September 26, 2001
Volume 2, #38
The PRC denied US media reports alleging that it has had business and technical links with the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan. PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said that the PRC shut down its embassy to Afghanistan in February 1993 and has not sent resident personnel there since.
The PRC’s official Xinhua news agency reported that Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf might visit Beijing to discuss the aftermath of the attacks on New York and Washington. A government source in Macao said on Monday that police arrested seven Pakistani nationals after finding documents apparently containing instructions to attack US targets there and in Hong Kong if there were a strike on Afghanistan.
Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan said in an interview that the attacks on the United States were “undoubtedly an internal act which heralds the beginning of the collapse (of the United States) from within.” Ramadan said that the “collapse” of the United States would be the result of “God’s will,” and that the US should now “rethink both its internal and foreign policies.”
I. Hassan writes that although the Pakistani people have been led to believe that the possession of a nuclear bomb lends them complete security, “in fact it means that they have acquired the surest means to suicide.” He discussed retired US General Lee Butler’s journey from commander-in-chief of the United States Strategic Air Command to advocating nuclear disarmament.
An editorial argues that the attacks in the US have “forever shattered the myth of nuclear deterrence. There can be no deterrence against men possessed of a suicidal rage.” The author warned against assuming that India can advance its security by acquiring the US as an ally.
India is taking measures to prevent attacks similar to the ones in the US. The article noted that while India has offered “unconditional support” for the US fight against terrorism, the US would require India’s help in creating an atmosphere against Islamic terrorism because India has the largest population of Muslims in the world after Indonesia. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee convened a meeting of his Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to deliberate on the likely fall out of the developments in the US on the South Asian region. The Union government is directing the central agencies and police to collect information to be given to US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Bibhu Prasad Routray warns that India has to take a fresh look at the multiple challenges that terrorism poses to the various parts of the country, especially in the northeastern region. “The current global movement shows signs of focusing only on the Islamic aspect of terrorism and leaves untouched vast unhighlighted theatres of conflict which account for the loss of hundreds of lives and property.
Retired Brigadier General D Sharma argues that there is a “discernible” similarity between the attacks on the US and what has been happening in India. He concluded, “There is a requirement of a global and effective mechanism to monitor international terrorism. USA must take the lead. As far as India is concerned, it needs to fight Jehadis more aggressively and destroy these areas which breed terrorism.” Union Home Minister L.K. Advani said that India had already set up Joint Working Groups (JWGs) with five countries, including the U.S., to fight terrorism.
“India already fighting terrorism: Advani”
DH News Service reported that security forces in Srinagar are gearing up for an extraordinary offensive against militants across the state, likely to begin immediately after the US launches its strikes against Afghanistan.
Union Home Minister L K Advani said that any US strategy to combat terrorism should take into account Pakistan’s active encouragement of terrorism along with Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban. Advani stated, “The security scenario in this part of the world cannot disregard the fact that over the last decade or more, Taliban and Pakistan have been working in tandem to promote terrorism and have openly given refuge and asylum to those who have been indulging in terrorism.” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told US Ambassador Robert Blackwill that if the US was serious about fighting terrorism, it should also take into account the fact that it was cooperating with Pakistan, which he said was sponsoring terrorism in the region.
“Pakistan’s nexus with Taliban cannot be ignored: Advani”
Indian officials say that some of the militant groups fighting Indian rule in Kashmir are liaising with the Taliban leaders and, possibly, with Osama bin Laden. Officials worried about possible spillover effects, with one top Indian defence officer in charge of operations quoted services as saying, “If this can happen to the US and if you look at our level of technology and intelligence, I can only conclude that we are sitting ducks.”
More than 250 Indians are among those feared killed, injured or missing following the attacks on the World Trade Center. Shashi Tripathi, the Indian Consul-General in New York, said that 37 Indians are being treated in various hospitals, but some community leaders put the figure of injured at between 60 and 100.
“Many Indians still missing”
L.K. Sharma writes that the new US focus on the region will have some impact on India’s relations with the US. He said that India will have no reason to resent closer links between Pakistan and the US, provided the US does not distinguish between terrorists attacking the US and terrorists operating in Kashmir or other parts of India. He argues, “In the real world, the US would do what it knows best: to punish the enemy and to bribe the friends and overlook their lapses as long as these do not affect America’s national interests.” Unnamed sources said that Pakistan is likely to crack down on the Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islam, which has promoted the Taliban. Some in the Indian Government believe that the pre-occupation of the Jehadis with the US may help lower the tensions in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Govt. discusses fallout of U.S. attacks on the region”
P. V. Indiresan writes that on the one hand, most Islamic fundamentalists are likely to become more enthusiastic about terrorism in the wake of the US attacks. On the other, Islamic rulers, even those who have been patronizing terrorism, are likely to hold back. “Distressed at the lack of enthusiasm on the parts of their leaders, with faith in the power of terrorism magnified by the success of this attack, extremists may like to take over the reins themselves.”
“Dealing with terror”
External Affairs and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh warned that linking terrorism to Islam will divide the world community against terrorism. Singh added that the fight against terrorism should not be confined to the NATO countries but involve democracies, including India and the Arab nations.
“Don’t link terrorism to Islam: Jaswant”
The Los Angeles Times reports that US officials are concerned that launching a military campaign in Afghanistan could lead some dissidents in Pakistan to seize control of the country’s nuclear weapons weapons, or bring to power a fundamentalist government, hostile to the US, that might pass on nuclear know-how to Osama bin Laden or other U.S. enemies.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Wild Card
US President George Bush said that the US would give Pakistan a chance to prove what it means by its assurance of support for the counter-terrorism operation. Former Pakistan army chief General Mirza Aslam Beg said that Pakistan cannot afford to allow the United States to use its facilities for attacks, and warned that if the government took such a decision, the nation would reject it and rise against it. He also warned that there was a serious threat to Pakistan’s nuclear installations.
The Defence of Afghanistan Council termed the attacks on the US a Jewish conspiracy and warned that they would wage Jehad not only against the US but also against the Pakistan government if it allowed the US to use its soil and air space for launching any attack against the Taliban or Osama Bin Laden. Over 40 political and religious parties in Pakistan called upon the government not to allow the US to use the country’s territory or resources for an “unjustified attack against any country or individual.”
Security experts feel that Pakistan is looking to hand over Osama Bin Laden either dead or alive to the US to prevent military action. The article said that Omar Abdul Hakim Abu Mausab Soori, an former bin Laden security guard who parted ways with Laden early this year following differences, is believed to have been drafted for the job. Indian security agencies feel that bin Laden may run away to Libya or Iraq.
L.K. Sharma writes that Pakistan’s acceptance of US demands for cooperation may have greater impact on its polity, society and national ethos than any previous event. Former Pakistan finance minister Mubashar Hassan said that Pakistan should render all possible moral and political help and it should do all it can for the US government within the confines of national and international law and the limits prescribed by the charter of the United Nations. An editorial in Dawn said that the government is doing the right thing by trying to develop a consensus on “how to face up to what indeed is a grave international crisis in which Pakistan has become a key player.”
Pakistan’s army has deployed along the Afghan border and said that Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers had massed up to 25,000 fighters armed with Scud missiles just across from the Khyber Pass. Pakistan reinforced its own frontier in expectation of a possible attack.
M.P. Bhandara writes that Pakistan’s “more or less permanent hostility” towards India has to be premised on the assumption that its western border will remain quiet. With the possibility of US military action causing troubles with Afghanistan, Pakistan may have to raise another army to protect its western border. An editorial in Dawn called on provincial governments to take the necessary precautions to guard against repercussions from Pakistan’s support of the US.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf claimed that India offered its bases to the US because it “wants the US to be with them and get Pakistan declared a terrorist state, harm its strategic concerns and its Kashmir cause.” He added, “It is regrettable that when the entire world is talking about fight against terrorism, India, with whom we were discussing peace and cooperation, is trying to bring a bad name to Pakistan and Islam.”
An opinion article in Dawn argues that the military reaction of the US to the attacks will help determine the future of terrorism. It warns, “a disproportionate and ill-targeted response will only serve to underline the hubris whereby the superpower attracts such widespread hostility.”
Tahir Mirza warns that the attacks on the US may transform the open nature of US society. “It will need a tremendous effort on the part of leaders of public opinion and sensible, rational American citizens to soften the flag-waving instincts brought out into the open and prevent America from becoming a militaristic society.”
Shafqat Mahmood, a former Pakistani Senator and federal and provincial minister, argued that the US comparisons of the attacks on New York and Washington to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are ominous because “Pearl Harbour created a hatred that was unprecedented. From its core emerged the justification to use weapons of mass destruction.” He warned, “There is a cold fury in the United States that will find an outlet. There is an anger that will not dissipate.”
The Taliban’s chief spokesman Mulla Abdul Hye Mutmaen told Dawn that the people of Afghanistan would stand with the Taliban against a US military strike. He warned, “The Americans would think several times before deciding on mounting attack against our country. Lest they forget, the example of the Soviet Union should be before them.”
Mehmud Khan Achakzai, the Pushtun nationalist leader, said that the Taliban and “their usual mentors and collaborators” do not realize that “the time has come where nothing but saying and admitting the whole truth can save, not only Afghanistan but whole of this region from unimaginable catastrophe.”
Abdullah Abdullah, a senior figure in the opposition Northern Alliance, said that Afghan guerrillas fighting the ruling Taliban movement would support any US Strike against camps run by Osama bin Laden. He stated, “We want the destruction of the terrorist camps, as well as the Taliban establishment, which have provided the facilities for the terrorist activities in Afghanistan. If the United States is about to show a reaction against terrorists and their collaborators, they should consult us and see … how much effective our support and our cooperation would be.”
Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Zaeef warned, “We will attack any country that permits attacks against us.” The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has decided to install a radar system at the strategic hilltop of Laram Valley in the Lower Dir district, while the Taliban administration of Kunar province sealed the Pakistan-Afghan border at two points along the Bajaur Agency for vehicular traffic. Afghans crossing into Pakistan said that the Taliban militia has deployed mobile rocket and missile launchers on mountaintops in anticipation of possible US aerial attacks.
Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said that Pakistan should be taught a lesson to keep it from abetting terrorism. He also demanded trial of Pakistani Generals in the International Court of Justice for training militants.
An editorial in the Dawn termed Indian attempts to link the attacks in the US to the Kashmir issue “pathetic if not laughable.” It argued, “One – the trauma in New York and Washington – constitutes terrorist attacks on non-military targets that caused thousands of civilian deaths, while the other is a people’s armed struggle for freedom.”
Swami Agnivesh and Rev. Valson Thampu warned against India using the attacks in the US to maneuver the US into support of India’s Kashmir agenda. They argued, “the campaign against terrorism needs to be situated in a larger war against the cult and culture of violence in all its myriad forms. Selective targeting of the ‘terrorist outfits’ inconvenient to oneself can only degenerate into yet another project of terror, no matter in what ideological or rhetorical costume it is draped and displayed.”