|Paper no. 1844||13. 06. 2006|
| BOOK REVIEW Fulcrum of Evil: ISI-CIA-Al Qaeda Nexus
Author- M.K.Dhar. Review by A.K.Verma
The NDA Govt. had planned to publish a white paper on Pakistan’s intelligence and subversive activities in India. The document was prepared but not finally released, probably to preempt unwarranted conclusions by interested sections of the polity. However, none may remain disappointed now. ‘Fulcrum of Evil’ can admirably substitute for the white paper. It contains the fullest possible account of various Pakistani conspiracies in India and is authored by a very senior former member of the Indian Intelligence Establishment who dealt with many of such activities first hand.
ISI was fashioned by Pakistan to be the main instrument against India for its nefarious designs but in no time it developed into a formidable tool of extra-constitutional governance within Pakistan also. All the Chief Executive Officers of Pakistan from Ayub Khan onwards to promote their own and their party’s interests exploited it. Zia-Ul-Huq’s introduction of sweeping strains of fundamentalism in Pakistan infected ISI also, which, over time, made it a solid pillar of international Islamic fundamentalism.
Within Pakistan, ISI is often referred to as the 3rd Estate, sometimes getting promoted to the status of second Estate when it has supplanted the entire bureaucratic establishment. Its advice remains an important constituent of the internal and external policies in Pakistan. It has made and demolished Governments in Pakistan, working with the military brass. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto used it for crushing the Baluch struggle for self-determination. Earlier, it had served as an instrument of repression against Bengali aspirations in East Pakistan. Within Pakistan, the role of ISI has been akin to Gestapo in Nazi Germany or NKVD in Stalin’s USSR. But, its main focus since its inception has been India.
It is necessary to understand that the historical process of creating a Muslim homeland in the Indian subcontinent had certain inevitability about it. The two great civilizations, Hindu and Muslim, co-existed uneasily with each other in the sub-continent. With creation of Pakistan, the rulers of that country did not think that a final solution had been crafted. For them, the agenda of partition will stand fulfilled only when more Muslim areas are carved out in the sub-continent. For more than a half century the ISI has been operating to achieve such goals.
The Khalistan imbroglio also owed much to the machinations of ISI though it must be added that the ISI was never in total comfort with the Sikhs or believed that a war of liberation could be started in Punjab. The exercise was commenced with the intention of creating a holding ground in Punjab so that a free hand could be available in J&K. The Khalistan idea is dead today but there can be no doubt that ISI will try to revive it should the scenario in Punjab deteriorate.
ISI has succeeded in the intelligence encirclement of India through linkages in Nepal and Bangladesh. Through them its current efforts are directed towards developing fissure lines in several states like Assam, West Bengal, UP, Gujerat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka etc. Through support to Madrassa education and Jehadi minded groups, it seeks to convert the nationalism of Indian Muslims into trans-Arab Islamism. The Saudi effort to disseminate Wahabism worldwide helps this effort. ISI funds a number of websites to carry forward such propaganda and indoctrination. Talibanisation of Bangla Desh is proving to be a great asset for it.
The author points out that the symptoms of Jehadi infection in India are becoming all too visible. These include formation of underground tanzeems, infiltration of Madrassas and prominent religious institutions, collaboration between Mafia dons and ISI operatives, growth of Wahabi religious organizations and NGOs, proliferation of secret modules, rapid retaliatory and preemptive responses to perceived acts of injustice etc. The author claims personal knowledge about several individuals being picked from India for training in Afghanistan and Pakistan with Arab Afghans who, on return, set up secret Jehadi modules. It should, however, be noted that vast numbers of Indian Muslims reject the Jehadi philosophy but the ISI does not get deterred.
The reason is to be found in the ISI’s belief that Islamic fundamentalism has become a worldwide unstoppable phenomenon. Ironically, the kick-start came from the US when President Carter in 1979, authorized the CIA to disseminate Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia to destabilize the Soviet Union. Later, when the US converted the push into a Jehadi war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the ISI’s collaboration was sought. It was quick to take a ringside seat in the operations and became the coordinator and distributor of war materials received from US, UK, China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc. for conducting the Jehad. The ISI forged a strategic friendship with Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda. To them, Jehad in Afghanistan was not only for the purpose of expelling the Soviets from the country, but, more important, to strengthen the staunch Islamic base in Afghanistan. Not long after, Pakistani rulers and sections of civil society started identifying with Jehadist world programme of Al Qaeda.
Taking a lead from the Marxist theory of spontaneous revolutions by the proletariat, the two embarked on the concept of spontaneous Jehad by Muslims all over. ISI became an exporter of terror to many Muslim regions like Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Dagestan, Phillipines, Kazakhastan, Xinqiang, South Thailand etc. The modus operandi was to collaborate with fundamental Tanzeems and Madrassas and to train their Jehadi volunteers in camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Though many Muslim majority areas felt the need to carve out a new identity through religion as in Bosnia and Kosovo, ISI and pro Al Qaeda groups stepped in with messages of Jehad and weapons, hoping to convert the spurt towards a nationalist identity into an Islamist one.
The Pakistani link is common to almost all the Islamist organizations that have gained prominence in recent times. An opportunity has also been seen in the Islamic resurgence in Europe. There is a desire to see an Islamic nation emerging in South East Asia, comprising all Muslim majority areas, under the nomenclature of Nausitara Raya.
Such objectives conflict with the US aims of combating international terrorism and capping the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. Therefore, ISI now plays a double role. While the Pakistani rulers provide lip service to controlling international terrorism, ISI quietly supports resurgent Talibans in Afghanistan, provides shelters to hunted Islamists and remains a protector of Salafist Wahabism.
Its convictions arise from a strong belief that a new world force in the shape of Wahabi and Deobandi Islam has arisen which cannot be countered by any other world force. It has made its presence felt in many countries. This force must continually use Jehad to consolidate itself and advance further. In its calculations this is the only way to fulfill the Islamic quest of converting Indian Dar-Ul-Harb to Dar-Ul-Islam.
The author has indeed painted a grim picture of ISI and Pakistani designs but the dangers, on past record, seem all too real. All those who have an interest in national security matters, will do well to go through the book. The important question thrown up is what is the fate of Indo Pak dialogues if ISI will not turn a new leaf.Fulcrum of Evil: ISI-CIA-Al Qaeda Nexus- Published by Manas Publications, New Delhi. 402 Pages.