The international community is yet to understand clearly that Pakistan's State-sponsorship of terrorism against India in Indian territory is not related only to Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). This started in the North-Eastern tribal areas of India in the 1950s, spread to the Punjab in the 1970s, to J&K in 1989 onwards and to other parts of India, including New Delhi, since the late 1990s.
From 1956 to 1971, it provided safe haven to the Naga and Mizo hostiles in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of the then East Pakistan and gave them arms and training assistance. During the war in East Pakistan in December,1971, an Indian commando group raided the headquarters of the Mizo National Front (MNF) in the CHT. Laldenga, the leader of the MNF, and other MNF cadres managed to escape into the Arakan Division of Myanmar, leaving behind all their records, which were captured by the Indian commando group. The records gave complete details of the MNF's contacts with the ISI and the training and arms assistance received.
From Myanmar, the ISI took Laldenga to Islamabad, where he lived till 1975. In 1975, Laldenga got disenchanted with the ISI. He realised that the ISI was using the MNF to achieve Pakistan's strategic objective against India and that it had no interest in the future of the Mizos.
He escaped into Afghanistan, travelled from Kabul to Geneva, contacted the Indian diplomatic mission in Switzerland and sought negotiations with the Govt. of India, which ultimately led to a peaceful political settlement in Mizoram. During his talks with the Government of India, he gave complete details of the ISI's role in instigating acts of terrorism and insurgency in the North-East. The Govt. of Pakistan totally rejected Indian evidence of the ISI's sponsorship of terrorism in the North-East.
In the late 1970s, the ISI contacted some members of the Sikh diaspora in the UK and Canada and instigated them to take up a fight against the Govt. of India for what was called an independent Khalistan in Indian Punjab. A number of terrorist organisations came into being such as the Dal Khalsa, the Babbar Khalsa, the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) etc. The ISI gave them funds, arms and training in camps set up in Pakistani territory.
The explosive post-1967 increase in hijackings by terrorists all over the world led to the adoption of international conventions against hijacking and other criminal acts against civil aviation such as those of the Hague (1970) and Montreal (1971) . These conventions made it obligatory for nations to arrest and prosecute hijackers or extradite them to the countries whose aircraft were hijacked. Pakistan has never co-operated with India under these Conventions.
Since these Conventions were adopted, there have been seven hijackings of aircraft of the Indian Airlines Corporation (IAC) by ISI-trained terrorist organisations. Five of these were by Sikh terrorists, all India-based, one by Kashmiri extremists, again India-based, and the seventh in December 1999 by the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), a Pakistani-based organisation of Pakistani office-bearers and cadres, which was designated by the US as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in October,1997, under its then name of Harkat-ul-Ansar and which became in 1998 a member of Osama bin Laden's International Islamic Front For Jehad Against the US and Israel and signed bin Laden's first fatwa against the US as stated in the US State Department's Report on the Patterns of Global Terrorism during 2000 released on April 30,2001, by Gen. (retd) Colin Powell, US Secretary of State.
All these hijackings took place when the Pakistani military was in power. There was no hijacking of Indian planes by ISI-supported terrorist organisations whenever Pakistan was under a democratically-elected political leadership. Five of these hijackings took place under Zia-ul-Haq and one each under Yahya Khan and Pervez Musharraf.
After a series of five hijackings in quick succession by Sikh terrorists between 1981 and 1984, India managed to get clinching evidence of ISI involvement in 1984 in the form of a West German Government report that the pistol given to the hijackers of August 24,1984, at Lahore by the ISI was part of a consignment supplied to the Pakistan Government by the West German manufacturers. This resulted in a severe warning to Pakistan by the Reagan administration and a total discontinuance by the ISI of the use of hijacking as a weapon against India for 15 years till the latest hijacking on December 24,1999, after Musharraf seized power on October 12,1999.
The first hijacking in 1981 by a group of terrorists of the Dal Khalsa headed by Gajendra Singh was terminated at Lahore by the Pakistani authorities and Gajendra Singh and the other highjackers were ostensibly taken into custody. The Zia administration rejected India's repeated demands for handing them over to India for investigation and trial, even though all of them were Indian nationals. It told India and the Reagan Administration, which had taken up the matter with Islamabad, that the highjackers would be tried under Pakistani laws in a Pakistani court.
The highjackers were not kept in a prison. Instead, they were allowed to live in the Nankana Sahib gurudwara in Lahore and direct the terrorist activities in Indian Punjab from there. From the gurudwara, they orchestrated four more hijackings by different Sikh groups. After repeated Indian protests, the Pakistani authorities held a sham trial in which the hijackers were sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. Instead of sending them to jail after their conviction, different Pakistani administrations allowed them to continue to live in the gurudwara and organise terrorist activities in Indian Punjab.
