Winds of Change.NET Regional Briefings run on Tuesdays & Wednesdays, and sometimes Fridays too. This Regional Briefing focuses on South Asia, courtesy of Robi Sen and Nitin Pai of The Acorn
TOP TOPICS: THE KILLING OF AMJAD FAROOQI
- Amjad Farooqi was responsible for some of the worst acts of terrorism in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was among the earliest Pakistani jihadis to be sent to bolster the Taliban; he was responsible for the earliest attacks on Westerners in Kashmir; he had a hand in the kidnapping of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 that led to the release of Omar Shiekh and Masood Azhar; he was responsible for the kidnap and murder of Daniel Pearl; and he is also alleged to have been behind the attempts to assassinate Gen. Pervez Musharraf last year. His career was cut short when he was fired, literally, this month when he was killed by Pakistani security forces who had been searching for him since May.
- Farooqi's killing raised the usual eyebrows - he was a link between the ISI and the al Qaeda, and his killing came when Gen. Musharraf was playing the role of the moderate Islamic statesman in the United States.
- Farooqi was reported to have been taken into custody as early as June this year; but now takes his secrets with him to his grave. It is hard to state the seriousness of the intelligence loss of Farooqi's death in that many people believed he was a leader of the Lashkar-e-Jangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist organizations.
- Sectarian attacks on Pakistan's Shia minority killed over 30 people during prayers at a mosque in Sialkot. Jihadis from the Sunni extremist quarter (of which Farooqi was a leading exponent) have often carried out sectarian attacks in retaliation against government action.
Other Sub-Headings Today Include: India wants its UN seat; General focus on Pakistan; Bangladesh the 50/50 nation; Shifting Alliances; Follow up on A.Q. Khan; Lost and Found
INDIA WANTS A SEAT WITH A VETO
- India joined Japan, Germany and Brazil to put up a joint bid for permanent seats on an expanded UN Security Council. Pakistan, China, and Italy do not like the idea and pledged to do everything in their power to bring their respective ambitious neighbors down a peg or two.
- Despite Musharraf's assurances and the pleasantries surrounding the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gen Musharraf, jihadi terrorists continue to carry out attacks and killings in the area aimed at disrupting the nascent economic recovery as well as the strengthening of moderate political forces. Kanchan Gupta argues that India was finessed by Musharraf. Speculations on potential contours of a permanent solution to the Kashmir dispute arose as usual.
- In India's north-east, terrorist attacks have raised a question-mark over the long-observed truce in the peace process between the Indian government and Nagal rebels based in Thailand and Myanmar. The BBC has some decent background on India's north-east here.
- Bangladesh again refused to acknowledge or act on terrorist training camps in it's territory, citing that India did not provide telephone numbers and addresses of the alleged camps and hideouts.
PAKISTAN: GENERAL FOCUS
- Pakistan's acquisition of French-designed submarines sparks off a discussion in the blogosphere, which Joe rounds up on Winds of Change.
- Musharraf's claims to be Pakistan's General Charles de Gaulle were challenged by many, as was claim to be leading a Pakistani renaissance.
- The international Sikh community was outraged when a mob attacked Gurudwara Nankana Sahib - birthplace of Guru Nanak, founder of the Sikh religion - and one of Sikhism's holiest shrines.
- Some generals were promoted while others sent off to play golf in the Pakistani army's latest promotion exercise. While Musharraf is generally expected (pun unintended) to remain chief of army, he may promote himself, with Washington's blessings, to the rank of Field Marshal (which he keeps for life) or even King!
BANGLADESH - THE 50/50 NATION
- Bangladesh's internal rifts get wider as the government and opposition continue their fight to the bottom. The opposition is calling for an all out 'people power' type of agitation to dislodge the ruling party from power, while the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is responding with mass arrests of opposition party workers. With the nation's attention diverted by internecine rivalries and natural disasters, the hunt for terrorists lies in a shambles.
- As usual, Bangladesh's internal divisions are mirrored in relations with India. Even as India's Tata group was planning a US$1b investment in Bangladesh, its Foreign Minister sent dangerous signals by talking about a 'trade-war' with India. Bangladesh is also trying to draw closer to China as way to counter-balance its relations with India. Like neighbouring Myanmar, it has offered its Indian Ocean ports to the Chinese Navy.
- Bangladeshi bloggers Rezwan, Wamy and Ishtiaque have different perspectives on the madrassa system in their country.
- India's Prime Minister recently expressed interest in working with the US on missile defense. India would be part of a growing list of along with Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and several other countries in South Asia interested in joining with the US to deploy missile defense systems. Funnily enough China, one of the worst ballistic and nuclear weapons proliferators, may be joining the US initiated Missile Technology Control Regime.
- This week India and the US navies started joint exercises in a continued series of unprecedented joint military exercises.
- India and Israel have also agreed in principle to do joint exercises between each others air forces.
- At the same time many question how defense aid and weapons sales to Pakistan really help the US on its War on Terror or in actually put more pressure on India.
- The Pakistani port in Gwadar which was in the most part built and financed by the Chinese continues to make locals unhappy. When complete some time next year it will provide Pakistan's Navy another port as well as China greater access and power.
- Geoffrey Hoon, Britain's Defense Secretary, made a surprise visit to discuss strengthening defense ties between Britain and Pakistan although other recent reports contradict this.
FOLLOW UP ON A.Q. KHAN
- As there was no pressure from the United States, Pakistan firmly rejected the IAEA's request for access to A Q Khan in its investigations over Iran's nuclear weapons. In the first presidential campaign debate, both President Bush and Senator Kerry agreed that nuclear proliferation was the single most important security issue for the next administration - A Q Khan may eventually have to suffer a sudden heart-attack in order to avoid falling into the hands of the international community.
- Apparently the US administration think A.Q. Khan has been brought to justice after his slap on the wrist. Matt Yglesias expresses similar comments that we have expressed before here in this briefing about US policy which seems to look the other way.
- Raja Rammana, India's leading nuclear scientists, died in September. Rammana unlike Khan when offered by Saddam Hussein large sums of money to help Iraq develop its nuclear weapons program refused.
- A.Q. Khan's network continues to emerge and lead to new arrests. Johan Andries Muller Meyer was arrested in September for supply nuclear weapon manufacturing technology, such as gas centrifuges, to Libya.
- For more background on the nuclear proliferation issues in South Asia from the University of California, Berkley.
LOST AND FOUND