SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
State Fails, the Jihadi Prevails
The October 8, 2005, earthquake that killed more than an estimated 100,000 in Pakistan could have been exploited by the military regime and its chief patron, the US, as an opportunity to heal their moribund image. Thousands of hapless people under the wreckage of their homes could have been pulled out alive had the huge Pakistan Army come to their aid swiftly. Thousands of people would not have succumbed to their injuries had the big fleet of the US choppers parked in the neighbourhood (Afghanistan) flown promptly to transport them to hospitals. The Army and the US came into action too late – when all hope had died!
The jihadis exploited the opportunity that the Army and the US missed. The Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) pulled out 450 girls from the wreckage of Garhi Habibullah Secondary School in Hazara, North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Niaz Akhtar, the school’s watchman told this writer: "There were around 800 children in the school at the time of earthquake including 13 teachers. The first shock flattened the school and the next moment Hizb mujahideen were here to rescue the children. The earth was still trembling but they were working fearlessly to remove the rubble. They saved 450 lives. Around 285 died instantly. Hundreds of Army soldiers around us did not reach to our help."
Hizb has a camp in the neighbourhood at Hasari called the ‘Saifullah Khalid Shaheed Camp’, just a few kilometers from Garhi Habibullah. The camp’s chief, Abdul Basit, would not speak to this writer because permission had not been taken from the ‘authorities’ — an Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Colonel, according to Basit, whose office was close to the camp!
Jamatud Dawa (JD, formerly the Lashkar-e-Taiba, LeT) was the first jihadi outfit to reach the Margala Tower in Islamabad. Together with civilians, its jihadis used heavy hammers in a bid to pull out the people under the rubble. Volunteers complained that Army did not help them. "Seventeen people were rescued alive from the Tower – by the volunteers and the British team, RAPID (Rescue & Preparedness in Disasters). Army and Police acted as spectators," says Kamran Durrani, a volunteer who worked at the tower continuously for 10 days.
Dawa has the most organized and disciplined setup in Muzaffarabad and Bagh – 350 jihadis connected with wireless phones; 16 ambulances and mobile X-ray machines/operation theatres; kitchens to feed 3,000 people daily; motorboats to rescue people from inaccessible areas; an orthopedic unit under the supervision of Dr. Amir Aziz (who was arrested after the 9/11 for treating bin Laden and later acquitted by the Supreme Court).
The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and Al Badr are working under the name of Al Rehmat Trust and Al-Safa Foundation, respectively, in the quake-hit areas. The Jaish has set up two main camps in Haripur and Balakot in NWFP. Its mujahideen walk for miles everyday to provide relief goods to the people living on the mountains. The HM has set up a big langar [open kitchen] in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Dawa’s founder Hafiz Saeed has come up with a solid ‘rehabilitation strategy’. He plans to build ‘fiber’ schools, houses and mosques in the affected areas and look after all the abandoned and orphan children until adulthood. His deputy, Abdur Rehman Makki, claims confidently that Pakistan does not need foreign aid. Dawa alone could undertake the entire reconstruction and rehabilitation, provided it is given a free hand by the Government. This, he says, is no exaggeration! On Hafiz Saeed’s call, women would throw their golden ornaments at him and men will build stacks of currency notes at his feet.
People in the affected areas are praising the jihadis to the skies and criticising the Army and the US vehemently. In their opinion, the US is a selfish friend with a track record of abandoning Pakistan in emergencies. The complaints are widespread and analogies are being drawn from history: just like the Seventh Fleet that never came to ‘rescue’ Dhaka, US choppers did not arrive on time to rescue the critically injured; the Americans are nobody’s sons, brothers, or friends; they are wedded to their ‘vested’ interests alone; the Pakistan Army is to ‘rule’ the people, not to serve them; its officers still wore starched uniforms, ate rich meals and puffed imported cigars when the ordinary people in Muzaffarabad desperately needed food, water, medicines and shelter.
The intensity of current sentiment against the Army is reminiscent of the hatred that the Bengalis had against it in 1971. Dawa’s jihadis have sought to placate the people by treating them humanely and providing relief, even as they forbade them from chanting anti-Army slogans.
