ATbar Lashkar e-Toiba: Its past, present and future

Lashkar e-Toiba: Its past, present and future

25/12/2000 | by Raman, B.  
Published with the permission of the South Asia Analysis Group. This aticle also appears on the SAAG website.

The reported claim of a spokesman of the Lashkar-e-Toiba in Pakistan that two of its suicide cadres were responsible for the murderous attack on some Indian Army personnel inside the Red Fort in New Delhi on December 22,2000, is under verification by the Indian security agencies

The Lashkar and its political wing called the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad have for many years been calling for the expansion of the so-called jihad to the rest of India from Jammu & Kashmir for creating two independent homelands for the Muslims of South and North India. As a first step in this jihad, it had in the past called for intensified activities in Hyderabad and Junagadh, which it looks upon as Pakistani territory. The Red Fort, as the seat of the Muslim rulers of the past, is an important symbol in its eyes.

While reporting the Red Fort attack on December 22, 2000, sections of the foreign media described the Lashkar as a Kashmiri militant organisation. It is not. It is a Pakistani organisation based in Pakistan and operating from there. It is a member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front For Jihad Against the US and Israel. The wrong perceptions abroad about this organisation need to be corrected vigorously.

The Annexure collates extracts from our past papers on the activities of the Lashkar.



The activities of Osama bin Laden and his announcement of an International Islamic Front For Jihad against the US and Israel assume ominous significance in the context of his past and continuing links with the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad (the Centre For Preaching) of Pakistan and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (the Army of the Pure), its militant wing. The Markaz and the Lashkar have been involved in acts of terrorism, not only in J & K, but also in other parts of India.

The Markaz was founded in 1987, at the inspiration of Osama bin Laden, by Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed of the University of Engineering and Technology of Lahore and Abdullah Azam of the International Islamic University, which has been funded by bin Laden. Abdullah Azam was killed in an explosion at Peshawar in 1989 and, after his death, Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Mohammad Saeed have been leading the Markaz while continuing to teach at the University.

The headquarters of the Markaz, occupying over 190 acres of land, are located at Muridke, about 45 kms from Lahore in Pakistani Punjab. Its vast campus contains a huge Jamia mosque for the construction of which bin Laden had reportedly contributed Rs.10 million, a garments factory, an iron foundry, a wood works factory, a swimming pool and three residential colonies for the inmates. A big Islamic University is also coming up.

The "Herald", the monthly journal of the prestigious "Dawn" group of publications of Karachi, reported as follows in January, 1998: "While the Dawa is involved in various areas, including religious education and social welfare, it is mainly through its militant wing that it is well known throughout the country. The Lashkar-e-Toiba provides military training to its members and prepares them to wage jihad. Although the Lashkar was initially involved in Afghanistan as well, its activities are now restricted to Indian Kashmir. Today, it is Pakistan’s largest so-called jihadi organisation."

It quoted an office-bearer of the Lashkar as stating as follows: " There are many other jihadi groups operating inside Kashmir, but their members are mainly local men (Kashmiris), assisted by fighters from other countries, such as Pakistan and Afghanistan. Eighty per cent of the Mujahideen in other jihadi groups operating in Kashmir come from that area, but the case with the Lashkar is exactly the opposite. Eighty per cent of its soldiers belong to Pakistan."

The "Herald" added: " The Lashkar prefers not to reveal the exact number of men it has currently deployed in Kashmir. The Amir ( Hafiz Mohammad Saeed) decides how many Mujahideens should be sent to the (Kashmir) Valley. The decision depends on the number of deaths that have taken place. It also depends on the requirement and capacity of the organisation inside Kashmir to absorb the new fighters. What is known, however, is that the Lashkar recruits and trains many more men than it actually requires to fight in Kashmir at any given time.

" Compared to other similar organisations, the Lashkar has proved to be a resounding success. Since its inception, it has managed to attract thousands of committed young men to its fold. The driving force behind its massive success in recruitment is deceptively simple. It uses its impressive organisational network, which includes schools, social service groups and religious publications, to create a passion for jihad."

According to the "Herald", the Lashkar organises two kinds of military training – a 21-day basic course called "Daura Aam" and a three-months advanced course called "Daura Khas". The entire advanced course is geared towards guerilla warfare, with training in the use of arms and ammunition, ambush and survival techniques. Other Pakistani press reports after the arrest of Ramzi Yousef, (involved in the bombing of the New York World Trade Centre in February 1993) had also revealed that in the past some volunteers were also trained in aircraft-hijacking.

The Markaz and the Lashkar are extremely secretive organisations and take great care to conceal the real identities of their office-bearers except the Amir and their fighters. For this purpose, they emulate the Palestinian organisations in the use of "Kuniat", which are Arabic pseudonyms adopted from the "Kuniats" of the Companions of the Prophet and later Islamic heroes.

Whereas in the Palestinian organisations, the "Kuniats" die with the holder and the same "Kuniat" is not allotted to any other fighter, in the Markaz and the Lashkar, the "Kuniat" does not die with the holder. The same "Kuniat" is allotted to another fighter. It is not unusual to come across two individuals with the same or similar "Kuniats".

Past reports on the activities of the Markaz and the Lashkar had referred to two heroes of the organisation who had reportedly played a legendary role in assisting the Bosnian Muslims in their fight against the Serbs. One of them used to be referred to as Abu Aziz and the other as Abu Abdul Aziz.

Abu Abdul Aziz, who is suspected to be none other than Osama Bin Laden, is a leading financier of the Markaz and the Lashkar and had contributed Rs.10 million for the construction of a mosque and another sum for the construction of a special guest house inside the Muridke complex of these organisations. This guest house was initially built by bin Laden as a house for his stay during his visits to Pakistan, but, after 1992, the Pakistani authorities do not allow him to stay in Pakistani territory for fear of annoying the US, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. He has, therefore, converted it into a guest house for his associates from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere visiting Pakistan.

It is reported that this guest house was also used as a hide-out for Ramzi Yousef and Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pathan from Balochistan, who was arrested and taken to the US last year and subsequently convicted and sentenced to death for murdering two CIA officers outside the CIA’s headquarters in Washington in January, 1993.

While Osama bin Laden no longer attends the annual gatherings of the Markaz and the Lashkar at Muridke, he addresses them over the conference phone. Till 1995, he used to address the gathering from his hide-out in the Sudan and, since 1996, he has been doing so from Afghanistan. Addressing the last annual conference at Muridke in November, 1997, over phone from Kandahar, bin Laden said: " Those who oppose jihad are not true Muslims."

There is some confusion about the real identity of Abu Aziz. He used to attend the annual conferences at Muridke till 1993 and was introduced to the gatherings as a Saudi Muslim of Indian origin who was co-ordinating the flow of assistance to the Bosnian Muslims. He has not been heard of since then. It needs to be checked up whether bin Laden’s parents or other ancestors had, by any chance, migrated to Yemen from India before proceeding from there to Saudi Arabia. If this was so, there could be a possibility that Abu Abdul Aziz and Abu Aziz are one and the same person—Osama bin Laden.

There are some distinguishing characteristics about the operational methods of the Lashkar militants. They do not shave or have a hair- cut and allow their beard and hair to grow long and are taught to employ extremely cruel methods such as beheading and disembowelling their victims from the security forces and non-Muslim communities. Like fighters of many other jihadi organisations, they generally wear shalwars, which do not cover the ankle.

As regards ideology, the Markaz, an Ahle Hadith organisation of Wahabi orientation, was initially very close to Saudi Arabia, but seems to have developed differences with it because of its proximity to Osama bin Laden and of its contention that even Saudi Arabia does not have an ideal Islamic society. Its criticism of the stationing of US and other Western troops in Saudi Arabia also contributed to this. It describes the Hindus and Jews, in that order, as the main enemies of Islam and India and Israel as the main enemies of Pakistan. Its Amir is a strong opponent of Western-style democracy.

