Monday, January 9, 2012



( Replies sent by me on January 10,2012, in response to E-mailed questions from a Japanese journalist in Tokyo working for "Newsweek")

1.The LET is very active even now in Pakistan in ideological propaganda, running of training camps and charity work. It continues to be protected by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). However, it has not carried out any act of mass fatality terrorism in the Indian territory after the 26/11 terrorist strikes of 2008 in Mumbai.In view of the adverse publicity against the ISI after 26/11, the ISI has not used it for any act in Indian territory after 26/11.

2.The LET's first target is India and Indian nationals and interests in Afghanistan and other countries. Its next target is Israel and Israeli nationals and interests wherever they are. Its third target is US nationals and interests. It has the same capability and ideological motivation as Al Qaeda, but it is not trying to replace Al Qaeda, which continues to be a largely Arab organisation. The LET is largely a Pakistani organisation.Al Qaeda and the LET help each other and co-ordinate their operations, but they maintain their respective independent existence.

3.Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed and bin Laden strongly shared the Wahabi-Deobandi ideology.They supported the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by Muslims to protect their religion.Both called for the destruction of Israel.Both called for a jihad against India and the US.But bin Laden was strongly anti-Shia and anti-Iran, but Sayeed is not.bin Laden was strongly against the Saudi monarchy and sought to organise a jihad in Saudi Arabia to overthrow the monarchy.Sayeed is supportive of the Saudi monarchy.The LET has a base in Saudi territory which has been allowed to function by the Saudi intelligence.Its operations in India are carried out some times from Pakistan and sometimes from Saudi Arabia. Its base in Saudi Arabia is used fror recruiting Indian Muslims from the large number of Indian Muslims going to Saudi Arabia for Haj/Umra pilgrimage.



Q: What is the likelihood of Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), staging a coup, seizing political power and imposing the rule of the Army till fresh elections are held?

A: Little likely. The present tussle of the Pakistan Army over the so-called Memogate scandal is against Asif Ali Zardari, who is the elected Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Army has no grievance against Yousef Raza Gilani, the elected Head of Government. If Gen.Kayani wants to seize power, he has to overthrow the Head of State who is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Acting against the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces would be an act of treason. In the history of Pakistan, there has been only one coup against the Head of State---- by Gen.Ayub Khan, the then COAS, against the then President Iskander Mirza. On October 7,1958, Mirza suspended the Constitution on the ground it was proving to be unworkable, imposed a martial law and appointed Ayub Khan as the Martial Law Administrator. On October 27,1958, Ayub Khan, who did not get along well with Mirza, forced him to go into exile in London and declared himself the President of Pakistan and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The coups of Zia ul-Haq in 1977 and of Gen.Pervez Musharraf in 1999 were against the elected Head of Government who was not the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Zia and Musharraf had no difficulty in getting their coup validated ex-post facto either by a compliant President or judiciary or both under the so-called doctrine of necessity.

Gen.Kayani would not like to place himself in a position where he has to overthrow the elected Head of State of Pakistan and the constitutionally designated Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, the Chief Justice of the Pakistan Supreme Court, has made it clear on many occasions that there is no question of the judiciary validating a coup ex post facto under the doctrine of necessity.

If Kayani stages a coup against Zardari and fails to get it validated by the judiciary he would have committed an act of treason on two counts---for overthrowing his Head of State and for acting against his Supreme Commander. All the other senior officers, who go along with a possible coup plot by Kayani, would be liable to be tried for conspiring and acting against their Supreme Commander. Many of them may not want to find themselves in such a situation.

Q. Does that totally rule out the possibility of an anti-Zardari coup?

A. Not necessarily. If there is a serious law and order situation in Pakistan, the Army under Kayani may still stage a coup unmindful of the post facto legal consequences. One does not presently see the possibility of such a situation arising.

Q. If an outright coup is ruled out, what is the fall-back position available to Kayani to save his face?

A.The fall-back option available to the Army is to manipulate the situation in such a manner so as to make it untenable for Zardari to continue as the Head of State and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Army could achieve this by driving a wedge between Zardari and Gilani or by undermining Zardari’s political base in the Pakistan People’s Party. Such a contingency is unlikely. Both Gilani and the PPP have remained steadfast in their loyalty to Zardari so far.

A second option available to the Army is by having the COAS declared as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. This would make it easier for Kayani to act against Zardari. In May last year, after the USA’s Abbottabad raid, a private person filed a petition before the Lahore High Court to have the COAS declared as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Such a change could be brought in only by a Constitutional amendment. With the PPP and its Allies having the majority in the National Assembly and in the provincial Assemblies of Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtoonkwa such an amendment is unlikely.

The other option available to the Army is to work and hope for an adverse ruling by the Supreme Court against Zardari in the Memogate case.The possibility of the Supreme Court giving a direct finding against Zardari is weak now. Even Manzoor Ijaz blames only Hussain Haqqani, former Pakistani Ambassador to the US, for the contents of the Memo seeking US assistance to prevent a coup after the Abbottabad raid of May 2 last year against Osama bin Laden. He has not definitively blamed Zardari for the contents of the Memo.

The best the Army can hope for from the Supreme Court is for an adverse ruling against Haqqani holding him guilty of an act of treason for having sought the assistance of a foreign Govt for acting against the Pakistan Army. If the court gives such a ruling, Zardari could become an accomplice of Haqqani’s act of treason by virtue of sheltering him initially in his house and subsequently in Gilani’s house after Haqqani returned from Washington DC to resign.

Even in such an eventuality, the Supreme Court cannot act against Zardari unless the National Assembly in which the PPP and its allies have a majority lifts Zardari’s immunity against prosecution.

Q.Is there any political and honourable way out available?

A.The only honourable way out is by dissolving the National Assembly before its term expires in March next year and calling for fresh elections later this year. However, if the PPP and Zardari return to power in that election, it will pose an embarrassing situation for Kayani as well as the Chief Justice.
Pakistan is in for a long period of an excruciating war of nerves in which there will be neither honour nor victory for any of the dramatis personae (9-1-12)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )