South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No. 830, 04.11.2003, by B.Raman
(Extracts from a paper prepared for discussion at a non-governmental India-Russia-China trialogue on security-related issues being held at New Delhi on November 6 and 7, 2003, under the auspices of the Institute for Chinese Studies)
International, regional and bilateral co-operation in counter-terrorism was not the outcome of 9/11. It had existed even before 9/11 in the form of exchange of intelligence and training facilities, mutual legal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism-related cases etc, but in a discreet and often half-hearted manner. Political considerations came in the way of effective co-operation. Differing perceptions of terrorism and of States using terrorism as an instrument to achieve their strategic objectives against adversary States provided the terrorists with congenial conditions for their operations. One nation’s terrorist being another’s freedom-fighter and one nation’s terrorist State being another’s strategic ally were the pre-9/11 ground realities, just as they continue to be so even after 9/11. Terrorism was viewed as an evil, but not an absolute one.
9/11 was a traumatic event directly for the US and vicariously for others. The US, despite being the richest and militarily the most powerful State in the world—the sole super power– found itself a victim of a terrorist-inflicted catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. The intelligence and physical security apparatus of the most powerful state in the world found itself momentarily overwhelmed with shock and grief by a non-State actor, whose strength lay not in its military prowess, but in its ability to operate stealthily and plan and execute the most irrational act of killing thousands of innocent civilians in a dramatically synchronised precision operation, made possible by the failure to take seriously in time the capacity for evil of a new kind of terrorism which had spawned in the terrorism triangle of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Its growth in darkness had been facilitated by the connivance of these States and the reluctance of other States to make them pay a price for their connivance.
As a result, 9/11 saw a change in the perceptions of the nations of the world in relation to terrorism. The pre-9/11 relativism and ambivalence gave place to a realisation and conviction that terrorism is an absolute evil whatever be the cause and that it cannot be vanquished unless the nations of the world networked in their counter-terrorism operations as effectively as the terrorist groups of different hues and different nationalities had networked among themselves against the States.
This realisation and conviction were reflected in the UN Security Council Resolution No.1373 and in the action taken by different States individually and collectively to confront this evil through co-ordinated steps in matters such as denial of funds to terrorists, collection and sharing of intelligence and the identification, arrest and prosecution of terrorists. In purely statistical terms such as amount of terrorist funds frozen, number of terrorists killed or captured etc , the results achieved have been impressive, but these could not prevent the tragedies of Bali, Mombasa, Moscow, Chechnya, Karachi, Riyadh, Casablanca, Jakarta, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Jammu & Kashmir, New Delhi and Mumbai. Innocent children, women and men continue to die in their hundreds at the the hands of terrorists.
The reason for this continuing massacre of innocent civilians by the terrorists despite the international and regional unity of action should be easy to understand only if one wants to. Terrorism has come to be viewed as an absolute evil, but not States which continue to use terrorism as an instrument of State policy. Action has been taken against terrorist funds and individual terrorists, but not against their sanctuaries in the territories of States, which are objective allies of terrorists. The terrorist infrastructure in the triangle of Afghanistan-Pakistan-Saudi Arabia remains largely intact. Unless the nations of the world act as decisively against States which use terrorism as they have been acting against individual terrorists and their organisations, the war against terrorism will have sporadic, ephemeral and tactical successes, but not enduring strategic triumph.
It is against this background that one has to assess the evolving co-operation in counter-terrorism amongst India, China and Russia. The seeds of this co-operation were sown even before 9/11, but its growth has had different velocities. It has been faster in the case of Russia, thanks to various factors. First, both India and Russia have been the greatest victims of jihadi terrorism originating from this triangle. Second, their counter-terrorism operations have been sought to be weakened by the infiltration of a large number of foreign mercenaries of Pakistani and other nationalities. Third, the dangers of the nexus of terrorism and transnational criminal mafia groups, of which so much has been written about, have nowhere else in the world been so dramatically evident as in India and Russia. Four, there is a realisation that if there is one country in the world from where the dangers of nuclearisation of terrorism could arise, that country is Pakistan. Five, many of the pan-Islamic jihadi terrorists, who pose a threat to the stability and territorial integrity of India and Russia, are a creation and surrogates of the State of Pakistan which finds itself obliged to tolerate the activities of these terrorists against States with which Pakistan has no quarrel as a quid pro quo for their assistance to the State of Pakistan against India.
Thanks to these factors, there is a considerable convergence of views and perceptions between India and Russia; a readiness to call a spade a spade and to openly highlight this convergence; and a wish and a determination to act resolutely against the terrorists as well as their State-sponsors.
The convergence with China is still evolving. Though China too has been a victim of jihadi terrorism originating from the same triangle, it prefers not to give open expression to its concerns over the role of other States in fostering it. Its criticism and condemnations relate largely to acts of terrorism such as the terrorist attack against the Indian Parliament in December, 2001, but not to individual terrorist organisations and their State-sponsors. There is a greater convergence of views and perceptions between China and Russia than between China and India. The reason is easy to understand. Since 1999, the majority of the jihadi terrorist incidents in India have been committed by Pakistani nationals and Pakistani organisations. How to condemn such individuals and organisations, without such condemnation being perceived as a condemnation of the State of Pakistan, with which it has close relations? That is a dilemma for Chinese counter-terrorism policy-makers.
This dilemma is unlikely to disappear and could have its impact in slowing down the evolution of a convergence of views and perceptions between the two countries. However, this should not stand in the way of the two countries continuing to proceed along the present path of developing the co-operation at a pace and in a manner with which neither of them is uncomfortable.
Do non-governmental think tanks and fora like the India-China-Russia trialogue on security-related issues have a role to play in nudging the three countries to keep moving forward? They definitely have and should. First, by creating a greater awareness of each other’s perceptions and concerns. Second, by projecting such perceptions and concerns to the counter-terrorism policy-makers. Third, by sharing information, analyses and assessments on the state of terrorism in their respective countries. Four, by a greater exchange of visits and attachments by the non-governmental counter-terrorism experts of the three countries. And five, by striving towards a common data base of open information relating to terrorism to which research scholars from the three countries could have easy access.
Unfortunately, though India has been the greatest victim of terrorism in the world since 1956, counter-terrorism expertise outside the Government is largely confined to persons who had served in the Government and then retired. Counter-terrorism as a subject of study is not very popular amongst students due to the very limited career opportunities offered by it. Consequently, no university has an exclusive Department of Terrorism Studies, though the Departments of Defence or Strategic Studies of some universities such as the University of Madras enable students to do their doctorate in the subject if they are interested. A number of think tanks have separate sections or divisions to focus on terrorism, but centres exclusively devoting themselves to a study of terrorism are very few in number–not more than one or two. Fora like this could also play a very useful role in building up non-governmental expertise in this field which is becoming, if it has not already become, as important as military studies.
EXTRACTS FROM THE TEXT OF THE PAPER (Paras 1 to 41 relating to the Indian experience have been deleted since these are already available in a separate paper on the subject prepared in March, 2003, at this web site)
CAN S.E. ASIA AND CHINA BENEFIT FROM INDIA’S EXPERIENCE?
42. The S.E. Asian countries have been increasingly affected by pan-Islamic jihadi terrorism spawned in the madrasas and training camps of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Cadres of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Abu Sayaaf of Southern Philippines had fought along with Pakistani jihadi and Afghan Mujahideen groups against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The links built up then have been sustained. The HUM of Pakistan, which is a member of bin Laden’s IIF, has been training the Abu Sayaaf and providing it with arms and ammunition. HUM leaders claim that many of their cadres fought against the Filippino security forces along with Abu Sayaaf and achieved “martyrdom” and are buried there. In 1998, Abu Sayaaf became a member of bin Laden’s IIF.
