Hafiz and Hurriyat killed NSA talks

It is not the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan, which was solely responsible for the sabotage of NSA level talks between India and Pakistan, the pre-dominant role was that of Hafiz Saeed and to some extent the Hurriyat leaders in India. The other abetting forces were some mainstream political parties of Jammu & Kashmir, which are essentially Kashmir Valley centric, as has always been the case since 1947.

Sources within Pakistan have revealed to this author that the military-intelligence establishment was very much onboard when Ufa Joint-Declaration of India and Pakistan was being drafted. The drafting process was a horrid, painstaking and extremely contentious affair. The imposing presence and influence of Russia and China was a significant factor. Considering that India–Pakistan Joint Declaration was on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) meet and therefore could not be allowed to sully the atmosphere. Pakistan had no choice but to give in. India prevailed and the ‘K’ word did not intrude the joint statement. It was effectively stone-walled.

Subsequently, as per sources in Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed met the authorities in Pakistan military-intelligence establishment and conveyed that his cadres were restive as it was difficult for them to orientate themselves against India without the Kashmir cause. He warned the authorities that under the circumstances it would be difficult for him to prevent the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) cadres from gravitating to ISIS. Simultaneously Hafiz Saeed confabulated with the Hurriyat leaders and asked them to deliver a stern message to the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan. Accordingly, Geelani declined the invitation from the Pakistan Embassy to attend the Eid celebrations to register his protest against the non-inclusion of the ‘K’ word in Ufa Joint-Statement. Further, at the bidding of Hafiz Saeed, the Hurriyat organized waiving of ISIS flags along with those of the LeT. It was a stern warning to the Pakistan authorities that Kashmiri militants were ready to switch over their loyalties from Pakistan to ISIS. It may be mentioned that the map of Islamic Caliphate released by Baghdadi includes Kashmir.

Consequently, the military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan under the pressure from Hafiz Saeed and Hurriyat permitted the LeT to carryout terrorist attacks in India at Gurdaspur and Udhampur. The intelligence and logistics for these attacks was provided by the Hurriyat.

It has escaped the attention of most Pakistan analysts in India that the composition of the ruling Troika, i.e. The President – the Prime Minister and the Army Chief has changed. The power that the President enjoyed was emasculated long back, the space has been occupied by the jihadi organizations.

Khaled Ahmed in an article in Indian Express, ‘Pakistan’s New Normal’ dated 18 August 2015 wrote that while Pakistan has been making noises about its external sovereignty at various international forums, it is rapidly losing its internal sovereignty. He says that the State has lost its writ not only in the tribal areas and Balochistan, but to a great degree in Karachi as well, the city which contributes most to the coffers of Pakistan. He further says that internal sovereignty has been lost in parts of Southern Punjab and Islamists hold sway on the towns and cities that dot the Peshawar–Pakhtunkhawa Highway. In other words, Pakistan is now at the mercy of jihadi organizations. Khaled Ahmed forebodes that without ‘internal sovereignty’ no state can survive, and Pakistan shares this similarity with dying states like Afghanistan and Somalia.

The military-intelligence establishment of Pakistan had the confidence that the jihadi discourse that it created for proxy war in India and Afghanistan could be bridled or rolled-back as long as the nerve center of the country, i.e. Punjab remained unaffected and under its sway. It is Punjab which provides 70 percent of the manpower for the armed forces. However inroads by jihadi forces in the state could not be prevented. Pakistan’s Punjab today has become the most radicalized and dangerous region of the country. While the state is the predominant manpower source, it is also the main source for the parallel military, like the LeT, Hizbul Mujahideen and Jaish-e-Mohammad. The jihadi discourse in Punjab has in effect tribalized the Punjabis.

