Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mac's Regional Intelligence Bulletin 30/11/2005

From Dhaka today in mourning and gloom - Holy Cow and Other Stories

The mood in Bangladesh today, 24 hours after the bomb attacks in Chittagong and Ghazipur is somber, the local dailies specially ones in the Bengali language are carrying one too many grotesque photograph, denying us our disapproval for such insensitivity, denying the dead their dignity --- but such is our inexplicable fate as a nation. One would think the newspapers are ‘making a killing’ by publishing these images, no different in attitude that of the terrorist who are killing for whatever insane, macabre or ‘noble’ reasons that may have afflicted their thought processes. This Independent Editorial today however captures the how e feel at at this very moment:

The militants are advancing steadily and stealthily; and at the same time not slowly but quickly. They have insidiously penetrated into many vital areas of the country and built up one or more underground organisations which are strong enough to withstand the initial government assault. Even two years ago no gloomiest prophet could have foreseen that the country would become the hotbed of extremism, that this extremism would challenge not only the government but the political and juridical system, modernism, pluralism and freedom itself. All gains that had been made during the last one-and-half century following the Islamic renaissance ushered in by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, now stands threatened. Thus anybody who is anybody in the country has a great stake in the containment of the rising tide of extremism. If the threat is not perceived in time, if any escapist attitude is adopted, an irreversible damage of historical proportions will have been dealt.

The Indian High Commission and Missions in Dhaka, Chittagong and Rajshahi have stepped up their security following militant threats to Western embassies and is framing a long-term strategy to insulate itself from a new wave of Al-Qaeda-inspired terror threatening that country.

"There is now a greater preparedness to deal with these terrorist threats. We have been putting in place a series of steps since the Aug 17 serial bombings in Dhaka,"
a top official in New Delhi said. The Indian mission in Dhaka was put on high alert after a militant group claiming allegiance to the Al-Qaeda threatened on Sunday to blow up Western missions in Dhaka, including that of the US and Britain. Security was also stepped up at India's assistant high commissions in Chittagong and Rajshahi. Refusing to disclose specific steps on the ground that they would impinge on national security, the official said:
"We have stepped up security in our high commission. There is no threat to us as such, but we are tightening security to be on safer side." The threats could not be taken lightly as some terrorists were spreading anti-India sentiments in Bangladesh, he remarked.

Which makes me move on to this highly ‘anti-Indian sentiment article in the daily New Nation by Shahid Alam who does a very intelligent back-track to the

14th November bomb attack on a court precinct in Jhalakathi, a day after the SARC summit concluded on a satisfactory, if not exactly triumphant note, and when a self-confessed suicide bomber succeeded in throwing a powerful bomb inside a microbus that killed two senior assistant judges of the lower courts in Jhalakathi. That was on 14 November 2005. The State Minister for Home Affairs [Digression here: The ‘commando-looking’, tough talking State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar is indisposed and has gone to Singapore for medical treatment. The pressure of running and managing the Home ministry (looking for the shotruuz) has made the young and inexperienced minister sick. For health and other grounds he has not been able to discharge his duty efficiently as home minister ] announced that the bomber, who survived after sustaining serious injuries, was a member of the outlawed militant Islamic outfit, Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), and carried out his attack to give the message that the government should ban man-made laws and establish Quranic laws. And in the daily Independent of 18 November 2005, an illustrated report revealed that on 17 November, the BDR recovered two powerful bombs, five packets of explosives, each containing 110 grams of the material, six normal detonators, two electronic detonators and six fuses at the Noyakut border area under Chhatak upazila of Sunamganj district. A BDR explosives expert concluded that the two bombs packed enough power to blow up a medium-sized building, and that the explosives were enough to construct 70 powerful bombs of the type that was used to kill the two judges in Jhalakathi. That information is sobering enough, but more worrying is the origin of the paraphernalia of explosive devices and the identity of their bearers. Both hail from India and The Independent provided a pictorial smoking gun.

Shahid Alam is merciless in his denouement of India's external Intelligence service RAW's involvement in Bangladesh's recent tragedies when he writes:

Knowledgeable Bangladeshis believe that the Indian intelligence agency RAW is directly involved in at least one terror connection with the aim of destabilizing the country, having it portrayed as a so-called ‘failed statein international eyes, and undermining the incumbent government for the benefit of the opposition Awami League (AL). The close relationship between AL and New Delhi, especially if a Congress or a Congress-led coalition is in power, is fairly common knowledge in Bangladesh,and more than a few suspect that RAW actively pursues a policy that will aid AL in coming to, and being in, state power. The suggestion that RAW could be working on Bangladesh without the central government full knowledge (or even approval) is not a wild conjecture, either, with parallel examples to be found in several other countries, including the United States.

