Old Soviet Electrical Grid and Water Distribution Nightmares

Power Struggle Threatens Central Asian Electricity Grid

Defections from regiona distribution network may destroy Soviet-era effort to ensure equitable sharing of electricity.

By Gulnura Toralieva in London (RCA No. 596, 20-Nov-09)

Kazakstan’s decision to withdraw from the Central Asia-wide electricity grid and strong hints by Uzbekistan that it will follow suit have highlighted the fragility of energy arrangements in the region. Analysts are warning that political leaders urgently need an action plan to avoid a potential crisis.

The Soviet Union created a common power system for Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan which worked as long as they were part of the same state. But the system began fraying at the edges after 1991, as the newly independent countries began asserting competing interests.

Electricity generating capacity is distributed unevenly in Central Asia. Mountainous Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have close to 80 per cent of the region’s water resources, allowing them to build and benefit from hydroelectric power stations, whereas Kazakstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan have substantial oil and gas deposits but depend on their smaller neighbours for water.

Disputes arise whenever Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan store up water for the winter, the time they need it most for electricity production. The three lowland states want the water to flow downstream in spring and summer to provide irrigation during the growing season.

The Uzbeks export their natural gas to Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They also supply electricity to Tajikistan, as well as providing a transit route for Kyrgyz and Turkmen electricity going to that country. But Tashkent periodically stops supplying gas in autumn and winter because of non-payment of bills, and earlier this year suspended the transit of Turkmen electricity to Tajikistan.

Following a meeting of the council which coordinates regional power supplies in mid-October, Kanat Bozumbayev, head of the Kazak electricity distributor KEGOC, said he had been told that Uzbekistan was leaving the network.

This was denied in a statement from the Uzbek state company Uzbekenergo. A spokesman said they merely wanted to alter the terms of transit arrangements.

“We would like to charge fees for electricity transits to Kyrgyzstan, which were previously regarded as transfers and were free of charge,” he said.

Although the problem was resolved – the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks reached a compromise on compensation – Uzbekenergo subsequently sent out further signals about withdrawing from the entire regional set-up.

In an article published in a state newspaper on November 5, Esso Sadulloev, who heads Uzbekenergo’s distribution office, said Uzbekistan planned to leave the Central Asia-wide grid, which he said was become increasingly unsustainable as certain member states were siphoning off electricity

“The unified electricity system is beginning to be obsolete, and is becoming the source of confrontation between participating states,” said Sadulloev.

His remarks appeared in the press two days after Kazakstan – Central Asia’s strongest economy and major oil producer – made the shock announcement that it too was withdrawing from the grid.

Deputy energy minister Duysenbay Turganov said KEGOC had taken the decision because the system was being disrupted by Tajikistan, which was taking more electricity than it was entitled to and failing to respond to instructions issued by the regional agency which manages the network. In February, Kazakstan temporarily withdrew from the Central Asian energy network because supplies to its southern regions were being disrupted by Tajikistan, which had begun taking electricity from the common grid in order to see its population through the winter months. The Tajiks began tapping the system, without consultation, after Uzbekistan halted transit supplies from Turkmenistan.

Kazakstan’s decision had serious consequences for Kyrgyzstan, which was forced to impose strict limits on power use for consumers as the supply faltered.

Energy experts say the current disagreements arise from longer-running shortcomings in the way the network has functioned. Some say it is just a matter of time before the entire system disintegrates.

The Central Asian network links and regulates supplies from 80-plus power stations across the region, and the departure of even one member could prevent it functioning as a whole.

The resulting energy shortages could provoke instability and unrest which no government would want to see. Bazarbay Mambetov, an economist in Kyrgyzstan, says no one can afford to let this happen.

“The energy grid was created as a single mechanism and has been ensuring a reliable, uninterrupted power supply across the region,” he said. “Whether its participants like it or not, we are all now linked together by this system.”

But it is a network whose infrastructure has not been maintained since the Central Asian republics went their separate ways.

“It is old and it hasn’t been properly maintained, and was designed for a different environment,” said Cleo Paskal, a researcher on energy and environmental matters at the London-based think-tank Chatham House.

The system was set up based on calculations of rainfall and river volumes over previous decades, whereas environmental conditions in the region may now have changed to the extent that the design is redundant, she said.


Ularbek Mateyev, an energy expert in Kyrgyzstan, says, “The Soviet Union designed and built the most viable energy grid, so no country will benefit from leaving it.”