In June, 1985, terrorists of the Babbar Khalsa, Vancouver, headed by Talwinder Singh Parmar, a Canadian national, had the Kanishka aircraft of Air India flying from Toronto to India blown up off the Irish coast, killing all the passengers. As the Canadian investigation into the terrorist incident zeroed in on the involvement of Talwinder Singh Parmar, he escaped to Pakistan and took up residence in the Nankana Sahib gurudwara and from there, guided terrorist activities in the Indian Punjab.
Again in June,1985, Bhajan Lal, former Chief Minister of Haryana, and Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, visited the US. Before their visit, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found evidence of a plot by a group of terrorists of the ISYF, Canada, led by Lal Singh alias Manjit Singh, a Canadian national, to assassinate them. As the FBI's investigation zeroed in on Lal Singh, he too escaped to Lahore and took up residence there under a Muslim name in a house belonging to the Jammat-e-Islami (JEI) and started directing the terrorist activities in India from there.
To repeated requests from the Canadian and US authorities for tracing and arresting Talwinder Singh Parmar and Lal Singh, the Pakistani Government replied that they were not in Pakistan and might be operating in Indian Punjab. Ultimately in 1992, the Canadian and US authorities obtained conclusive evidence that both of them had been living in Lahore. When they again took up the matter with Islamabad, the ISI asked them to leave the country. They both entered India, where Lal Singh was arrested by the Indian Police and Talwinder Singh Parmar was killed in an encounter with the Punjab Police along with a Pakistani national, who was suspected to be an official of the ISI. The Pakistani authorities refused to accept his dead body under the pretext that he was not a Pakistani national, but his relatives demonstrated in their home town in Pakistani Punjab demanding that his dead body should be brought back to Pakistan for burial.
Before 1992, the Government of India had repeatedly taken up with the USA the question of Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism in Punjab, but Washington DC rejected all Indian evidence against Pakistan under the pretext that the evidence was based on interrogation during which the Punjab Police must have used torture.
During his interrogation, Lal Singh gave complete details of Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism in Punjab. The Government of India invited the counter-terrorism experts of the US and other Western countries to come to India and interrogate him. They were assured that no Indian official would be present during the interrogation so that they could satisfy themselves that no force or torture was used. Some Western countries accepted the offer and sent their experts to interrogate him. They went back satisfied that India's complaint of Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism in Punjab stood fully corroborated.
The US was the only Western country which declined the Indian offer. It was afraid that if he told the US interrogators about the Pakistani role, they would no longer be able to reject his statement as obtained under torture. Nor was the US interested in taking him to the US for investigation and prosecution since it was afraid that if he testified before a US court about the Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism in Punjab, Washington DC would no longer be able to evade declaring Pakistan a State-sponsor of terrorism. They closed the investigation against him on the ground that this was unnecessary since he was already being prosecuted in India.
Before 1993, Dawood Ibrahim, the notorious narcotics smuggler and mafia leader, his brother and the principal members of his gang were living in Dubai, but used to frequently visit Karachi in connection with their narcotics smuggling business.
Details of their close nexus with the ISI came during the investigations into the Mumbai blasts of March 1993. The perpetrators were taken to Dubai with Indian passports. At Dubai, Dawood got them Pakistani visas on plain pieces of paper from the local Pakistani consulate. They were then taken to Karachi by Pakistan International Airways (PIA) flights, received at the tarmac by Dawood Ibrahim's representative in Karachi, and taken out of the airport without immigration formalities.
They were then taken to a training camp in the North-West Frontier Province, suspected to have been run by the Harkat-ul-Ansar (now called the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen) and, after training, sent back to Mumbai by the same route. Their plain paper visas were removed from them by Dawood's men and destroyed. Their Indian passports did not show any entry of their visit to Pakistan.
Dawood separately sent the explosives, detonators and timing devices given by the ISI by boat to clandestine landing points on the Maharashtra coast. One of these detonators and timing devices was recovered from an explosive device, which had failed to explode at Mumbai, and given to US law-enforcement officials for examination by their forensic science laboratory. They confirmed that the timing device was of US origin and part of a consignment given to the Pakistani Government during the Afghan war of the 1980s for use in Afghanistan. Austrian experts certified that hand-grenades of Austrian design found on the spot had been manufactured in a Pakistan ordnance factory with technology and machine tools sold by an Austrian company to Pakistan's Defence Ministry.
While some perpetrators of the blasts were arrested by the Mumbai Police, others including the members of the Memon family of Mumbai, who were close to Dawood Ibrahim and had played a leading role in organising the explosions, managed to escape to Karachi via Dubai or Kathmandu. When the US, at India's instance, started making enquiries about their presence in Karachi, the ISI took them to Bangkok, kept them in a hotel there till the US enquiries had ceased and then brought them back to Karachi. Some members of the Memon Family subsequently got fed up with the ISI and returned to India in 1994, where they were arrested and interrogated. They gave full details of the ISI's role in the Mumbai blasts.
When the Government of India took up with Interpol and the authorities of the United Arab Emirates the question of the arrest and deportation of Dawood for his involvement in the explosions, the Dubai authorities pressurised him in 1994 to leave Dubai. He and Chhota Shakeel, his lieutenant, shifted to Karachi, from where they supervised their underworld operations in India, Nepal and elsewhere.
Many Caribbean and South Pacific countries offer fugitives from justice what is called 'economic citizenship' to enable them to evade arrest and deportation to countries where they are wanted for crimes. This citizenship is sold in return for a minimum deposit in foreign currency kept by them in local banks.
Pakistan does not have any laws providing for such 'economic citizenship', but its Government, on the ISI's advice, informally awarded economic citizenship to Dawood Ibrahim, who was issued a Pakistani passport under a different name. Similarly, Chhota Shakeel was given a Pakistani passport under a different name.
It is believed that in the 1990s, Dawood Ibrahim had financially helped Pakistan in the clandestine procurement of nuclear and missile technology and components and that this factor too probably influenced Islamabad's decision to grant him economic citizenship.
In 1995, US President Bill Clinton, by presidential decision directive number 42, designated the activities of organised crime groups a major threat to national security and made it a priority for American intelligence agencies. A similar decision was taken by John Major's government in the United Kingdom on the recommendation of Stella Rimington, then Director-General of MI5, and by other European Union governments.
Since then, Dawood Ibrahim's gang was amongst the organised crime groups being closely monitored by various Western intelligence agencies, thereby keeping him largely confined to Karachi, where he is a privileged guest of the ISI.
Indian investigators had a cast-iron case against Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and the two Memon brothers still living in Karachi. This was based on the interrogation of those captured, xerox copies of the manifests of the flights by which they went to Karachi from Dubai for training and returned to Dubai after the training, evidence regarding their stay in Bangkok and technical intelligence.
Since the Pakistani authorities could not question the credibility of this evidence, they have been taking up the stand since 1994 that none of them is in Pakistan. When the Government of India took up the matter with Musharraf during his visit to New Delhi in July,2001, he took up the same stand.
Musharraf was once again proved a "straight-faced you know what" by an investigative cover story carried by the "Newsline", a reputed monthly journal of Pakistan, in its September, 2001, issue under the title "Portrait of a Don". The report, inter alia, said: "Dawood Ibrahim and his team, Mumbai's notorious underworld clan including his righthand man Chota Shakeel and Jamal Memon, are on India’s most wanted list for a series of bomb blasts in Mumbai and other criminal activites. After the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts, the gang have made Karachi their new home and base of operations. Living under fake names and IDs, and provided protection by government agencies, they have built up their underworld empire in Karachi employing local talent........ Dawood Ibrahim has been operating out of Karachi with the apparent blessings of the Government."
Dawood Ibrahim and his gang have had very little to do with the terrorism in Punjab and J & K. Pakistan's jehadi organisations have no apparent interest in them. And yet, the military junta has not been arresting and handing them over to India due to fears that their interrogation might bring out conclusive evidence about the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai blasts and about its use of this mafia group for the clandestine procurement of nuclear and missile technology and components from the West and North Korea .
The Musharraf junta has consistently avoided carrying out its obligations under the Hague and Montreal Conventions in relation to the hijacking of December,1999.
The use by the ISI of the HuM, the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), all Pakistan-based organisations, with Pakistani office-bearers and cadres and with links with the Al Qaeda for sponsoring terrorism in J & K and now in New Delhi is well-known. Details of this could be found in my previous articles.
The most damning indictment of the terrorist activities of these organisations from Pakistani territory against India and their links with the Al Qaeda is to be found in the State Department's report on the Global Patterns of Terrorism during 2000. This report is based not on Indian evidence, but on independent evidence gathered by the USA.
The credible nature of the evidence against them could be understood from the fact that they have been banned by the UK under the Terrorism Act of 2000 and designated as Foreign Terrorist Organisations by the US under a 1996 law.
The Musharraf junta has at every stage refused to act or avoided acting against terrorists operating from its territory against India, whether they be connected with the North-East or Punjab or J & K or narcotics smuggling. The pretexts used are that either the evidence is not credible or that the terrorists wanted by India are not in its territory even though its own media has been reporting on their presence and activities from its territory.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine