Sunday, January 30, 2005

PAKISTAN: Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) 30 JAN [1 News Clppings]

Is Pakistan ISI Funding Maoist Rebels In Nepal?
By NK Pant, Freelance Correspondent

The Maoist uprising in Nepal is sending disturbing signals that may turn out to be highly detrimental to India's security. Though the rebels main ire is at the Nepalese monarchy, they have never hidden anti India stance and targeted Indian establishments in the land locked county several times in the past. But their latest act of abducting 14 Gorkha soldiers serving in the Indian army is the first instance of throwing a direct challenge to New Delhi. These soldiers deployed on the western front in Jammu and Kashmir were proceeding on leave to their respective homes in the Himalayan kingdom.

Though subsequently with the invention of some Kathmandu based NGOs and media groups, they were released from the captivity, such a bizarre incident must have woken up the strategy planners in New Delhi from their slumber.

Nepal's big two neighbors India and China have denied of having any hand in stoking the on going Maoist armed struggle. There is no other agency in the region barring Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which is capable of fishing in the troubled waters.

The fact cannot be easily brushed aside that about 50,000 Gorkha combatants of Nepali origin presently serving in the Indian army form the backbone of our military's frontline formations facing western borders with Pakistan and such a worrisome incident can become a vexing precedent in the days to come.

Not only the Maoists anti India propaganda can deprive the Gorkha soldiers of their combat motivation but the further possibility of harassment meted out to the their families back home can fritter away their morale causing due concern to our military commanders.

The Gorkha soldiers have won laurels during the two world wars as well as many other military campaigns and their inherent combat capabilities are well known all over the world. Their enrolment started in the British Indian army in the early nineteenth century after the East India Company forces in a battle near Dehra Dun finally defeated the Nepalese troops. The treaty that followed envisaged ceding of the then Nepalese territory of Kumaon and Garhwal (presently the State of Uttaranchal) to the British India besides induction of Gorkhas into the colonial army. The successor government of free India after August 15, 1947 did not annul the historical arrangement and Gorkhas continued to serve in the Indian army with ?lan even after Independence. However the British took away three Gorkha regiments from India to meet empirical military responsibilities. The loyal, undemanding, obedient and valiant Gorkha soldiers have fought shoulder to shoulder with their Indian counterparts in defending our nation's honour in various military conflicts forced on us by Pakistan and China in the post 1947 scenario. They have also proudly represented India in the United Nations? Peace Keeping Forces in different parts of the world.

Several generations of Gorkhas that served in the Indian military have not only proved to be a unique bond between India and Nepal but also have sustained the Nepalese economy by their remittances and pension disbursement to nearly 200,0000 Indian army's pensioners in that country.

Though politically India and Nepal are two distinct entities, it is indeed difficult to make cultural, religious and ethnic distinction. This close historical affinity is the reason that Nepalese subjects can enter India unhindered without any official travel documents and the same is also applicable to Indian citizens traveling to Nepal.
Thousands of people make trips to either country for employment, business, pilgrimage or holidaying.

The Maoists have utilized this facility to their full advantage by not only taking shelter on the Indian side of the border but also by establishing close contacts with Indian ultra leftist groups. Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence perhaps has tried to exploit this unique arrangement to spread its wings in Nepal and the adjoining Indian States. The ISI agents first enter Nepal on valid travel documents, establish a foothold with the assistance of local minority community and then sneak into the Indian Territory unnoticed with arms and ammunition. The hijacking of the Indian airlines aircraft to Kandhahar in Afghanistan a couple of years ago by Pakistani agents can be cited as an example of ISI taking advantage of lax travels rules on Indo-Nepal borders.

It is well known that the Indian ultra leftist Naxalite groups like MCC active in Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa and PWG involved in armed ambushes in Andhra Pradesh have established close links with Nepalese Maoists. Recently, the police from a site in Jharkhand where armed encounter took place with Naxalites have recovered arms and ammunition boxes with Pakistani markings indicating our western neighbour's covert complicity in making dents in India's security. The incident clearly showed that the ultra leftist armed groups had clandestine help from Pakistan to carry out their anti national activities in the country.

New Delhi while firmly advising Nepalese Royalty to further empower democratic forces in their country should offer active military assistance to Kathmandu in stamping out the Maoist rebel groups who are also trying to spread their tentacles to the Indian state of Uttaranchal. The existing security posts on the porous Indo Nepalese border need to be strengthened, roads and communication improved and the mostly porous border patrolled by the security forces and intelligence out fits. The Maoist rebel forces? further rise on our doorsteps can considerably jeopardize Indian security interests. The recent abduction of Indian soldiers is an ample forewarning that needs to be taken into account for initiating immediate corrective counter measures.