"The bombs that exploded yesterday were the most powerful we have seen. We can't immediately say what kind of explosives they used but they were highly destructive," said a police officer. "The terrorists have not only acquired advanced technology and training but also changed their operational tactics," he said.

Meanwhile across the border the State of West Bengal is on high alert to thwart Bangladesh infiltrators

“We have sent alert notices to the police, particularly in the border districts, to keep a vigil so that terrorists cannot cross over to the state. We have also alerted the BSF for this purpose”
Prasad Ranjan Ray, additional chief secretary in charge of home department, today said.
“We have also increased our vigil at the Metro Railway and crowded places like markets in Kolkata. We assume that those who triggered the suicide bombings are the same people who had masterminded the serial blasts in Bangladesh some time back. But we are not sure. We have got in touch with our people in Bangladesh, and we will get more information by tomorrow,”
Ray said.

To rub some salt into an already gaping wound to our stupidity is this statement from the Director General of BSF R.S. Mooshahary who said today that Bangladesh is emerging as a bigger worry than Pakistan.

‘‘Bangladesh will soon pose a bigger problem than Pakistan,’’ Mooshahary said, adding that the Indo-Bangla border is more difficult to man than the Indo-Pak border. ‘‘At the Pakistan border, both the Army and BSF are deployed, whereas the Indo-Bangla border is manned solely by BSF.”
He also admitted that illegal migration into North-East is continuing and in order to address the issue of infiltration, BSF has sought to raise an additional battalion of women.
‘‘I’ve sought the Home Ministry’s permission to raise a women’s battalion to deal with infiltrators, many of whom are women,’’ he said.

Let’s look at it abjectly? India already has profiled ‘women terrorists’ from Bangladesh and to that end there is more delights awaiting us in that

while Delhi is planning a major reorganisation of the paramilitary forces (meaning the BSF), it has also been decided to give them Indian Air Force support in day-to-day anti-terrorist operations, starting on the Indo-Bangladesh and India-Myanmar borders, and eventually being extended to the northern and western sectors.

India is certainly moving on a ‘war footing’ and lets get this message clear across to Bangladesh’s Defense, Security and Intelligence establishment and a mood of hostility that will not miss any patriotic citizens of Bangladesh is when RAW’s South Asia Analysts Group’s Anand Kumar says

The Islamic militants who are attacking judges have little respect for the judicial system in place now. As the courts are spread all over the country, it is easier for them to attack the judges in their courtrooms. Moreover, the Islamists consider the judiciary as the most obvious barrier to establishing Islamic rules. Without an effective judiciary no state can run. Militants think that once the judiciary is destroyed or rendered ineffective JMB's purpose of sabotaging the entire system of government will be attained. Militants also believe that once the implementation of existing laws is stopped, people will seek arbitration before the persons who want to implement Shariah law instead of going to court. The JMB cadres are also inspired by the example set by Taliban in Afghanistan where they had attempted to destroy the established judiciary before capturing power.

Meanwhile Justin Huggler writing for London’s' Independent said today:

What will particularly concern the outside world are accusations from the main opposition party that the Bangladeshi government is covering up the Islamic militant threat because two junior partners in the governing coalition have links to the militants. Until February this year, when it finally accepted there was a problem, the government had dismissed reports of militants inside the country as fabrications - although there had already been a series of bomb attacks, including one on the British high commissioner. The opposition Awami League has accused the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islami Oikya Jote, both junior partners in Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia's government, of links to the militants. The Islami Oikya Jote has been quite open about its support for Islamic militancy and the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the Jamaat, which projects itself as more moderate, has denied any links.

Not to overlook a bit of black humor that couldn’t have come at a better time for ‘Goru-Chagolz-R-Us’ then NOW Cattle can stop Bangladeshis!

Indian security agencies have a rather unusual plan to stop infiltration of Bangladeshis - curb smuggling of cows to that country. The problem is that they are not getting support of state governments in India. Cattle smuggling is believed to generate over Rs 2,000 crore in annual revenue for Bangladesh, which is one of the biggest exporters of meat, hide and leather products to Gulf countries. It brings in much-needed foreign currency to the cash-strapped country. Apparently, every third animal slaughtered in Bangladesh may have originated in India. Most of the cattle are smuggled via Malda and Murshidabad districts in West Bengal. It took off in a big way around 1994. Bangladesh has been lax in curbing the menace as is evident from the fact that it only imposes a fine of a few hundred rupees to legalise smuggled cattle.