The Amir said in an interview to the "Herald": "Democracy is among the menaces we inherited from an alien government. It is part of the system we are fighting against. Many of our brothers feel that they can establish an Islamic society by working within the system. They are mistaken. It is not possible to work within a democracy and establish an Islamic system. You just dirty your hands by dealing with it. If God gives us a chance, we will try to bring in the pure concept of an Islamic Caliphate."

The "News" of Pakistan (November 23,1997) reported as follows on the ideology and beliefs of the Markaz Amir as reflected during its annual conference of November, 1997: "The Markaz is trying to take advantage of the growing public discontent with the political system and widespread corruption. Using explicit references to the hardline Taliban in Afghanistan, it is making growing references to ending the democratic system in Pakistan. Prof.Saeed calls for a jihad to turn Pakistan into a pure Islamic state.

" He rejects democracy saying that "the notion of the sovereignty of the people is anti-Islamic. Only Allah is sovereign." The whole venue of the congregation was full of signboards with the slogan "Jamhooriat ka jawab, grenade and blast (the answer to democracy, grenade and blast)". Saeed was categorical in saying that his organisation had no immediate designs in Pakistan, even though the present system in Pakistan was not Islamic.

"He stated: "In fact, there is no Islamic government in the world. Not even in Saudi Arabia, where the system is closer to Islamic teaching, but still not fully Islamic." He expressed his happiness over the success of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"He said his organisation’s main interest in Pakistan was to pick people and train them to wage jihad in countries where an unislamic government was in power."

The paper quoted him as saying as follows: "God has ordained every Muslim to fight until His rule is established. We have no option but to follow God’s order. We continue to support other Islamic organisations in the world. This is a very long battle."

The paper concluded as follows: " The thumping success of the Muridke gathering took the government and the intelligence agencies by surprise…..Observers say the failure of the political government and growing poverty have turned Pakistan into a breeding ground of organisations carrying out jihad in various countries. Most intelligence officers interviewed by the daily view the unchecked military training of youngsters in the name of launching a jihad outside Pakistan as the most serious threat to the integrity and security of the country in the very near future."

Even though the Pakistani authorities are concerned over the impact of the organisation on Pakistani youth which could, in the long run, lead to the Talibanisation of Pakistan with a Pakistani version of the Taliban possibly getting its finger on the nuclear trigger, they continue to use the Markaz and the Harkat-ul-Ansar, categorised as a terrorist organisation by the US last year, in their proxy war against India and leaders like Mr.Mushahid Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Information Minister, continue to openly flirt with the organisation and bless its activities against India.

When the Markaz was started in 1987, it had a two-fold objective: to assist the Afghan Mujahideen and to rid Islam in Pakistan of what it projected as the corrupting influence of Hinduism. It continues to wage a sustained campaign against what it sees as the evil influence of sufism and Kashmiriyat. As it looks upon Kashmiriyat as the expression of the evil Hindu mind, many of its operations in J & K are directed against the Hindus.

Unlike the Kashmiri extremist organisations which describe their aim as the right of self-determination for the Kashmiris, the Markaz describes its objective as the liberation of the Muslims of J & K from the control and influence of the Hindus followed by the liberation of the Muslims of the rest of India. It describes Kashmir as the gateway to India and calls for the creation of three Pakistans or Muslim homelands—with Pakistan and J & K constituting one, the Muslims of North India forming the second and the Muslims of South India, the third.

Addressing the Lahore Press Club on February 18,1996,Amir Saeed said: "The jihad in Kashmir would soon spread to entire India. Our Mujahideen would create three Pakistans in India."

In an interview to the "Takbeer" of Pakistan (October 9,1997), he said: " We feel that Kashmir should be liberated at the earliest. Thereafter, Indian Muslims should be aroused to rise in revolt against the Indian Union so that India gets disintegrated.."

Amongst other leading office-bearers of the Markaz are Yusuf Taibi, who is in charge of external relations, and Amir Hamza, Editor of its journal called " Majla Al Dawa", which claims to have a circulation of 70,000 (Rs.12 per copy). The Markaz describes photo cameras, TV sets and movie films as unIslamic. It carries out periodic campaigns for the destruction in public of cameras and TV sets and appeals to the public not to see films.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan and the CIA made full use of the Markaz against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the withdrawal of the Soviet troops, the CIA cut off its links with the organisation, but the ISI has been continuing to use it to instigate acts of terrorism not only in Kashmir, but also in other parts of India. The Markaz’s objective of radicalising sections of the Muslim community in North and South India and setting them up against the Hindus and the Union of India suits the operational aims of the ISI.