Even the detractors of the jihadi groups have been favourably impressed by their relief work. President Musharraf, BBC, Washington Post, CNN, ambassadors of European countries in Islamabad, among others, have appreciated Jamatud Dawa’s work. More credence was attached to Dawa when a team of doctors from its ideological enemy – the Agha Khan Foundation – started working in its clinics. At present, international organizations such as ICRC, WHO, UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR, Khalsa Aid [a Sikh relief organization] and Singapore Relief Agency are working with Dawa.
The Army’s callousness has disappointed even its most committed supporters. Irfan Siddiqui, a noted Urdu columnist, wrote in the Daily Nawa-i-Waqt [October 27, 2005]:
One of the country’s top India-baiters, Siddiqui surprisingly appreciated India. "Nations who have faith in their people refuse foreign aid even when they need it desperately. India is one of them. It did so at least on two occasions. Sri Lanka turned down the Israeli aid saying that its acceptance could hurt its Muslim population’s sentiments."
Similarly, anti-US sentiments are running very high even among the highly educated classes. In Bagh (Pakistan occupied Kashmir), Dr. Shamim Khan (a Pakistan-born British doctor) responded sarcasticaly and with hostility to questions about the US contribution in the relief work: "We set up an operation theater in a tent. A US Chinook landed here and the theater disappeared! This is the Americans’ contribution!" Khan was also upset about the Pakistani Government arresting Dr. Amir Aziz at the US behest for allegedly treating bin Laden. Khan remarked: "A doctor can treat anybody. Although, I wish to kill President Bush, but I would still treat him if he comes to me for treatment."
NATO’s presence has further fanned the anti-US sentiment. The jihadis, rightwing and the opposition groups look at NATO’s 1,000 soldiers in Muzaffarabad as a threat to Pakistan’s security. They fear that these Forces will remain in Pakistan permanently to protect ‘US interests’ in the region. A Daily Jasarat [Oct 29, 2005] editorial declaimed:
The earthquake will have a far-reaching impact on Pakistani society, and has immensely strengthened the jihad-mongers. The JD has slowly and gradually been emerging as a state within the state, and the earthquake will accelerate this evolution. After providing education and health facilities to the poor masses in far-flung areas successfully, Dawa had, just before the earthquake, launched a ‘judicial system’ parallel to the state’s justice system. As is the case with health and education, the Pakistani state has failed to provide its citizens quick justice, with courts taking decades to dispose off simple civil and criminal cases. Taking advantage of the state’s incompetence, Dawa had set up three arbitration courts at Hyderabad, Bahawalpur and Muridke. According to Hafiz Saeed, the results of these courts were ‘very encouraging’, and he disclosed that parties approached these courts voluntarily. Those who came were Dawa’s own people who had disputes. People had even accepted Dawa’s decisions in murder cases. These courts passed orders in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah [precepts of the holy Prophet].
The day may not be far when the mainstream population would also be condemned to approach Dawa’s courts due to ‘delayed justice’. The jihadis do have the power to implement their decrees and are not as weak and fragile as civilian Governments. If the Dawa is perceived as providing ‘true justice’, it will move closer to its agenda to establish a khilafat [caliphate], and a unique phase of Talibanization will commence under the emarat [leadership] of Hafiz Saeed.
The opportunities created by the enormous humanitarian disaster in the wake of the earthquake have been wasted by the state, and the jihadis have seized these with rare intensity and commitment. The reverberations of this quake will echo in Pakistan for a long time to come.
Maoist Flowering under Benign Neglect
On October 18, 2005, Suchit Das, police chief of the eastern Indian State of Orissa, noted, "the Maoists are planning to open the corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh. For this, they are trying hard to take control of the western districts of Orissa, like Sambalpur and Deogarh." There has been mounting evidence in the recent past to indicate that the Maoists are attempting to open a new front to link up the neighbouring States of Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh via Orissa. The larger strategic plan is to create an uninterrupted north-south corridor and Orissa’s central and western regions are critical to the construction of such a passage.
