SOUTH ASIA INTELLIGENCE REVIEW
On July 11, 2006, more than 200 persons were killed and 714 others injured in seven bomb blasts that targeted seven locations on the local railway network in Mumbai, India's commercial capital, between 18:24 and 18:35 (IST) (an eighth device was located and defused at the Borivili station). Peak traffic on first class compartments of trains at Mira-Bayandhar, Jogeshwari, Mahim, Santacruz, Khar, Matunga and Borivli stations was targeted, as commuters returned from work. While this stands out as the second largest terrorist outrage in India's history in terms of fatalities, repeated attacks in the past have been engineered to provoke communal polarization and riots in Maharashtra and across the country, and to disrupt the economic progress of the nation.
Mumbai is now the only city in the world to have been attacked by terrorists twice with mass casualty soft targets. It first came on the the terrorist radar on March 12, 1993, when a series of 13 explosions killed 257 persons and injured 713 others. Dawood Ibrahim, prime protagonist of these blasts, is ‘safely' ensconced in Pakistan and is, according to reliable sources, constantly on the move, particularly after he graduated to the US list of ‘Specially Designated Global Terrorists' in 2003.
Since March 12, 1993, there have been several terrorist attacks in Mumbai that have targeted civilians and state installations.
An analysis of patterns of activity and of disclosures by subversive modules neutralised in Maharashtra since January 30, 2006, indicates that terrorists were planning to carry out a high-intensity attack in the State. On June 1, an attempt to attack the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing Hindu organisation, was foiled at Nagpur, when three suspected LeT terrorists were shot dead in an encounter with the police while trying to enter the heavily-guarded premises. Between May 11-14, 2006, police neutralised three Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist modules in Aurangabad, Manmad and Malegaon in the State. While there were 11 LeT operatives among those arrested, a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including almost 60 kilograms of explosives, 16 AK-47 assault rifles, over 3,500 rounds of ammunition, and 100 hand grenades were seized.
No official determination has been made thus far regarding the group responsible for the serial blasts, but an analysis of preliminary evidence and past trends – including the various arrests and seizures in Maharashtra in the recent past – point unfailing to one or another of the many terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Sources told SAIR that the attacks were engineered by the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) with possible logistic support from the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI). SIMI's activities and connections with the LeT, including its network in Maharashtra, had been reviewed in some detail in the July 10 edition of SAIR, a day before the 7/11 attacks.
Meanwhile, on July 15, the Lashkar-e-Qahhar (LeQ, Army of the Vanquisher), an LeT front, claimed responsibility for the blasts. Its e-mail to the Aaj Tak Television News Channel stated that the LeQ had organised the serial blasts with a module of 16 people who it claimed were all safe. The blasts, according to the e-mail, were in retaliation to the ‘ground situation in Gujarat and Kashmir' and were part of a series of blasts planned on targets that included the Mumbai International Airport, the Gateway of India, the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort, among others. The LeQ was first heard of after it claimed responsibility for the serial blasts in Varanasi on March 7, 2006. It has no existence on the ground, and is essentially a fake identity put forward by the LeT, which has traditionally sought to distance itself from high-casualty civilian strikes, such as the Mumbai blasts and the attacks at Varanasi.
The cumulative thrust of available evidence clearly indicates that the 7/11 outrage at Mumbai was engineered by the LeT. That the LeT remains the most lethal jihadi group with strategic networks across India, Bangladesh, Nepal, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and its headquarters in Pakistan, is now clear. More certain is also the level of protection and patronage it secures from the Pakistani state and its covert agencies. In what was a clear give-away, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri held out what sounded, to Indian observers, like a thinly veiled threat, on July 12, in the immediate aftermath of the 7/11 attacks, that such incidents could be expected to continue unless "outstanding disputes" were resolved, "particularly the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir."
Indeed, the latest Mumbai serial blasts confirm "the strategic continuity of Pakistan's broad orientation towards India, and its sustained enterprise of encirclement, penetration and subversion, with an objective to do as much damage as is opportunistically possible, under the cover of (no doubt diminishing) credible deniability." It is also abundantly clear that the ongoing peace process has encouraged Pakistan to simultaneously keep a twin track of negotiations and terrorism open, even as it reaps the benefits of augmenting international aid which rewards the legitimacy secured through the charade of negotiations and the pretence of participation in the "global war on terror".
While approximately 350 people have been detained for questioning, no formal arrests have been made at the time of writing. However, Rahil Abdul Rahman Sheikh has been identified by security agencies as the principal organizer of 7/11. He is reportedly based in one of the several ‘safe houses' operated by the LeT in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu. The LeT and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's external intelligence agency, have adroitly exploited the functioning anarchy in conflict-ridden Nepal to advance their strategy of India's encirclement.
Praveen Swami reported in The Hindu that Sheikh, originally a resident of Mumbai's Grant Road area, handled communications between LeT cells in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi and the outfit's Pakistan-based ‘commander' for operations targeting India, Azam Cheema — the man who would have authorised and overseen the serial bombings. The ‘faceless' Sheikh (he has never been photographed), operating under the direct control of a Dhaka-based Pakistani LeT ‘commander' code-named ‘Junaid', was also responsible for funneling Lashkar recruits, raised mainly from the ranks of the SIMI, to training camps in Pakistan. Intelligence sources said Sheikh, along with Zulfikar Fayyaz Qazi and Zabiuddin Ansari, set up escape plans weeks before 7/11.
In order to maintain deniability, the ISI is reported to have outsourced part of its subversive enterprise that targets India to tightly controlled groups and individuals in Nepal and Bangladesh, and some elements in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The Mumbai bombers, sources disclose, were either trained in Bangladesh or had spent time in that country after training in Pakistan. "At least three of them were Bangladeshi nationals who had entered India illegally. The rest, including those who provided the logistical support to the bombers, were either trained in Bangladesh or had entered India through that country."
In another significant development, the Chief of the Anti-Terrorist Squad of Maharashtra Police, K. P. Raghuvanshi, confirmed that 11 persons arrested on July 14 by the Tripura Police while trying to cross into Bangladesh, were from Maharashtra. The Harkat-ul-Jehad Islami – Bangladesh (HuJI-B) and other Islamist extremists reportedly operate terrorist training camps at Cox's Bazaar, Bandarban, Chittagong, Rangamati and Brahmanbaria.
At least 65 Pakistan-backed Islamist terrorist modules have been neutralised in India in just the last seven months, according to a senior security official. Security agencies also have evidence that many more ‘sleeper cells' have been ‘re-commissioned' to engineer terrorist attacks in the proximate future. While it is true that groups like the LeT have managed to recruit some local support, a security official disclosed, "none of the controllers is Indian." Sources indicate that LeT modules are increasingly pooling resources with SIMI, which has strong pockets of influence across Maharashtra (as well as Uttar Pradesh and Kerala). This assessment is derived from the scale of the attacks, specific information on LeT cells and the stockpiling of arms and explosives in Maharashtra. Areas such as Aurangabad, Malegaon, Jalgaon and Thane in Maharashtra have remained SIMI strongholds. There are more than 3,000 seminaries in the State, with about 200,000 students. Approximately 500 Madrassas are located in Mumbai alone. LeT has conducted aggressive recruitments in both Maharashtra and Gujarat and SIMI appears to have provided it with manpower for this drive. The Mumbai Police are also currently probing the involvement of two lesser-known groups – the Gujarat Revenge Group (GRG) and Tableeq – in the serial blasts. While the Gujarat Revenge Group is said to be active in Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Tableeq primarily consists of SIMI cadres. Riaz of the GRG and Imtiaz Batkal from Tableeq appear to be involved in providing logistics to the group that carried out the 7/11 explosions.
In Mumbai on July 14, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh declared that the peace process would now remain frozen "till Islamabad starts acting on its assurance to crack down on the terrorist elements on its soil… Pakistan has given us this assurance that its territory will not be used for any activity against India. That assurance has to be fulfilled before the peace process moves forward." He added further, "The 7/11 blasts are bound to affect relations with Pakistan." The India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary-level talks, scheduled for July 21, have been postponed indefinitely.
Evidently, even India's patience is not infinite.
The catastrophic terrorist attacks in Mumbai and a series of grenade attacks on tourists in Srinagar have pushed to the background another round of farcical elections in the area of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) referred to, with supreme irony, as Azad (Free) Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) by Islamabad. The elections of July 11 to the ‘8th Azad Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Assembly' were meant to be an opportunity for the approximately 2.42 million electorate of the area to exercise their voting rights. However, the conduct of elections in the PoK over the years (the first elections were held in 1970, followed by in 1975, 1985, 1990, 1991, 1996 and 2001) have turned out to be no more than a façade over the discrimination and coercion that marks governance in the region. Professor M.A.R.K. Khaleeque, spokesman for the PoK based All Parties National Alliance (APNA) notes, "These elections are no different to the ones held in the past in POK. In Pakistan occupied Kashmir, democratic institutions have always remained in the subordination of the military, the bureaucracy and its agencies. And, this will continue."
The elections were held for the 49-seat Assembly, consisting of 29 constituencies from eight Districts of PoK, 12 constituencies meant for Jammu and Kashmir ‘refugees' dwelling in various parts of Pakistan, and eight reserved seats – five for women and one each for the Ulema-Mashaikh (religious scholars), technocrats and overseas Kashmiris.
According to the figures available from the Election Commission, a total of 369 candidates from 17 political parties as well as independent candidates, contested the polls. In the results declared on July 13, the ruling All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference won 20 seats, the Peoples Muslim League four, the Pakistan Peoples Party Azad Kashmir seven, the Jammu Kashmir Peoples' Party one, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) two, while six seats were bagged by the independents. Polling in one constituency in Pakistan was cancelled by the returning officer. Voter turnout was particularly poor among the over 545,000 voters for the 12 mohajir (refugee) seats for which elections are held in Pakistan, outside the PoK areas, seats that have been traditionally and consistently manipulated by Islamabad.
The eventual outcome leaves the power equations vis-à-vis Muzaffarabad and Islamabad intact, with the puppet All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference set to form the Government again. Opposition parties have already started accusing the Pakistan government of rigging. The People's Muslim League President Barrister Sultan Mahmood Chaudhry stated that General Musharraf's claim of promoting self-Governance in PoK was hollow and lacked credibility. He alleged that ballot papers were distributed in Muslim Conference dominated constituencies without the signatures of presiding officers. Further, the 12 refugee seats have always remained crucial in deciding the outcome of the elections and political parties have accused Islamabad of rigging the elections to these seats. No information regarding the voters lists or voter turnout for these seats is available in the open source, and margins of victory are often in the few dozen. Some political parties alleged rigging of the refugee seats elections in the port city of Karachi and boycotted the elections, paving the way for two MQM candidates to win. Pakistan had refused to allow international observers to monitors the elections, leaving little confidence in the fairness of the exercise. Dr. Shabir Choudhry, the London-based Chairman of the Diplomatic Committee of the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, noted: "In the past Pakistani governments did everything from behind the scenes. This time a message was clear for all those who had any interest in Azad Kashmir and with affairs of the State as a whole."
Arbitrary arrests have been carried out to prevent any form of protest. Central Secretary General of Pakistan Peoples Party Azad Kashmir, Chaudhry Mohammad Yasin was arrested on July 13 on unknown charges and taken to Kotli. Yasin said he was being punished for his loyalty to PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto and claimed he was winning the AJK Legislative Assembly elections by a lead of 9,000 votes, but that the results were changed overnight on the interference of an Army officer.
Dissent in the region has been systematically quelled by Pakistan over the years and this election saw the process repeated, with widespread pre-poll rigging. Prior to the elections, the PoK Election Commission rejected over a hundred nominations from ‘nationalist' political parties which refused to sign a declaration confirming PoK's accession to Pakistan. Nominations of 30 Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) candidates and 72 of the APNA were rejected.
According to Dr. Syed Nazir Gilani, Chairman of the International Kashmir Alliance (IKA), "The Azad Jammu and Kashmir Interim Constitution Act, 1974 (Act VIII of 1974) in its preamble exposes more than it could enhance the credibility of the political set up domiciled at Muzaffarabad. Section 4 (7) (2) which reads as ‘No person or political party in Azad Kashmir shall be permitted to propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to, the ideology of the State's accession to Pakistan', is a serious violation of Article 21 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and a violation of the principles in regard to elections embodied in the report of UN Secretary General A/46/609 and Corr.1 par.76." Sardar Sabir Kashmiri, Chairman of APNA, notes, "Keeping people of a particular thinking out of the elections clearly demonstrates that these are not democratic elections," and added further that, "The media has confirmed massive rigging and voting at gunpoint, and has exposed the Pakistani conspiracy in these elections."
A Pakistani spokesperson, however, claimed that Islamabad ‘played no role' in the rejection of nominations of candidates for the elections in as the region's elections were ‘determined by its own Constitution'. Pakistan-based JKLF leader Amanullah Khan, however, described the region's Constitution as a "rubber-stamp document" that had been presented as a fait accompli to the Kashmiris by the Pakistan Government.
Concerns have also been raised by international organizations like Human Rights Watch (HRW), which issued a statement on July 7, 2006, expressing apprehensions of pre-rigging and abuses in the election. The statement asserted that, in 2001, when pro-independence groups attempted to participate in the previous elections for the PoK Legislative Assembly, Pakistani authorities responded with arbitrary arrests and detention, harassment and beatings. Brad Adams, Asia Director at HRW, stated, "The electoral law undermines Kashmiris' basic political rights by barring them from seeking office if they oppose Kashmir's accession to Pakistan… Those who favor independence invite the ire of Pakistan's abusive intelligence agencies and military, and they risk being beaten and jailed." HRW expressed particular concern about the provision of the law that bars candidates who "bring into ridicule" the Pakistani military. "Under current laws, Kashmiris who have suggested that the Pakistani military mishandled earthquake relief could be disqualified from holding elected office," Adams stated, adding that "the restrictions on political participation and the harassment and persecution of Kashmiri nationalists in Azad Kashmir violate international standards on free expression and expose the Pakistani Government's hypocrisy about Kashmir."
This ‘hypocrisy about Kashmir' is visible in the very nature of the equations that have imposed on PoK and its citizens through the 1974 Interim Constitution, which prescribes various limitation for the ‘autonomy' granted to the region. Defense, foreign affairs, security and currency are put outside the purview of the ‘autonomy'. Further, apart from the Legislative Assembly, a 14-member "AJ&K Council", has been formed and is headed by the Pakistan Prime Minister as Chairman and the "AJ&K" President as Vice-Chairman. Islamabad nominates five members to the Council from the Members of the Pakistan National Assembly and there are three ex-officio members. The Chairman, along with these federal nominees, gives the Government of Pakistan a majority in the Council as, of the 14 members, there are only six members elected through the "AJ&K" Legislative Assembly. This Council exercises wide ranging powers and, according to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), "Pakistani officials dominate the Council and major bureaucrats occupy key decision making posts… the Chief Secretary, the Inspector-General of Police, the Accountant General and the Finance Secretary (of the region) come from Pakistan."
This dominance is not just limited to the power centers but extends to the ground level. The HRCP, in its report titled, State of Human Rights in Azad Jammu & Kashmir, in July 2004, noted that "Fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of movement, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association are often infringed in AJK under various pretenses, despite claims to the contrary by the officials." The charade of manipulated elections does little to alter these realities. As Shafqat Inqalabi, spokesman of the Balawaristan National Front, which is fighting for democratic and civil rights in the Gilgit-Baltistan region where no elections have been held since Pakistan's occupation in 1948, expressed it, "There was no election in PoK; there was only a selection of MLAs by Pakistani Government agencies and the Army."
For the Pakistani establishment, absolute control over the occupied territories is crucial on two counts. Firstly, it is imperative for the establishment to prevent any form of dissent, so that it can continue to portray before the international community that Kashmiris have been treated equally and prefer Pakistan over India. Secondly and in current terms, crucially, the terror infrastructure operated by jehadi outfits is based in these areas, and loss of absolute control over these regions would invite greater scrutiny and accountability.
Weekly Fatalities: Major Conflicts in South Asia
July 10-16, 2006
Provisional data compiled from English language media sources.
228 persons killed and 890 injured in serial blasts in Mumbai: On July 11, seven blasts took place targeting the railway networks in the city of Mumbai. 228 persons were killed and 890 others were injured. First class compartments of trains at Mira-Bayandhar, Jogeshwari, Mahim, Santacruz, Khar, Matunga and Borivli stations on the Western Railway were targeted. Forensic investigation revealed that high grade explosive other than RDX was used in the blasts. Services on the Western Railway were suspended following the blasts which damaged overhead electrical lines and signaling system. The Government on July 12 claimed to have got some "leads" on the blasts. Home Secretary V K Duggal told media personnel in New Delhi, "We have leads about the Bombay blasts but no arrests have been made." The Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) have since emerged as prime suspects in the attack.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at a press conference in Mumbai on July 14, said that the serial blasts in Mumbai were carried out by terrorists with support from across the border. He further warned Pakistan that it would be difficult to carry forward the peace process if it did not control terrorist elements operating from its territory. Prime Minister said, "I have explained it to the government of Pakistan at the highest level that if the acts of terrorism are not controlled, it is exceedingly difficult for any government to carry forward what may be called as normalisation and peace process." Commenting on whether talks on confidence-building measures with Pakistan will continue, he added, "Pakistan, in 2004, had solemnly given an assurance that Pakistani territory will not be used to promote, encourage, aid and abet terrorist elements directed against India. That assurance has to be fulfilled before the peace process or other processes can make progress."
On July 15, little-known outfit Lashkar-e-Qahhar claimed responsibility for the serial blasts in Mumbai on July 11, reports The Hindu. The outfit in an e-mail sent to the Aaj Tak news channel said 16 Qahhar activists had carried out attacks in Mumbai. The outfit further threatened to carry out more attacks if the Indian Government does not stop the "exploitation of Kashmiri people". The same outfit had claimed responsibility for the bomb blasts in Varanasi in March 2006. Previously, on July 13, a man claiming to represent Al Qaeda said the network had set up a wing in Kashmir and appealed to Indian Muslims to take up jihad. In a statement read over the phone to a local news agency, a man who identified himself as Abu al-Hadeed reportedly said: "Whosoever has carried out the attacks in Bombay, we express our gratitude and happiness." The Times of India , Hindustan Times , The Hindu , July 12-16, 2006.
Eight tourists killed in grenade explosions in Jammu & Kashmir: On July 11, eight persons were killed and 43 others sustained injuries in a series of grenade attacks by suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorists in capital Srinagar. A suspected terrorist lobbed a hand grenade on a tourist vehicle on the main road at Dalgate. While three persons were killed on the spot, three others succumbed to injuries subsequently at hospital. Another suspected terrorist lobbed a hand grenade on a vehicle of an army official near Kothi Bagh Police Station on the Residency Road injuring three persons. Suspected terrorists lobbed third grenade of the day on another vehicle near Clock Tower at Lalchowk killing two persons and injuring six others. Another grenade blast was reported from Central Market area injuring seven persons. The fifth and the last explosion of the day occurred at a Taxi Stand in front of the TRC complex injuring a number of people. Local civilians however managed to overpower the terrorist and handed him over to the police. He has been identified as LeT terrorist Mohammad Afzal Rather. The arrested terrorist revealed during interrogation that he was among a group of seven youths who had been tasked to lob grenades, preferably on "Indian tourists". Daily Excelsior, July 12, 2006.
11 suspected SIMI cadres arrested in Tripura: At least 11 youths belonging to the Muslim community of Maharashtra, suspected to be SIMI cadres, were arrested, in connection with July 11 serial bomb blast in Mumbai, from Malaya in the Dhalai district of Tripura along the India-Bangladesh border. The arrested persons, including one electronics engineer educated in United States, claimed themselves to be members of Tabligh-i-Jamaat, a conservative Islamist missionary group. "It is a queer mixture of 18 years old fruit seller to 33 years old USA educated electronics engineer. We have strong reasons to suspect that they were here with something more sinister design. With their background, present occupation and activities we cannot rule out that they might have been engaged in assessment and evaluate Muslim youths in the border areas to create a network for far greater Islamic operations", said the Director General of Police of Tripura, G. M. Srivastava. Superintendent of Police of Dhalai district, Arindam Nath said, "We have sought support from the Maharashtra police. It would be pre mature to make any comment but all I can say is that their statements that they were members of Tabligh-i-Jamaat or preacher of Islamic faiths were not wholly acceptable."Tripurainfo, July 14 & 15, 2006.
Assam government asks ULFA to nominate team for talks: State Government of Assam, on July 11, said political dialogue between the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the Union Government would become a reality after the outfit nominated its team for negotiations. Forests and Environment Minister Rockybul Hussain, speaking in the State Legislative Assembly on July 11, on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that the discussions could be held on all issues within the ambit of the Constitution. The Assam Tribune, July 12, 2006.
House of Representatives (HoR) to be converted into an interim parliament: Senior Maoist leaders and political party representatives held talks in Kathmandu on July 14, and agreed to convert the existing House of Representatives (HoR) into an interim parliament by inducting more members. The interim parliament will be officially decided on at the second round of "summit talks" scheduled for July 21. Maoist Chairman Prachanda said the talks were successful in resolving the confusion that surfaced after the signing of the eight-point agreement on June 16. "The talks have brought about a conducive environment," Prachanda said, adding that "illusions and suspicions [over the eight-point deal] have been eliminated." Jhalanath Khanal, a CPN-UML leader who participated in the talks, said the Maoists were "not negative" about the parties' proposal on inducting some outside members (reference to Maoist members) into the existing HoR. "There was a general consensus to have an 'interim parliament'. But nothing was decided on its modalities," Khanal said. Nepalnews, July 15, 2006.
Two Pakistanis arrested in connection with Mumbai blasts in Kathmandu: The Kathmandu District Court remanded two Pakistani nationals, who were arrested on the charges of possessing explosives, to five-day judicial custody for further investigations. Gulam Hussein Shina of Lahore and Atta Muhaddin Siddhiqui of Karachi were arrested in Kathmandu on July 12 on charges of smuggling 16 kg RDX, which was seized by police in the capital in April 2001. Sharad Oli, deputy superintendent of Kathmandu police said, "We will also investigate their possible links in the Mumbai blasts during interrogation. We can't say anything at the moment." Daily News & Analysis , The Daily Star, July 15, 2006.
Militants claim killing 23 security force personnel in Balochistan province: Suspected tribal militants on July 14 claimed to have killed at least 14 security force personnel in two separate incidents in the Dera Bugti district. One Wadera Alam Khan, who called the Quetta Press Club via a satellite phone from an unspecified place, said that they had killed eleven SF personnel in the Pashinbogi area. While, a land mine explosion killed three Federal Corps' (FC) officials and injured another three at an unspecified place. Further on July 15, tribal militants claimed to have killed at least nine security forces personnel in various parts of Dera Bugti district. Wadera Alam Khan, spokesman for the tribesmen, said "A landmine blast at Waliani Darbar killed three security men and injured another five." He further said that militants killed many security forces in the Pakka Qila area. "We believe that the death toll in Pakka Qila is six, but the exact number is not known yet", he said.
Two prominent commanders of tribal chief Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, identified as Wadera Khan Mohammad Masori and Riaz Gul Bugti, along with 600 tribesmen, surrendered to the government on July 15. Balochistan government spokesperson Raziq Bugti stated that the tribesmen's surrender was a major breakthrough for the government in its efforts to eliminate Nawab Bugti's domination over his area. He said, "Bugti has been pushed into a state of isolation. He is rapidly losing control over the tense area with the passage of each day. His own aides are daily ditching him in huge numbers." Previously, on July 12, 40 tribesmen including four top commanders belonging to the Baqlai and Ferozani branches of the Bugti tribe had surrendered to the government.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on July 14 ruled out general amnesty for "miscreants" in Balochistan. "No proposal is under consideration to announce general amnesty for miscreants in Balochistan. Stern measures will be adopted against violators of the law and the writ of the government will be ensured at every cost," said Aziz. On the same day, President Pervez Musharraf too ruled out any compromise with the "miscreants" who, he said, were sabotaging peace and development activities in the Balochistan province. "The government will make all efforts for accelerating the pace of development in Balochistan and for establishing its writ," Musharraf said. Daily Times, July 13-16, 2006.
Government refuses to disarm Karuna faction: Sri Lankan Government on July 14 declared that it will not attempt to disarm the LTTE breakaway faction led by ‘Colonel' Karuna, because it does not want to get entangled in another war. The Defence Spokesperson, Keheliya Rambukwella, said that if the LTTE expects us to hunt down the Karuna faction, that's not possible at this stage simply because we will then have two wars to fight in the country, one with the LTTE, the other with Karuna. He, however, assured that the Government was taking all steps to maintain law and order and the Karuna faction or any other armed group will be strictly dealt with. He said, "We cannot take chances, although the most prudent thing to do is to negotiate for a peaceful settlement. But we must keep in mind that we are dealing with one of the most ruthless internationalised terrorist organizations. We have to be prepared even for the worst because we are responsible for 19.5 million people and the assets of this country." Lanka Page, July 15, 2006