43. The Jemmah Islamiyah (JI), which has been co-ordinating pan-Islamic jihadi activities in S.E. Asia, is sought to be patterned after the IIF. It is believed to have many cadres of Afghan jihad vintage in its ranks and leadership. In the middle of last year, the total number of students from S.E. Asia studying in the pan-Islamic madrasas of Pakistan was estimated at about 400. Some of them had gone to Afghanistan and fought against the American troops in order to get jihadi experience.
44. Recently, the Pakistani authorities, under US pressure, have arrested over 20 Indonesians and Malaysians studying in two madrasas of Karachi. They were running a cell of the JI in Pakistan. One of the arrested persons turned out to be the younger brother of Hambali, the operational chief of the JI, who was arrested in Thailand on August 11,2003, and handed over to the FBI. One of the madrasas where the indonesians and Malaysians were arrested was being run by the LET.
45.The Pakistan branch of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) is very active in S.E. Asia, ostensibly to teach the Muslims of the region to be better Muslims, but it acts as the front organisation of the jihadi members of the IIF for recruiting local volunteers for training and for funnelling financial and other assistance. India has a good database on these organisations and their activities and has a valuable experience of dealing with them. Close inter-actions between the counter-terrorism agencies of India and the countries of the S. E. Asian region, China and Russia would, therefore, be of mutual benefit.
THE CHINESE EXPERIENCE
46. After October 7, 2001, the Chinese Government repeatedly urged that the Uighurs captured by the US in Afghanistan should be handed over to the Chinese authorities for trial as terrorists, a request which was not accepted by the US. Addressing a press conference at Beijing in the beginning of November, 2001,Zhang Qiyue, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, claimed that there were hundreds of Uighurs in Afghanistan. The “Xinjiang Daily” published a detailed report on acts the Government considered as terrorism in Xinjiang over the past decade. She said that the “East Turkestan” terrorist force had close links with international terrorist forces and that “at least several hundred of these separatist-minded terrorists” once received training in Afghanistan. She added that China was willing to make joint efforts with the international community to fight against all manners of terrorism, “including the ‘East Turkestan’ terrorist force.”
47. Following the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Forum held in Shanghai after the start of the US operations in Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, the then Chinese President Jiang Zemin said: “Terrorism should be cracked down upon, whenever and wherever it occurs, whoever organizes it, whoever is targeted and whatever forms it takes. ” The then Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said during the APEC summit in Shanghai that the Al Qaeda had even sent some of the East Turkestan terrorists to fight in Chechnya. Official Chinese media reported that during their meeting on the fringes of the APEC summit, Jiang and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed that “Chechnya and East Turkestan terrorist activities are part of international terrorism.”
48. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao urged during a media briefing that the international community “should hold a uniform stance and consistent attitude in opposing and combating international terrorism. ” Apparently to satisfy the Chinese, the statement on terrorism issued by the APEC summit condemned “murderous deeds as well as other terrorist acts in all forms and manifestations, committed wherever, whenever and by whomsoever. ” However, in remarks to the media before and after a bilateral meeting with Jiang in Shanghai, President Bush reiterated the US position as follows without specifically referring to Uighur terrorism: “The war on terrorism must never be an excuse to persecute minorities;” “ethnic minorities must know that their rights will be safeguarded-that their churches, temples and mosques belong to them.”
49. Briefing the media in Beijing after a party conference on March,11, 2002, Abdulait Abuderexit, the Chairman of the Xinjiang provincial Administration, made the following points:
* Separatists in Xinjiang at home or abroad got both material and financial support from some extreme terror organizations abroad, and violent actions that had taken place in Xinjiang received financial aid from overseas.
* During the US anti-terror war in Afghanistan, we did find some separatists in Xinjiang who joined some training programs abroad. Chinese police had caught some terrorists who returned to Xinjiang secretly after receiving training in the terrorist camps of Afghanistan and some other countries. The police of those countries concerned had also extradited and handed some of those terrorists to China.”
* The paper on the East Turkestan terrorist forces issued by the State Council Information Office had made it clear that various terrorist activities had been under way in Xinjiang since the 1950s. Incomplete statistics showed that from 1990 to 2001, the East Turkestan terrorist forces inside and outside Chinese territory were responsible for over 200 terrorist incidents in Xinjiang, resulting in the deaths of 162 people of all ethnic groups, including grass-roots officials and religious personnel, and injuries to more than 440 people.
50. Some of the Uighur terrorist organisations have ideological and possibly even operational link-ups with the Hizb-e Tehrir (HT) or Party of Liberation, which is not based in Xinjiang and which projects itself, without convincing proof, as the largest and the most popular Islamic movement with following in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and which has been fighting to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the historical region once known as Turkestan, encompassing the Xinjiang-Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China, often referred to as Eastern Turkestan, and the Central Asian Republics (CARS), referred to as Western Turkestan. They are also reported to have links with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which, according to Russian media reports not independently corroborated, has re-named itself since June, 2001, as the Hizb-i-Islami Turkestan, or the Islamic Party of Turkestan, and re-formulated its objective as the creation of an Islamic republic out of the five Central Asian Republics and the XUAR of China.
51. The problem of terrorism/religious extremism faced by China in Xinjiang has certain similarities with that faced by India in the Punjab in the past and in J&K presently. The first similarity relates to the role of some members of the diaspora in fomenting terrorism. In India, Sikh terrorism in the Punjab was initially started by some members of the Sikh diaspora in Canada, the USA, the UK and other Western countries, with the encouragement of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the USA’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) during the Nixon Administration, but it could never gather much support from amongst the Sikh population of Punjab. This facilitated the counter-terrorism operations of the Punjab Police. On the contrary, terrorism in J&K was initially started by indigenous elements with the support of the Kashmiris in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK), with very little involvement of the Kashmiri (essentially Mirpuri) diaspora in the West. In Xinjiang, the role of the Uighur diaspora in the Central Asian Republics (CARs), Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the West in fomenting terrorist violence and political destabilisation has been as considerable as in the case of the Sikh diaspora in the Indian Punjab.
52. The Uighur organisations claim that there are presently about 500,000 Uighurs living in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. About 200,000 of them are in Kazakhstan of whom a half live in Almaty. It is alleged that an umbrella organisation called the Inter-State Uighur Union (Uygurlarning Devletlerara Ittifaki), headed by Kahraman Gojamberdi, acts as the front organisation of the Europe-based Eastern Turkestani Union in the CARs and mobilises the support of the diaspora for the so-called struggle against Beijing through an Eastern Turkestani Fund and an International Eastern Turkestani Coordination Center.
53. The second similarity relates to the external causes of aggravation of the terrorist violence in Xinjiang. While the ethnic separatist elements have been the beneficiaries of sympathy and support from the US, Taiwanese and Turkish intelligence agencies, the religious fundamentalist elements have been in receipt of support from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)-backed jehadi organisations in Pakistan, the Taliban and bin Laden’s International Islamic Front For Jehad Against the USA and Israel.
54. In the 1970s and the 1980s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the USA had built up a network of contacts with the Uighur separatist elements and some of those, who had in the past worked for the Munich-based Radio Liberty of the CIA such as Erkin Alptekin, chairman of the Europe-based Eastern Turkestani Union,came to the forefront of the ethnic separatist movement. In February,1998, Anwar Yusuf, President of the Eastern Turkistan National Freedom Center, visited Taiwan at the invitation of the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations, reportedly a US-based organisation, along with Erkin Alptekin. They met Liu Sung-pan, the then President of Taiwan’s Legislative Yuan; Shui-Bian Chen, the then Mayor of Taipei; and Frank C.T. Hsieh, the then Mayor of Kaosiung. The Turkish intelligence has allegedly been funding the World Turkic Friendship, Brotherhood and Cooperation Conference held periodically to highlight the Turkic identity.
55. Despite publicly unarticulated concerns over the encouragement received by the ethnic separatist elements from governmental and non-governmental organisations in the USA and the European Union member-States, the Chinese have been co-operating with the US in its war against terrorism in Afghanistan in the hope that the success of the US counter-terrorism strikes against the Taliban and the Al Qaeda could help them in their own operations against the pan-Islamic elements in Xinjiang. They have reasons to be concerned over the dregs of the Al Qaeda and other members of the International Islamic Front gravitating towards POK and the Northern Areas (Gilgit and Baltistan) as this could add to their security problems in Xinjiang. Last year’s grenade attack in Pakistan by suspected pro-bin Laden terrorists on a party of German and other tourists travelling by the Karakoram Highway to Xinjiang would indicate the presence of some of these dregs in the vicinity of Pakistan’s border with Xinjiang.
56. It is difficult to quantify the extent of the influence of bin Laden and his International Islamic Front on the pan-Islamic elements in Xinjiang. The Chinese themselves have been estimating the number of Uighurs trained in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the Al Qaeda before October 7, 2001, as about 1,000.
INDO-CHINESE CO-OPERATION IN COUNTER-TERRORISM: LANDMARKS
57.The first open indication of a Chinese readiness to include co-operation in counter-terrorism in the ambit of the bilateral dialogue mechanism with India came much before 9/11 during a visit to India by Li Peng, the then Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, in January, 2001. In an interview to the New Delhi correspondent “The Hindu”, the prestigious daily of Chennai, which was carried by it on January 14,2001, he strongly condemned international terrorism and said that Beijing was “willing to cooperate with India in countering this menace to regional security and stability.”
58. He expressed Chinese opposition to “terrorism of all descriptions – in any region, any part of the world”. and pointed out that terrorism could not resolve any problem. He then added: “China is willing to cooperate with all countries which are against terrorism. Of course, India is one of them. China supports every effort to combat international terrorism through the formulation of international conventions and hopes that the international community will take further steps to improve the anti-terrorism international legal framework”.
59.”China has always opposed and condemned international terrorism in any form, and is against any act of terror and violence conducted by any nation, organization, group or individual. China is willing to carry out international cooperation with all countries in the world, including India, to combat terrorism so as to safeguard national interests and regional security and stability,” Li said.
60. In an interview to the Beijing correspondent of the Press Trust of India (PTI) on January 12,2002, before his departure for India on an official visit, Zhu Rongji, the then Chinese Prime Minister, said:” China and India have much common ground on counter-terrorism. The Chinese side is ready to step up exchanges and cooperation with India and other relevant parties in this field.” He described terrorism as the common enemy of the entire human society and said China’s position against terrorism was consistent and clear-cut.
61.Briefing the media following talks between Zhu Rongji and the Indian Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, on January 15, 2002, Ms.Zhang Qiyue, a spokesperson of the visiting Chinese delegation, said that during the discussions India and China agreed to set up a bilateral counter -terrorism dialogue mechanism.
62. After stating that Vajpayee had explained India’s position on terrorism, she added: “We (China) were shocked at the December 13 attack on Indian Parliament and expressed our condemnation.” She further said that Zhu expressed the hope that the disputes (between India and Pakistan) would be solved through peaceful means in conformity with peace in South Asia.
63.The media claimed that she “circumvented” a question, which sought to know whether China had supported India’s stand on terrorism during the talks. She confined herself to saying that during the discussions between the two Prime Ministers, China had declared its support for the international efforts against terrorism. She added: “China’s position is clear. It is opposed to terrorism and supportive of international efforts against it.”
64. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the lower House of the Indian Parliament, on Zhu Rongji’s visit to India, Omar Abdullah, the then Minister of State For External Affairs, stated, inter alia, on March 6, 2002, that the two Prime Ministers agreed ” to establish a bilateral dialogue mechanism against terrorism. Modalities are being discussed between the Foreign Ministries.”
65. A comprehensive enunciation of China’s counter-terrorism policy was given by Tang Jiaxuan, the then Chinese Foreign Minister,while briefing the media in Beijing on Marrch 6,2002, during the fifth session of the 9th Chinese National People’s Congress. He made the following salient points:
* “The September 11th incident has made it more evident that in the international situation, uncertain factors are on the rise and threats posed by non-traditional security problems loom larger, thus making the international security situation grim and complicated. However, because world balance of power has not fundamentally changed and the incident has not altered the basic world pattern and major trend of development in the international situation, peace and development remain the themes of the present times. And as far as China is concerned, in our international environment, we still face more opportunities than challenges. Multi-polarization continues to develop despite twists and turns and it remains the common aspiration of people of all countries to pursue peace, cooperation and development. At present and in the days to come, we will see such features in the international situation. That is overall peace, relaxation and stability as well as local turmoil, tension and turbulence.”
* “We will continue to oppose hegemonism and power politics as well as terrorism of all forms.”
* “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a regional organization for multilateral cooperation set up on the basis of the Shanghai Five mechanism. Its establishment is conducive to regional peace and stability as well as regional economic cooperation. Its further development will also be conducive to the establishment of a just and fair new international economic and political order. We believe that this Organization will serve regional and world peace and stability. It will also play an increasingly important role in advancing regional economic cooperation.
* “This Organization is composed of six countries. All of them are victims of terrorism and they are all active participants in counter-terrorism cooperation in the world. There are many international organizations in the world. However, Shanghai Cooperation Organization was the first international organization that set counter-terrorism as its target. As we all know, it issued the Shanghai Declaration, which clearly said that the members would cooperate to fight against international terrorism, ethnic separatism and religious extremism.”
* “Shortly after the September 11th Incident, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization issued a Prime Ministers’ statement and earlier this year, an ad hoc Foreign Ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was convened to mainly discuss the peril posed by terrorism. The Ministers condemned terrorism and we also held specific discussions on how the Organization might evolve in the future. And a lot of agreements were reached. In the coming June, President Jiang Zemin will attend the second summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization that is to take place in St. Petersburg. I am confident that, through that summit, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will play a more important role in promoting regional and world peace, stability and cooperation and it will also demonstrate its distinctive features.”
* “At my invitation, Mr. (Jaswant) Singh (the then Indian Foreign Minister) is going to visit Beijing at the end of this month. In January this year, Premier Zhu of China paid a very successful visit to India and as a result, relations between our two countries have made significant progress forward. I expect that the visit will provide us with a new opportunity to bring China-India relations to a new phase of development. Indeed, on many important issues such as counter-terrorism and other multi-lateral issues as well as bilateral cooperation on economic matters, trade issues, science and technology, our two countries share a lot of common interests. It is true that we do not always see eye to eye concerning certain international and regional issues. Yet I have to say that we have more common ground than differences. Our positions are indeed very similar and close to each other. This is the most important aspect of our relationship.”
66. Jaswant Singh visited China from March 29 to April 2, 2002, at the invitation of Tang Jiaxuan. He travelled to Beijing by the inaugural direct service of the China Eastern Airlines. The invitation to travel on the inaugural flight was conveyed by Zhu Rongji during his meeting with Jaswant Singh in New Delhi on January 14, 2002.He had previously visited China as the External Affairs Minister in June 1999. Tang Jiaxuan had visited India in July 2000.
67.Briefing the media after his talks with his Chinese counterparts and before calling on Zhu Rongji, Jaswant Singh, inter alia, made the following observations on March 29, 2002:
* “I have had meetings with Qian Qichen, Vice Premier and Dai Bingguo, Minister of the International Liaison Department of the CCP. I have also had useful meetings with my distinguished colleague and counterpart, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan. I do believe that the talks have resulted in some substantial discussions and the dynamism imparted to India-China relations, to my mind, is significant. “
* “We have gone beyond the definition of terrorism. The fact that China and India are now sitting together to talk about counter-terrorism and that the Chinese side is willing to talk on terrorism and about UNSCR 1373 and other efforts to counter terrorism is significant. I am quite confident about the progress.
* “The first meeting of counter-terrorism talks in April 2002 shall be led by Joint Secretary (East Asia) of Ministry of External Affairs and Director General on the Chinese side. JS(EA) is free to have in his team whoever he feels is necessary to facilitate talks. He can have agencies, MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs), etc.”