The recent proscription of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) in Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (on August 17, 2005, and September 5, 2005) respectively, has consequently done little to stem the rising subversion in Orissa’s border Districts. For instance, on October 17, approximately 20 cadres of the CPI-Maoist shot dead one Special Armed Police trooper and injured four persons at Badrama in the Sambalpur district, close to Sundargarh District on the Orissa-Jharkhand border. Earlier, on September 29, Congress party legislator Nimain Sarkar had a miraculous escape, even as one person died, when the Maoists triggered a landmine, which destroyed a vehicle carrying the legislator’s supporters near Pusuguda in the Malkangiri District. Malkangiri shares its border with Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. Home Secretary Santosh Kumar confirmed that the blast occurred when Sarkar and his supporters were en route to Motu to meet family members of Subash Biswas, who had been shot dead by the Maoists on September 27 after they had branded him a police informer. With increased pressure in Andhra Pradesh, police sources say, many senior Maoist leaders have shifted base to areas in the bordering regions of Orissa and Chhattisgarh.
Of Orissa’s 30 districts, the CPI-Maoist is already active in eight: Gajapati, Rayagada, Koraput and Malkangiri in the southern region; and Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Deogarh, and Keonjhar in northern Orissa. They have declared several areas along the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border in the southeast of Orissa as a ‘liberated zone’ and carry out attacks particularly targeting politicians, police and landlords there. Since their proscription in Andhra Pradesh, the Gajapati District of Orissa has witnessed a spurt in Maoist activity. Senior police sources of Andhra Pradesh, who visited various areas of Orissa on August 24, 2005, disclose that more than 200 Maoists have sneaked into Orissa across the State border, particularly into Tekili and Manjusa in Gajapati district. Entering Gajapati from the Bhamani, Kuttur, and Batili areas in Andhra Pradesh, the Maoists spread out to the Onna, Sara, Gariaguda, Khandwa, Siali and Haripur villages and further move towards Barinji via the Gira hills, Ajaigarh, Kujanshi, Santoshpur, Marlanda, Kharsanda and Madhusudanpur. From Barinji, with the help of some sympathizers, they join existing Maoist camps in the Rayagada, Koraput, Malkangiri and Nawarangpur Districts. And across Rayagada, according to intelligence reports, Maoists enter the Phulbani district via the Khajuripada-Anugur-Parimal-Mohana-Adaba-Mandrababu route.
The Gajapati district thus serves as a point of dispersal, from where the Maoists move into Kandhamal region, Koraput and Malkangiri via the Padmapur Forest in the Rayagada district. Maoists who have entered the Gajapati district are reportedly trying to recruit the youth and have created three organisations, the Praja Bimukti Sainya (People’s Liberation Army), People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army and Lok Sangram Manch (People’s Revolutionary Platform), for this purpose. The Maoists have always used the Gajapati District as a shelter zone whenever a ban has imposed on them in Andhra Pradesh.
The Maoists primarily enter Orissa in groups of 12-14 and invariably choose inaccessible localities as their bases. Since the late 1990’s, when three or four squads (dalams as they are known in Andhra Pradesh) settled in Orissa, they have maintained good rapport with the locals, and are well entrenched. They have consolidated their position by helping settle family or village level disputes. In the Gajapati District, they chose villages where the topography and social character were similar to familiar areas of Andhra Pradesh. Thus, in the Gosani Block of Gajapati, the local language is Telugu, which is spoken in Andhra Pradesh. Maoists have a presence in the Regesingh, Parsmba, Naraharipur, Bindua and Parichha villages of Gajapati District.
Malkangiri District is gradually emerging as a Maoist base in Orissa, gaining the status of a Maoist ‘division’ spanning the Orissa-Andhra border areas. The Maoists have infiltrated into the border regions of Chitrakonda, Gudawa, Doraguda, MV 79, Kalimela, Vegangawada and Motu and force locals to provide food and shelter. Incidentally, Malkangiri is directly accessible from the Maoist-affected Khammam, Visakhaptnam, and the East and West Godavari Districts of Andhra Pradesh. Data from Malkangiri indicates that Malkangiri has witnessed at least nine significant incidents relating to Maoist activity in year 2005 (till November 2), and since 1999 the Maoists have killed at least 20 police personnel in this District. An average of eight raids and 10 days of combing operations are carried out in the Maoist-infested villages every month. While the police spends about Rupees 80 million a month in combating the Maoists in Malkangiri, Koraput and Rayagada districts (all of whom share a border with Andhra Pradesh), the civil administration spends just Rupees 500 million per year for development work in these Districts.