One of the consequences would be to increase the number of outages due to accidents, as there would be no central mechanism for mitigating the effects of power surges by switching supplies from one country to another.

If Uzbekistan, centrally located with the four other states around it, were to leave, everyone else’s national grid would be placed under severe strain.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan would be worst hit, despite existing hydroelectric schemes and plans to build more, analysts say.

“Tajikistan, the northern part in particular, will suffer most,” said Anvar Kamolidinov, a water management expert in Tajikistan. “Soghd province depends on Uzbek electricity coming from the common energy grid. Soghd’s power plant at Kairakkum power plant provides only 20 per cent of the energy consumed there. If Uzbekistan leaves, two million people in [Soghd] region will be left without power.”

Meanwhile, Kamolidinov said, central and southern Tajikistan will also lose out as they will no longer get power generated in Turkmenistan and transferred through Uzbekistan.

Kyrgyzstan, too, will suffer from the loss of electricity coming from or via Uzbekistan.

Kazakstan’s energy minister Sauat Mynbayev says his country would probably struggle through, by keeping a power station in the southern Jambyl region running continuously.

“It would be a huge load, but in terms of power supplies, it would help us – and also northern Kyrgyzstan – survive this period,” he said at a government meeting in late September.

Experts warn, however, that the larger states will face significant problems just as smaller Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will. Neither Uzbekistan nor Kazakstan is currently in a position to assure a constant, uninterrupted flow of power.

Kamolidinov believes Kazakstan and Uzbekistan would have left the parallel system already if they were not dependent on their neighbours to fill in the gaps at certain time.

“Kazakstan might leave, but it will mean additional costs, including spending to build the infrastructure that will be required,” he said. “If Uzbekistan goes, it will have supply problems at peak periods in the morning and evening. Without the Nurek power plant… in Tajikistan, it will be technically problematic and costly for Uzbekistan to meet this peak consumption.

Mambetov say the Uzbeks also need to be able to draw on Kyrgyz electricity.

“Leaving the common grid will have negative consequences for Uzbekistan itself, first and foremost,” he said. “The Uzbek energy grid needs Kyrgyz power in order to regulate a constant current.”


Aside from periodic electricity shortages, the breakdown of regional energy arrangements will have wider implications, analysts say.

For one thing, neither the Tajiks nor the Kyrgyz will have much of an incentive to honour the already loose arrangements for opening up the dam sluices in spring to let water down the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, so that their neighbours have enough irrigation for their crops. Their natural tendency will be to hold as much back until late autumn, when they need to begin generating more power.

Within the Soviet Union, water and fuel were exchanged between republics as free, shared commodities. But in the post-1991 world, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have become increasingly annoyed that their neighbours charge them for gas, oil and coal, yet their own natural resource – water – still has no monetary value placed on it.

Kamolidinov expressed the sense of dissatisfaction common in Tajikistan that “virtually for nothing”, the country stores up the waters of the Syr Darya river in its Kairakkum reservoir for release to Uzbekistan and southern Kazakstan when they need it.

“It’s going to be difficult to reach a [water] agreement on previous terms after the [Uzbek] power supply to Soghd region is interrupted in winter,” he added.

Many analysts see disputes over water and energy as inextricably linked with the political differences between the Central Asian states.

“The system inherited from the Soviet Union is in the process of being dismantled because Central Asian leaders are unable to reach agreement,” said Shairbek Juraev, an assistant professor of international and comparative politics at the American University in Central Asia, based in Kyrgyzstan.

Disagreements over water and energy have been festering for a long time, but Juraev says political confrontation has picked up pace recently.

“There is a risk that the situation may worsen, and that it will affect ordinary people most of all, with shortages of power and water and limits on freedom of movement,” he said. “It may lead to deteriorating conditions along borders, interethnic tensions, and a general worsening of the political situation in the region.”

Uzbekistan’s unhappiness with the current electricity arrangements form part of a wider pattern of disagreements with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, over their plans to complete major new hydropower schemes.

The Roghun and Kambarata power plants would bring Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, respectively, a lot closer to self-sufficiency in energy. But Uzbekistan worries that the new dams would block off water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, and is insisting on an international study on the possible effects of the projects before they are completed. (For more on this, see Uzbek Overtures to Kazakstan on Water Dispute.)

Russia’s role in the region is an added complicating factor. There is talk of Moscow investing in both the Roghun and Kambarata schemes, and the Uzbeks are also concerned about plans for a new Russian military base in southern Kyrgyzstan, not far from their border. (See Kyrgyzstan: Russian Base Plan Alarms Tashkent on this issue.)

These interconnected issues make it difficult to attribute blame to any one state when disputes arise.

“All the countries in this region do not take one another’s interests into account, and are thus responsible for the current situation,” said Farhod Tolipov, a political analyst in Tashkent. “Since they gained independence, these countries have had many reciprocal grievances and disagreements.

“You cannot criticise Uzbekistan alone, for announcing its decision to leave the common grid even though it was aware this would have certain consequences for its neighbours. Its actions were prompted by the behaviour of Kyrgyzstan, which is planning to build the Kambarata plant and open a Russian military base in the south, although it knows the reaction this would bring from Uzbekistan.”

According to Paskal, worsening inter-state relationships are ultimately the legacy of Soviet-era arrangements for “enforced cooperation” which are no longer working.

In addition, she said, the once-united Central Asian states are starting to undergo “real cultural polarisation and social fragmentation, which make cooperation difficult. If social cohesion starts to break apart, all relations become difficult.”


When it comes to electricity, however, the Central Asian states are not standing still, but are already taking steps to forge new one-to-one arrangements with one another while strengthening their own national grids.

The Kazaks, Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks are currently working towards bilateral and trilateral deals on infrastructure and supply, bypassing the regional level at which agreement seems so difficult.

As Nargiz Kassenova, professor of political science at the Kazakstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research, noted, “The countries in the region are making great efforts to ensure energy security by making their own grids more autonomous and developing new capacity.”

Mateev agrees that a movement towards fully independent power networks is under way, while pointing out that it goes against the international trend towards greater cooperation and efficiency through economies of scale.

“In the next three to four years, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan will find solutions and free themselves from energy dependence on Uzbekistan,” he predicted.

Kamolidinov agreed that the Tajiks and Kyrgyz were heading away from reliance on other Central Asian states.

“Energy independence has long been on the agenda of these two countries,” he said. “Uzbekistan leaving the grid and the problems this will create for them will only strengthen their desire for energy independence.”

Gulnura Toralieva is a freelance journalist from Kyrgyzstan.


Naxalism: A Short Introduction to India’s Scariest Security Challenge

Prime Minister Mahoman Singh has called them “the single biggest security challenge ever faced by our country”. Fourteen Indian states are struggling to battle the insurgency waged by their 20,000 fighters. Over the last three years some 2,600 people have died by their hands.

These are the Naxalites, the source of India’s scariest security challenge.

Naxalism. It is a topic few in the West are aware of. The international media lends little attention to India’s Maoist insurgents, choosing instead to focus its attention on the more dramatic attacks of groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba. It is hard to blame them: writing about Islamic terrorism has become too easy. There is no need to perform substantive reporting or analysis on the cause of events; pundits simply need to boil down Muslim gunmen and bombers to the level of caricature and the news has been written. Naxalism, in contrast, does not lend itself to such easy stereotypes. Not surprisingly, most media outlets have been conspicuously quiet about the movement.

This silence is not sustainable. Indeed, last month an attack staged by the Naxalites was so spectacular that even the New York Times could not ignore it. On the eighth of October 200 Naxalites ambushed a large contingent of Maharashtri police commandos, killing 17 of them in a gunfight staged in broad daylight. As the Indian government begins a major nation-wide paramilitary offensive against the Naxalites, the ambush on the eighth shall surely be but the first of many battles. I suspect that as this conflict enlarges in scope and drags through time the word “Naxalite” shall lose its alien sound. The day will come when Beltway analysts will pronounce the fate of Chhattisgarh in the same steady voice as they prophesize of Xinjiang; soon the pundit class will talk as freely of the Naxalites as they do the P.K.K.

However, this is all in the future — the post below is for those of you who want a head start.


The term “Naxalite” is derived from Naxalbari, the name of the West-Bengal town where India’s Maoist movement began. During the late 1960s the Communist Party of India was sharply divided on how to bring about India’s communist revolution. The party broke into two camps: those in favor of a attaining power by election, whereby the party would have the influence to provide momentum for a great urban uprising, and those in favor of utilizing the country’s vast peasant class to bring about a government-toppling armed insurrection. In 1967 Charu Mazumdar, a member of this second camp, grew tired with the Communist Party’s dithering and debates and set out to begin the revolution himself. The Naxalbari revolts were the result of his efforts.

Mazumdar called his new movement the “All India Coordination Committee of Communist Revolutionaries”, but most Indians  knew the group by their place of origin, and began to call all Maoist-style guerrillas “Naxalites.”  The movement was supported by two very different groups: leftist college students (mostly from Kolkotta), and poor delits and peasants who had just barely survived India’s worst famine in a century. A steady flow of aid from China further strengthened the movement, allowing it to spread beyond the Naxalbari region itself, taking root in Andrah Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand.

From this point on events turned against the Naxalites. Chinese aid was cut off in the early 70s when the Chinese Comunist Party ended their long standing policy of funding Asian Maoist groups. A brutal counterterror campaign was began by Bengal’s police, and it decimated the ranks of the Naxilite faithful. To top things off, Mazumdar himself was captured by state police, and he stayed in their custody until his death in 1972.

Absent a study source of funding, a base of operations, and a leader, the Naxalite movement fell apart. What had been one organization splintered into 30; divided and prone to factional infighting, Mazumdar’s mass movement was forced to the precipice of Indian society. Only in rural areas far removed from government power did Naxalism retain a vestige of popular support.

This state of affairs was the status quo well into the 1990s. By this time Naxalism had been reduced to irrelevancy, prompting national and state governments to focus on more pressing problems. Given breathing space the Naxalites were able to to rebound and then expand. By 2004 the two largest Naxalite factions joined together to form a new organization, the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). The creation of CPI-Maoist was a watershed event, ending the era of interfactional  violence among the Naxalbari and paving the way for a Naxalite resurgence.


Naxalism thrives in the regions of India devoid of state control and subject to endemic poverty. Naxalites are often welcomed with open arms in such circumstances;  those leading lives of toil in India’s isolated jungle villages eagerly grasp opportunities to escape the system of oppression and impoverishment that dominates rural India. Once welcomed in, CPI-Maoists construct a shadow-state, complete with taxes, regulations, and courts, all ostensibly for the betterment of disenfranchised delit peasants and tribal groups.

Yet for these oppressed groups seeking recourse by way of Naxalite is an inevitable Faustian bargain. As it becomes clear that a Naxal shadow state has supplanted the authority of state government, police forces are sent to drive the Naxalites out. In the violence that follows it is the delits and tribals who suffer most.

That Naxalite groups find continued support in rural areas despite the ills that accompany their presence marks another aspect of the regions Naxalites favor: the absence of an educated citizenry. The states with a significant Naxal presence all have literacy rates below the national average; the gap in literacy found between Bihar (54%) and Kerala (91% ) mirrors the extant of Naxalite control in the two states.

The area of India where support for the Naxalism runs highest has been called “the red corridor”, a long stretch of territory reaching from southern tip of Andhra Pradesh to the eastern regions of West Bengal. The intensity of Naxalite insurgency varies across this stretch; in most places Naxalites rule unopposed only in remote pockets and patches of the region’s countryside.

In the past opposition from the rural population of Eastern India has kept Naxalism from growing past these remote pockets. The response to CPI-Maoists’s expansion was violent; many rural landowners would not tolerate a Naxalite shadow state and founded anti-Maoist militias in an attempt at armed resistance. The pattern was set by the Salwa Judum, a grass roots resistance movement in Chhattisgarh that was co-opted by the state government soon after its founding. Eager to find a quick fix to the Naxalite problem, the government of Chhattisgarh paid members of the Salwa Judum as “Special Police Officers” and ordered them to clear the jungle of Naxalite influence. The battles that followed this command resulted in thousands of internal refugees across the state. The heavy handed tactics of the Salwa Judum and their government patrons alienated many of the state’s rural poor, and early this year the last vestiges of the movement disappeared.

The same cannot be said for the Naxalites. Every bit of lost legitimacy for the Indian government was a gain for the Naxalite’s shadow state; by the end of this summer the Naxalites had enough popular authority to  set up road blocks on national highways and frisk employees of the Chhattisgarh government.

The surge in Naxalite power is not limited to Chhattisgarh. Multiple states, some outside the red corridor, have seen a troubling growth in Naxalite related violence. Part of the reason the October 8th ambush made headlines is because it did not occur in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, or Orissa, the four states traditionally subject to Naxal violence.

The scope this violence has ensured action on the part of India’s central government. Last month the Central Reserve Police Force reported that it had lost six times the number of men to Naxalites this year than it has to all other groups in all other combat zones, including Kashmir.  This month the CRPF announced that it was launching a nation-wide operation to counter the Naxal threat. Titled “Operation Green Hunt”, the campaign is expected to last two years.

We will see. As this blog has noted in the past, counterinsurgency campaigns  do not operate on a small time scale. This is but the beginning of another long war.


Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist)
South Asian Terrorism Portal. 2008.

An invaluable resource for those concerned with Indian security issues, the South Asian Terrorism Portalt has in depth intelligence reports on most of India’s terrorist organizations. This particular report provides a summary of CPI-Maoist’s history, ideology, structure, and current activities. This is easily the best summary of CPI-Maoist that I have seen online.

Communist Party of India (Maoist): Documents, Statements, and Interviews of Leaders
Banned Thought. Last updated November 13 2009.

A collection of CPI-Moist documents and propaganda materials. As the title of the site indicates, all of these materials have been censored in India.

Charu Mazumdar: Reference Archive.
Marxists.org. 2003.

A collection of Charu Mazumdar’s manifestos.

India’s Forgotten War

An exhaustive aggregator and analyzer on all news items related to Naxalism.

Revolution in South Asia

A comprehensive blog that covers Maoist movements across South and Southeastern Asia… from the perspective of the Maoists.

Naxalite Rage

Shlok Vaidya’s blog on India’s security environment, guerrilla warfare, and “the far-flung implications” of a globally connected Naxalite insurgency.


Volume 31. October 2009.

Pragati released a special edition devoted to Naxalism and how the Indian government how to best over come it.

While the entire volume is top-notch, I recommend Raj Cherubal’s “Hope is the Antidote to Naxalism“, Ankur Kumar’s “Money and Friends“, and Sushant K Singh & Nitin Pai’s “Winning the Counterinsurgency Endgame” for those pressed for time.

A Spectre Haunting India

The Economist. 17 August 2006.

A good introduction to the conditions in which Naxalism arises.

Naxal Movement in India: A Profile.
Kujur, Rajat. Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. 2008.

An in depth history of the Naxal movement, with an emphasis on the movement post-Mazumdar.

On War Footing.
Datta, Sakait. Outlook India. 13 October 2009.

A short but detailed overview of what Operation Green Hunt will look like.

Operation Green Hunt launched. But where are the Naxals?
The Times of India. 7 November 2009.

The Times points out the prime difficulty in waging war against the Naxalites.

India: Draconian Response to Naxalite Violence.
Human Rights Watch. 6 April 2006.

Being Neutral is our Biggest Crime: Government, Vigilante, and Naxalite Abuses in India’s Chhattisgarh State
Human Rights Watch. 14 June 2008.

Dangerous Duty: Children and the Chhattisgarh Conflict
Human Rights Watch. 5 September 2008.

Human Rights Watch has recorded a plethora of human rights violations surrounding this conflict. I do not expect things to get better any time soon.

Lebanese Army Chief: Prepare for Possible Israeli Attack

Lebanese Army Chief: Prepare for Possible Israeli Attack

Mohamad Shmaysani Readers Number : 191

21/11/2009 Israel media continued to circulate news about a possible new war with Lebanon. On Wednesday, Haaretz pointed Thursday that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was devising a scheme to wage war on Lebanon, Iran and Syria in the coming spring. And on Friday, Amos Harel, Haaretz’s military correspondent related the coming Israeli war on Lebanon to a broader regional war that reaches Tehran. Harel said that the situation on the border with Lebanon was complicated; on the one hand there is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal but on the other hand there is no Hezbollah activity against Israel on the border.

Meanwhile Lebanon’s army chief, Jean Qahwaji, called on soldiers to be on high alert and to prepare defenses along the border for a possible Israeli attack.
In a statement published in honor of Lebanon’s Independence Day, Qahwaji said soldiers should prepare “to handle what the Israeli enemy is scheming against the homeland, and to continue the battle against its violations – in the air, water, and land – with all the tools at our disposal”.

Israeli occupation forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi recently warned the Knesset that Hezbollah is currently armed with thousands of missiles, some of which could reach Dimona, south of the occupied territories.
“Some of them have a range of 300 km and some of them have a range of up to 325 km,” Ashkenazi said, adding that the missiles were ready for use.
“There is a paradox – one hand there is calm, but when you peek over the fence you can see armament and empowerment. If Hezbollah carries out a retaliatory attack for (Imad) Mugniyah it will force Israel to respond and this will lead to deterioration,” he said.

“Lebanon will continue to work to free the land that is still under Israeli occupation including the Shaba Farms and part of the village of Rajar,” Qahwaji said.

The Army Chief urged the military to “make the utmost possible to reassure the citizens to their lives and livelihoods and continue in pursuit of terrorists, criminals and all those who undermine the country’s security.”
“You are also called to prohibit the spies from tampering with the country’s stability from time to time,” he said.

A Lebanese military court last week sentenced to death a man charged with spying for Israel and arrested another individual suspected of the same charge.
Last spring, Lebanon arrested close to 20 members of six espionage cells suspected of transmitting intelligence information to Israel.

Lebanese sources attributed last weeks arrests to improved cooperation between Lebanon’s many security agencies, saying that with the help of better-trained personnel and access to more sophisticated equipment, the Internal Security Forces have been intensifying their efforts to uncover espionage networks as part of an attempt to develop a pan-Lebanese image.
“You are also called to strengthen your efforts in order to track terrorists, criminals and perpetrators regardless of their affiliations. In this regard, you have achieved stunning exploits in this field during the last couple of months through efforts which were certified by local and international sides.”

“All the eyes are looking up to you, and the people is hailing you, therefore, do not hesitate to respond to the country’s call and spare no efforts for the sake of our land and thus you shall be preserving the precious legacy of your martyrs and drawing bright pages in the book of independence.” Qahwaji concluded his order of the day on the Independence Day.

Italian police arrest 2 linked to Mumbai attacks

Italian police arrest 2 linked to Mumbai attacks

Mumbai's Taj hotel picks up pieces AFP/File – This photo taken on November 27, 2008, shows flames and smoke gushing from The Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, …

By ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writer Ariel David, Associated Press Writer

ROME – Italian police on Saturday arrested a Pakistani father and son accused of helping fund and providing logistical support for last year’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, authorities said.

The two were arrested in an early morning raid in Brescia, where they managed a money transfer agency, police in the northern Italian city said.

The day before the attacks began on Nov. 26 they allegedly sent money using a stolen identity to a U.S. company to activate Internet phone accounts used by the attackers and their handlers, said Stefano Fonsi, the head of anti-terror police in Brescia.

The transfer was just $229 but gave the attackers five lines over the Internet, which are difficult to trace and allowed militants to keep in touch even during the rampage, Fonsi said.

Italian police began the probe in December after being alerted by the FBI and Indian police about the transfer, Fonsi told The Associated Press.

Ten militants, allegedly from Pakistan, killed 166 people in a three-day assault on luxury hotels, a Jewish center and other sites in India’s financial capital. One Italian was among the 19 foreigners killed.

The funds were transferred under the identity of another Pakistani man who had never been to Italy and was not involved in the attacks, Fonsi said.

He lives in Spain and his identity was probably stolen when he used another money transfer agency somewhere in the world, Fonsi later told a news conference.

The order to open the accounts with the Callphonex company came from two men in Pakistan, he said. Fonsi added that Italian authorities had shared details of their identities with Pakistani officials.

The two suspects in Brescia, identified in a police statement as 60-year-old Mohammad Yaqub Janjua and 31-year-old Aamer Yaqub Janjua, are accused of aiding and abetting international terrorism as well as illegal financial activity. Their agency, which operated on the Western Union money transfer network, was seized by police.

Transferring funds using the identity of other people was a common practice at the Madina Trading agency in Brescia, and the Italian probe broke up a ring of people who used the system, Fonsi said.

Two more Pakistanis were arrested in Saturday’s raids for allegedly committing fraud, money laundering and other crimes through the masked transfers, but they were not linked to the Mumbai attacks. A fifth Pakistani man escaped arrest and was still being sought.

An additional 12 people were flagged to prosecutors for possible investigation but were not arrested, Fonsi said.

Just by using the stolen identity, the suspects had transferred some euro400,000 ($590,000) between 2006 and 2008 to various countries. The network also used its contacts in Pakistan to help illegal immigrants enter Italy, Fonsi said.


Associated Press Writer Andrea De Benedetti contributed to this report.

US to drop shooting case against Blackwater guard

FILE - In a Monday, July 21, 2008 file photo, Blackwater Worldwide's AP – FILE – In a Monday, July 21, 2008 file photo, Blackwater Worldwide’s headquarters is seen in Moyock, …

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer Matt Apuzzo, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department intends to drop manslaughter and weapons charges against one of the Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a deadly 2007 Baghdad shooting, prosecutors said in court documents Friday.

The shooting in busy Nisoor Square left 17 Iraqis dead and inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad. It touched off a string of investigations that ultimately led the State Department to cancel the company’s lucrative contract to guard diplomats in Iraq.

Iraqis have said they’re watching closely to see how the U.S. judicial system handles the five men accused of unleashing an unprovoked attack on civilians with machine guns and grenades.

A one-paragraph notice filed Friday says only that prosecutors have asked that the case against Nicholas Slatten of Sparta, Tenn., be dropped. The government’s detailed request to the court was filed with the judge and with the defendant, but was not made public.

Prosecutors filed the request in a way that allows them to file new charges against Slatten later. There is no indication in the documents whether they intend to. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Friday he could not say whether new charges would be filed.

Slatten’s attorney, Thomas Connolly, said he could not comment on the court documents but said Slatten has maintained his innocence all along. Slatten was an Army sniper who served two tours in Iraq before joining Blackwater.

The request could be a bad sign for the government. After the shootings, some guards spoke to investigators under the promise of immunity. Prosecutors have been arguing behind closed doors that the immunity deal did not taint the case. The judge is considering that issue now. Jury selection in the trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 25.

Five guards, all military veterans, face charges. Prosecutors say the shooting was unprovoked but Blackwater says its convoy was ambushed. A sixth pleaded guilty, turned on his former colleagues, and pleaded guilty to killing one Iraqi and wounding another.

The case against the remaining four guards is set for trial in February. Prosecutors were aggressive in their charges, using an anti-machine gun law to attach 30-year mandatory prison sentences to the case. And though authorities can’t say for sure exactly which guards shot which victims, all five guards are charged with 14 counts of manslaughter.

So far, most of the case has played out behind closed doors. Defense attorneys have argued the FBI improperly built their case using information gathered under the promise of immunity. Investigators say they were careful to build their case only on material gathered independent of the immunity deals.

The trial likely will hinge on whether the Blackwater guards were provoked. Iraqi witnesses say Blackwater fired the only shots. Some members of the Blackwater convoy said they saw gunfire. Others said they didn’t. Radio logs of the shooting indicate the guards were fired on.

Prosecutors say the guards was itching for a fight and unleashed a gruesome attack on unarmed Iraqis, including women, children and people trying to escape. The convoy allegedly launched a grenade into a nearby girls’ school.

Since the shooting, Blackwater, headquartered in Moyock, N.C., has renamed itself Xe Corp. and has undergone a management upheaval.

An inept response

An inept response

Babar Sattar

The writer is a lawyer based in Islamabad.

The Pakistan-based Taliban’s indiscriminate religion-inspired war against the state in concert with other terror groups poses a threat that no one really knows how to deal with. The war raging in our tribal areas as well as our cities is multi-pronged and has ideological, strategic, political, socio-economic and legal dimensions.

The declared strategy of the Pakistani government toward this war is to take the security operation underway to its logical end with complete resolve and, once the physical control of the Taliban country is reclaimed, consolidate military gains with economic investment and political reforms. The military is essentially involved in a fire brigade operation struggling to put out the fire where it is raging the most. The proposed but missing political and economic tiers of the strategy are meant to win the hearts and minds of people, and prevent futurerecruitment of the youth by the Taliban and other terror groups.

But given that the Taliban and other terrorist outfits functional in Pakistan comprise our own citizens, what will we do about those who survive this military operation including the operational and sleeper cells that are already spread across the country? While an effective military operation can limit the ability to spread violence and terror across Pakistan with impunity and an effective socio-economic and political rejuvenation process can diminish the appeal of ideologically inspired terrorism, we cannot underestimate the need for effective traditional law enforcement to prevent and address acts of terror being carried out across Pakistan. And it is this necessary dimension of fighting terror within Pakistan through traditional policing and law enforcement where our response has not just been deficient but completely non-existent.

As anchor Dr Moeed Pirzada emphasised in a recent discussion, countries that are able to control the movement of men, material and money within their territories and across their borders are better placed to fight the threat posed by terror groups. Pakistan is not just lagging behind on this count but seems completely oblivious to the urgent need to put in place the legal framework and implementation mechanisms to control the movement of men, material and money within Pakistan. Furthermore, the government has made no effort to evaluate the multiple contours of our criminal justice system to ensure that it can effectively take cognizance of the crime of terrorism. Pakistan has been infested with extreme violence and terror for more than five years now and we have yet to hear about terrorists being caught, tried and convicted by our courts of law.