* “The effect of 9/11 and December 13 (terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament) on India-China relations has not been as catalytic. The fact is that both India and China are working towards deepening and strengthening their relations. Both sides are working very closely. As I told Vice Premier Qian Qichen and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, we have to move away from the shadow of history and to begin to address ourselves to the sunlight of tomorrow, because India and China constitute 40% of the world’s population and it is our bounden duty to be responsible and find answers for almost half of humanity.
* “I came here to discuss India-China relations. I do not look at bilateral relations between India and China through that ( the Pakistani) prism. We have a Security Dialogue in which this can be discussed. I am not saying that Pakistan did not come up in the talks at all but I do not attach emphasis or focus or centrality to the issue.”
68. Explaining the Indian perspective on terrorism during a talk on “Challenges for Peace Today” at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies on April 1, 2002,Jaswant Singh made the following points:
* “I have been greatly struck by a recent identification of two, rather grim characteristics of War in the Twentieth Century. The first of these is a gradual reduction of armed operations, conducted essentially by and between governments or their authorized representatives. Inter-state wars have in fact declined even if such a decline has not always been recognized. Second, a global erosion has come about in the distinction between combatants and non-combatants. Thus, in World War 1, only 5% of those killed were civilians; during the Second War the figure jumped, no doubt on account of the advent of air war – also sadly the dawn of the atomic age to a troubling 65%. Today, as an index of the transformation that has taken place, the non-combatant is the principal target, the more civilians that are killed the more effective is the act of violence considered. The uniformed soldier has (well almost) become a supernumerary to conflict; that soldier is now an incidental target; it is the civilian that is single mindedly sought for massacre.”
* “Small groups of individuals command a power of assault far in excess of any ‘political power’ they can ever aspire to in any democratic set up; otherwise they work towards first destroying order and then replacing it with terror. Small unrepresentative groups thus acquire disproportionate power. Yet, precisely because they remain identifiably small, their disproportionate power of destruction is far less responsive to traditional methods. That is also why, perversely, acts of terror acquire the illusion of being weapons of the ‘have nots’. It is this, coupled with the ‘oxygen of publicity’, that gives terrorism a degree of survivability.”
* “Terrorism, rejects all established boundaries, treaties, limitations, norms – whether geographic or moral. Despite these anarchic attributes, terrorism can be and is employed as an instrument of State policy. For, terrorist organizations are like cellular structures. They are not like beehives, dependent only on a ‘Queen Bee’. Terrorism is not unlike a tissue, a ‘system’, a ‘Qaida’, each cell of which, in a sense, is self- contained and can reproduce itself in identical forms. As it feeds on anarchy, it could, theoretically exist, at least for sometime without a leader too, and to the extent that we look only for figure-heads, we limit our understanding, our approach and therefore, our capability of confronting this challenge to peace.”
* “The relative erosion of the traditional concept of war as being between states or their agents, between combatants and non-combatants has brought in its wake an erosion of the ‘security’ that power bestows. Gunboats, whether diplomatic or not worked earlier as a punitive demonstration of power. It is doubtful if they will be effective today. That is why to characterize our age today, I can perhaps do no better than emphasise the following logic no matter how uncomfortable: that traditional concepts of power alone can not any longer provide security since the nature of our present day conflicts has altered radically. If this proposition is accepted then it would be self-evident that our understanding of and approach to security hence, peace, needs also to be revised.”
* “There is today a progressively greater access to all kinds of weapons. I would not for a minute dispute that following from this we need to strengthen our preventive measures. But will policing itself ever be sufficient? That is why an abolition of nuclear weapons through a multilaterally agreed, legally binding undertaking has such new urgency. Also on account of this current rise of non-state actors as powerful military threats. Simultaneously, there is an equal urgency in attending to the programme of proliferation of small arms and light weapons and their easy availability with non-state actors. This trade must come to an end, not through policing but by an international, legally binding compact that all of us impeccably adhere to.”
* “Hopefully we have woken from the complacency of the post-cold war decade. But the challenge of lasting defeat of these forces that make for an unhealthy and volatile world order remains. The threat of chaos and terrorism, represented for instance by the phenomenon of Al Quaida and its ability to build up a vast global network without attention being paid to it, has proven to be extremely costly. Finally global action, initiated by Security Council Resolution 1373, is under way. This has also created a coalition in which the global community has joined. It is imperative that we draw a long breath and are steady in our purpose to defeat these forces. Decisions that may undermine this unity of purpose would need to be avoided. It is of no satisfaction to India that terrorism, which we had so long back identified as the principal destabliser of the world order, has now become more generally accepted and identified as a scourge. Here again we see multilateral compact as the way forward and our draft Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism as its instrument.”
69. Replying to questions from the audience after his address, Jaswant Singh said that India’s relations with Pakistan could be improved ” by Pakistan’s abandoning the path of terrorism, abandoning cross-border terrorism and making a strategic choice, not a tactical choice, to abandon terrorism.” Referring to the possibilities of Sino-Indian co-operation in dealing with terrorism, he said:” The first bilateral dialogue on counter-terrorism will be on 23 April in New Delhi. In itself, this is a step forward. Terrorism recognises no international boundaries, no international obligations – there is no Geneva Convention for terrorism. We can and will work together.” His visit to China was followed by the first meeting of the bilateral dialogue mechanism on counter-terrorism at New Delhi on April 23, 2002, which was attended by the counter-terrorism experts of the two countries.
70. A White Paper on “China’s National Defense in 2002” issued by the Information Office of the State Council at Beijing on December 9,2002, explained China’s counter-terrorism policy as follows:
* “The international community should strengthen dialogue and consultation and develop cooperation, join hands in preventing and fighting against international terrorist activities, and make efforts to eradicate the root cause of terrorism”.
* “In recent years, terrorist activities have notably increased, and constitute a real threat to world peace and development.”
* “The “September 11” terrorist attack has aroused the universal concern of the international community. On September 11, 2002, the UN Security Council formally included the “East Turkistan Islamic Movement” on its list of terrorist organizations.”
* The Chinese government has always resolutely opposed and condemned all forms of terrorism, and has actively adopted effective measures to fight against terrorist activities.”
* “In fighting terrorism, it is necessary to address both its symptoms and root cause, and adopt comprehensive measures, especially in solving the question of development, narrowing the North-South gap, and ending regional conflicts.”
* “The fight against terrorism requires conclusive evidence, clear targets and conformity with the purpose and principles of the UN Charter, and the universally acknowledged norms of international laws. In this regard, the leading role of the UN and its Security Council should be brought into full play, and all actions taken should be conducive to the long-term interest of preserving regional and world peace.”
* “Terrorism should not be confused with a specification or religion, neither should dual standards be adopted in the fight against terrorism. The international community should make common efforts to resolutely condemn and attack terrorism whenever and wherever it occurs, whoever it is directed against and in whatever form it appears.
* ” China supports and has conscientiously implemented a series of resolutions on the anti-terrorism issue passed by the United Nations and its Security Council.”
* “China has acceded to the International Convention on Stopping Terrorist Explosions, and signed the International Convention on Severing Financial Aid to Terrorism. China has acceded to 10 and signed another one of the 12 international anti-terrorism conventions.”
* “China has also held anti-terrorism consultations respectively with the United States, Russia, Britain, France, Pakistan and India, and has taken an active part in the work of the Security Council Anti-Terrorism Commission.”
* “China actively helped the Shanghai Conference of APEC leaders in bringing about the anti-terrorism statement, motivated the heads of government, defense ministers, leaders of law-enforcement and security departments, and foreign ministers of the member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in issuing a common statement, and actively supported the SCO in establishing a permanent regional anti-terrorist organization.
* “China and Kyrgyzstan conducted a joint anti-terrorism military exercise in October 2002.
* “China pays great attention to international anti-terrorist cooperation in the financial field. Although China is not a member of the ad hoc working group for combating the financial action of money laundering, it consistently supports the group’s work. China has given the group a full introduction of its measures for anti-terrorism in the financial field.”
71.The Xinhua news agency reported on December 24,2002, that an agreement to establish a regional counter-terrorism agency reached by the six member nations of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was tabled with the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) for deliberation and ratification. The Minister of Public Security, Jia Chunwang , told the NPC Standing Committee that the agreement would help promote China’s cooperation with other SCO members on fighting against terrorism, separatism and extremism. It would also improve the good-neighborly relations among the SCO members, better safeguard regional peace and security and help create a peaceful neighborly environment for China to carry out its modernization, Jia said. He added that the then Chinese President ,Jiang Zemin, the Russian President Vladimir Putin,the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kyrgyz President, Askar Akayev, the Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and the Uzbek President, Islam Karimov, had signed the agreement in Russia’s St. Petersburg on June 7, 2002.
72. Addressing the UN Security Council Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism on January 20,2003, Tang Jiaxuan explained China’s counter-terrorism principles in the following words:” The purpose of the war on terror is to free the mankind from the threats to peace and security. The kernel of counter-terrorism is the maintenance of peace and security of mankind. All measures, ways and means employed by the international community have to be conducive to easing and resolving tensions both internationally and regionally. Universal development and common prosperity constitutes the basis of counter-terrorism. The prolonged violence and impoverishment in some developing countries have made them easy prey to the manipulation of terrorists. Only when we succeed in achieving common development by facilitating each other’s economy, can we eradicate the root causes of terrorism.” He stressed the need for closer communication and integration among civilizations, adding that this was the guarantee of counter- terrorism.
73. He further said: “Counter-terrorism should provide different civilizations with a new opportunity to learn from each other through mutual exchanges, a new starting point for their dialogue and integration, and a new engine for their common progress and prosperity, rather than a cause for greater ethnic hatred, racial conflict, clashes of civilizations or estrangement between peoples. The key to counter-terrorism is stronger and deeper international cooperation. The success of the international campaign against terrorism requires clearly-defined and joint actions, guided by the principles of the UN Charter and universally recognized norms of international law. China, as a responsible country that loves, treasures and endeavors to defend peace, has implemented in real earnest the relevant Security Council resolutions and joined the majority of the international anti-terrorism conventions.”
74. He said that China was also a victim of terrorism and cited the example of the “East Turkistan” terror groups that had long collaborated with Al Qaeda and committed numerous terror attacks in China’s Xinjiang and neighboring regions of Central Asia. He called for an integrated approach with due regard to properly handling such issues as development and regional conflicts and emphasized there should be no “double standards” in counter-terrorism.
75.The second meeting of the Sino-Indian bilateral dialogue mechanism on counter-terrorism was held at Beijing on June 13, 2003. The Indian delegation was led by Ashok K.Kantha, Joint Secretary (East Asia) of the Ministry for External Affairs of the Government of India, while the Chinese delegation was led by Zhang Jun, the acting Director-General of the Department of International Organisations and Conferences of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of China. The two delegations included counter-terrorism experts of the intelligence communities of the two countries.
76.At the end of the meeting, a spokesman of the Indian Embassy in Beijing was quoted as saying: “The two sides exchanged views on the international and regional counter-terrorism situation, Sino-Indian cooperation on counter-terrorism, the role of the UN in combating global terrorism and in enhancing counter-terrorism capabilities. Both sides also stressed the important role of the UN in the international counter-terrorism cooperation bilaterally and multilaterally. “
77.The Indian delegation also called on Shen Guofang, the Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister. He said that the counter-terrorism dialogue would help prepare the ground for the visit to China by the Indian Prime Minister, which was to follow.
78.A Declaration on Principles for Relations and Comprehensive Cooperation between the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China issued at the end of the Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s visit to China from June 22 to 27, 2003, said:” The two sides recognized the threat posed by terrorism to them and to global peace and security. They resolutely condemned terrorism in any form. The struggle between the international community and global terrorism is a comprehensive and sustained one, with the ultimate objective of eradication of terrorism in all regions. This requires strengthening the global legal framework against terrorism. Both sides shall also promote cooperation on counter-terrorism through their bilateral dialogue mechanism.”
THE RUSSIAN EXPERIENCE
79. The various pan-Islamic terrorist groups operating in Chechnya are estimated to have a total strength of about 6,000, including a large number of foreign mercenaries. There are widely varying estimates of the strength of the foreign mercenaries, ranging between 200 (Western estimate) and 1,100 (Moscow’s). The foreign mercenaries, many of them got trained by the USA’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the first Afghan war of the 1980s through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for using them against the Soviet troops, have come from countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, the Lebanon, Indonesia and China (Xinjiang).
80.The largest and the most-fiercely motivated components of the mercenary force have come from the Chechen diaspora in West Asia and Pakistan. The favoured routes of the foreign mercenaries for infiltrating into Chechnya lie through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Many thousands of Chechen Mohajirs (refugees), whose ancestors had left the Caucasus as a result of the 1817-1864 Caucasian war, now live in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, Egypt and the Persian-Gulf countries.
81. Hundreds of Arab nationals of Chechen ancestry had joined the 6,000 plus jihadi mercenary force raised by the CIA through the ISI in the 1980s for fighting against Soviet troops and had fought in Afghanistan under Osama bin Laden. They maintained their links with bin Laden after the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan in 1988. Some of them were taken by bin Laden into his Al Qaeda and IIF and they used to work as instructors in the training camps in Afghan territory. They were also used by the ISI for training the Taliban army after 1994 and for assisting the Taliban in its fight against the Northern Alliance. Many others were sent to Chechnya by bin Laden after 1994 to assist the indigenous Chechen groups in their fight for an Islamic Caliphate. They were initially led by Khattab and after his death caused by a booby-trap in April, 2002, they were being led by Abu Al-Valid.
82. The Russians do not identify these pro-bin Laden Chechen mercenaries from the diaspora as Chechens. Instead, they identify them as Arabs. Khattab and Abu Al-Valid are described by the Russians as Arabs, but they are believed to be of Chechen ancestry—Khattab from Saudi Arabia or Jordan and Abu Al-Valid from Jordan. Russia itself has a large Chechen population outside Chechnya in Moscow and other cities. The total Chechen population of Russia is estimated at one million plus, most of whom used to live in Chechnya before 1994. After the terrorist violence broke out in 1994, nearly a half of them have migrated to other cities either due to fear or due to the serious unemployment problem in Chechnya because of the set-back to the economy. The presence of a large Chechen population in Moscow and other cities enables the pan-Islamic terrorists to carry out terrorist strikes in those areas as one saw in Moscow in October, 2002, and earlier in 1999.
83. Next to the Chechen mohajirs, the second largest component in the foreign mercenary force consists of Pakistani nationals belonging to the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI). The TJ is not a member of bin Laden’s IIF, but the HUM and the HUJI are. It is not clear whether Abu Al-Valid acts as the head of the Pakistani component too, or whether it acts autonomously.
84. In an article in the prestigious weekly “Friday Times” of Lahore (October 4 to 10, 2002), Khaled Ahmed, a well-known Pakistani columnist, wrote as follows on the role of the HUJI in the Central Asian Republics and the Caucasus.
85. “Pakistan’s jehadi penetration of Central Asia was conducted through Harkat-ul-Jehad-Al-Islami led by Qari Saufullah Akhtar of Pakistan and based in Kandahar. The outfit with a wide network of seminaries and camps in Pakistan was close to Mullah Omer (Amir of the Taliban) because of its early allegiance to Maulvi Nabi Muhammadi whose own Harkat activists formed the new Taliban cadres. These were the men often called “Punjabi Taliban”. Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami was the Taliban spearhead in Central Asia and the Caucasus.The leader of the Harkat-ul-Jehad-Al-Islami in Uzbekistan was Sheikh Muhammad Tahir al-Farooq. Twenty-seven of its fighters were killed in battle against Uzbek President Islam Karimov, as explained in the Islamabad-based journal “Al Irshad”. The war against Uzbekistan was bloody and was supported by the Taliban till in 2001 the commander had to ask the Pakistanis in Uzbekistan to return to the base.”
86. He added: “In Chechnya, the war against the Russians was carried on under the leadership of Commander Hidayatullah. Pakistan’s Embassy in Moscow once denied that there were any Pakistanis involved in the Chechen war, but journal “Al Irshad” ( March, 2000) declared from Islamabad that the militia was deeply involved in the training of guerillas in Chechnya for which purpose Commander Hidayatullah was stationed in the region. It estimated that dozens of Pakistani fighters had been martyred fighting against Russian infidels. When the Harkat-ul-Jehad-Al-Islami men were seen first in Tajikistan, they were mistaken by some observers as being fighters from Sipah Sahaba (the Sunni extremist organisation of Pakistan), but in fact they were under the command of Commander Khalid Irshad Tiwana, helping Juma Namangani and Tahir Yuldashev resist the Uzbek ruling class in the Ferghana Valley.” (End of citation)
87. There used to be seven training camps in the Serzhen-Yurt district of Chechnya. Of these, one was run by Khattab and another by Hidayatullah. Initially, these two camps of Khattab and Hidayatullah trained only those foreign mercenaries meant to fight against the Russians. After the US Cruise missile attack on his training camps in Afghan territory in 1998, bin Laden started sending some of his own men to the Chechen training camps. In the past, sections of the Russian media had claimed that Georgian intelligence operatives suspected that the militants, who had tried to assassinate President Shevardnadze on February 9, 1998, were trained at camps in Chechnya.
88. The pan-Islamic terrorists in Chechnya and the innumerable organised Chechen crime mafia groups operating in Chechnya and outside have never been short of funds. According to some analysts,it is believed that their main sources of funding are:
* Narcotics (essentially heroin) smuggling: US $ 800 million per annum.
* Money diverted from banks controlled by Chechen businessmen in different parts of Russia: US $ 600 million per annum.
* Illegal production and sale of oil: US $ 36 million per annum.
* Hostage-taking for ransom: In 1997-1998, more than 60 Chechen groupings kidnapped a total of 1,094 people for ransom, and in 1999, 270. The number of hostages kidnapped for ransom still remaining in captivity is estimated to be more than 1,500. No estimate of the total ransom payments made is available.
* Money diverted from Government funds: Moscow heavily subsidises the Chechen State budget. A large portion of this money goes into the hands of various terrorist and mafia groups.
89. The external sources of finance for the Chechen terrorists are as follows:
* Contributions from Saudi Arabia: Most of this amount is sent from Saudi Arabia to Pakistani fundamentalist organisations such as the Jamaat-e-Islami (JEI) and the Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI), which in turn have the money smuggled to the Chechen terrorists through the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ), the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-Al-Islami (HUJI). The six-party religious coalition called the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which has come to power in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan after the elections held on October 10, 2002, had promised in their election manifesto that they would step up assistance to the Chechen “freedom-fighters”. Some of the Saudi funds also go through Islamist charities such as the Global Relief Foundation,Al-Haramayn, etc.
* Contributions from the Chechen diaspora in West Asia.
90. Some Russian analysts have estimated the fund flow from Saudi Arabia at US $ 55 million since 1994 and from the diaspora at US $ 20 million.
INDO-RUSSIAN CO-OPERATION: LANDMARKS
91. During the visit of President Putin to New Delhi in the first week of October,2000, he and Vajpayee signed on October 3,2000, a “Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia” which inter alia stated as follows: “Such a strategic partnership would include enhanced cooperation in the following fields: cooperating in the fight against international terrorism, separatism, organised crime, and illegal trafficking in narcotics; cooperating in rendering mutual legal assistance in civil and criminal matters and in matters relating to extradition, as well as in other related areas. The strategic partnership between the two sides is not directed against any other state or group of states, and does not need to create a military-political alliance.”
92. During Vajpayee’s visit to Moscow in November,2001, he and Putin signed on November 6,2001, “A Moscow Declaration Between India and the Russian Federation on International Terrorism.” The Declaration said:
* “India and the Russian Federation affirm that international terrorism is a threat to peace and security, a grave violation of human rights and a crime against humanity. The struggle against international terrorism has become one of the priority tasks of the world community. This evil can be vanquished only by combining the efforts of all States.
* “Whatever be the motive of their perpetration – political, ideological, philosophical, racial, ethnic, religious or any other, terrorist acts are unjustifiable.
* “India and the Russian Federation support the adoption on the basis of international law of decisive measures against all States, individuals, and entities which render support, harbour, finance, instigate or train terrorists or promote terrorism. It is essential that all States, without exception, should pay particular attention to the prevention of access of terrorists and extremist organisations and groups to financial resources on the basis of international law.
* “In multi-ethnic and democratic countries such as India and the Russian Federation, violent actions being perpetrated under the slogan of self-determination, in reality represent acts of terrorism which in most cases have strong international links. In addition, all acts and methods and practices of terrorism constitute a grave violation of the purposes and the principles of the United Nations, jeopardise friendly relations amongst States and are aimed at destruction of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic basis of society. Multi-ethnic and democratic societies are especially vulnerable to acts of terrorism which are an attack against the values and freedoms enshrined in such societies.
* “Fully resolved to developing cooperation in the struggle against new challenges in international terrorism including in the nuclear, chemical, biological, space, cybernetics and other spheres, both Sides noted the presence of close nexus between terrorism and illegal trafficking in narcotics, trade in arms and organised crime and pointed to the significance of the need for close interaction at the bilateral, as also at the multilateral level in combating these challenges to international stability and security.
* “India and the Russian Federation are closely following the development of the situation in and around Afghanistan and emphasise the necessity to avert the spilling over of the conflict beyond the boundaries of one region, to prevent further extension of terrorism. The two sides accorded highest priority to the continuation of effective interaction on Afghanistan in the framework of the Indo-Russian Joint Working Group on Afghanistan established between the two countries in October 2000.
* “India and the Russian Federation reaffirmed the central role of the United Nations in the efforts of the international community in the struggle against terrorism. They agreed that such a struggle must be conducted on the basis of international law including the United Nations Charter. In this connection, the two sides called for early completion of negotiations under U.N. auspices on the draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and the Convention for the suppression of acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Adoption of these Conventions would assist in strengthening the international legal basis for effectively combating the global menace of terrorism.”
93.Counter-terrorism co-operation was one of the subjects discussed by President Putin with Vajpayee during his visit to India from December 3 to 5,2002. A Delhi Declaration on Further Consolidation of the Strategic Partnership between India and the Russian Federation was among the agreements signed by the two Governments at the end of his visit. A joint statement issued at the end of the visit said inter alia:
* “Both sides confirmed that international terrorism, religious extremism, separatism and secessionism, transborder organised crime and illicit traffic in arms and drugs constitute a growing and serious threat to international peace, security and stability. The tragedy involving hostage-taking in Moscow in October 2002 as well as the wave of terrorist attacks in India and other countries demonstrate that the international community is faced with an extensive threat by the forces of international terrorism.”
* “India and Russia firmly reject and condemn all types of terrorism, based on any ground — political, religious or ideological – and wherever it may exist. It was emphasized that the countermeasures against this menace should be taken on a comprehensive and sustained basis. Such measures should be directed also against those states, entities and individuals who support, fund or abet terrorists or provide them shelter or asylum to engage in cross-border terrorism. There should be no double-standards in the fight against terrorism.”
* “Both sides also reaffirmed the relevance of the Moscow Declaration on International Terrorism of 6 November 2001. They stressed the importance of strict implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on the fight against terrorism, in particular Resolution 1373. They also advocated intensifying efforts to finalise in the United Nations the draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the draft Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism.”
* “Roots of terrorism which lay in their common neighbourhood posed a threat to their security interests. Both sides would take preventive and deterrent measures in meeting these threats and cooperate in this regard. Both sides declared their determination to enhance collective and bilateral efforts to prevent and suppress terrorism. This determination is reaffirmed by the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on Combating International Terrorism during the current Indo-Russian Summit.”