Another crucial district for the Maoists in Orissa is Rayagada where, despite heavy deployment of the Police and paramilitary Forces, Maoist-related incidents are registered on a regular basis. The State Government had made little effort to counter extremism in the area before the Gothalpadar land mines blast in 2002.
Police sources disclose that 1,000 State Armed Police personnel, 1,000 from the Indian Reserve Battalion, 1,000 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, and 200 men of both the Special Operations Group and Special Intelligence Wing are engaged solely in dealing with the Maoists in these pockets.
There are presently seven leading Maoist squads and three front organisations, with approximately 300 hardcore cadres and 2,000 supporters active in Orissa. Within the Maoist fold, the Kalimela, Motu, Populur, Korkunda, Chitrakonda and Sangagampary squads in Malkangiri; the Bansadhara and Kuilabang squads in Rayagada; and the Janjhabati and Chasimulia squads in Koraput, pose a challenge to the Administration.
In Orissa’s Northern region, the Maoists have formed the Krantikari Kisan Committee (Revolutionary Farmer’s Committee) and Jungle Surakhya Committee (Forest Protection Committee) in villages adjacent to Jharkhand. Thus, in the Sundargarh district, they have formed these committees in bordering villages like Bjharbeda, Kaliaposh, Tulasikani, Makaranda, Sanramloi, Badramloi, Jharbeda, Jareikel and similarly at Thetheitangar, Samda, Reda and Digha on the Jharkhand side.
The CPI-Maoist is also consolidating its position in the Sambalpur district in north Orissa. On July 7, a group of more than 30 Maoists killed five people in the Tamparsingha, Banjaridikira and Larabira villages in a series of attacks spread over five hours. Earlier, on May 28, the Maoists had shot dead three civilians and injured an equal number in Burda village. More recently, on October 16, a group of 40 Maoists, including some female cadres, attacked a police party at village Badarma, killing one policeman and looting four rifles, before escaping into the adjacent jungles. The State’s Home Secretary, Santosh Kumar, stated, "The Maoists are attacking the Police with the aim of looting arms and ammunition… The looting of police weapons is a clear signal that they are preparing for a long battle in the region".
In Sambalpur, the Maoists are currently active in the villages adjacent to the Khilasuni Reserve Forest area under Kisinda police station – Redhakhol, Meghpal, Jujumura, Chhamunda, Burda, Kisinda, Kusamura, Podanai and Jarang. Maoists from Jharkhand come to Sambalpur to train and escape back across the border in the event of combing operations by the Police. In case of a shortage of arms and cadres for major operations, assistance is secured from Maoist units in neighbouring Jharkhand, although the outfit is currently trying to strengthen its base in Sambalpur and Deogarh in order to reduce its dependency on the Jharkhand unit.
In the Deogarh district, the Maoists are active in Jadagola and villages under Riamala Block. On October 13, the police unearthed a large quantity of Gelatine explosives and 21 improvised explosive devices during a combing operation in the adjoining Hiran forests, which is now reported to be a Maoist base. Similarly, the Maoists have intensified their movement in the Keonjhar District’s Badbil mining area, the Keonjhar and Dhenkanal border area, and the Kaliahat Police outpost area. They are also reportedly trying to enter the Kotgarh and Brahmani villages of Phulbani District in order to establish a link between Rayagada and Sambalpur. In addition to consolidating their position, the route would create a pathway between Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand. Recently, the outfit brought in some prominent leaders and changed the secretaries of some of its ‘area committees’ in the tribal areas of its Andhra-Orissa Border (AOB) ‘special zone’. According to reports, 22 cadres had been brought to the AOB area from the Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh.
Rising Maoist activity in Districts like Sambalpur and Deogarh is also a major concern from the economic point of view, since it is here that a majority of the steel and iron ore mine projects are being developed. In June 2005, South Korea’s Posco signed a deal for a $12 billion steel project in Orissa in the Sundargarh and Keonjhar Districts, the largest single foreign direct investment made in India. Unsurprisingly, reports of extortion from many projects have been received by the State intelligence units.
