|06NEWDELHI8387||2006-12-18 06:11:00||SECRET||Embassy New Delhi|
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 05 NEW DELHI 008387
1. (C) SUMMARY: "Stay the course in Afghanistan," urged
Indian counterterrorism experts in Dec. 7 meetings with
visiting S/CT Deputy Director Virginia Palmer. Describing a
need for the Karzai government to extend its writ beyond
Kabul, for a national identity to improve morale, and for
greater unity for ethnic groups in Afghanistan, the experts
suggested bringing moderates into the Afghan government. On
a consistent theme regarding the perceived Pakistani
terrorist threat, former GOI officials and analysts described
the "Pakistan establishment" as the greatest threat to
security in the region, and suggested that Pakistan is
"waiting for the U.S. to fail." Acknowledging India's
shortcomings in the fight against terrorism, the experts
suggested greater coordination between the U.S. and India via
counterterrorism committees and more meetings of intelligence
leaders. Indian commentators and government officials appear
to share the view that the Pakistani government's "state
sponsorship of terrorism" in Afghanistan and India would
cease if only the U.S. would increase pressure on Musharraf.
Stay the Course in Afghanistan
2. (C) In Dec. 7 meetings, Indian terrorism analysts and
former GOI officials conveyed to S/CT Deputy Director
Virginia Palmer that India is concerned that the U.S. will
pull out of Afghanistan. "The cost of losing Afghanistan is
too great for India," former Indian High Commissioner in
Pakistan Gopalaswamy Parthasarathy declared, noting that
India has a $650 million aid program in the country. OpiningQat either a real
or perceived failure in Afghanistan would
be disastrous for the U.S, Parthasarathy said that India
would be in "deep trouble" if the U.S. walked away from the
conflict. Palmer emphatically reassured him of the U.S.
government's commitment to stay the course in Afghanistan.
When asked if India would consider putting troops on the
ground in northern Afghanistan, Parthasarathy responded that
it would depend on "how it's politically played,"
acknowledging that the idea has some strategic value. The
Ambassador suggested that a "prosperous, friendly"
Afghanistan would assert its independence through foreign
policy and, therefore, become a threat to neighboring
Pakistan. Concerning ethnic Pashtuns, he articulated that
they have "shifting loyalties" and noted that, though Osama
Bin Laden is well-protected, every Pashtun "has his price."
He stated that the Pashtun region needs more integration and
development, but cautioned that President Karzai would have
to help. Parthasarthy advised that Tajiks and Pashtuns
should not be thrown together in the same battalions in the
Afghan National Army because they lack ethnic linkages to
each other. "If you are fighting, you must have a cause to
NEW DELHI 00008387 002.2 OF 005
fight," he remarked, adding that Tajiks feel abandoned and
would benefit from having an all-Tajik battalion, as would
the Uzbeks. "They have to be brought into the process,"
3. (C) Ambassador Parthasarathy suggested that bettering the
lives of certain groups in Afghanistan would improve the
situation. He pointed out that a grassroots campaign,
increasing the quality of life for people working in the
fields of Afghanistan and giving ownership to local
governance, would bring about local social commitment.
Essentially arguing for land reform in the FATA, he argued
that establishing a Pashtun identity which is not Taliban nor
religious-oriented would be beneficial, and encouraged the
U.S. to engage with moderate Pashtun leaders. Constant
pressure must be brought to bear to bring moderate elements
into government, the Ambassador reiterated. In summation, he
declared that the U.S. should first "get out of Iraq," and
then "get Afghanistan right." Palmer noted U.S. and NATO
Provincial Reconstruction Team efforts to bring security and
development to the government of Afghanistan, both in Kabul
and into the provinces.
Pakistan's Got You Fooled
4. (C) In a separate meeting, counterterrorism expert Dr.
Ajai Sahni of the Institute of Conflict Management asserted
his familiar line that, "the Pakistan establishment is the
greatest threat to security in the region." He described the
Taliban as inextricably linked to the "strategic terrorism"
of Pakistan. Citing the Pakistan army's oath of service and
government school curriculum, Sahni claimed that Pakistan and
Osama Bin Laden are "ideologically similar." At the highest
level, the religious extremists of Pakistan are "exceedingly
cynical," he said, observing, "they can shove the Sharia
(Islamic law) to the side if it gets in the way." On
Musharraf, Sahni stated that the Pakistani leader had done a
lot of damage, inferring that the U.S. had succumbed to
Pakistan's unspoken threat that it would "implode" and
destabilize the region. Separately, A.S. Dulat, former head
of India's external intelligence agency (RAW), spoke along
the same lines, claiming that the U.S. had "placed too much
faith in Musharraf." "If Pakistan wants to stop all this
(terrorism), they can do it," exclaimed Dulat, adding
"Musharraf can turn off the tap anytime. If the U.S. puts
pressure on him, he'll fall in line."
5. (C) Turning to the Pakistan intelligence agency (ISI),
Sahni insisted that the organization is a disciplined part of
the military structure of Pakistan, expounding that it
answers faithfully to President Musharraf and whomever he
designates. "ISI is completely integrated within the command
structure of the Pakistani military," indicated Sahni,
scoffing at the notion that the ISI has any plausible
derivability. Dulat implied that the ISI is guilty of
placating the U.S. government by catching a few known
NEW DELHI 00008387 003.2 OF 005
terrorists, but "allowing Osama Bin Laden to go free."