Salmaan Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, was assassinated in 2011 in Islamabad for raising his voice against prosecution of minorities. His bodyguard and assassin Mumtaz Qadri is a toast of Pakistan. When he entered the Supreme Court premises, rose petals were showered on him by the public and lawyers alike. No lawyer dared to take up the case against him. The judge who passed stricture against him was compelled to flee the country. More recently just before the scheduled meeting between the NSAs of India and Pakistan, the Home Minister of Punjab (Pakistan) Mr Shuja Khanzada was assassinated. His mistake – he had the gumption to claim that the entire command structure of Al-Qaeda had been liquidated. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), a rabid anti-Shia organization claimed responsibility. The state of Pakistan therefore does not enjoy the ‘monopoly of violence’.

In an earlier article on 28 February 2015 in Indian Express, ‘The Frailty of Judges’, Khaled Ahmed had maintained that the Pakistani state cannot dare to proceed against the likes of Mumtaz Qadri, Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed, Zakir-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh (the killer of Daniel Pearl), Abdur Rehman (leader of Jandullah), Malik Ishaq (leader of LeJ,since killed), Masood Azhar (leader of JeM), Haroon Ashiq (killer of Maj Gen Naqvi), and Maulana Abdul Aziz (of Lal Masjid fame).

Pakistan state is therefore scared of jihadi organizations and so is the case with Pakistan military, notwithstanding Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

This is the prevailing reality of Pakistan, which is being exploited by the jihadi organizations. Under the circumstances that Pakistan has reduced itself, Hafiz Saeed and likes are in a position to blackmail the military intelligence establishment of Pakistan or even threaten it.

Pakistan had two important instrumentalities for waging proxy war against India, i.e. the Dawood Network and the LeT Network. In the run-up to the NSA meet, India had such evidence about the respective networks that the complicity of the Pakistan state became outrageously naked. Evidence against Hafiz Saeed was in flesh and blood by way of Naved. The situation for Pakistan became hopeless and it was left with no maneuver space.

The NSA talks therefore had to be derailed by Pakistan. In this derailing process the Hurriyat and some mainstream political parties of the Valley played no mean role. The leaders of mainstream parties spoke in forked tongues – the father in support of India and the son/daughter in support of the Hurriyat and by extension, Pakistan. These political families have perfected this business and taken upon themselves to facilitate the ‘electoral route’ to Pakistan in concert with the Hurriyat.

What is the solution? Simple, if we have the gumption and integrity. The proxy war against India as mentioned earlier is essentially being carried out by the Dawood Network and the LeT Network. Both these networks stand thoroughly exposed. The nerve center of these Networks is in Pakistan, but the arms are in India. Dawood has criminal influence over three major aspects of India’s national life, i.e. Bollywood, Politics and Cricket. His larger network comprises Bollywood film personalities, activists, lawyers, so-called intellectuals, politicians and segments of media. Similarly, the LeT Network comprise the Hurriyat, major mainstream political parties of the Valley, politicians, activists and some media personnel. Without the collusion of these elements, 26/11 would never have happened. If we were to crush these arms, there would be no need for Osama type operations. The two situations are vastly different. For the US, the question was one of big symbolism, for India the question is to quash the proxies and the instruments of proxy war.

It is anti-national to say that the Hurriyat are mere separatists or fringe elements. Most jihadi terror attacks in the hinterland of India, as far as Mumbai, have some kind of involvement of Kashmiri militants, as well as signature of the Hurriyat.

Till the time the two terrorist organizations, the LeT and the Hurriyat enjoy respectability in Pakistan and India respectively, there can never be enduring peace between the two countries.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)

Dawood Ibrahim, India and Pakistan

Indian security and intelligence agencies have been chasing underworld don and the country’s enemy No 1 Dawood Ibrahim after the 1993 Mumbai blasts. The initial information gathering process about his various activities was initiated by former Joint Director of the Intelligence Bureau Maloy krishna Dhar.

What former Home Secretary and now BJP member R K Singh said recently about a covert operation to eliminate Dawood is correct. Ajit Doval, former Intelligence Bureau Director and the current National Security Adviser, had full information of his whereabouts and movements. But the covert plan did not work as allegedly somebody from the Mumbai Police leaked the information. (Read here for more info)

After that failed attempt, the thinking in India changed. The political establishment thought bringing Dawood back would be more advantageous politically then eliminating him. The United States administration had already conveyed to India that since Dawood was not a threat to them or the larger global community, they were least concerned about him. According to them it was an issue that India had to sort out with Pakistan and they had no role in it.

