SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
on the Cards
Meeting on the sidelines of the 15th Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on August 2, 2008, India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh reportedly conveyed the country’s concerns over the increasing involvement of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, in anti-India activities. Dr. Singh is believed to have specifically conveyed concerns over ISI involvement in the July 7 suicide attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, with a message that the incident, along with cease-fire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) and increasing infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), had created "difficulties" in the relationship between the two countries. Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, on his part, assured his Indian counterpart that Islamabad would independently investigate the embassy attack which killed 60 people, including four Indians.
The cease-fire violations coincide with the terrorist attacks on Indian targets at home and abroad. There have been serial bombings in India – in the western commercial hub of Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat, on July 26, and in the southern IT/BPO centre of Bangalore, capital of Karnataka, on July 25, which left a cumulative total of approximately 56 people killed and 150 wounded. Earlier, the suicide bombing in Kabul on July 7 killed at least 60 people, including diplomat V. Venkateswara Rao and the military attaché Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta. With the security agencies currently investigating the bombings in Bangalore and Ahmedabad and the antecedents of the shadowy Indian Mujahideen (which claimed responsibility for the mayhem in Ahmedabad), definitive evidence is still elusive regarding the ISI’s possible role. There is, however, no such uncertainty over the ISI's involvement in the suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy in Kabul.
New Delhi stated, further, that the peace process was "under stress" after the Kabul Embassy bombing. India’s National Security Adviser, M. K. Narayanan, stated on July 12, "We not only suspect but we have a fair amount of intelligence (on the involvement of Pakistan)… We have no doubt that the ISI is behind this..." In fact, increasing evidence reportedly indicates that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) cadre Hamza Shakoor, a 22-year-old who hailed from Gujranwala in Pakistan’s Punjab province, drove the vehicle used to bomb the Embassy. Afghanistan has unequivocally blamed the attack on the ISI. To Pakistan’s acute embarrassment, reports indicate further that the ISI’s involvement has been substantially confirmed by USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), based on communication intercepts. According to The New York Times (NYT), American intelligence agencies have concluded that the ISI helped plan the suicide bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul based on "intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials [of US] said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region." Subsequent forensic investigations by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have also reportedly established that the explosives used bore markings of the Pakistan Army Ordnance Factory. Further, NYT reported that "American officials also said there was new information showing that members of the Pakistani intelligence service were increasingly providing militants with details about the American campaign against them, in some cases allowing militants to avoid American missile strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas… The information linking the ISI to the bombing of the Indian Embassy was described in interviews by several American officials with knowledge of the intelligence. Some of the officials expressed anger that elements of Pakistan’s government seemed to be directly aiding violence in Afghanistan that had included attacks on American troops." US intelligence believes that the embassy attack was probably orchestrated by militants loyal to Jalaluddin Haqqani.
Pakistan’s response to all this, of course, has been a blank denial. As proof of innocence, Prime Minister Gilani declared, "we have condemned this incident in the strongest terms," adding further, "against this background, the Indian statement (regarding Pakistani involvement) is not only surprising but shocking too."
It is useful to note that a Pakistani role has long been documented in virtually every major act of Islamist terrorism on Indian soil, as well as in an overwhelming majority of incidents of Islamist terrorism across the globe.
On July 29, flagging 19 ceasefire violations on the LoC by Pakistan in 2008, India, asked Islamabad to honour the November 2003 cease-fire agreement and not to vitiate the atmosphere and disturb the bilateral peace process. The incident in Kupwara sector on July 28, in which one Indian soldier, was killed was described by the Army as the first direct incursion by the Pakistan Army across the LoC after the 1999 Kargil War. Unconfirmed reports said that four Pakistani soldiers were killed with one body found on the Indian side of the LoC.
