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Published in the 16-31 Mar 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

MEDIA
Pakistani portal purveys Hindutva lies

US-based South Asia Tribune (satribune.com) is a Pakistani news portal which is known for exposing corruption in Pakistan. It also hosts material on India sometimes written by Indian writers. In its last issue (Feb 29-Mar 6, 2004) it published a Mumbai datelined bundle of lies claiming that Indian Madrasahs are infiltrated and funded by the ISI. Alerted by a friend in London, MG editor took immediate notice. His rejoinder, slightly edited may be seen at http://www.satribune.com/Editor_Letters.htm?forum=3. Below is the full concocted report and the MG editor rejoinder. MG editor rejoinder

Pakistan's ISI Has 10,000 Spies in 60 Centers in India
Special SAT Report

MUMBAI: Pakistan’s notoriously famous spy agency, ISI, has 60 centers in India employing as many as 10,000 spies, a detailed study by a Mumbai-based think tank has revealed.

The study report, “Cost of Conflict between India and Pakistan”, released in a book form by the Strategic Foresight Group of the International Center for Peace Initiatives, carries details of ISI’s reach inside India on Page 78 under the title ‘Interference in Internal Problems.’ It is for the first time that any Indian institution has tried to measure and disclose ISI inroads into India. http://www.strategicforesight.com 


“India identified enhanced ISI activities in nine states and an active network of ISI sponsored illegal madrassas throughout the country,” the report reveals giving exact numbers of these illegal madrassas . 

The figures show close to 10,000, the highest number of these madrassas , in Kerala and 6,000 in Madhya Pradesh. Five states, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Assam, Gujarat and Rajasthan have around 2,000 madrassas each, close to 1,000 each in Delhi, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and on Indo-Bangladesh border while the lowest number, 122, is in Jammu and Kashmir.

It said the ISI spends Rs 600 million each year on funding these madrassas in India, noting that “India’s fragile communal fabric is quickly becoming the primary target of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. In addition to its Jihad-e-Kashmir operation, Lashkar-e-Taiba launched Jihad-e-Hind operation in early 2003 signifying the shift of LeT focus from Kashmir alone to the rest of India.”

In 2003, India identified enhanced ISI activities in nine states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jharkhand, and an active network of ISI sponsored illegal madrassas through out the country. There are 150 million Muslims in India as per 2003 estimates.

The report quotes Pakistani scholars as saying, if ISI manages to persuade even one per cent of the Muslim population (1.5 million) to take up arms, this 1.5 million is a large enough number to create internal turmoil in India. With such an extensive network, it could become relatively easy for ISI to scheme Godhra-like incidents to foment large-scale communal violence in India. 
Four Pakistanis have been named in the report who were associated with the study including former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan Niaz A. Naik, eminent writer and scholar Dr. S. Akbar Zaidi, Editor of newspaper ‘Awam’ Nazir Ahmed Leghari and a political analyst Zafarullah Khan

The section on the ISI activities, reporting these statistics, also gives its analysis of how things could play out in future. The following is the full text on Page 78 of the report:

“India’s fragile communal fabric is quickly becoming the primary target of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. In addition to its Jihad-e-Kashmir operation, Lashkar-e-Taiba launched Jihad-e-Hind operation in early 2003 signifying the shift of LeT focus from Kashmir alone to the rest of India. 
“In 2003, India identified enhanced ISI activities in nine states, namely Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Bihar,Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jharkhand, and an active network of ISI sponsored illegal madrassas throughout the country. There are 150 million Muslims in India as per 2003 estimates. See Graph

"According to Pakistani scholars, if ISI manages to persuade even one per cent of them (1.5 million) to take up arms, these 1.5 million is a large enough number to create internal turmoil in India. With such an extensive network, it could become relatively easy for SI to scheme Godhra-like incidents to foment large-scale communal violence in India.

“On the other hand, India would find the task of containing the communal conflagration increasingly difficult. The high communal tensions in India would provide further incentives to the jihadi groups in Pakistan to fight for the cause of Indian Muslims. It can also result in the deterioration of India’s relations with Bangladesh and other Muslim nations.

“In 2003, the Pakistan army started military operations coupled with development projects in the tribal belt of NWFP bordering Afghanistan with the aim to track Al Qaeda and Taliban persons hiding there and to improve the connectivity with the area. Tribal leaders are unhappy with the increased involvement of Pakistan army along with US troops in the tribal areas.
 
“There is an under current demand for the formation of Pashtunistan, carved from parts of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan. Tribals, incensed by the military operations, could reject the dominion of the federal government. With industrial focus shifting from Sindh to Punjab, water levels reaching their threshold, and disparities in financial allocation of National Finance Commission, inter-provincial rivalries between Punjab and Sindh over the issues of allocation of development funds and water are at an all time high. India can get tempted to take advantage of the existing internal disputes in Pakistan.”
http://www.satribune.com/archives/feb29_mar6_04/P1_isi.htm

MG editor rejoinder:
Dear editor,
Your story, "Pakistan's ISI Has 10,000 Spies in 60 Centers in India," lacking a byline, is all bullshit, a totally baseless journalistic gossip. Morevoer, the website of the so-called think tank does not show the "report" in its tiny list of publications.

The young, unknown think tank seems to be a front of the Hindutva people. Its staff barely consists of three worthies who have dubious qualifications; two of them are armed with degrees in zoology and microbiology! Since the whole page (78) has been reproduced in the report, it is clear that the compiler has no proofs that he is only repeating familiar baseless Hindutva propaganda about Indian Muslims, mosques and madrasahs. I am in this very business and I should know. To my knowledge:

1. The Indian authorities have not to this date identified and closed down one single madrasah in India [out of around 33,000 madrasahs in the country];
2. No single remittance from the ISI to any madrasah has been to date tracked;
3. There is no presence of the ISI in any madrasah anywhere in the country; we in The Milli Gazette have time and again challenged the government and proved media revelations like this planted report to be lies;

4. Muslim Indians by and large are not influenced by Pakistani propaganda and ISI agents are mainly Hindus since they alone can get the required secrets;
5. There is no such animal as "Jihad-e-Hind"; in fact, I have heard about it for the first time from this "report"; a search on the google.com yielded no results!
6. The so-called report treats Godhra as if its author has a proof that Muslims did it; the official commission has yet to come out with its report and the Godhra story has many loopholes; Gujarat state forensic lab has categorically said that the fire could not be ignited from outside, so who did it from inside, were they the same people who shamelessly benefitted from it electorally in the state?

— Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan

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