At the same time, the Pakistani authorities have been concerned over the Markaz’s links with Osama bin Laden and other anti-monarchy Saudi dissidents. Their discomfiture is likely to increase with the announcement by bin Laden of the formation of an International Islamic Front against the US and Israel.

The threat posed to regional peace and stability by the Markaz and the Lashkar needs to be adequately highlighted in international fora.



The following groups are believed to have joined his Front:

(a) The Jamatul Jihad of Egypt led by bin Laden understands English, but cannot speak fluently., who speaks English without difficulty, therefore, acts as his spokesman.

(b) Another Egyptian group led by Abu Asim ("kuniyat" or assumed name and not real name), a son of Sheikh Omer Abdur Rehman, the blind Egyptian cleric, who is undergoing imprisonment in the US for his involvement in the bombing of the World Trade Centre in New York in February, 1993. Two other sons of the Sheikh are also living in the Kandahar area.

(c) A third Egyptian group led by Shawqi Islam Bolo, brother of Khalid Islam Bolo, one of the assassins of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt.

(d) The Harkat-ul-Mujahideen of Pakistan and its two splinter groups.

(e) The Markaz Dawa Al Irshad of Pakistan and its militant wing the Lashkar-e- Toiba.

(f) The Sipah-e-Sahaba of Pakistan, an extremist Sunni organisation, which has been campaigning for the proclamation of Pakistan as a Sunni State and is believed to be responsible for the murder of a number of Shia leaders of Pakistan.

(g) The Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, the organisation of bin Laden, consisting exclusively of Arab volunteers of Afghan war vintage. Most of them are Saudis and Yemenis with a small sprinkling of Egyptians, Sudanese and Palestinians from Jordan and the Israeli-occupied territories.

(h) Groups from Tadjikistan, Xinjiang and the Philippines, whose identities are not clear.


What is described as bin Laden’s terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan consists of the training camps of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, which had been in existence even before the arrival of Bin Laden in Jalalabad in May, 1996, the camps of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar, the Afghan Mujahideen leader, which were taken over by the Taliban and handed over to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen or Bin Laden and the camps set up during the 1980s by Jalaluddin Haqqani, another Mujahideen leader, who has since joined the Taliban. Contrary to the claims of US officials, these were not sophisticated training facilities, but improvised structures to put up the trainees.


In the proxy war launched by the ISI in the State in 1989, the operating principle was "hit and run", the aim being to create demoralisation in the Indian security forces and the civilian population by inflicting large casualties on them. "Liberation" and occupation of territory was not the immediate objective. The ISI had calculated that if it kept the Indian security forces bleeding, political and public opinion in India would ultimately realise the futility of holding on to the State.

The proxy invasion plan of Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), Gen. Pervez Musharraf, changed the operating principle to one of "occupy and hit", the aim being to set up a bridgehead by occupying the ridges in the Kargil sector left unguarded by the Indian army during winter and thereafter spread the area under occupation each winter by taking advantage of its logistic difficulties. The role of the Pakistan army became primary in this operation and that of the ISI and the militant-cum-terrorist groups secondary.

The proxy invasion plan having failed partly due to the vigorous operations of the Indian army and Air Force and partly due to international pressure on Pakistan, Islamabad has now reverted back to the earlier operating principle of "hit and run", with the primary role once again being assumed by the ISI and its surrogates in the State.

The ISI's proxy war has passed through two stages. During the first stage (1989-92), the ISI played a direct role in providing financial, training and arms assistance to militant groups in the State. No intermediaries were used and assistance was given to any group, which was prepared to indulge in violence.

A large number of Kashmiri militant groups received ISI assistance during this period--some led by the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) of the Jamaat-e-Islami which advocated merger of the State with Pakistan and others by the Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which wanted independence. Within a few months of the start of the proxy war, the pro-independence groups set up their ascendancy over the pro-Pakistan groups.

Till 1992, the US and other Western countries looked upon the extremists as "freedom-fighters" and not terrorists. However, the situation changed after the extremists' attack on a group of Israeli tourists in Srinagar in 1992.

For the first time, there was concern in the West over the terrorist methods of these groups and over the role of the ISI in assisting them. There was also increasing interest in non-governmental circles in the US close to the Clinton Administration in the aims and objectives of the pro-independence groups. The feasibility of independence as a solution became the subject of study by many of these non-governmental groups.

Concerned over these developments, the ISI introduced two changes in 1993. First, it started using intermediaries for keeping the militancy alive instead of directly doing so. Second, it cut off assistance to all pro-independence groups and made future assistance dependent on the recipient group supporting merger with Pakistan.

The first organisation chosen as the intermediary was the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan headed by Qazi Hussain Ahmed. Funds and arms and ammunition were given to it and it was asked to take over the responsibility for running training camps in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) and Afghanistan with the help of Afghan veterans and for distributing money and weapons to different pro-Pakistan groups. Most of the assistance went to the HM.

In 1993, the Taliban had not yet appeared on the scene in Afghanistan and the Hizb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar was still the most important and favored Pakhtoon Mujahideen group in Afghanistan. The recruits of the HM were trained in camps in Afghan territory by instructors of Hizb-e-Islami and the Afghan mercenaries who came into Kashmir with the HM were followers of Heckmatyar.

Subsequently, the ISI started using the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad and its militant wing called the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Harkat-ul-Ansar (HuA) too as intermediaries for funneling assistance to the extremists in the State. These organisations, of Wahabi orientation, are closer to the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam of Pakistan headed by Maulana Fazlur Rahman and to the Taliban.

The ISI saw in the anger in the Indian Muslim community caused by the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992, an opportunity to drive a wedge between the Hindus and Muslims in the rest of India, thereby adding to the difficulties of the Government of India. It also wanted the extremist groups supported by it in Kashmir to attack the Hindus of the Jammu Division in order to drive them out.

Thus, from 1993, the ISI's assistance to the extremist groups in the State was made conditional on their supporting merger with Pakistan, agreeing to attack the Hindus in the Jammu Division and assisting the alienated sections of the Muslim youth in the rest of India in developing a militant capability by training them in their camps in Kashmiri territory.

The Jammat-e-Islami and the HM were reluctant to accept these conditions as they did not want to extend their operational aims beyond Kashmir, but the Lashkar, the HuA and the Al Badr, which subsequently came into the picture, readily accepted them. They thus became the privileged groups of the ISI from 1994 onwards and have now been orchestrating most of the violence in the State.

Though the HM, the Lashkar, the HuA and the Al Badr still claim to be working together, important differences divide them:

* The HM is essentially an organisation of indigenous Kashmiris, but the other three consist largely of Pakistanis, Afghans and Arab mercenaries.

* The HM describes its aim as the liberation of Kashmir from the control of the Government of India and its merger with Pakistan. The other three describe their aim as the liberation of Kashmir from the control of the Hindus and its merger with Pakistan, to be followed by a similar "liberation" of the Muslims in the rest of India. These three organisations view Kashmir as the "gateway to India" and call for the creation of two more Muslim homelands--one for the Muslims of North India and the other for those of South India.

* In pursuance of their aims, the Lashkar and the HuA have been spreading their presence to the rest of India and networking with Islamic extremist groups in other States.

* The HM is close to Heckmatyar whereas the other three are supporters of the Taliban. Angered by the proximity of the HM to Heckmatyar, the Taliban has closed down its training camps in Afghanistan and expelled its office-bearers from there.

* The Lashkar, the HuA and the Al Badr are strongly against the US, Israel and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia and are members of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front for Jihad against the US and Israel, but the HM keeps away from the anti-US and anti-Saudi ruling family activities of bin Laden.