“Yo Muslims - Don’t eat MEAT”how’s that for a “patriotic” Slogan? But do not despair folks – India has a whole lit of ‘house cleaning and sorting’ that has to be done but I do admire the way they can clean sweep all their house debris under the carpet, unlike us shameless lot:

For One –

2 banks in New Delhi received twin bomb threats. According to the police, the first call was received at 11:45 a.m. at the Punjab National Bank branch on Tolstoy Marg and the second one was made at 12:16 p.m. to the State Bank of India office on Parliament Street. The police said they are trying to trace both the callers and would take strict action against them. Fire service and bomb disposal squads swung into action after the calls and searched both the bank premises for over two hours.

Secondly the Indian government said Tuesday it has been unable to stem growing Maoist insurgencies in parts of the country.

“We’ve been quite successful in controlling terrorism in states like Kashmir and in the northeast but as far as Naxalism (Maoist violence) is concerned, we have not achieved similar results,” Home Minister Shivraj Patil said. Patil’s statement to parliament came two weeks after hundreds of armed Maoist guerrillas freed prisoners, including many of their comrades, from a prison in the lawless state of Bihar which is racked by poverty. New Delhi has deployed 26,000 federal security personnel to strife-torn states and offered 30 billion rupees (697 million dollars) to state administrations to modernise their police forces, the home minister said.

Maoist insurgency being a ‘non-Islamic’ terrorism at best, casualties are actually higher as

Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said in a written reply that in the first 10 months of this year, 1,353 Maoist-related incidents were reported in which 570 civilians and police personnel were killed. (Any database on the number of ‘jihadist’ attacks and people killed in Bangladesh at the same period?) This was up from last year's toll of 472. Property worth Rs.566.25 million was also lost in the violence, Jaiswal said. Andhra Pradesh topped the list with 448 incidents, in which 163 civilians and 15 policemen were killed - a two-fold increase over the previous year. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Maharashtra with 317, 271, 161 and 76 incidents respectively were the other states that witnessed increased Maoist violence.

Meanwhile in Lucknow another shameless display of India’s apparent ‘tolerance’ for the arts:

11 theatre actors from Pakistan invited by an NGO — the Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) — to stage plays across the country, the Pakistani troupe was allegedly told to pack their bags because their production, Zikr-e-Nashunida (Discussing the Unheeded), expressed anti-US sentiments. Speaking to Newsline, Sheema Kermani, head of the Karachi-based group, alleged that one of the WIPSA members — the organisers — warned them that if they continued to go against US sentiments through their play, they would be handed over to the police. The NGO also reportedly threatened to take away their tickets if they didn’t leave the city as soon as possible. And at around 7 am today, the Pakistani actors were made to leave their accommodation at Isabella Thoubourn College. Later in the day, Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey stepped in to their aid, making arrangements for their stay at a city hotel. When contacted, Nirmala Deshpande, founder member of IPSA, said: ‘‘It’s very shocking. Bahut galat hua. Sandeep told me about the sequence of events that took place today... It’s shameful.’’

I am IMPRESSED with the above – but not so much can be said about the Indian Christians who are having it as bad as their Pakistani country cousins after

The Supreme Court of India announced that the equal rights of Christian Dalits will be re-examined, following a nationwide rally joined by some 50,000 last Saturday. On Monday, a three-judge Bench of the Indian Supreme Court scheduled a hearing in February 2006 to debate on whether to grant Christian Dalits with the certain benefits as the Dalits who follow other faiths, according to the India national newspaper the Hindu. According to the U.K.-based human rights watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the current Indian Constitution since 1950 allows preference towards "Scheduled Castes" which included Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh Dalits, to be eligible for free education and a reserved proportion of government jobs. Human rights agencies have criticized such policy as exploiting equal rights and discriminating based on religion. They therefore demanded the reservation of equal benefits for Christian Dalits as well.

As happened yesterday today we are again in for 3 ‘tri-metrically’ opposing stories – that on India’s Defense preparedness, starting with a very, military-sh ‘Stand at Ease’ by this bloke who even suggests that his motherland ought to even prepare to fight, even hypothetically the US – Jai Hind!?

So we come back to the question: why are we spending tens of thousands of crores for a capability that is not adequate to meet the needs of the day? The answer is, because the government is unable, or unwilling, to carry out the deep reforms that can make our forces militarily effective against a full spectrum of threats, which should, hypothetically, include the US. Mind you, the chances of war with the US are remote since there are no burning conflicts of interest, but it would be foolhardy to argue that the US will never make war on India. There is some truth in that old adage about nations having permanent interests, rather than enemies or friends. Take the relationship between Iran and the US. Till 1979, they were the closest of allies, with the US supplying Teheran with its latest weapons, like the F-18s equipped with Phoenix long-range air-to-air missiles, ahead of even the NATO. Today, both see the other as the Great Satan. India’s response to a threat from China, or the US, cannot, or at least should not, be that there can be no response because they are much too strong. In 1971, when the USS Enterprise entered the Bay of Bengal and moved towards India, the navy did not put up its hands in surrender. Instead, they quietly despatched INS Kandheri, a submarine, to transpose itself between the Americans and the rest of the Indian fleet involved in the Bangladesh war. One F-class submarine versus a nuclear carrier battle group may appear too improbable a scenario, but have no doubts that if required, the Kandheri would have given battle, regardless of the odds.