The state response, amidst all this rising Maoist activity, has remained mixed. The Government is currently following a ‘two-pronged approach’: socio-economic development to negate the Maoists’ support base among the poorer sections, and combing operations directly targeting the Maoists. Apart from the State police, at least 16 companies of the para-military Central Reserve Police Force are deployed across the State to combat the Maoists. While 103 hardcore Maoists were arrested between December 2004 and June 2005, a total of 46 cases were registered against the group this year (till June 10, 2005) as against 24 cases registered in 2004. The police have also neutralised a Maoist camp in Malkangiri district and five camps in Sambalpur during 2005, defused 22 landmines and seized 30 weapons.
But, the authorities seem ill equipped to tackle the situation. For instance, the post of Deputy Inspector General of Police (South-western range) with jurisdiction over Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Kalahandi and Nuapada districts lay vacant between August 25 and October 22, hampering coordination between the Superintendents of Police of these Districts. Malaria had killed one policeman and affected at least 20 others among those deployed to fight the Maoists in the Sambalpur District, according to reports in August 2005. One trooper deployed in the area, who was suffering from malaria, complained: "There is no basic healthcare in the villages where we are posted. We are not even getting clean water. When we are fighting disease, how can we fight Maoists?"
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
October 31-November 6, 2005
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
10 persons killed in car bomb blast in Srinagar: A few hours before the swearing in of Ghulam Nabi Azad as the tenth Chief Minister (CM) of Jammu and Kashmir on November 2, 2005, a Fidayeen (suicide squad) terrorist detonated a powerful car bomb in the Nowgam area of capital Srinagar near the old residence of outgoing CM, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, killing at least 10 people and injuring 18 others. A 10-year-old boy, a female pedestrian, three Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel, including a Sub Inspector, and the terrorist were among the ten persons killed in the suicide attack, responsibility for which was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). A caller, who identified himself as Jaish spokesperson Abu Qadam, telephoned local media organisations in Srinagar and said Mohammad Mubashir, a resident of Abbaspora in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, had carried out the attack. Daily Excelsior, November 3, 2005.
Pakistan national sentenced to death in Red Fort attack case: Mohammed Arif alias Ashfaq, a Pakistani national and member of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), was sentenced to death by a court in Delhi on October 31, 2005, in the Red Fort attack case. Co-accused Nazir Ahmed Qasid and his son, Farooq Ahmed Qasid, both of Indian origin, were awarded rigorous life imprisonment. Arif's wife, Rehmana Yusuf Farooqui, who is of Indian origin, was sentenced to seven-year rigorous imprisonment and ordered to pay a fine of Rupees 10,000 for sheltering him before and after the incident. Additional Sessions Judge O.P. Saini reportedly said: "I sentence Mohammed Arif alias Asfaq alias Abdul Hamad to death along with a fine of Rs.1 lakh, subject to its confirmation by the Delhi High Court, under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for waging war against the Government of India." Two soldiers and a civilian were killed in the attack on December 22, 2000. The Indian Express, November 1, 2005.
US warn against pact between Maoists and political parties: The United States on November 4, 2005, expressed concern over a possible alliance between the political parties and the Maoist insurgents. The US embassy in Kathmandu in a statement stated that, "The United States notes that the parties in the past have said that they would not enter into any formal relationship with the Maoists, unless and until the Maoists firmly renounce violence, put down their weapons, and commit to supporting the democratic process. Despite declaring a three-month ceasefire in September, the Maoists have done nothing to indicate that they are prepared to abandon violence in the long term, and abductions and extortion continue unabated." The statement further said, "We hope that the Maoists will enter into peace negotiations with the Government in good faith, abandon their weapons, and come into the political mainstream. Until these steps are taken, the Maoists cannot be treated as a legitimate political party." Kantipur Online, November 4, 2005.
President Musharraf warned of assassination attempt: According to Daily Times, intelligence agencies have warned the Government that banned jihadi outfits are planning to make another assassination attempt on President Pervez Musharraf. According to intelligence reports submitted to the Interior Ministry, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Jamiat-ul-Furqan (formerly Jaish-e-Mohammed) are trying to "cultivate" a relative of the President who is not on good terms with him or is against his policies, sources told Daily Times. The report says if this scheme fails, the terrorist groups, which have so far been unable to penetrate the tight security around General Musharraf, could target close relatives or friends of the President. Daily Times, November 4, 2005.
Recommend South Asia Intelligence Review (SAIR) to a friend.