the Northern Areas is relatively fragile. By ignoring this troubled region and focusing on posing for shutter-bugs at Lahore and Karachi, the Hurriyat has merely re-established its primary identity as a Pakistani surrogate. In any event, their claims to be the 'real representatives' of the Kashmiris have been wearing thin, with the reversal of the relative collapse of civil governance in J&K and the successful conduct of elections at all levels - Parliamentary, State and local. Nevertheless, with the progressive delegitimisation of terrorist violence, Islamabad's options are shrinking, and its efforts to retain a hold on actors like the Hurriyat can only strengthen in the foreseeable future.


Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
June 13-19, 2005

Security Force Personnel






     Jammu &








Total (INDIA)





 Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.


Hurriyat Conference is ready for talks with Union Government, says Mirwaiz Umar Farooq: Separatist leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) returned to Srinagar on June 16, 2005, after a two-week visit to Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) during which they held talks with the political and terrorist leadership for resolving the Kashmir issue. Talking to the media, Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq described the visit as "successful" and said the APHC was ready to resume the stalled dialogue process with the Union Government, if invited for talks. "We have never shied away from the talks. We are ready for unconditional talks with New Delhi, if invited, but the discussions should be on the resolution of the Kashmir issue." Daily Excelsior, June 17, 2005.

16 people killed in car bomb explosion in Jammu and Kashmir: At least 13 civilians, including two schoolchildren, and three officers of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed and over a 100 people sustained injuries when an explosives-laden car blew up at a crowded marketplace in front of a Government school in the Pulwama township of south Kashmir on June 13, 2005. A car stationed in front of the Government Central Secondary School is reported to have blown up at approximately 1135 hours (IST) damaging a civilian vehicle laden with bricks, the CRPF-guarded General Post Office, a dozen other vehicles and a commercial complex consisting of 10 shops. Deputy Inspector-General (South Kashmir), Sheikh Owais Ahmed, said, "The explosive, which we believe was RDX and weighed not less than 40 kilograms, must have been kept in the car along with an improvised explosive device." Daily Excelsior, June 14, 2005.


Maoists holding local level 'elections' from June 19: The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is holding local 'elections' in its 'base areas' from June 19, a pro-insurgent weekly newspaper Janadesh reported. According to the newspaper's latest issue, the outfit is organizing elections for local bodies in ten districts in western Nepal described as a 'special zone' by the Maoists. The elections will take place on June 19 and 22 in Rolpa, Rukum, Salyan, Pyuthan, Dang, Gulmi, Baglung, Myagdi, Arghakhanchi and Kapilavastu districts. Chiefs and deputy chiefs of 'Village People's Governments' and chiefs of 'Ward People's Governments' will be elected through these elections. The (Maoist) 'Election Commission' began the election process from May 29 and several candidates have already been elected unopposed, the newspaper added., June 19, 2005


Taliban leader Mullah Omar is in Pakistan, says US Ambassador to Afghanistan: The United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has reportedly suggested that Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, has been hiding in Pakistan and criticised Islamabad's failure to act against the Taliban. In an interview with Afghanistan's Aina Television, Khalilzad said that a Pakistani TV channel had interviewed a senior Taliban commander, Mulla Akhtar Usmani, at a time when Pakistani officials claimed they did not know the whereabouts of Taliban leaders. "If a TV station can get in touch with them, how can the intelligence service of a country, which has nuclear bombs and a lot of security and military forces, not find them," Khalilzad said. "Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders should have been in Pakistan," he claimed. Jang, June 19, 2005.

Pakistani convicted in Paris for aiding "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid: A Pakistani and two Frenchmen were on June 16, 2005, given three-to-five-year prison sentences by a Paris court which found them guilty of aiding convicted "shoe-bomber" Richard Reid, who attempted to blow up a Paris-Miami flight on December 22, 2001 in the United States. The three were convicted of associating with criminals in relation to a terrorist enterprise, three years after being arrested for their ties to Reid. Ghulam, a 64-year-old Pakistani and president of a charity association called Chemin Droit (Right Path), received a five-year sentence for helping orient Reid on French soil and recruiting jehadis. The two Frenchmen, Hassan el Cheguer and Hakim Mokhfi, were groomed by Ghulam to fight abroad, the court found. Dawn, June 17, 2005.

Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed trained Kashmiri militants, says JKLF chief: The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman, Yasin Malik, disclosed in Islamabad on June 13, 2005, that the Pakistani Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, had in the past set up a militant camp near Rawalpindi where around 3,500 jehadis were trained in guerrilla warfare. Malik claimed that "Sheikh Rashid has played a great role for Kashmir's liberation. He used to support the frontline Jihadis, but very few people know about his contributions." However, Ahmed told Reuters on June 14 that "I never ran any militant camp. I have nothing to with any militancy or guerilla warfare." Malik's allegations were, nevertheless, confirmed by, among others, the ex-army chief of Pakistan, Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg, a statement from the Pakistan People's Party, former Interior Minister Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Naseerullah Babar, and Choudhury Nisar Ali Khan, acting president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Times of India, June 15, 2005.


Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna withdraws support to coalition Government: Sri Lanka's ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) coalition ally, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), withdrew its support to the Government on June 15, 2005. A party spokesperson said: "We have withdrawn our support to the Government and our Ministers will be sending in their resignation papers on Thursday." The JVP quit in protest against President Chandrika Kumaratunga's plans to share Tsunami aid with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Tiger (LTTE). Earlier, on June 9, Somawansa Amarasinghe, JVP leader, had threatened to withdraw from the coalition by June 15 if the Government did not call off the Tsunami aid plan with the LTTE. The UPFA had the support of 117 Members of Parliament, including 39 from the JVP, in the 225-member House. The Hindu, June 16, 2005.

The South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) is a weekly service that brings you regular data, assessments and news briefs on terrorism, insurgencies and sub-conventional warfare, on counter-terrorism responses and policies, as well as on related economic, political, and social issues, in the South Asian region.

SAIR is a project of the Institute for Conflict Management and the South Asia Terrorism Portal.


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