Monday, December 20, 2010

WikiWrecks: 26/11 And US Intent

By M Shamsur Rabb Khan
Eurasiareview (article since removed but available at google cache)

The David Headley saga put a big question mark over the US policy for tackling terror due to the inability of the FBI to inform their Indian counterparts about 26/11. New Delhi learnt the big lesson that it had to deal with Pakistan-sponsored terrorists on its own, while the rhetoric from Washington was only a diplomatic red herring. Now the Wikileaks disclosure is another setback for Indo-US relations. According to a leaked cable, the US suppressed information related to the involvement of the ISI in the Mumbai attacks, but also defended it. They vindicate India’s firm stand that the ISI was behind the Mumbai terror attack, but paint the US government in very poor light, especially its intention to proceed seriously in the war on terror.

The relevant cable from the US embassy in Pakistan to the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in January 2009 says, “We are concerned that India's premature public dissemination of this information will undermine essential law enforcement efforts and forestall further Indo-Pakistan cooperation. Our goal is not only to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, but also to begin a dialogue that will reduce tensions between India and Pakistan.” The use of phrases like “premature public dissemination” and “forestall further Indo-Pakistan cooperation” are objectionable since New Delhi has every right to pursue and bring to justice those who are behind these ghastly attacks. In view of the dubious role played by David Headley, it is undeniable that the US was also a major player in 26/11.

This is not all. On the issue of investigations into the Mumbai attacks, the US Embassy described the “Million Dollar Question” as the role played by the ISI. The US also tried to protect ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha from the investigations into 26/11 by India even though the findings clearly indicated the ISI’s involvement as led by him. In its further double-standard policy to save Pasha, the cable from the US embassy in Islamabad revealed that the US was keen on urging India to delay the release of their findings since they could undermine Pasha. Washington thus showed little concern for the victims of 26/11 and their families.

In this confidential exchange of diplomatic messages, the US is clearly seen to be supporting the Pakistan Army and not the democratically elected President, Asif Ali Zardari, who was ready to send the ISI chief to New Delhi after the attacks. However, the Pakistani army led by General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the cable said, overruled Zardari. And it seems the US, in turn, played a major role in influencing the decision of the Pakistan Army. It is high time the Government of India readjusts its policies in view of the differentiated American perceptions of the war on terror: the US considers 9/11 to be its watershed, but has shown indifference to India’s 26/11. For New Delhi, the US is a party to the delay that Pakistan maintains in prosecuting the perpetrators of 26/11.

Another WikiLeaks cable which will act as an impediment to close ties with the US reveals American perceptions about the Indian Army and its war preparedness. In a cable dated 16 February 2010, the US Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer, described the “Cold Start Doctrine” as a mixture of myth and reality. Roemer says, “It's never been and may never be put to use on a battlefield because of substantial and serious resource constraints.” For Roemer, the Indian Army is “slow and lumbering, and unable to attack with an element of surprise.”

New Delhi has placed too much reliance on support from the US regarding its crucial security concerns, including fighting the terror infrastructure across the border. Washington’s apprehension about escalating tensions between India and Pakistan has not yielded any worthwhile results either in restraining Pakistan from exporting terror or appreciating India’s forbearance in not snapping diplomatic ties. Given the US interest in tackling the Mumbai terror attacks, it is imperative for New Delhi to reveal its seriousness in single-handedly pursuing the perpetrators of 26/11 without much consideration for US concerns. Only then would India, as a sovereign state, restore the faith of its people in its strength and ability to take decisive action.

WikiWrecks: Did The US Double-Cross India?
Monday, 13 December 2010 13:10
At Eurasiareview since removed (google cache)

By Radhavinod Raju

Indian media reactions to the WikiLeaks’ disclosures pertaining to the 26/11 attacks were, to say the least, unfair. One headline read, ‘US backstabbed India after 26/11?’ It is now known that the US agencies had shared intelligence that revealed there were threats of a sea-borne attack, that the Taj Hotel was a target, and places frequented by foreigners, especially Americans and Israelis, were vulnerable to attacks. It is not yet clear whether David Coleman Headley alias Daood Gilani, the US citizen of Pakistani origin who collaborated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba in the Mumbai attacks, was under the surveillance of US agencies from before the attack, and whether they were aware of his role in the planning of the attack. There is no evidence thus far to suggest such a possibility.

The leaked cables indicated that the US Ambassador to Pakistan was concerned about premature public dissemination of information by India that would undermine essential law enforcement efforts and forestall further Indo-Pakistan cooperation. The input further stated that their goal was not only to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice, but also to begin a dialogue that would reduce tensions between India and Pakistan. Related cables show that the ISI chief had agreed to share information about the progress of their investigation with India, and that premature dissemination of this information in the Indian media would have reflected badly on him in the Pakistani media which would have been a setback. According to the cable, it was necessary to keep channels of communication open in order to prevent future attacks.

These cables were from the US Ambassador to Pakistan to her Government. There appears to be nothing wrong with this assessment. The US Ambassador to Pakistan was in touch with Pakistani officials and was communicating their fears and her own assessment of these fears to her Government. How would this be backstabbing India?

The other important cable was that no amount of money to Pakistan would prevent the Pakistan Army from supporting terrorist groups that were attacking India. This is an assessment that would more or less agree with the assessment of the Indian security establishment, who would never lower their guard against terrorist attacks emanating from Pakistani soil. For them, their experiences over the past 60 years were too harsh to have any other contra view.

Published material, including Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars, would show that the Pakistanis had told the US that rogue elements in the ISI could be involved in the Mumbai attacks. However, published material of David Headley’s interrogation would indicate that Headley was funded by a serving ISI Major, Iqbal, for going to Mumbai in preparation for the attack. The Pakistanis have reportedly said that Headley’s statement during his interrogation would be treated as hearsay by Pakistan’s courts. This is a technical issue and there could be a way to work around this. The question is whether the Pakistanis, or to be more specific, the Pakistan Army, would cooperate in this effort. Major Iqbal is just a name, and could be one of the aliases that the ISI Major was using. He cannot be identified without the full cooperation of the Pakistan Army. There is little possibility of this ever happening.

We just have to recall a few incidents that would point out who calls the shots in Pakistan. Soon after the Zardari-led Government came to power in Islamabad, they issued an order to bring the ISI under the control of the Interior Ministry. This order was recalled post-haste after the Army Chief objected. The Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was actually in India when the Mumbai attack took place. If he had the slightest inkling that an attack was to take place, would he have been in India? Zardari offered to send the ISI chief, Shuja Pasha to India in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack. He was forced to wriggle out of this public commitment after the strong objection expressed by the Army Chief.

What we need to have is unassailable evidence that a serving Major of the ISI was a key element of the attack, and that the other important player, the retired Major Pasha, was working closely with the ISI in the LeT’s plan to attack India. As of now we lack evidence that could withstand judicial scrutiny, though the information is quite solid. The Pakistan Army is simply not ready for peace. Its instrument, the ISI, would continue to target India’s economic and security centres to bring pressure on India through non-state actors to yield on Kashmir. After Kashmir, they will invent some other root cause to extend the conflict. We have to be prepared for the next attack. The Wiki cables do give a hint of this. For that we should be grateful for the leaks, for it agrees with our own assessment.


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