Thursday, October 15, 2009




In the wake of the four well-orchestrated commando-style attacks launched by different terrorist groups against security establishments on October 15,2009---- three in Lahore and one in the North-West Frontier Province--- Rehman Mallick, Pakistan's Interior Minister, is reported to have aptly described the increasingly uncontrollable situation faced by Pakistan in the Pashtun tribal belt and in Punjab as a guerilla warfare launched against the State of Pakistan.

2. 149 fatalities---security forces personnel and civilians as well as terrorists--- have been reported in a relentless series of fedayeen attacks launched by different groups since October 5,2009. Among the targets of the terrorists were the highly-guarded but easily penetrated General Headquarters (GHQ)_ of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi, a Lahore office of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which is
responsible for the investigation of terrorism-related cases, two training institutions in Lahore and a police station in the NWFP. Rehman Mallick used to be a senior officer of the FIA when Benazir Bhutto was the Prime Minister from 1993 to 96.

3. The attacks are more and more fedayeen (suicidal) than suicide and have involved a mix of modus operandi---use of hand-held weapons and explosives. Suicide attacks involving explosives-laden vehicles continue to take places against convoys of security forces, but commando-style attacks against well-fortified and supposedly well-guarded fixed establishments of the Army and the police are taking place with increasing frequency----to demonstrate the ability of the terrorists to attack with ferocity despite supposedly enhanced physical security.

4.Of the four attacks reported on October 15, two were against targets which were attacked earlier----the FIA office office in Lahore and the police training academy at Manawan, a Lahore suburb. They had both been attacked in March last, following which physical security was reportedly enhanced. This could not prevent the terrorists from attacking them again. About 20 terrorists split into three groups are
reported to have participated in the three attacks in the Lahore area on October 15---against the FIA office, the Manawan Police Academy and a commando school at Bedian on the outskirts of Lahore. It is not yet clear whether the Bedian commando school is of the police or of the army's Special Services Group (SSG). It is, however, noticed that the security forces personnel who participated in the fighting against
the attackers at Bedian, which reportedly lasted about four hours, were mainly from the Army and not from the police.

5. At least 10 of the attackers in Lahore perished---some were killed by the security forces and some blew themselves up. The fourth attack of the day on a police station at Kohat in the NWFP was carried out by a lone vehicle-borne suicide bomber. There were 32 fatalities in the four attacks---of security forces personnel as well as civilians caught in the firing or explosion.

6. Poor intelligence, poor investigation, poor physical security in establishments of the security forces, including in the army's GHQ, poor access control, poor road security and poor morale and motivation as seen from the failure or reluctance of the security forces personnel to give a chase to the surviving terrorists and capture them continue to be the bane of Pakistan's counter-terrorism mechanism. One saw this after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team earlier this year when the terrorists just sauntered away after the attack without being stopped or chased and caught by the security forces.

7. While the morale, motivation, training and resilience of the terrorists belonging to different Taliban affiliates have been steadily increasing, there are worrisome signs of poor morale and motivation among the security forces. One notices also an alarming casualness and a lack of professionalism in performing their counter-terrorism tasks There is a tendency, even in the army, to avoid coming to terms with the ground reality, which is that the situation, which has already deteriorated in the Pashtun tribal belt, has now started deteriorating in the non-tribal areas of Punjab. Senior political leaders and military officers continue to behave with a certain nonchalance as if they are the masters of the situation despite the repeated attacks. Seriousness and determination in dealing with the situation are totally lacking.

8. There are more and more reasons to be worried about the security of Pakistan's nuclear establishments---if not of its nuclear arsenal. If the terrorists can lay hands on Pakistan's nuclear waste, which is stored in the NWFP, they could threaten the international community with the use of dirty bombs.Even if one feels that the fatalities due to the use of nuclear waste may not be much, the psychological effect on the general population could be high. ( 15-10-09)

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




One should not be surprised by the Lahore High Court's dismissal on October 12,2009, of the two cases under the Anti-Terrorism Act registered against Hafeez Mohammed Sayeed, the Amir of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JUD), the political wing of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET ), by the Faislabad Police in the Pakistani province of Punjab. The cases were registered following two inflammatory speeches delivered by him glorifying jihad and for collecting funds for a supposedly banned terrorist organisation. His speeches were interpreted as amounting to incitement to terrorism.

2. The dismissal of the cases was ordered by the Lahore High Court after it was admitted by the prosecution that the JUD was not a banned organisation. While there is a notified ban on the LET as a terrorist organisation since January 2002, there is no notified ban on the JUD.Sayeed and his aides have been maintaining since the JUD was formed after the January 2002 ban on the LET that the JUD had nothing
to do with the LET. This argument has not been successfully challenged in any Pakistani court.

3. Ever since the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008, Pakistani authorities have been repeatedly saying that whatever action they took or sought to take against Sayeed and the JUD such as arresting some of their cadres, seizing their funds etc was in pursuance of the decision of the anti-terrorism sanctions committee of the UN Security Council calling for action against the JUD and Sayeed and not based
on their own evidence.

4.The lawyers for Sayeed have been repeatedly arguing before different courts---with some success--- that no action can be taken against Sayeed and the JUD purely on the basis of a resolution of the UN Committee without any independent evidence supporting such action collected by the Pakistani investigation agencies. The Pakistani authorities have shown no interest in collecting such evidence.

5.Two actions by the Pakistani authorities are required in the wake of the involvement of the LET in the Mumbai terrorist attack. The first is action against the JUD and Hafeez for orchestrating the attack as has come out during the investigation by the Mumbai Police. The second is prosecution of those members of the LET in Pakistan involved in planning the attack and having it carried out.

6. The Pakistani authorities have shown some interest---one does not know how sincere they are--- only in the second action. They have been repeatedly dragging their feet in respect of the first. They are encouraged by the fact that the international pressure ---including US pressure--- on them is only in respect of the second. There is only seeming pressure in respect of the first --- even from the US.

7. A careful reading of the observations by judges of different courts----even by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury of the Pakistan Supreme Court--- before which the lawyers of Sayeed had challenged on different occasions the action sought to be taken against Sayeed clearly shows that there is considerable judicial sympathy for Sayeed ---if not for the JUD. These observations have mainly related to two points. Firstly, that the action against him is being taken purely on the basis of a resolution of the UN committee, which has no relevance for the judicial proceedings against him. Secondly, that the action was also under Indian pressure.

8.Instead of reacting to the goings-on in Pakistani courts on a day-to-day basis through the media, the Government of India should carefully examine the various observations made by the Pakistani courts, decide how to counter them and then pressure Pakistan in a low-profile manner instead of through the media to pursue the cases against him. The high-profile campaign through the media against Sayeed seems
to be proving counter-productive. It is being exploited by his lawyers to contend that the Indian pressure--- and not legal evidence--- is making the Pakistan Govt. act against him. ( 15-10-09)

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