Most of the 19 violations occurred in the Poonch and Rajouri areas of Jammu. Infringements have also been reported in the Uri, Kupwara, Tanghdar, Machail and Gurez sectors. Army sources stated that most of these violations were in June and July 2008. While Pakistani troops are given to resort to covering fire for infiltration attempts, the recent LoC truce violations are being seen as part of a broader escalation strategy. Praveen Swami notes:
And for the record, the jihad infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan occupied Kashmir is well in tact. However, commanders of the LeT are more cautious in their campaign of subversion – covert propaganda, hidden recruitment, training and exfiltration continue through a changed modus operandi, which has become sufficiently clandestine not to attract excessive media attention and affords Pakistan the option of denying the State’s involvement in fostering terrorist activities. The interrogation of Jameel Ahmed Awan aka Abu Zargam aka Dheeraj, a resident of Abottabad in Pakistan, who was arrested earlier in 2008, has revealed that the ideologues of the Ahl-e-Hadith sect continue to make provocative speeches laced with exhortation for jihad, particularly in areas where there is insignificant presence of security forces (SFs). Care is taken to switch off the microphone if such speeches are made in mosques and speeches made in city areas are far more temperate.
Sources indicate that, since April 2008, the leadership of the LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM) and Al-Badr Mujahideen have met at least twice in the garrison city of Rawalpindi to discuss the jihad in J&K and in Afghanistan.
And on the ground in J&K, there has been a renewed offensive by the militants, backed by increased infiltration. While July has been the most violent month in 2008 with some 82 fatalities, April and May accounted for almost 90 infiltration attempts. In fact, April, May and June accounted for 161 infiltration attempts, with most of these reported from the Uri, Machail and Keran sectors, Army sources disclosed. Based on radio intercepts of militants, sources said most of the infiltrators were from the LeT and JeM, with instructions to force a poll boycott in J&K. Militants have stepped up their attacks in more recent times. In July alone, the major incidents include:
July 24: Five people of the same family, including four children, were killed and 18 persons were injured when militants lobbed a grenade at the crowded Batmaloo bus stand in the capital, Srinagar.
In the Doda District, HM cadres shot dead four members of the family of a surrendered militant.
July 19: Ten soldiers were killed and 18 were wounded when HM militants destroyed a SF bus in an IED blast at Narbal Crossing on the outskirts of Srinagar.
July 4: Five soldiers were killed in an ambush by militants in the Kupwara District.
Intelligence sources indicate, moreover, that militants are planning to escalate violence ahead of the J&K Assembly polls in October-November 2008. Khadim Hussein, a HM ‘commander’ arrested in the Doda District sometime in April 2008 revealed that, "We have been told to remain low till the elections are near and then target leaders." Sources indicate that the Gilani regime backs the ISI plan to disrupt the forthcoming elections in J&K. It was with the support of the new Government that LeT has recently opened two new training camps in Rawlakot and Kotli in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The outfit has reportedly created "an army of 200-250 militants" who are specially trained in carrying out attacks on political rallies, candidates and election booths. In addition to their own cadre, "the LeT was also ready to help some militants of Hizbul and Jaish to infiltrate under their banner to J&K to sabotage the elections". These specially trained LeT cadres reportedly hail from Multan and Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province and Rawlakot, Kotli and Bhimber in PoK, and have been selected after a long drawn process of trials.
While the primary target of the ISI-backed armies of mujahideen has been J&K, the post 9/11 era has gradually induced a parallel shift in strategy, with increasing terrorist incidents in various metropolitan areas in India. The intent and objectives of the ISI are increasingly apparent in a wide range of activities intended to provoke communal violence, engineer terrorist incidents, and recruit militants for a pan-Islamist jihad across India. A shift in the pattern of violence from J&K to other centres "would offer Pakistan greater ‘deniability’, and enable it to argue that Indian Muslims have been pushed to a point of no return by the government’s ‘atrocities’. However, such a shift in strategies should not be perceived as a radical departure or even as a nuanced reorientation of the ISI/jihadi agenda. It lies entirely within the paradigm that has been sustained since the Zia-ul-Haq regime, and has progressively translated itself into the Islamist fundamentalist and terrorist movement in the region."
It is now clear that, whatever tactical restraint exercised by Pakistan for some time, has obviously disappeared. India, on the other hand, continues to exercise "adequate restraint" to prevent any runaway escalation of tensions, though Defence Minister A.K. Antony asserted that India is fully prepared to deal with any such instances "firmly".
During his visit to the US between July 27 and 30, 2008, Prime Minister Gilani was forced to defend the ISI in the wake of rising allegations of sustained wrongdoing by the agency. While allegations of supporting terrorist networks are not new to the ISI, it is the cumulative impact of the recent Western and (for much longer) Indian and Afghan reports that is causing concern for the Agency. While its network and strategy of promoting militancy in J&K, and of seeking ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan, are well-known in this part of the globe, the West has, for a host of reasons, refused to recognize the nature and intent of the Agency. However, the West is now finding it increasingly difficult to ignore the footprints of ISI terror across the world.
According to a London Times report, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a visit to Islamabad in July 2008, had privately warned that Washington would take unilateral military action if Pakistan did not move more aggressively to stop infiltration of militants across the border into Afghanistan. On July 12, 2008, Stephen R. Kappes, the CIA Deputy Director, reportedly traveled to Pakistan to confront Islamabad with "new information about ties between the country’s powerful spy service and militants operating in Pakistan’s tribal areas."
Any faint hopes that Pakistan's civilian political leadership would rein in the ISI were abruptly dashed. On July 27, the Government reversed its decision, announced the previous night, to place the ISI under the administrative, financial and operational control of the Interior Division. The Press Information Department had issued a memorandum late on July 26 stating that the ISI and the Intelligence Bureau had been placed under the Interior Division’s control. The Pakistan People’s Party-led Government later ‘clarified’ the earlier notification, saying the ISI would continue to operate at the Prime Minister’s ‘discretion’: "The said notification only re-emphasises more co-ordination between the Ministry of Interior and the ISI in relation to the war on terror and internal security." For the record, it may be noted that "the ISI is supposed to be under the Prime Minister’s control but with a mainly military set-up, is known to function as an arm of the Pakistan military. A serving Lieutenant-General heads the organisation, and a lot of its manpower is drawn from the military."
It is not the first time that the ISI has come in for global censure. A report commissioned by Britain's Ministry of Defense in September 2006 concluded that the ISI "has been supporting terrorism and extremism, whether in London… or in Afghanistan or Iraq… The [Pakistani] Army’s dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA [Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of Islamist parties], and so indirectly supporting the Taliban through the ISI, is coming under closer and closer international scrutiny." The British Defence Academy report recommended that it was necessary to dismantle the ISI if the problem of Pakistan’s support to Islamist terrorism was to be resolved.
The Pakistani military establishment will oppose any move that could potentially reduce its powers, or the powers of the ISI. Given the architecture of Pakistan’s domestic politics and in the absence of sustained global pressure, a diminution of the ISI’s extraordinary powers and network cannot be expected in the proximate future. The shadowy ‘state within a state’, and its mandate of subversion and terror, will consequently continue to be a cause for serious global concern.
On July 31, 2008, Government troops crossed the Mannar-Kilinochchi boundary to enter Kilinochchi District, the headquarters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), killing 20 militants and injuring another 35. Later, the 58th Division of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) captured the Vellankulam Town, the northern-most town in the Mannar District, on August 2, 2008, and advanced up to the 29th milepost on the Mannar-Pooneryn Road, shifting the entire Division into the Kilinochchi District. With the capture of Vellankulam, the whole of the Mannar District came under the control of the Security Forces (SFs) for the first time in the North-East conflict. "The troops attached to the 58 Division killed 2,500 Tiger cadres in the Mannar battlefront by the time it completely liberated the Mannar District from the clutches of the LTTE and stepped into Kilinochchi District, the last stronghold of the LTTE," the General Officer Commanding of the 58th Division, Brigadier Shavendra Silva disclosed. The troops on the Mannar front had begun their operation in September 2008.
Earlier, SLA’s 57th Division, advancing towards the Thunukkai and Mallavi Towns, the second most important administrative centres of the LTTE, on July 24, 2008, captured the Vavunikkulam Tank area in the Mullaitivu District and another 10 square kilometres adjacent to the Tank. The Army also repulsed the Tiger’s attempt to re-establish their hold on the area on July 25, 2008. The troops recovered the dead bodies of 36 militants out of the more than 55 killed during the entire operation, reportedly the largest recovery of dead bodies of militants by the SFs in the Wanni. At least eight senior LTTE cadres, including "Lieutenant Colonel" Pallavan and "Major" Ambumani, of the 'Charles Anthony Brigade’ (one of the oldest and highly trained infantry units of the LTTE) were among those killed. Ground sources confirmed that Tiger cadres were withdrawing from the area further towards Kilinochchi following the attack.