Raising the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Dulat said he felt
Pakistan was guilty of taking part, and that they now regret
it. "The fallout was too big," he said, inferring that
terrorism has lessened since then as a result. "They are
trying to make amends," he mused, adding "any step forward
should be welcomed on both sides."
6. (C) Raising the GOP's Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(FATA) strategy, Ambassador Parthasarathy said he thought it
was doomed as soon as Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai was named
governor of the Northwest Frontier Province. Assuring Palmer
that he had first-hand knowledge of this, he said, "Orakzai
has a visceral hatred of the U.S. Did you strip-search him
at JFK or something?"
7. (S) Pressed to expound upon his view of Pakistan's
current strategy, Sahni suggested that Pakistan is waiting
for the U.S. to fail. They expect the U.S. to get tired in
Iraq, he indicated, and subsequently to leave the region.
"If you can't handle a small country like Iraq or
Afghanistan, you will leave the region alone," he theorized.
"If they are successful in exhausting you," he continued,
"they will seek to dominate the region themselves."
8. (S) Former RAW officer B. Raman told Palmer that the
Mumbai bombing investigation had become more complicated than
past investigations because the terrorist groups involved had
changed their tactics to better cover their infiltration
trail from Pakistan. While the Indian police were able to
find a direct paper trail of the movement of the perpetrators
of the 1993 Mumbai bombings through flight manifests from
Karachi to Dubai to Mumbai, the investigators of the July
2006 attacks in Mumbai did not have the same evidence. He
said those involved in the attacks went first through Iran by
road so there would be no record of their travel from
Bahawalpur, Pakistan, to Tehran. He said the intelligence
services had strong evidence, however, of a connection
between the attack and Lashkar-i-Taiba training camps in
9. (S) Raman also said the terrorists had used Bangladesh as
a final infiltration route into India. He said there was an
increasing problem of infiltration of Pakistan-based
terrorist groups into India through the porous border with
Bangladesh. When Palmer asked if the Bangladeshi government
had been cooperative in cracking down on these groups, he
opined that their action had been superficial at best. Even
though they had arrested several major terrorist leaders, the
real work still needed to be done to disrupt the groups
fully. Although much of their support was Pakistan-based,
there was still an indigenous cadre in Bangladesh. Most of
all, he noted, the Bangladeshi government has done little
against the madrassas that foment violence and extremism.
Ultimately, he said, this is a problem with Bangladeshi
intelligence because they are unwilling or unable to stop the
NEW DELHI 00008387 004.2 OF 005
India's Shortcomings on Counterterrorism
10. (C) Dr. Sahni warned that India has fallen short on
counterterrorism, opining that counterterrorism laws in the
country are diluted. In addition, he referred to India's
policing system as the "weakest in the world," reporting that
there are no qualified police to do forensics, there are only
two forensic labs, and there is no national database to track
terrorists. "The judicial system is broken," he added,
commenting "at the end of the day, you can't punish a
terrorist in India." He also cited so-called "encounter
killings," the practice by which suspected criminals are
killed without trial, as an issue obstructing the fight
against terror. Ultimately, in Indian policy there is too
much talking and not enough action, according to Sahni.
11. (C) On Indo-U.S. counterterrorism cooperation, Sahni
suggested that the U.S. and India should work together on
counterterrorism committees. Dulat also expressed a need for
greater cooperation between the two countries, arguing that
the respective intelligence agency heads should meet
12. (S) Raman talked in general about the international war
against terrorism and the need to see the issue from a global
perspective. He noted that India had learned much during its
long history of fighting insurgencies, including in Kashmir
and Punjab. He said you cannot beat terrorists, you have to
make them wither away. He said India had learned that it
takes many years to win this kind of battle because you can't
just end it in the short term, unless you use overwhelming
force to crush the insurgents. As democracies, he said, we
can't just use that kind of force, so we have to have a
longer-term view. He urged that the U.S. take a global view
of the terrorist threat, noting that for example, many of the
terrorists now emerging in Thailand studied in Pakistani
madrassas and many Pakistan-based terrorist groups --
including Lashkar-i-Taiba and Harakat-ul Mujahideen -- are
now obtaining funding in the Gulf.
13. (C) Dulat expressed concern about growing contacts
between the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Wahabi groups among Indian
expatriates. "There are more than 3 million Indians in the
Gulf alone," he said, "more than half of whom are Muslim."
These links and the consequent influence of the Wahabists are
greater in southern India than in the north, he added. Dulat
urged the U.S. and India to increase collection efforts on
these groups and share information gathered.
COMMENT: Focus Remains on Pakistan
NEW DELHI 00008387 005.2 OF 005
14. (C) Indian commentators and government officials appear
to share the view that government of Pakistan "state
sponsorship of terrorism" would cease if only the U.S. would
increase pressure on Musharraf. Anxiety over the U.S.
commitment to the fight in Afghanistan is also a resounding
theme we've been hearing for months. Indians seem unwilling
to take the U.S. (and NATO) at their word on their commitment
to stay in the conflict zone and stabilize the country. The
tide of joint counterterrorism efforts, however, seems to be
turning, with the experts in the field encouraging the U.S.
and India to cooperate more closely. Post has reported
(reftels) on meetings with the MEA and MHA, in which they
told Palmer a new counterterrorism directorate would be
formed in the MEA to help step up Indo-U.S. coordination on
fighting terror. END COMMENT.
15. (U) S/CT Deputy Coordinator for Counter Terrorism
Virginia Palmer cleared this cable.