Posts for category ‘Pakistan’

India Today’s 10 Crore Fake Rupee Boondoggle
| February 12, 2009 | 10:34 am

Are Pakistani spies flooding vast amounts of fake cash into the Indian economy with the intend ot devaluing the rupee? That the question that India Today wants you to ask this week with its cover story titled Fake Currency, The New Threat. It’s a solid topic for an investigative piece, too bad they don’t have any evidence for the claim.

Quoting a mid-level minion on Maharashtra’s Anti-Terror squad named Param Bir Sing, reporter Malini Bhupta claims that 8 out of every 1000 notes are counterfeit. Never mind that the anti-terror squad doesn’t have jurisdiction over currency matters, the rate of .8% isn’t exactly staggering.

Which is to say, in absolute terms, peanuts.

The real story killer comes when you start to read the data they’ve collected. In 2007, when counterfeiting in the country was at its absolute worst, the police seized about Rs. 10 crore (about $4 million) worth of fake notes. In addition to those busts, all commercial banks in the country combined reported receiving rs 5 crore ($2.5 million).

By contrast, in 1993 alone, the US seized $120 million in counterfeit currency.

Even if they were off by a factor of 10, and there was $70 million worth of fake rupees changing hands in a year, it would barely be a hiccup on India’s road to development.

Given that India’s GDP is $3.319 trillion. It would take billions of fake notes to even come close to making a dent in the economy. Counterfeiting isn’t much of a problem at all. In fact, the total fake currency detected by the government between 2001 and 2007 comes to just 61.7 crore rupees, or about $15 million. Which is to say, a little less than a nice apartment in Mumbai.

There is no way that a story like this should pass through even a rudimentary fact checking process, let alone end up on the cover of a national magazine. India Today is becoming the Fox News of South Asia. The claim of a counterfeit menace doesn’t even stand up to its own internal logic and seems only aimed at scaring readers into believing that Pakistan is up to no good dirty tricks.

Pakistan’s Spies Aided Group Tied to Mumbai Siege
| December 8, 2008 | 12:14 am

WASHINGTON — Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani-based militant group suspected of conducting the Mumbai attacks, has quietly gained strength in recent years with the help of Pakistan’s main spy service, assistance that has allowed the group to train and raise money while other militants have been under siege, American intelligence and counterterrorism officials say. From the New York Times

With intelligence agencies backing up the links between ISI and lakshar e toiba it seems like only a matter of time for the Pakistani government to crack down hard on its rogue elements or risk destabilizing the entire region. It will be interesting to see the response in the coming days. Stay tuned.

The Observer also reports that it has located the family of captured Mumbai terrorist Ajmal Amir Kasab in a small village in Pakistan’s Punjab state. By reviewing electoral lists and cross referencing regional maps, Saeed Shah met the family of Kasab and found that the local people there say that they knew his identity immediately after shootings. It is notable that a journalist tracked down the family before Pakistani law enforcement was able to. It shows how slow the wheels are turning despite rhetoric to begin investigations of their own.

The Danger Ahead
| November 29, 2008 | 8:43 am

Within hours of when the last bullet was fired in Mumbai Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi began positioning himself for his own attack on the sitting government. His request for a review of internal security is likely a continuation of his campaign to crack the whip on domestic Muslims. In 2007 Tehelka reported that Modi had inside knowledge of the planning of the Gujarat riots where an estimated 2000 people–mostly muslims–lost their lives. His visa to the United States was denied in both 2003 and 2008 on allegations of genocide.

Modi and the rest of the Hindu right–from Bal Thakery’s Shiv Sena to the RSS cadres –will use the assault on Mumbai to shore up support for their parties and direct communal fervor against millions of innocent Muslims in India. Even if the sequel to the Gujarat riots does not happen, we will likely see the passage of a POTA like law (India’s stronger version of the Patriot Act) and an internal and arbitrary crackdown on suspected terrorists.

And this, of course, is exactly sort of result that the elements in the ISI that most likely planned the attacks would have wanted. I have already written on how these attacks play into the ISI’s strategic advantage. In the last eight years India’s economy has boomed and it’s military position has strengthened, putting Pakistan’s own position in South Asia much weaker. The assault on Mumbai was planned and executed by trained professionals, not random rural jihadis who just picked up their first machine gun.

However, if the Hindu-right takes the bait, they could easily spin the events of the last three days into something far more sinister. By passing laws that crack down on innocent populations in the name of combating terror and possibly drumming up support for violent pogroms, there is a chance that India could end up cannibalizing itself.