Prior to that, at least 22 Black Tigers [cadres of the suicide wing of the LTTE] were killed when Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) fighter jets carried out an air attack targeting an LTTE training centre in the Udayarkattikkulam area East of Iranamadu in the Mullaitivu area on July 22, 2008. SLAF intelligence confirmed that a group of Black Tigers were engaged in a rehearsal at the time of the air attack. Udayarkattikkulam area is considered a nerve centre of the LTTE in the Mullaitivu District and had been used for special training for its leaders.
These major military successes on the Northern Front clearly defied the LTTE’s rhetoric about a ‘strategic retreat’ in the East to guard their Wanni heartland, and their insistence that they retained capacities to strike back. On July 15, 2008, itself, LTTE’s Military spokesman, Rasiah Ilanthirayan, released a statement to the effect that, "The President’s military approach to overcome the LTTE would never succeed as the cadres were as strong as ever. The LTTE would not lose its battle for Eelam." He had challenged the Government to enter the Wanni and ‘face defeat’. Balasingham Nadesan, chief of the political wing of the LTTE, on July 21, 2008, had similarly argued, "We have always used many different tactics and strategies to deal with such (military) offensives. We have repeatedly demonstrated our ability to convert the Sri Lankan Government offensives into our favour… Our forces will undertake any military actions that are needed to evict the occupying Sri Lankan armed forces from our homeland."
The current operations in the LTTE heartland, however, clearly demonstrate that the LTTE, which has lost some 11,106 cadres since the commencement of the offensive in July 2006, according to data compiled by the Institute for Conflict Management, has weakened considerably and the Government troops are now at striking distance of the organisation’s headquarters in Kilinochchi. Intelligence sources are reported to have disclosed that a vertical dam is being erected around what is thought to be LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran’s bunker in Wanni, and a deep underground railway tunnel is being constructed as an escape plan in the event the SFs capture Kilinochchi.
Corroborating these assessments, Army Chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, on July 18, disclosed that the LTTE had now lost nearly two thirds of its manpower and land area to the SFs. Earlier, on June 30, 2008, speaking to members of the Foreign Correspondents Association, Fonseka asserted that "the LTTE has lost the capability of fighting as a conventional army. Although they are (still) fighting us, they (are) not (fighting) in the same manner as was in the past. That type of resistance is not there anymore." Fonseka added, further, "We do not just go for terrains, but we go for the kill. This is the difference between the military operations in the past and the present. I am sure the LTTE will totally lose even their present capability in less than one year. Then they will resort to a totally different type of tactic."
Before entering the LTTE heartland in Mullaitivu, troops persistently attacked the LTTE bases in Mannar and Vavuniya and regained control over a considerable stretch of land and sea-coast. According to a June 30, 2008, SLA report, the troops attached to the 57th and 58th Divisions had ‘liberated’ 1,084 square kilometres in Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu Districts.
Some of the major Military successes on the Northern front earlier in 2008 include:
July 27: SFs captured the Sugandan base, part of the LTTE’s 1-4 base complex in the Mullaitivu jungle. The Sugandan satellite base was a small base which was being used by the LTTE cadres for communications.
July 20: Troops captured the biggest LTTE base at Illuppukadavai, 10-kilometres north of Vedithalthivu, in the Mannar District. 15 militants and a soldier were reportedly killed and two soldiers wounded during the clashes over the preceding two days.
July 16: Troops captured the biggest Sea Tiger (sea wing of the LTTE) base in the North Western coastal town of Vedithalthivu in the Mannar for the first time after the early 1990’s. More than 70 militants were killed during the operation.
July 11: Army troops took full control of the Nedunkandal town, about 16 kilometres north east of Periyamadu in the Mannar District. Similarly, troops also captured Navvi, another small town about 15-km northwest of Omanthai.
July 4: 17 militants were killed as the troops captured the LTTE’s strategic Michael Base. The Michael Base, part of the 1-4 Base, is located seven kilometres north of Janakapura, is similar to the Munnagam base – the first base in the 1-4 base complex captured earlier – an underground structure.
June 27: At least 25 LTTE militants were killed and an unspecified number of them injured as SFs captured the LTTE’s strategic ‘5-4 Base’.
Another 25 LTTE militants were killed and two soldiers sustained injuries as the SFs engaged in ‘Operation Rice Bowl’ on the Mannar Front, fully captured the Andankulam area and 13 square kilometres surrounding it.
