Indian Efforts to secure US support
In addition to stepping up counter-terrorism operations by the Security Forces on the ground, the Government of India has also been trying, since 1991, to draw the attention of the international community to the proxy war being waged by Pakistan against India in J&K and elsewhere and to persuade Washington to declare Pakistan as a State-sponsor of international terrorism as provided for under the US laws. The Indian efforts were focussed on the US because the US was the only country in the world to have a legal provision for such a declaration.
In 1991, the Government of India gave to the US a detailed dossier on Pakistani-sponsorship of terrorism in Indian Territory and sought the declaration of Pakistan as a State-sponsor of international terrorism. The Bush Sr Administration rejected the dossier under the pretext that much of the evidence was based on interrogation reports which were, in the eyes of the US law, suspect due to the possible use of torture by the Indian police.
However, after an attack in 1992 on a group of Israeli tourists in Srinagar by the Kashmiri extremists on the ISI’s instructions, George Bush, then in the midst of his campaign for reelection, came under pressure from the Jewish lobbies to act against Pakistan. He ordered a reexamination of the dossier by the State Department, which now felt there were, after all, strong grounds for action against Pakistan.
“¦the Government of India has also been trying, since 1991, to draw the attention of the international community to the proxy war being waged by Pakistan against India”¦
Before the re-examination was completed, Bush had lost his election and he, therefore, left the dossier to his successor, Bill Clinton, for decision. After assuming office in January 1993, Clinton placed Pakistan and Sudan on the so-called watch list of suspected State-sponsors of international terrorism for six months without actually declaring them to be so.
There were four important developments in 1993:
First, since 1991, the ISI had been repeatedly pressing the Sikh extremist leaders to attack important economic targets outside Punjab and New Delhi, but they were unable to do so. Taking advantage of the strong anti-government feelings amongst some sections of the Muslim community in Mumbai after the communal incidents of December 1992, the ISI asked Dawood Ibrahim, a notorious narcotics smuggler then living in Dubai and now in Karachi, to recruit disgruntled members of the Muslim community of Mumbai and bring them to Pakistan via Dubai for training. He did so and they were trained in the use of explosives and asked to cause explosions directed against economic targets such as the Stock Exchange, the Air India office, etc. Explosives and other arms and ammunition were sent to them clandestinely by boat from Karachi.
Taking advantage of the strong anti-government feelings amongst some sections of the Muslim community”¦ the ISI asked Dawood Ibrahim to recruit disgruntled members of the Muslim community of Mumbai and bring them to Pakistan via Dubai for training.
After these explosions in March 1993, Austrian counter-terrorism experts certified that the hand-grenades given to the terrorists by the ISI had been manufactured in a Pakistan ordnance factory with the help of machine tools and technology supplied by an Austrian company. US counter-terrorism experts certified that an unused chemical timer recovered by the Mumbai Police was part of a consignment supplied by the US Army to Pakistan in the 1980s. After the explosions, the terrorists fled to Karachi via Kathmandu. The Government of India pressed the Clinton Administration once again to declare Pakistan as a State-sponsor of international terrorism. At Washington’s request, the US Consulate in Karachi started making enquiries about the presence of these terrorists in Karachi. The ISI, thereupon, took all of them to Bangkok and kept them in a hotel there till the enquiries of the US Consulate had ceased and then brought them back to Karachi.
Second, on receipt of information that after the collapse of the Najibullah Government in Kabul, different Afghan Mujahideen groups were trying to sell their surplus stocks of Stinger missiles to whoever could afford to buy them, the CIA sent a special team to Peshawar to persuade the Mujahideen to sell the Stingers back to the US. It sought the cooperation of Lt Gen (retd) Javed Nasir, the DG ISI, and his officers in this matter, but they were reportedly unhelpful. Moreover, at the instance of Osama bin Laden, the HUM sent a group headed by Maulana Masood Azhar to Kenya and Somalia, firstly, to persuade the Pakistani members of the UN peace-keeping force not to fight against the Somali insurgent groups and, secondly, to help the Somali insurgents in their fight against the UN troops, particularly the Americans. This HUM contingent was responsible for some of the attacks on the Americans, which subsequently led to the withdrawal of the US troops from Somalia.
Third, since 1992, there were reports that at the instance of Lt Gen Nasir, the T J had started sending out its cadres to Chechnya, Dagestan, Tajikistan and other Central Asian Republics and southern Philippines ostensibly on proselytising missions, but really to recruit volunteers for being trained and armed so that they could start a jehad against the governments of those countries. The Filipino authorities noted with alarm a steep increase in the visits of TJ “preachers” and their contacts with the leaders of the Abu Sayaaf and other Muslim extremist groups. The CIA too was alarmed by these reports.
Nawaz Sharif was shocked when told about this by the US Embassy in Islamabad because the ISI, which had kept him informed of its operations in Indian Territory, had kept him in the dark on its assistance to the L TTE.
Fourth, in May 1993, the CIA was in receipt of reports that the arms and ammunition found on board the L TTE ship, in which Kittu was travelling and which was intercepted by the Indian Navy, had been given to the L TTE by Pakistani narcotics barons in return for the L TTE allowing the use of its ships registered in Greece by these barons for smuggling heroin to Western countries and that the weapons were loaded on to the ship at Karachi with the assistance of the ISI and the Pakistan Navy. The ISl’s action totally defied logic since Islamabad had cordial relations with Colombo and the LTTE was massacring the Muslims of Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province. Nawaz Sharif was shocked when told about this by the US Embassy in Islamabad because the ISI, which had kept him informed of its operations in Indian Territory, had kept him in the dark on its assistance to the L TTE.
Following these developments, the Clinton Administration demanded that Sharif should remove from the ISI Lt Gen Nasir and other officers involved in promoting terrorism and in encouraging the Afghan Mujahideen not to sell back their Stingers to the US. Islamabad succumbed to the pressure and removed them. Lt Gen Nasir promptly took over as the head of the TJ and continued to assist the Islamic extremist groups abroad in that capacity.
It looked as if the US, despite the removal of these officers, might still declare Pakistan a State-sponsor of international terrorism: Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 21, 1993, James Woolsey, the then CIA Director, said: “Pakistan has supported Muslim militants and Sikh separatists waging terror campaigns against the Indian Government in the States of Kashmir and Punjab. Sudan is the host of a growing number of terrorist groups such as the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah, the Palestinian Abu Nidal Organisation and the radical Muslim Hamas movement. Sudan and Pakistan, while not yet on the State Department’s list of State-sponsors (of terrorism), are on the brink. Last January, the US warned each of these countries that it could soon be listed.” Details of his testimony were carried by the Chicago Tribune of April 22, 1993.
Benazir Bhutto, sent urgent private messages to the White House through her American friends that on her return to power she would stop the ISI activities in support of terrorism.
But, by then, Sharifs troubles with the then President, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, and the then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Abdul Waheed Kakkar, had started and it was evident that his days as the Prime Minister were numbered. Benazir Bhutto, the then Leader of the Opposition, sent urgent private messages to the White House through her American friends that she hoped to win the elections and that on her return to power she would stop the ISI activities in support of terrorism.
In response to her messages, the White House over-ruled the recommendation of the Counter-Terrorism Division of the State Department to declare Pakistan a State-sponsor of international terrorism and removed Pakistan even from the watch list of suspected State-sponsors of international terrorism on July 14, 1993, on the grounds that the Pakistan Government had taken some corrective steps with which the US was satisfied. Sudan was, however, declared a State-sponsor of international terrorism.