The Case Against Pakistan
| November 27, 2008 | 11:24 pm
Terrorist in Victoria Terminal Sebastian D’Souza / Mumbai Mirror

As the siege on lower Mumbai stretches into its third day it has become clear that that attacks were not orchestrated by an unknown terrorist group, but that they had been planned, financed and carried out by elements within the Pakistani Intelligence agency known as ISI. It is still unclear if the intelligence agency acted alone or if high level members of Pakistan’s government had signed off on the operation, or whether individuals within the agency broke away with their own agenda. However, if the Pakistani government does immediate action against its rogue agency this assault could be considered an act of war.

Internally Pakistan is in chaos. The government has almost no presence in its Northwest Frontier Provence (NWFP) and has sacrificing its military sovereignty to American forces for the war on terror. After almost 60 years of stalemate on the Kashmir issue, Pakistan has begin to fall behind India. As its claim on Kashmir is losing strength hard-line Islamic militants and Taliban remnants are setting up shop across the country.

While at present, Pakistan is a major rival to India, ten years down the line the country could well be obsolete. India is becoming a major regional power, with a booming economy, a recently passed nuclear deal and a growth rate that touches on 10%. From an intelligence and security perspective, Pakistan has to either take strong measures to improve its domestic situation or hope that its rivals similarly falter.

With little hope of improving the problems within its own borders, ISI has opted to pull a card from the CIA’s former playbook and attempt to destabilize the region.

For almost forty years from 1960s through the 1990s the Central Intelligence Agency planned and executed several operations in South America, Asia and Eastern Europe, aimed at destabilizing the regions. Always operating under a guise of plausibly deniability, and without the broader support of the American people the CIA was successful at clandestine operations. By financing a war by proxy in Afghanistan, a guerilla army in Tibet, assassinations in Chile, a failed coup in Cuba and arming Contras in Nicaragua, the CIA bet that by destabilizing competing nation states the could further secure America’s position in the world. And, despite some terrible public relations, the CIA’s efforts worked.

The ISI has every motivation to do the same thing in India.

In the past six months there have been ten major terrorist attacks across India, the highest rate of violence in more than a decade. Bombings in Hyderabad, Jaipur, Varanasi, Bangalore, Delhi and Bombay spread panic across the country, and the groups claiming responsibility were new and apparently homegrown. These so-called “Indian Muhajaddin” use hit and run tactics and claim to have fundamentalist politics—but released very little information about its political demands claiming that it was practicing Jihad for Jihad’s sake. At best their ideology is just meant to signal general Islamic discontent. In other words, the ideology is a thin veil for ISI to claim plausible deniability.

The Indian versions of these so-called Islamic fundamentalists do not appear to have a legitimate ideological base. This separates them from every other terrorist group in the last 40-odd years that had specific political demands. The IRA strove for independence from Ireland, Basques from Spain, Hezbollah for an independent Palestine, the LTTE for an independent Tamil State, and Naxalites for a communist revolution. Even Al Qaeda’s rabidly fundamentalist politics expressed a political ideology for independence from the west and establishing a government according to sharia law.

Local terror groups in India did not seem to have any concrete ideology apart from spreading violence, and perhaps inter-ethnic conflict. At best they have the political savvy of the Columbine school shooters. Their motivations are ultimately inscrutable—and patently false.
Many reports show shady linkages kept to Pakistani immigrants and ISI funding, not local radical mosques preaching jihad. Only a few months ago even the CIA fingered ISI behind the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul. At best the half-hearted proclamations of the Indian and Deccan Muhajaddins to “free Islamic fighters from Indian prisons” were only a thin veil to disguise their real agendas.

Now, with a tactical attack on southern Mumbai that used military tactics, and even satellite communication with a base in Karachi it is clear that there is no homegrown anti-India Islamic agenda. Instead, it seems that Pakistan’s intelligence agency has been trying to spread instability across India to achieve its own strategic ends.

India now must contemplate a response to the actions of ISI. Many segments of Pakistan’s government want peace with the India, and it is likely that the agency has been acting on its own without approval from elected officials. But unless the government is able to regain control of ISI the recent attacks on Mumbai could be construed as an act of war.

**UPDATE: Some changes have been made to this post. In the original version I was more certain about the role of ISI, but reader feedback has made me reconsider some points. While it is apparent that the assailants on Mumbai had help from Pakistan, and likely from members of the intelligence service, it could be that factions from within the security agency acted without authorization from the top-brass.