June 26: Troops operating on the Mannar front captured two and half square kilometres of land between Chalampan and Marattikannaddi on the Andankulam-Vedithalthivu Road in Mannar District totally cutting off to the LTTE supply routes from Mannar Northwards to the Pooneryn Road.
June 14: At least eight LTTE militants were killed and eight others injured as the troops, in a fierce offensive operation, captured a strategically important LTTE-held area in the Mannar District and brought the whole tank area under their control.
June 8: At least 17 LTTE militants and six soldiers were killed as the troops stormed the outfit’s 1-4 base at five places and captured a 500-600 metre stretch of land in the Ethawatunuwewa area of Vavuniya District.
June 4: 30 LTTE militants were killed as the troops captured a one-kilometre stretch of the Main Defence Line of the LTTE covering the Mannar 'Rice Bowl', by reaching the edge of the 'Rice Bowl' north of Adampan.
May 29: 14 LTTE militants were killed and 42 others injured as SFs captured ‘Munnagam’, one of the outfit’s major strategic bases, in the Janakapura area of Vavuniya District.
May 17: The troops captured Palampiddi Junction in the Mannar District, killing 13 LTTE militants.
May 9: The troops captured the strategic Adampan town in Mannar District. At least 15 LTTE cadres were killed and several others injured in the incident. Two soldiers were killed and seven others injured in action.
May 3: The troops captured a roughly 1.5 square kilometre stretch of land in the LTTE-held territory of Periyakulam in the Mannar District, killing 10 militants and injuring 10 others. Two soldiers were wounded during the clashes.
May 1: Advancing troops captured the LTTE-held Karukkakulam town in the Mannar District, killing at least 15 militants. One soldier was killed in the incident.
April 30: At least 40 LTTE militants, including a leader, were killed and several others wounded as the troops captured the outfit’s 18-Base in the Veppankulam and Kallikulam areas of Mannar District. Six soldiers were injured in the operation.
April 23: 169 militants and 43 soldiers are reported to have died in a fierce gun-battle between the SFs and the LTTE cadres in and around Muhamalai Forward Defence Line (FDL) in the Jaffna District. While 120 soldiers were wounded in the encounter, 33 soldiers were reported missing.
April 21: In a pre-dawn attack, troops captured ‘Lima-3’, the LTTE main operation base in Mannar, located east of Kathankulam. A stretch of about 1,300 metres also came under the troops’ control, while seven militants were killed in the operation. Four soldiers were wounded in the incident.
Mrach 11: In a pre-dawn attack, troops captured the immediate areas adjacent to the Sinnaodaippu sluice gates, after advancing about 500 metres to the east of Mannar. Four militants were killed while three soldiers sustained injuries in the fight.
January 30: The SFs captured the LTTE’s Muhamalai, Nagarkovil and Kilali FDLs in the Jaffna District, destroying 35 LTTE bunkers. 30 militants were killed and an unspecified number injured during the operations, in which seven soldiers also sustained injuries.
Nevertheless, severely hit by depleting resources, both in terms of men and materials, the Tigers are attempting to replenish their capacities to fight back.
To augment their war-chest, the Tigers have started an extortion drive among Government servants living in un-cleared areas (areas not under Government control), forcing each of them to contribute SLR 4,000 from their salary to the outfit, according to the Military spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, on the basis of information gathered from civilians fleeing these areas. "Even the pensioners have not been left out of this, as they too are forced to contribute SLR 4,000 out of their pension," Nanayakkara added, stating, further, "There is an indication that the LTTE is making a major effort to defend their remaining strongholds in the Wanni and recalling ex-LTTE cadres back to the organisation for this exercise." According to a July 14, 2008, report, the outfit has also made about 200,000 people or 40,000 families living in the area under their control "virtual prisoners" and forcibly conscripted boys and girls who had just reached 17 years of age. "Recently, the LTTE was telling the people that the 1990-born were going to be the final batch obliged to join them and the war would then be over. But from 2007, the LTTE was in fact conscripting those who had reached 17. Presently they are appealing to those who are 16 to join voluntarily, but have not begun conscripting them," the report added.