In its eagerness to achieve its objectives against India, Pakistan, through the ISI, has thus been following contradictory policies. It seeks US support for the internationalisation of the Kashmir issue, but has been arming groups, which vow to attack American targets, in order to use them against India. It describes Saudi Arabia as its closest Islamic ally, but has been sheltering groups which are carrying on a campaign against the Saudi ruling family and the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia.

The increasing concern in the US intelligence community over the use of these anti-US and anti-Israel groups by Pakistan in its attempts to destabilise India is an important reason for the sympathetic attitude of the US towards India during the conflict in the Kargil sector.

The US declared the HuA as an international terrorist organisation in October, 1997, after which it has re-named itself as the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and there have been reports that the US is collecting evidence against the Lashkar in order to make a similar declaration against it.

Despite this, the ISI, with the approval of the Sharif Government, continues to use these organisations to massacre Hindus in the Jammu Division and to organise acts of violence in the Valley too. An intensification of such terrorist violence not only in Jammu & Kashmir, but also in other parts of India is to be expected in the wake of the set-back suffered by the Pakistan army in the Kargil area. Another danger is the possibility of attacks on American targets in India by these organisations to give vent to their anger against the US and to create embarrassment to the Government of India in its relations with the US.


"The scruff of their (the militants') neck is in our hands; whenever you want, we could regulate it." ---Lt.Gen.Mohammed Aziz, Chief of the General Staff (CGS) of the Pakistan Army, while reporting over phone to Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), then at Beijing on May 29 as revealed by the transcript of their conversation released by the Govt. of India.

The CGS was referring to the terrorists of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LT), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Al Badr, who had been sent in advance by the Pakistan Army to occupy the ridges in the Kargil sector before regular Pakistani troops moved in and replaced them.

The LT, which has organised a number of suicidal attacks on the Indian security forces in Kashmir, including the latest one on the 15 Corps Headquarters at Badamibagh on November3/4, the HUM and the Al Badr are members of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front For Jihad Against the US and Israel.

While the HUM, previously known as the Harkat-ul-Ansar, was declared by the US on October 1,1997,as an international terrorist organisation under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the LT and the Al Badr have not been so declared till now, presumably because, unlike the HUM, these two organisations, despite their anti-American rhetoric, have avoided any attacks on American lives or property.

Since October, 1997, the HUM has not been claiming direct responsibility for its terrorist acts in Kashmir. Instead, it lets the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), an ostensibly Kashmiri organisation controlled by Pakistan-based Salahuddin, claim the responsibility in order to give the impression to the outside world that, contrary to the claims of the Govt. of India, indigenous Kashmiri organisations have kept up their fight for the right of self-determination.

The Al Badr is a splinter group of the HM, which was formed by some Pakistani members of the HM, who did not like the latter's continued support of Gulbuddin Heckmatyar, the anti-Taliban Afghan Pakhtun leader.

Unlike the indigenous Kashmiri extremist organisations, whose objectives are limited to Kashmir, the LT, the HUM and the Al Badr look upon Kashmir as the gateway of India and describe their objective as the 'liberation" of the Muslims in the rest of India after occupying Kashmir. The LT, which is the militant wing of the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad, calls for the liberation of Junagadh too and for the creation of two more independent homelands for the Muslims of North and South India.

With this objective in view, it has been infiltrating its cadres into other parts of India too and its presence has been reported as far down south as Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh.

The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been mainly relying on the LT and the HUM since the latter part of the first tenure of Mr.Nawaz Sharif as the Prime Minister (1990-93) as it found the indigenous Kashmiri organisations to be ineffective and unwilling to carry out its orders to drive out the Hindus from the Jammu Division and the Buddhists from Ladakh in order to reduce the proportion of non-Muslims in the State.

The infiltration of these organisations was intensified during Mrs.Benazir Bhutto's second tenure (1993-96) under the directions of Gen. Musharraf, the then Director-General of Military Operations, and Lt.Gen. Mohammed Aziz, Deputy Director-General of the ISI till February, 1999, when he took over as the CGS.. Gen. Musharraf and Lt.Gen. Aziz were the handling officers of bin Laden and his group and the plan to use them for facilitating the Kargil invasion was largely their idea.

As young officers of the Special Services Group (SSG), raised with the assistance of the US Green Berets, they had worked in close co-operation with the officers of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan during the 1980s and in training terrorists like bin Laden, Mir Aimal Kansi, who killed two CIA officers outside their office in Washington in January, 1993, and Ramzi Yousef, who was involved in the bombing of the World Trade Centre at New York in February,1993.

The anger of Kansi and Ramzi against the US was due to what they looked upon as the CIA's alleged breach of its promise to help them settle down in good jobs in the US after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan.

Gen. Musharraf, now the Chief Executive of Pakistan, and Lt.Gen. Aziz had also commanded SSG troops in the Northern Areas of Pakistan (Gilgit and Baltistan) and their efforts to dislodge the Indian troops from the Siachen glacier in the 1980s had been repulsed by the Indian army with heavy casualties.

The two, therefore, share an obsessive desire to teach the Indian army a lesson. This obsession is further strengthened by their ethnic background.

Mohajir public servants, who are migrants from India, generally feel a compulsive urge to take a virulently anti-India line in order to show themselves to be more devoted to the Pakistani cause than their Punjabi counterparts. Gen. Musharraf, a Mohajir, is no exception to this rule.

Lt.Gen.Aziz is stated to be from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) and this motivates his anti-India actions.

In the Pakistan Army, these two have always been strong advocates of the need to keep the Indian army bleeding in Kashmir just as the Afghan Mujahideen kept the Soviet troops bleeding and to bottle up the Indian troops in the Siachen area by capturing the Dras-Kargil road.

Having failed in the Kargil adventure, they are now focussing on their first objective of using the LT, the HUM and the Al Badr for keeping the Indian security forces bleeding, in the fond hope that this might ultimately force India to abandon Kashmir.

With Gen. Musharraf now emerging as the ruler of Pakistan and with Lt.Gen.Aziz as his most trusted aide, terrorist actions of these organisations are likely to increase further.

While this would call for the further strengthening of defensive protective security measures to prevent disasters like the one at Badamibagh and offensive patrolling to neutralise the intruders from Pakistan, this alone would not be sufficient to deal with the situation.

The Government of India is justified in insisting that there would be no resumption of dialogue with Pakistan till it stops its sponsorship of terrorism in Indian territory. India should make this sponsorship the core issue of Indo-Pakistan relations and rule out any talks on Kashmir till certain specific benchmarks with regard to stoppage of terrorism are fulfilled by Pakistan.

India should also freeze its efforts for the normalisation of trade relations with Pakistan till its sponsorship of terrorism stops. It should withdraw its unilateral grant of the most favoured nation status to Pakistan, which the latter has not reciprocated, completely ban bilateral trade and take effective action to stop all indirect trade, either across the border or via Singapore and Dubai.

Even after more than 50 years of independence, Pakistan is still a four-commodity and one-port economy. Over 70 per cent of its tax revenue and foreign exchange earnings comes from cotton, cotton-based textiles and sports and leather goods and Karachi continues to be the only reliable port for foreign trade.

Because of the scarcity of foreign exchange since 1990, Pakistani textile and sugar mills have been illegally importing from India via Singapore and Dubai machinery and spare parts required for keeping their mills going. Similarly, machinery and spare ports for the Karachi port also illegally go from India.

By effectively stopping this, India could make Pakistan pay an economic price for its sponsorship of terrorism in India. This is one of the proactive options available to India, which needs to be seriously considered. No country in the world can object to this.

So long as Pakistan under Gen. Musharraf follows a policy of making India bleed at the hands of terrorists, there is no reason why we should have any compunction about not letting it come out of its economic quagmire till it abandons its sponsorship of terrorism.


* Islamic terrorism. Its threat will continue and even increase due to external support from the State of Pakistan as well as from the Islamic fundamentalist organisations of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. The old Communist international has been replaced by an Islamic International, consisting of various Islamic fundamentalist organisations with roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their objective vis-à-vis India: To "liberate" the Muslims of not only Kashmir, but also the rest of India from "Hindu control". They talk of two more independent homelands for the Muslims of the sub-continent--one in North India and the other in the South.