* “In their in-depth discussions regarding developments in Afghanistan, both sides noted the continuing threat to security in Afghanistan. Concern was expressed at the possible regrouping of former Taliban and Al Qaeda elements and their continuing links with their sponsors. At the same time, both sides expressed the hope that the Transitional Administration of Afghanistan will succeed in restoring peace in the country, rehabilitating economic and social infrastructure and ensuring economic recovery. They stressed that it is in the interest of the international community to see a stable and sovereign government in Afghanistan. All states concerned should, therefore, maintain a consensus on continuous support to the transitional Administration. Both sides supported further increasing international economic and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and agreed to continue to closely coordinate their actions. India and Russia made a positive assessment of the continuing utility of their Joint Working Group on Afghanistan, established during the visit of President Putin to India in October 2000.”
* “Both sides discussed in detail the current situation in South Asia. They stressed the importance of Islamabad implementing in full its obligations and promises to prevent the infiltration of terrorists across the Line of Control into the State of Jammu and Kashmir and at other points across the border, as well as to eliminate the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan controlled territory as a prerequisite for the renewal of the peaceful dialogue between the two countries to resolve all outstanding issues in a bilateral framework as envisaged in Simla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1998.”
94. Putin began his day of talks vowing to fight terrorism in cooperation with India in regions “most sensitive” to the two countries. “Our task is to contain terrorism in the world as a whole and in the regions most sensitive to us,” Putin said before his third summit with Vajpayee in 26 months. He did not elaborate on what he meant by “most sensitive” regions, but the reference was evidently aimed at Pakistan, Afghanistan and the contiguous Central Asian crescent that is seen as home to terrorist groups inimical to both the countries.
95. Addressing a joint press conference on December 5, 2002, at the end of his talks with the Indian Prime Minister, President Putin said: “It is not only important that Islamabad cut the infiltration of militants across the Line of Control (into Jammu and Kashmir) but also increase its work to eliminate the whole terrorist infrastructure in this region. Our positions are close on a whole number of issues like combating international terrorism, extremism and trans-national crime.” He said he was ‘very satisfied’ with Indo-Russian bilateral relations and saw ‘a bright future’ for these relations.
96.Vajpayee referred to the terrorist attacks in India, Russia and Indonesia and said that these showed that terrorists were seeking ‘ever new targets’ and a defence mechanism and a well-coordinated effort were needed to tackle the menace. “We have agreed to intensify and widen our cooperation against terrorism bilaterally and at multilateral fora,” he said.
97. In a memorandum of understanding signed between Foreign Ministers Igor Ivanov and Yashwant Sinha, the two countries decided to set up an Indo-Russian Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism on the lines of their Joint Working Group on Afghanistan. “Both the countries strongly condemn those who support terrorism or finance, train, harbor or support terrorists. States that aid, abet or shelter terrorists are as guilty of the acts of terrorism as their perpetrators,” the declaration said.
98. Co-operation in counter-terrorism was again one of the subjects discussed during the visit of George Fernandes, the Indian Defence Minister, to Moscow in January, 2003, and of Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister to New Delhi in the middle of June, 2003.
99. An article on the Indian Defence Minister’s visit carried by “Pravda” on January 21, 2003, said: “Russia was more forthcoming in positioning the focus of bilateral defense ties when its Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov expressed fears that Pakistan’s nuclear arms may fall into the hands of the Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. When President Bush was in Moscow last November, President Putin told him he had made a wrong choice of allies, a direct reference to the presence of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and the danger of its nuclear arms falling into wrong hands.”
100.”The “Pravda” article added: “These sentiments come in the wake of similar assertions Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo made demanding Pakistan “end infiltration across the line of control (with India) and eliminate the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.” According to Rushailo, the situation both globally and in the region between Russia and India — in Afghanistan and South Asia directly affecting the interests of ‘our two countries,’ — requires constant co-ordination of ‘our activities. ‘ Moscow bluntly told Islamabad at the end of Russo-Pakistani consultations on strategic stability that “Moscow has information that some Al Qaeda outfits have reorganized and partially infiltrated into Pakistani territory.
101.”As victims of Islamic terrorism (Jehadi and Wahabi varieties), India and Russia have begun to see the greater need for stronger and effective collaboration to eliminate the menace. Though Russia has agreed to set up a joint working group with both India and Pakistan, the goals are different. The understanding with India is to strengthen its hands in fighting terrorism, especially of the Al Qaeda virus. The understanding with Pakistan does not blur the Russian position on cross-border terrorism and the need to dismantle terrorist infrastructures in that country and also the need to deny succour to terrorist outfits collaborating with Chechen rebels. Russia has been fighting the Chechen menace for a whole decade exacerbated by volunteers recruited in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
102. During a joint press conference at New Delhi on June 16, 2003, Yashwant Sinha, the Indian Minister for External Affairs, and Igor Ivanov, the Russian Foreign Minister, made the following points on co-operation in counter-terrorism:
* Sinha: ” We agree that the menace of international terrorism has to be fought by the international community collectively. Our own cooperation in this field will be institutionalized with the setting up of a joint Indo-Russian Working Group on Combating International Terrorism. We have decided that the first meeting of this Group should be held later this year. We also discussed the situation in the region and agreed that it is imperative for Pakistan to seize the opportunity and stop cross-border terrorism and dismantle the infrastructure supporting terrorism so that progress can be achieved on the latest peace initiative of the Prime Minister of India. We agreed on the need to keep monitoring the situation in Afghanistan, so that Afghanistan does not go back to the days of religious extremism.”
* Igor Ivanov: “In the course of negotiations and conversations we have discussed topics of regional and international security and the counteraction of international terrorism and drug trafficking. We have definitely discussed the situation in South Asia as well. Russia welcomes the proposal of India to re-establish the diplomatic relations with Islamabad at the level of high commissioners and also the restarting of the air and bus transport between the two countries. These initiatives show the sincere intention of India to stabilise the situation and we welcome these efforts. Russia supports these efforts and of principal importance here is the continuation of a dialogue from both sides. That is why the efforts by Pakistan are important to cut and eradicate cross border terrorism.
* “The position of Russia with regard to counteracting international terrorism is perfectly clear and it has been numerously stated on different levels including the highest one. We have been always condemning and we continue to condemn terrorism in any form independent of from which side it arises. We are convinced that all countries are obliged to counteract terrorism and combat those structures which provide assistance to terrorist organisations and shall not allow the existence of such organisations in their territory. It is based on the corresponding United Nations Security Council Resolution which states that countries should not only combat terrorism but should also have to cut and eradicate activities of such organisations in their territories which provide assistance to international terrorists.
* “Pakistan is well aware of the position of the Russian Federation because this position was stated in the course of President Musharraf’s visit to Moscow and I reiterated it in the course of my visit to Pakistan. But at the same time our judgement with regard to the question of terrorism and other matters must be made not upon just statements but upon the actions and deeds. We know that the leadership of Pakistan has recently undertaken a number of actions to curb the activities of extremists and terrorists in the territory of Pakistan and we hope that this work will be continued.”
103 .Briefing representatives of the Russian and Indian media at Moscow on September 12,2003, the Russian First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Trubnikov, made the following remarks with regard to co-operation in counter-terrorism:
* “Russian-Indian inter-MFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) consultations took place on September 9. The question of the situation in Afghanistan was discussed in detail. It is not without meaning that the military activity of the US-led coalition forces is concentrated in this area now exactly, because it is clear that this territory serves as a refuge for the remnants of terrorists. Although of the remnants it is now difficult to speak, because the Taliban have been using a long period of time to carry out the regrouping. Now they are confidently manifesting themselves by attacks on the International Security Assistance Force and on the personnel of non-governmental organizations working on the territory of Afghanistan. Those attacks have become more frequent, which shows that the Taliban have not been finished off. Probably they are also encouraged by the fact that certain elements of the interim transitional administration of Afghanistan are now speculating about the existing of “moderate” Taliban who could be included in the administrative units of the new authorities. This probably encourages the Taliban.