Although the LTTE, on July 21, announced that they would observe a unilateral cease-fire during the period of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo from July 26 to August 4, 2008, in the same breath, they rejected the any prospects of peace-talks. Balasingham Nadesan, declared, "It is impossible to hold peace talks when one party, the Government of Sri Lanka, is undertaking large-scale military offensives." Meanwhile, the Government, remains on the military offensive despite its claims that it is committed to a ‘political solution’ to the conflict, arguing that military action is necessary to implement an ‘equitable political solution’. The LTTE’s cease-fire offer was, consequently, brusquely rejected.
It is evident that Colombo currently wishes to see this war out to a finish, hoping that the present impetus can be sustained to the point of a decisive victory. It is also clear, as the Army asserts, that the rebels no longer have the capacities for conventional warfare that they had demonstrated in earlier phases of the movement. What remains to be seen is whether the LTTE still retains a sufficient capacity to mount paralysing terrorist operations outside the theatres of conventional warfare, and whether these can, in fact, undermine Colombo’s determination to push for a final victory.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 28-August 3, 2007
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
India asks Pakistan to honour cease-fire: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani that India expected Pakistan to honour the cease-fire and put an end to infiltration. Briefing journalists on Dr. Singh’s talks with Gilani, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said in Colombo on August 2, 2008, that the Prime Minister referred to the Kabul bombing, the cease-fire violation and the increase in infiltration from Pakistani territory into Jammu and Kashmir as impediments to improving bilateral ties. Dr. Singh pointed out that the recent events would make it difficult to sustain the dialogue process and therefore the causes would have to be addressed. The Hindu, August 3, 2008.
Three persons killed in Taliban attack on Indian road project in Afghanistan: : The Taliban launched an attack near the 10-km stone near Delaram in the Nimroz province on July 31-August 1 night, killing two Indian-employed Afghan security personnel. In another attack during the same time, a dumper truck driver involved in road construction work was killed by the Taliban. The 218-km road is now complete and work is only on to put the signages, dress the shoulders and strengthen it in small patches. The road, which allows Kabul an alternative sea access through Iran, will be handed over to the Afghan people later this month. Indian Express, August 3, 2008.
Maoists agree to lead the next Government: The CPN-Maoist on August 1, 2008, agreed to form and lead a Government based on national consensus with a common minimum programme. The Maoist Central Committee (CC) meeting held in Buddhanagar decided to form a majority-based Government if an agreement is not reached with the other political parties to form a Government based on national consensus. Party spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara stated that they have also decided to head the Government in their capacity as the largest party in the Constituent Assembly if the Government cannot be formed based on a majority. However, the Maoists stuck to their earlier standpoints such as a vote of confidence for two years until a new Constitution is written, a common minimum programme and the formation of a broader consensus front. Kantipur online, August 2, 2008.
109 militants among 130 persons killed in military operations in Swat: At least 130 persons, including 109 militants and 13 security force (SF) personnel were killed in the ongoing military operations against the Taliban in the Swat District of the NWFP. 30 militants and a security official were killed on the fifth day of the operations, on August 3. Officials said the militants were killed in the Sech Banr area of the Matta sub-division. Locals said that four SF personnel were killed in a rocket attack on a security post in Matta’s Kala Kot area. Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told PTV that the repeated peace pact violations had forced them to take action.
On July 31, 13 civilians and 20 militants were killed. Residents said shells hit a house in the Deolai area, killing five children and their parents, including two women. Officials said it was not clear if the munitions were fired by security forces or militants. In separate incidents, five civilians were killed in shelling, they said, adding that a total of 25 people were also wounded in the fighting. 48 militants, including a commander, and five soldiers were killed and an unspecified number of people were injured in clashes on July 30. The fighting erupted on July 29 after the militants attacked a security post in their stronghold in the Matta sub-division and took about 25 SF personnel hostage. After the overnight targeting of various militants’ positions, the SFs, backed by gunship helicopters, carried out an operation and shelled suspected militant positions in several parts of the valley, including Peuchar, Namal, Ronial, Sarbanda and Chuprial that left 48 persons dead and as many injured. The Taliban militants also claimed killing 25 SF personnel, but the claim could not be confirmed independently. 11 militants and two troopers, including a Pakistan Army Captain, were killed during day-long clashes between the SFs and the Maulana Fazlullah-led militants on July 29. Dawn; The News; Daily Times, July 30-August 4, 2008.