If our criminal justice system lacks the ability to punish terrorists, insurgents and criminals, are we not rendering the concept of rule of law meaningless? We have seen Maulvi Abdul Aziz of Lal Masjid walk free despite public knowledge that under his supervision the mosque was turned into an armed fortress, and the Lal-Masjid brigade not only harassed residents and shopkeepers in the neighbourhood but also killed at least five soldiers. Similarly, we continue to hear the demand from India and the US to prosecute Hafiz Saeed, and while the government seems willing to do so, it is unable to bring any formal charges that stick. If Hafiz Saeed is mixed-up in terror plots, he must be prosecuted and convicted. If he is not, his name should be cleared and he should not repeatedly be put under preventive detention merely due to allegations and pressure by foreign countries.

The idea is not to initiate a witch-hunt in the name of law enforcement and eradication of terror, but to make due process of law meaningful and our penal justice system functional. If our justice system does not work, it will either encourage security forces to circumvent due process and indulge in extra-judicial killings or allow criminals and terrorists to go scot-free and remain a menace to society. Given that the terrorists we are fighting are our own people — even if partly supported and financed by our external enemies — it is crucial that the state’s response to this threat be framed within the realm of law. We are presently failing to apprehend and convict terrorists and criminals because (i) much of our law-enforcement activities and security operations are undertaken beyond the zone of law as our legal framework is deficient in fundamental ways, and (ii) to the extent that laws exist they are not being effectively implemented.

Our legal framework does not adequately cater for the army undertaken security operations within the country. Article 245 of the constitution authorises the armed forces to “act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so”. But there is no detailed legislation that delineates the mechanics of how the armed forces will function while acting in aid of civil power, how the forces will arrest and detain people, and how they will gather evidence and facilitate prosecution when the accused are presented before a court.

Sections 4 and 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 also provide for armed forces acting in aid of civil power and contemplate that any such operation will be subject to the Code of Criminal Procedure1898. But the armed forces are not trained to carry out internal security operations with a view to apprehending and convicting citizens. For example, during the Swat operation, did the soldiers document recovery of weapons in a manner that would be admissible as evidence in a court of law? Will officers appear before courts as prosecution witnesses? If not, will suspected terrorists not be able to walk free merely because due process formalities have not been followed?

Another huge component of our security infrastructure that functions beyond the realm of law is intelligence agencies. There is no legislation or legal framework that clearly defines the scope of work of our intelligence agencies, the authority that each agency has and effective mechanisms of supervision to ensure that authority vested in the agencies is properly regulated and not abused. This creates a two-tier problem. One is the fear that intelligence agencies have the ability to function as uncontrolled monstrosities and abuse the vast powers not supported by law that they have assumed as a matter of practice.

The second is the limited ability to effectively use the extremely crucial information gathered by these agencies to prosecute criminals because the process through which such information is gathered does not have the backing of law. For example, if there is no legal mechanism to seek permission to wire-tap citizens and record conversations, the utility of such recordings in a court of law remains dubious. The problem needs to be resolved by fixing the structure rather than getting into territory wars over who controls a deformed structure.

Then there are laws such as the Anti-Terrorist Act and the Security of Pakistan Act 1952 that conceive the idea of controlling and suspending activities of proscribed and subversive organisations, but do not take the concept to its logical conclusion. The law does not automatically produce any serious penal consequences for an organization that is declared subversive or proscribed. The state is not obliged to identify the members of such an organisation, prevent them from reorganising themselves under a new banner, prohibit them from purchasing property, renting houses and vehicles, etc.

The deficient legal framework thus makes the exercise of declaring an organisation proscribed or subversive largely meaningless. And finally there are laws that exist on statute books but are just not being enforced. The Explosives Act 1884 is one such law that mandates that the manufacture, possession, use, sale, transport and importation will be subject to government license. If this law was being properly implemented, terrorists would not get their hands on hundreds of kilograms of explosive material at will.

If we intend to control the menace of terror wreaking havoc across Pakistan, we will need to resuscitate traditional law enforcement mechanisms, bring all its components within the realm of law and ensure that our criminal justice system is functional. Without acquiring the ability to exercise effective control over men, material and money within Pakistan, our fire-fighting operations will only have limited utility.

Email: sattar@post.harvard.edu