* “As to our influence on the situation, we have continually in the course of our contacts with Pakistan and India and with the Americans in the course of the work of the Russian-American working group been insisting that the leadership of Pakistan consistently pursue a line on suppressing the Taliban. Although certain circles in Pakistan are obviously conniving at the process of reorganization of the Taliban. We therefore shall continue to try to prevail upon the Pakistani side to fully abide by its commitments as a member of the antiterrorist coalition.
* “I would like to stress that the Americans and we have held ten meetings in the framework of the joint working group. We do not overestimate the results of its work. But at the same time I would like to stress that it is within the framework of our meetings that a climate of trust is being created. We are frankly saying that a policy of double standards in the fight against terrorism is to be ruled out. I would like to note that thanks to this work official America today has a clearer understanding of what Russia has encountered in Chechnya.
* “As of now, senior State Department officials and the White House do have an idea of what international terrorism is on the territory of Russia. I can’t say, however, that broad sections of the public and non-governmental organizations fully understand the Chechen situation. One should not be surprised therefore that the representatives of the so called administration of Aslan Maskhadov appear on the territory of the US. But as of now US official circles are better aware of what is taking place in Chechnya. They welcomed the results of the referendum. The Chechen connection is now being tracked in the US as well; three Chechen organizations as well as persons such as Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev are included in the list of entities and individuals subject to prosecution; and the question of including Movladi Udugov in this list is being considered now. We therefore can note some definite progress in the attitude of US official representatives to our problems in Chechnya.
* There are forces in Pakistan which would like to make the space of Afghanistan a platform in counteraction against India. But it has to be borne in mind that India is bound with Afghanistan by long-standing economic and political relations. I think that these ties will develop. Today India is providing serious assistance in the rehabilitation of the economy of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, even the trucks which India has allocated to Afghanistan are unable to get there because Pakistan does not let this assistance through. This is a concrete example of the way in which confrontation is proceeding on the territory of Afghanistan. It appears to me that it is necessary to see more strictly from the UN standpoint that the Declaration of Good-Neighborliness, which was signed with the neighbor countries, is observed by all, above all Pakistan.
* “The danger of nuclear weapons getting into terrorist hands today isn’t theoretical, considering that fairly strong extremist groups are active on the territory of Pakistan. That menace does exist. It has to be fought in a broad context. The United Nations, the UN Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee, exists for this purpose. We must proceed from the assumption that not only nuclear, but also other types of weapons of mass destruction might be used by terrorists. It is not without meaning that Russia has submitted to the UN its draft convention on the suppression of acts of nuclear terrorism. Here we must work together with India to get its adoption. In the same way as Russia, too, supports the draft of the Indian comprehensive convention against terrorism. This is a kind of cooperation that is aimed at ensuring that nuclear weapons do not get into terrorist hands. I can say that within the Russian-American working group there exists a special subgroup which is concerned with counteraction against terrorism using WMD. From our side it is headed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatoliy Safonov.
* “As far as the political and military aspects of (Indo-Israeli) cooperation are concerned, our relations with India are so strong that we have nothing to fear. Moreover, we are also in a position to take part in the India-Israel-Russia triangle. We see no obstacles to that. As to economic competition, we would not like that the niche in the field of military technological cooperation which Russia now occupies would be filled by somebody else.
* “We welcome the involvement of India in the region’s economic problems. In Soviet times India actively functioned in this space. In any case in the field of construction. The SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ) is an open organization. Therefore the participation of such partners as India can only add to the Organization’s strength. I feel that upon completion of the legal shaping of the SCO the questions of the entry of other countries into it will stand up in all their magnitude.
* “Unquestionably, the declared wish of Pakistan to join the SCO is only natural. Yet it is preferable that countries would participate in the Organization that have no problems between them. That is clear to all. An organization is full-fledged and developing along the ascending line only if there are no problems between its participants. Therefore it appears necessary that the peace initiatives with which the leadership of India has come up should be fulfilled. We are tirelessly saying that to the Pakistani leadership, and so are the Americans.
* “I would not like to enumerate the list of agreements which will be confirmed in the course of the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Moscow (in November,2003), because they are in the stage of being given finishing touches. The meetings of our leaders are always filled with very specific content, including in the sphere of our antiterrorist collaboration. During President Putin’s visit last December the Memorandum of Understanding in the Fight Against Terrorism was signed. An interagency bilateral group on the combating of international terrorism was established. You see that we are expanding cooperation in a specific area. At the end of this month the first meeting of the bilateral group on the combating of international terrorism is due to be held in Moscow.”
* In reply to a question on the developing Russia-India-China co-operation, Trubnikov said: “Probably this cooperation may take place with regard to problems of concern to all humanity. Nevertheless, there exists one more aspect. India, China and a part of Russia are Asia. Cooperation within the framework of the three countries undoubtedly will give an important coloring to cooperation in the Asian region. It is likely that a second meeting at Foreign Ministers’ level will be held in New York. It is necessary to compare our positions on pressing international problems; for example, on Iraq. The participation of Russia, India and China within the UN framework in the process of Iraq’s rehabilitation is very important. We shall also discuss possible lines of UN reform, and the future of the United Nations Security Council. The set of problems which can successfully be discussed and tackled jointly is very extensive.”
REGIONAL MULTILATERAL MECHANISMS
104. Amongst regional multilateral mechanisms which have come into being, reference needs to be made to the 16-nation Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), of which India, China and Russia are amongst the members and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) of which Russia and China are amongst the members.
105. At a summit meeting of the leaders of the CICA countries held in Kazakhstan’s city of Almaty on June 4, 2002, the heads of state and government of the 16 nations signed the Almaty Act, establishing the CICA and pledging to work “towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia.” The Act was signed by Chairman of the interim Administration of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai, the then President of China Jiang Zemin, Prime Minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev, President of Mongolia Natsagiin Bagabandi, President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf, President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Turkey Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and President of Tajikistan Imomali Rakhmonov. Signatories from other CICA members included the Prime Ministers of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, a Deputy Prime Minister of Israel, as well as envoys from Egypt, Iran, and the Palestine Authority. Ten other nations, including the United States, have observer status.
106.The CICA summit was convened at the initiative of President Nazarbayev, who had first proposed the idea for such a forum at the UN General Assembly in 1992. This was followed by a number of preparatory meetings as a prelude to the summit. At a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the founding member-nations held in 1999, a Declaration on the Principles Guiding Relations among the CICA states was adopted.
107. Addressing the summit, President Nazarbayev said: “The signing of the Almaty Act does not mean that by tomorrow we will get an OSCE-type structure. I can foresee a great amount of political and diplomatic vigorous work on bringing together the long term and often conflicting interests of Asian nations. But this Act opens the way for concrete consultations and negotiations.”
108. It was agreed that meetings at the level of Foreign Ministers would be held every two years and a summit every four years. Meetings of officials would be held annually.
109.The summit adopted a Declaration on Eliminating Terrorism and Promoting Dialogue among Civilizations, condemning “all forms and manifestations of terrorism, committed no matter when, where or by whom,” and declaring their commitment to cooperation with each other and other nations in combating terrorism. It said: “We underline that terrorism cannot be attributed to religion, nationality, or civilization. We consider as one of the primary tasks of the international community to strengthen efforts to eliminate poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, extremism, intolerance, entrenched hatred and all forms of discrimination.”
110. It remains to be seen what role the forum can and will play in effectively dealing with terrorism in the region and promoting regional co-operation in counter-terrorism.
111. Appropriate references to the SCO have already been made in the previous paragraphs. This has been coming up well as a regional organisation to promote counter-terrorism co-operation, but, unfortunately, India, the worst victim of terrorism of different kinds—ethnic, ideological and religious— with substantial experience in counter-terrorism does not find a place in it. Both China and Russia seem to be concerned that if India were to be admitted, they might find it difficult to keep Pakistan out.
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Convenor, Advisory Committee, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter.)