In 2013, there was some movement in bringing the underworld don back to India. Intelligence sources confirmed to Canary Trap in October 2013 that negotiations to bring the underworld don were at an advanced stage but two conditions put forth by Dawood have caused a delay in finalizing the deal. (Read more about conditions put forth by Dawood)

Also, its an open secret among security and intelligence agencies around the world that Dawood Ibrahim is in Pakistan. According to intelligence sources, Dawood is not much of a threat now as he was in the past. Most of his network in India is finished. He is still a big name in betting business, not just in India but globally. Dawood is more of a business don than underworld don now, with interests mainly in drugs, betting, and real estate.

So for Pakistan to hand him over to India and claim they are serious about addressing the issue of terror made sense. One of the hurdles that came in between was the military establishment in Pakistan. While the political establishment in Pakistan thinks Dawood should be handed over as he has served his purpose and is of no use anymore, the military establishment wants to keep him in Pakistan and use him at a later stage for negotiations with India.

Dawood’s latest photo, phone bills and passport details were leaked just before the NSA-level talks between India and Pakistan with the purpose of putting the latter on the back-foot and use the media to make this an issue. But the fact remains that Dawood Ibrahim staying in Pakistan is an open secret and Indian intelligence agencies who tried to bump him off in mid-2000 and bring him back in 2013 are aware of all his activities and movements since a very long time.

The many Chhota Shakeels in India


Underworld don and Dawood aide Chhota Shakeel has warned about strong reprisal for Yakub Memon’s hanging.

Yakub and his associates were the harbinger or initiators of Pakistan’s proxy war on India. The proxy war traveled to the Indian hinterland only after the 1993 Mumbai blasts in which more than 250 people lost their lives and scores wounded and scarred for life. The perpetrators reveled at the ghastly sight from the comfort of distance, Yakub being one of them. Some of the perpetrators were sent to Pakistan for training. A new type of war ‘proxy war’ arrived in India, which Pakistan has been schooled to by the US and its allies against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. This new war was rooted in religious fanaticism and couched as Jihad, the enemies being civilians and security forces alike.

The magnitude of casualties accentuates when compared to the fact that in the entire 1971 Indo-Pak War some 600 officers and men were martyred. Pakistan’s proxy war has made borders and civilian lives immaterial and irreverent.

Since 1993 Mumbai has been endemically battered by terrorist attacks. The reverberations of jihadi violence anywhere in the subcontinent are invariably felt in Mumbai. Pakistan sponsored terror had moved full circle when it traveled to Mumbai on 26/11 on its way from Kashmir to Mumbai. Pakistan’s proxy war hit Calcutta, Ayodhya, Varanasi, Delhi, Jaipur, Ajmer, Ahmedabad, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai. The political capital Delhi, like the financial capital Mumbai, was buffeted several times. The principal non-state player being the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its Indian proxies like Indian Mujahideen (IM). All attacks on security installations along NH-1A i.e. between Gurdaspur-Jammu have been planned and executed by the ISI-LeT combine.

The latest attack in Dinanagar, it has emerged, was also the handiwork of the ISI-LeT combine. This coincided with the decision to execute death sentence to Yakub Memon. The link between execution of death sentence to jihadi terrorists in India and acts of terror by Pakistan is too glaring. During the period of preparation of Ajmal Kasab’s hanging there were blasts in Pune, and there were blasts in Hyderabad, Kashmir and Bengaluru in the wake of execution of death penalty to Afzal Guru. The purpose of this jihadi revenge terror is not so much to terrorise India but to keep the jihadi discourse and machinery alive and upbeat in Pakistan as well as the proxies in India.

