Monday, May 25, 2009


B. Raman

In our preoccupation with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), we have not been paying the required attention to the goings-on in Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau (IB), which comes under the Ministry of the Interior. It is the counterpart of our IB and is of the same pedigree. Even today, the IBs of the two countries maintain some of the traditions, nomenclatures for officers and subordinate units and methods of functioning which they had inherited from the British in 1947.

2. The founding fathers of independent India made the IB the first among equals in India's internal security and counter-intelligence set-up. It has retained and even strengthened that position. It continues to be an organisation largely staffed and led by police officers taken on deputation or permanent secondment from the Indian Police Service cadres of different States of the Indian Union, but the number of direct recruits has been increasing. The IB acts as the eyes and ears of the Government of India in all matters that could have a bearing on internal security. As the leading counter-intelligence agency of India, it plays the leadership role in countering the activities of the ISI in Indian territory and against Indian interests in India and abroad.

3. As against this primacy of the Indian IB and its significant role, the Pakistani IB saw over the years its role in the internal security management and in counter-intelligence gradually eroded, with the ISI assuming the responsibility for internal security tasks. The ISI assumed the leadership in internal security matters initially in the then East Pakistan because of the Army's suspicion of the loyalty of the Bengali police officers and then in Balochistan, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province for similar reasons. Whereas the police officers from different States in the Indian IB enjoyed the total confidence and trust of the Government of India, in the Pakistani IB, only the Punjabi police officers enjoyed some trust and confidence. The remaining police officers of non-Punjabi origin were looked upon with suspicion.

4. The marginalisation of the Pakistani IB by the ISI in matters relating to internal security was followed by the beginning of a process of militarisation of the IB----with the induction of serving and retired military officers into the IB. This process started under Zia-ul-Haq. When Benazir Bhutto became the Prime Minister in 1988, she sought to reverse the process. She appointed Maj-Gen. Shamshur Rehman Kallu, a retired officer who was close to her father, as the DG of the ISI much to the discomfort and unhappiness of the serving army officers. On her orders, Kallu also prepared a scheme for the re-organisation of the intelligence community. One of the key points in this scheme was the demilitarisation of the IB and restoring its police character and its role as the premier internal security agency of the country. Before the scheme could be implemented, she was dismissed by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in August 1990.

5. Nawaz Sharif, who succeeded her as the Prime Minister after the ISI-rigged elections held later that year, carried out the wishes of the army and threw aside the scheme drawn up by Kallue. He once again started inducting retired and serving officers of the Army into the IB. When Benazir returned to power in 1993, she once again took up the scheme for the re-organisation of the IB and strengthening its role in internal security management. She ordered a vast expansion of the strength of the IB, emulated the Indian model of having a directly-recruited civilian cadre in addition to the police officers and ordered the direct recruitment of a large number of civilian officers.

6. When Farooq Leghari, the then President, dismissed her in 1996, he stopped the expansion ordered by her and ordered that those recruited by her should not be given appointment in the IB. Those who had already joined were sacked. Nawaz Sharif, who returned as the Prime Minister after the elections, did not reverse the orders of Leghari and went along with the wishes of the Army to let the ISI retain its primacy in internal security and counter-intelligence matters. The militarisation of the IB picked up momentum under Pervez Musharraf and reached its nadir when he appointed Brig.Ijaz Shah, a highly controversial retired officer with strongly suspected links to the jihadi terrorist organisations, as the Director-General of the IB.

7. Since the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition Government came to office in March 2008, there have been indications that Asif Ali Zardari, who succeeded Pervez Musharraf as the President in September, 2008, wants to implement once again the ideas of Benazir for the re-organisation of the IB and strengthening its role in internal security. He appointed Rehman Malik, a retired police officer, who had served under Benazir in the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) during her second tenure as the Prime Minister, as the Adviser for Internal Security with the rank of a Cabinet Minister. He now co-ordinates all internal security matters and the IB works under him.

8. Zardari also restored the practice of a senior police officer heading the IB and reportedly wanted that all those directly-recruited to the IB during Benazir's second tenure, but kept out by Leghari and Sharif should be re-appointed. Well-informed PPP sources say that Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, who does not feel comfortable with Rehman Malik and who has the backing of the ISI, has been dragging his feet in the implementation of the orders of Zardari to re-appoint all the direct recruits to the IB, who were sacked or kept out by Leghari or Sharif.

9. These sources say that the differences between Zardari and Malik on the one side and Gilani and the ISI on the other regarding the relative roles of the IB and the ISI are also coming in the way of a proper investigation into the role of the five detained activists of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET) in the conspiracy to carry out the terrorist attack in Mumbai from November 26 to 29, 2008. According to these sources, while Zardari and Malik are in favour of a more energetic investigation and prosecution to please the US, Gilani and the ISI have been opposing such an investigation.

10. Despite the difficulties faced by him in strengthening the IB and its role in internal security management, Zardari and Malik have been persisting with their efforts. Zardari gives a high-profile role to Malik in all matters relating to internal security. Malik and the Director-General of the IB accompany Zardari on his foreign tours. These sources say that Shoaib Suddle, the then Director-General of the IB, had accompanied Zardari on his recent visits to the US and West Europe and earlier to China. Zardari has also been encouraging the IB to set up its own network of liaison relationships with foreign intelligence agencies. Malik and the IB are being given a more active role in the counter-Taliban operations.