* The need for a coherent policy to counter Pakistan's covert war. While the present Government talks of a proactive strategy, it doesn't seem to be clear in its mind about the components of this strategy. Amongst the components should be: a determination not to let Pakistan come out of its economic morass till it stops its covert war; a readiness to hurt the Pakistani State and society at a place of our choice in terrain favourable to us. In Kashmir, the terrain is not favourable to us except in the Jammu sector. To really hurt Pakistan, we have to direct our proactive strategy at its Punjab and Sindh, and particularly at Karachi. While India has a credible nuclear deterrent, it does not have a credible covert warfare deterrent, whereas Pakistan has developed its covert warfare capability over a period of nearly 20 years, with American assistance in the 1980s.

* Pakistan-based Islamic fundamentalist organisations have been increasingly turning their attention to South India. After Tamil Nadu and Kerala, they are now focussing on Andhra Pradesh. There has never been a convincing analysis of why Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been flirting with the LTTE, despite the latter's anti-Muslim activities in Sri Lanka's Eastern Province. One possibility, not yet proved, but suggested by foreign counter-terrorism experts in the past is that in return for the ISI's assistance, the LTTE, through its supporters in Tamil Nadu, has been training the cadres of the Al Ummah and other jihadi organisations of South India and providing them with material assistance.

* We need a separate strategy to deal with threats from the foreign-based Islamic jihadi organisations. Such a strategy should tackle prevention of illegal migrations of Muslims from Bangladesh and Pakistan, identification and deportation of past illegal migrants, the flow of foreign funds for mosques and madrasas, the scrutiny of the credentials of foreign Muslim students who are admitted to educational institutions in India etc. In the past, even counter-terrorism experts of Islamic countries such as Algeria and Egypt had expressed surprise over the ease with which students black-listed in their countries because of their association with extremist organisations managed to get admission to educational institutions in India.


* Intelligence collection and analysis. Improving, but still weak with serious gaps in coverage and monitoring. Anticipation and prevention continues to be the weakest link in our national security management. While the strengthening of the intelligence collection capability of the central organisations such as the IB, the RAW and the various military intelligence directorates has been receiving attention, equal attention has not been paid to improving the intelligence collection capabilities of the States. The Centre has to play a more proactive role in this regard.

* Assessment and follow-up action. . Even the best of intelligence would be useless if it is not assessed promptly to identify looming threats and initiate follow-up action. This has not been given the attention it deserves. For this purpose, the National Security Council (NSC) needs a full-fledged Secretariat. In all countries with the NSC mechanism, the Secretariat is the nerve-centre and permanent watch-dog on all matters likely to affect national security. We still seem to have a miniscule Secretariat with no teeth.
* Enforcement of physical and infrastructure security. Very weak as seen by the ease with which the jihadi suicide squads have been penetrating high security areas in Kashmir and the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen terrorists recently hijacked the Indian Airlines plane.

* Crisis Management. Again unsatisfactory. Past crisis management drills dealt only with conventional threats such as hijacking, hostage-taking, assassinations etc. We need separate drills supervised and co-ordinated by professional experts to deal with crises involving weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, chemical and biological) and weapons of mass disruption (hacking, injection of computer virus etc).


What do these forces, which are in the forefront of the so-called jehad in Jammu & Kashmir, say? They propagate that:

* Jammu & Kashmir is not their only agenda vis-à-vis India. It is only the first item in their agenda. The other items are the "liberation" of the Muslims in the rest of India in order to create two more "Muslim Homelands" in South Asia--one in North India and the other in the South.

* J & K is the gateway to India. Once they control J & K, they would use it as a rear base for "liberating" the Muslims in the rest of India.

* After J & K, their priorities would be Hyderabad and Junagadh. According to them, these two areas rightly belonged to Pakistan and the Ummah; and they have a religious duty to "liberate" them and bring them into the Ummah. Thereafter, they would turn their attention to the rest of India.