Government rejects US reports on ISI role in suicide bombing at Indian embassy in Kabul: Pakistan on August 1, 2008, rejected a report that the United States had accused its main intelligence agency – the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) – of helping to plan a bombing at India’s Embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008. Citing unnamed officials, The New York Times said intercepted communications had provided clear evidence that the ISI was involved in the suicide attack on the Indian mission, which killed around 60 persons. "It’s rubbish. We totally deny it," Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq said. "This is a baseless allegation that the New York Times keeps on recycling using anonymous sources. These stories always die afterwards because there is no proof," Sadiq said in Colombo in Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said the report was "malicious propaganda". "It is meant to defame ISI… This is a national institution which is vital for security. The ISI’s role in fighting terrorism and extremism is exceptional," Abbas told AFP.. Dawn, August 2, 2008.
NATO blames peace deals in the FATA for more militancy: Pakistan’s peace talks with extremists have resulted in a 40 per cent rise in militant activity in Afghanistan, where there are more foreigners on the battlefield, NATO said on July 30, 2008. It is up to the international community to put pressure on Pakistan to root out the "cause" of the unrest, with NATO’s military force not able to pursue militants over the border, spokesman Captain Mike Finney told reporters. "There is also evidence that the activities increased by some 40 per cent since... tribal areas became unregulated following the negotiations between the Pakistan government and Baitullah Mehsud," he said. The News , July 31, 2008.
Afghan intelligence accuse ISI of plotting against Indian projects: The Afghan intelligence agency on July 28, 2008, accused the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s external intelligence agency, of training thousands of militants to attack Indian road projects in Afghanistan. "Pakistan’s ISI (agents) are determined to hamper the activities of Indian companies in various parts of Afghanistan," the National Directorate of Security said in a statement. "The spy agency has some 3,000 terrorists, most of them foreigners, under sabotage training to attack Indian construction projects inside Afghanistan," it said. Dawn, July 29, 2008.
SAARC nations resolve to jointly fight terrorism: On August 3, 2008, the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit concluded in Colombo. The Summit, in its concluding session, adopted the Colombo Declaration, titled "Partnership for growth of our people," which dwelt at length on terrorism and issues such as trade promotion and measures to face the challenges posed by climate change. The declaration expressed deep concern over the serious threat posed by terrorism to the peace, stability and security of the region and emphasised the need for the "strongest possible cooperation" in fighting terror and trans-national organised crime. The SAARC leaders reiterated their commitment to strengthening the "legal regime against terrorism" by implementing all international conventions relating to combating terrorism to which the member-states are parties, as well as the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism and the Additional Protocol to the SAARC Regional Convention on Suppression of Terrorism. The Declaration further said the leaders recognised the growing linkage between terrorism and illegal trafficking in narcotic and psychotropic substances, humans and firearms and stressed the need to address the problem in a comprehensive manner. Hindu; PTI News , August 4, 2008.
183 LTTE militants and 38 soldiers among 288 persons killed during the week: 183 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militants and 38 soldiers were among 221 persons killed in separate incidents between July 28 and August 3, 2008. The security forces (SFs) captured the Sugandan base, part of the LTTE’s 1-4 base complex in the Mullaitivu jungle, on July 27. On July 28, nine militants and three soldiers were killed while more than 25 other militants and six soldiers were injured in clashes between the two sides in the areas north of Janakapura, north of Kokkuthuduvai and north of Kiriibbanwewa in Vavuniya District. Separately, 12 LTTE militants were killed during clashes at Adampan Kulam and Iluppakadaweli in the Mannar District. Militants operating in the Thunukkai and Kavilan areas of Mullaitivu District opened mortar fire towards the troops in the north of Thunukkai and killed two soldiers while injuring three others on July 29. In the retaliatory fire, the SFs killed eight militants. The troops on July 31 crossed the district borders between Mannar and Kilinochchi at an undisclosed location on the Mannar-Vavuniya combined warfront. 20 LTTE cadres and two soldiers were killed in the operation during which the troops established their control over a five square kilometre area in the Mundampiddy area. On August 1, 15 soldiers and nine LTTE militants were killed during clashes in the Malawi area of Mullaitivu District. On August 2, troops captured the Vellankulam town, the northernmost town in the Mannar District, killing 15 militants. Sri Lanka Army; Daily News; Colombo Page, July 29-August 4, 2008.