11. These sources say that the ISI, with the backing of Gilani, has not given up its efforts to oppose any leadership role for the IB in internal security matters. It is in this connection that one notes with interest the decision taken by Gilani on May 16, 2009, to appoint Javed Noor, the Inspector-General of Police of Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, as the DG of the IB in replacement of Suddle, who was close to Zardari. Suddle, who belonged to the Sindh cadre of the Pakistani Police Service, was the DIG of Police of Karachi in September, 1996, when Murtaza Ali Bhutto, the younger brother of Benazir, who was challenging the role of Zardari in the PPP, was allegedly killed by the police following an altercation with them. Suddle is one of the accused in the case filed in this connection.

12. Despite this, Zardari had him appointed as the DG of the IB in June, 2008. He was given an extension of two years after he reached the age of superannuation. In April last, a judge of the Supreme Court set aside the extension given to him and other police officers facing trial in connection with the murder of Murtaza. Despite this, he was taken to the US and West Europe by Zardari along with the DG of the ISI. Shortly after his return from the tour, Gilani had him replaced as the DGIB on the ground that his continuing to hold this office had become untenable because of the Supreme Court judgement. It is not known whether Javed Noor is a nominee of Zardari or Gilani or the ISI. The removal shows that the ISI continues to be opposed to any attempt to give the IB the primacy in internal security matters.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail:


B. Raman

During the US Presidential primaries last year, I had expressed my misgings that Barack Obama might turn out to be another Jimmy Carter, whose confused thinking and soft image paved the way for the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran .The subsequent Iranian defiance of the US and his inability to deal effectively with the incident in which some Iranian students raided the US Embassy in Teheran and held a number of US diplomats hostage led to the disillusionment of sections of the US electorate with him and his failure to get re-elected in 1980. The strong line taken by him against the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet troops towards the end of 1979 did not help him in wiping out the image of a soft and confused President.

2. The defiant action of North Korea in testing a long-range missile with military applications last month and its latest act of defiance in reportedly carrying out an underground nuclear test on May 25, 2009, can be attributed----at least partly, if not fully--- to its conviction that it will have nothing to fear from the Obama Administration for its acts of defiance. It is true that even when George Bush was the President, North Korea had carried out its first underground nuclear test in October 2006. The supposedly strong policy of the Bush Administration did not deter it from carrying out its first test.

3. After Obama assumed office on January 20, 2009, whatever hesitation was there in North Korea's policy-making circles regarding the likely response of the Obama Administration has disappeared and its leadership now feels it can defy the US and the international community with impunity.

4. A series of actions taken by the Obama Administration have created an impression in Iran, the Af-Pak region, China and North Korea that Obama does not have the political will to retaliate decisively if they act in a manner detrimental to US interests and to international peace and security. Among such actions, one could cite the soft policy towards Iran, the reluctance to articulate strongly the US determination to support the security interests of Israel, the ambivalent attitude towards Pakistan despite its continued support to anti-India terrorist groups and its ineffective action against the sanctuaries of Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistani territory, its silence on the question of the violation of the human rights of the Burmese people and the continued illegal detention of Aung San Suu Kyi by the military regime in Myanmar, and its silence on the Tibetan issue. Its over-keenness to court Beijing in order to seek China's support for dealing with the economic crisis and its anxiety to ensure the continued flow of Chinese money into the US for investment in the US Treasury Bonds have also added to the soft image of the US.

5. President Obama cannot blame the problem States of the world such as Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar and North Korea if they have come to the conclusion that they can take liberties with the present Administration in Washington DC without having to fear any adverse consequences. North Korea's defiance is only the beginning. One has every reason to apprehend that Iran might be the next to follow.

6. Israel and India have been the most affected by the perceived soft policies of the Obama Administration. Israel is legitimately concerned over the likely impact of this soft policy on the behaviour of Iran. South Korea and Japan, which would have been concerned over the implications of the soft policy of the Obama Administration, had no national option because they had no independent means of acting against North Korea. Israel will not stand and watch helplessly if it concludes that Iran might follow the example of North Korea. I have said it in the past and I say it again that Israel will not hesitate to act unilaterally against Iran if it apprehends that it is on the verge of acquiring a military nuclear capability. It will prefer to act with the understanding of the US, but if there is no change in the soft policy of the Obama Administration, it will not hesitate to act even without prior consultation with the US.

7. India too has been noting with concern the total confusion which seems to prevail in the corridors of the Obama Administration over its Af-Pak policy. Some of the recent comments of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, about alleged past incoherence in the US policy towards Pakistan and about the part-responsibility of the US for the state of affairs in the Af-Pak region have given comfort to the military-intelligence establishment and the political leaders in Pakistan. Obama's new over-generosity to the Pakistani Armed forces and his reluctance to hold them accountable for their sins of commission and omission in the war against terrorism have convinced the Pakistani leaders that they have no adverse consequences to fear from the Obama Administration. India would be the first to feel the adverse consequences of this newly-found confidence in Islamabad vis-a-vis its relations with the US.

8. India also has reasons to be concerned over the definite down-grading by the Obama Administration of the importance of the USA's strategic relationship with India. This down-grading has given satisfaction to Pakistan as well as China.

9. Jimmy Carter took a little over three years to create the image of the US as a confused and soft power. Obama is bidding fair to create that image even in his first year in office. The North Korean defiance is the first result of this perceived soft image. There will be more surprises for the US and the international community to follow if Obama and his aides do not embark on corrective actions before it is too late.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: