Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#3394, 1 June 2011
Reading Pakistan-IV: A War within Pakistanís Security Establishment?
D Suba Chandran
Director, IPCS
email: subachandran@gmail.com

The kidnapping and subsequent killing of a Pakistani journalist - Saleem Shahzad, along with the testimony made by Headley, raises a pertinent question relating to a widely prevalent hypothesis: Is a section of the security forces, including the ISI, influenced by radical elements within?

For long, there has been a fear within India and elsewhere at the international level that radical elements are well entrenched in Pakistani security forces. This fear emanates from two primary sources - those who want Pakistan to fail, giving rise to bizarre theories within any factual substantiation, and from those who fear that Pakistan might fail, thus constantly analyzing happenings at the most coherent institutions within Pakistan. Both sources could not present a case, based on facts and evidence, of the radicalization of the Pakistani security establishment. These accusations and fear were based more on an inbuilt bias (in the first case) and conjecture (in the second case).

Two events during the last few days confirm the fear. First, the murder of Saleem Shahzad, a Pakistani journalist and the bureau chief of Asia Times Online, who recently (in May 2011!) published a book titled: Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 (London: Pluto Press, 2011). More than the book, his recent article in Asia Times Online on the attack on PNS Mehran was revealing and damning in its immediacy. According to him, “Several weeks ago, naval intelligence traced an al-Qaeda cell operating inside several navy bases in Karachi, the country's largest city and key port.” Worse, Saleem Shahzad, in his report, quoted a senior navy official who said that, “Islamic sentiments are common in the armed forces…We never felt threatened by that. All armed forces around the world, whether American, British or Indian, take some inspiration from religion to motivate their cadre against the enemy…Nonetheless, we observed an uneasy grouping on different naval bases in Karachi. While nobody can obstruct armed forces personnel for rendering religious rituals or studying Islam, the grouping [we observed] was against the discipline of the armed forces. That was the beginning of an intelligence operation in the navy to check for unscrupulous activities."

Following the above, action was initiated by the Navy, which was not appreciated by the al Qaeda. According to Shahzad, “At least 10 people - mostly from the lower cadre - were arrested in a series of operations.” Following the detention, the al Qaeda wanted these members to be released; however, when the negotiations between the Navy and the al Qaeda failed, the latter attacked the PNS Mehran. The fact of the existence of the al Qaeda’s sympathizers within the Navy gave them a blue print to target the PNS Mehran with precision.

If the above account by Shahzad is true (which seems to be the case, for he would not have been murdered otherwise), then it blows away two significant rhetoric often repeated within Pakistan on the PNS Mehran attack. First, it was a revenge attack for the killing of Osama bin Laden, which implies that had the al Qaeda chief not been killed, there would have never been an attack on the PNS Mehran. Second, the attack on the PNS Mehran was targeted at the US, especially the American reconnaissance aircraft, P 3C Orion. This was intended to affect the American supply line to Afghanistan via Karachi.

Clearly, Shahzad’s reports prove that the attack on PNS Mehran would have taken place irrespective of the killing of Osama bin Laden. In this case, the attack on PNS Mehran is less to do with anti-American sentiments and the disruption of the pipe line to Afghanistan. It appears that a section within the armed forces is under the influence of radical elements and that the top brasses are unaware of what is happening within their forces. This should be read along with Headley’s recent statement that the ISI chief may not have known what the Lashkar handlers were doing in terms of planning the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

This is a war within Pakistan’s security establishment, which should be seen differently from the war within Pakistan. From a regional perspective, what does this mean for Pakistan and Afghanistan? Clearly, such a siege within the security forces and intelligence agencies is not in the interest of Pakistan. Neither will it help regional and international security. The exit of international troops at this juncture will further complicate the situation, for this will be seen as a victory for the radical groups. Worse, after the exit, the international community may even ignore the region. From an Indian perspective, this will only make the situation worse and the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue precarious.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Will the Genie Want to Go Back?

The Fall of Rajapaksa: Why Democracies Fail Strongmen

Pakistan: The Military Courts

From Kashmir to Kabul

A Fractured Mandate: The Big Picture

And Now, They Are Coming For Our Children

Pak-Afghan Reset: Will the Taliban and al Qaeda follow?

Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues

Rise India, avoid regional pitfalls

Foreign Fighters of Pakistan: Why Pashtuns and Punjabis?

Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?

The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani

Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping: Strong Leaders, Hard Issues

Pakistan: The Coup that didnít take

Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis

Processes at the cost of peace?

Cost of Peace

Rise of Democratic Anarchists

Donít steal the election now

Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the ďEliminate or ExtraditeĒ Approach

The Tahirul Qadri Affair

Dhaka as the Gateway to Indiaís Look East Policy

Modi, Sharif and the Cross-LoC Interactions

Region by Sub-regions

Civil-Military Equations in Pakistan: Que Sera Sera

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.