Chhota Shakeel’s fulminations and warnings of revenge acts therefore should be assessed in this backdrop. It is likely to manifest in some form or the other.

It is not that the Dawood gang has not used coercion and inducements to upturn the Yakub’s death sentence. It activated every criminal, political and legal leverage. These leverages are nothing but over-ground Pakistani proxies. Unlike the sleeper cells they are vocal, having the veneer of intellectualism and respectability. The Pakistan military-intelligence establishment deals with these proxies through characters like Dawood Ibrahim. The underground jihadi proxies and sleeper-cells in turn are dealt by the likes of Hafeez Saeed and network in India.

It may be underscored that the Dawood gang exercises substantial leverage over three important facets of national life of India: Bollywood, Cricket and politics. Without any pangs of conscience, leading actors, actresses, filmmakers and musicians traveled to destinations outside India to entertain Dawood and his men, not long after the 1993 Mumbai blasts. Rather one filmmaker’s son got away too easily for his role in 26/11.

The entire cricket betting syndicate in the sub-continent is controlled by the Dawood gang. Anyone who has tried to challenge this syndicate has been eliminated including a high profile lady whose politician husband made maximum noise about the desirability of capital punishment, even as his own legal destiny hangs tenuously. It is also known as to who are the close political associates of Dawood in India. Given the Dawood-ISI equation it can be imputed that the latter also enjoys the same leverages.

These leverages were compelled to surface as the Dawood-ISI combine made the last ditch effort to avert Yakub Memon’s death sentence. In most cases it was out of fear rather than conviction. It may be recalled that same personalities clamoured for ‘hanging’ the rapists of Nirbhaya. These leverages comprising Bollywood stars, politicians, activists knew well that nothing would happen if they abused the State, but they would meet their physical, professional or political end if they disobeyed Dawood’s diktat.

When every effort, including the ploy of B Raman’s so-called unpublished article was rendered futile, some proxies began to play their final game of ‘balancing terror’. These are the same anti-nationals who, unable to challenge the Jihadi discourse, started the bogey of ‘Hindu Terror’ days before 26/11. The facts are that 26/11 did take place — the LeT perpetrators did wear threads on their wrists to emphasize their Hindu identity — one politician (again seen on a ‘Hindu Terror’ overdrive during the recent Yakub episode) did claim that he was in constant communication with Hemant Karkare, the slain Maharashtra ATS chief till hours before 26/11. Hemant Karkare by imputation did therefore share intelligence with an out of job politician in blatant breach of Official Secrets Act. During 26/11 Karkare was indeed killed under most suspicious circumstances and later this same politician travel to Mumbai to release a book “26/11: RSS ki Sazish’’. Readers may then themselves decide as to who are conspirators of 26/11 and the fabricators of Hindu Terror. These conspirators did not succeed as Ajmal Kasab was caught alive. Ajmal Kasab in a way saved India from the consequences of dangerous ‘terror balancing game’ by the over ground ‘Chhota Shakeels.

It is not that these politicians do not know the disastrous political consequences of their ‘terror balancing game’ but such are the skeletons in their respective cupboards that they are easily blackmailed by the likes of Dawood and his master, the ISI. Some lawyers too are not far behind. The country saw a glimpse of the shady and vulnerable side of some of these politicians and lawyers on the social media.

India is under attack by many sophisticated Chhota Shakeels.

These Chhota Shakeels and their utterances need to be analysed and factored by the security planners and the intelligence agencies for preemptive actions. Meanwhile the military-intelligence establishment would also endeavor to act through terrorism to emerge from the temporary setback to its proxy war.

Having failed to browbeat the Indian state to spare Yakub, the jihadi terror industry for the purpose of retaining the morale of its overt and underground targets may attempt something more vicious and spectacular.

(RSN Singh is a former military intelligence officer who later served in the Research & Analysis Wing. The author of two books: Asian Strategic and Military Perspective and Military Factor in Pakistan, he is also a Guest Blogger with Canary Trap. The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Canary Trap or any employee thereof)