But the India's Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee is none too happy,

he warned domestic arms makers to sharpen their skills or perish in the face of intense competition from foreign rivals in a globalizing world. AFP reports that the warning came amid reports of military complaints over the quality of hardware and spare parts supplied by India's own arms industry. The warning is valid to a point, and private sector procurement is finding a niche in India. Still, there may be less here than meets the eye.

Which helps explains why Russia and India are to work together on the development of a new generation of satellites linked to the Russian Glonas navigation system. The specialist Russian company Reshetnev and its Indian partners will work together on the development of Glonas-K satellites as laid down by “an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation ... for development of the Glonas navigation system”, according to Albert Kozlov, head of Reshetnev, quoted by Interfax. The agreement provides for joint work on putting into orbit Glonas-M satellites and the future Glonas-K satellites using Russian and Indian launchers, Kozlov said on Wednesday, the AFP news agency reported.

Possibly with so much happening positively-negative for India it has urged the US to keep an eye on Musharraf since his reluctance to take on the madrassas stems primarily from their power, a US national policy expert has urged the government to ensure the military ruler keeps his promise to expel foreign students from the Islamic seminaries. In the past Musharraf has not kept his promises and senior Pakistani officials have claimed that

"there are no training camps in Pakistan" but it is "a ridiculous assertion that is widely refuted by most veteran Pakistan watchers," Patrick Devenny, national security fellow at the Center for Security Policy, a think tank, said.
He asked the US to ensure Musharraf keeps his promise to expel foreign students from Pakistani madrassas. If the promise is carried out, he writes in The Washington Times, it could represent a major step forward in Pakistan's struggle with Islamic fundamentalism.
"Most often," he pointed out, "extremist teachers arrested by Pakistani authorities are quickly released once Western attention turns elsewhere, free to start up their schools again in different locations."

Which explains why

Pakistan warned on Wednesday that any move by the United States to sell the Patriot anti-missile system to India would trigger a new arms race between South Asia's nuclear rivals. A team of officials from the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency made a technical presentation of the Patriot system to Indian defence and foreign ministry officials earlier this week, Indian media reported. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said any plans to sell Patriots to India would be "counter-productive"."This would erode deterrence... this would send (the) entire region into a crisis mode," he told a weekly news briefing. "You will have an arms race, an unintended arms race here which nobody wants and finally it would induce higher risk-taking," he said. "This we think is not in sync with goals of peace and security that we have in this region."

FOOTNOTE: Nepal - Now “All Those Kings Merry Men” seems to be giving the Indian and Americans the run for their money/influence and now

with the supply of arms and ammunition by China the Indo-Nepal Transit Treaty meeting this week, with New Delhi deciding to convey to Kathmandu that the bilateral document may come under review if its security concerns are not considered. According to the latest reports, China supplied 4.2 million rounds of 7.62 mm rifle ammunition, 80,000 high explosive grenades and 12,000 AK-series rifles to Nepal last week. Beijing has gone ahead with the supplies despite Washington and New Delhi urging it not to fish in troubled waters. In fact, US President George Bush also took up the arms supply issue during his recent visit to Beijing. Though South Block is tight-lipped on the issue, sources say that New Delhi will bluntly convey to Nepal that if it allows access to China or Pakistan, which has also shown interest in supply of arms, into southern Nepal then India will be forced to take steps to protect its interests. This seems diplomatese for India rationalising the transit points and enforcing use of travel documents for those going to Nepal.


"We don't torture people in America and people who say we do simply know nothing about our country." : George W. Bush - Interview with Australian TV - October 18, 2003

Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management: Edward Kennedy

"They are torturing people. They are torturing people on Guantanamo Bay …they are engaging in acts which amount to torture in the medieval sense of the phrase. They are engaging in good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages." : Australian attorney Richard Bourke

"Our enemies didn't adhere to the Geneva Convention. Many of my comrades were subjected to very cruel, very inhumane and degrading treatment, a few of them even unto death. But every one of us -- every single one of us -- knew and took great strength from the belief that we were different from our enemies, that we were better than them, that we, if the roles were reversed, would not disgrace ourselves by committing or countenancing such mistreatment of them." - Republican Senator John McCain


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