Miliband Sahab ko gussa yun aata hai (Here is why Miliband is angry)
by Ramtanu Maitra on 25 Jan 2009 3 Comments

British foreign secretary-with–an-attitude, David Miliband, was sent to India by Her Majesty’s Service with two difficult tasks, both of crucial importance for London. And, when Miliband found that the old colonial subjects were not in any mood to accept his proposals, he put on a freak show to the chagrin of the Indians.

India’s staid news daily, The Hindu reported on Jan.17 that senior officials in India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Miliband acted in an “aggressive” manner in his closed-door meetings with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In particular, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) took offence at his strident arguments that the Mumbai terror attacks were really the result of the Kashmir issue remaining unresolved.

Officials said Miliband berated Singh and Mukherjee on this point and said that whatever India may wish to say on the matter in public, in private they must accept that they have to do more to work with Pakistan to find a solution to the Kashmir issue, according to The Hindu. “Yes, there is a Kashmir issue and we need to resolve it,” the Indian side told the British Minister. “But when a group like the Lashkar, which says it supports ‘global jihad,’ attacks Mumbai and kills Americans and Brits and Jews, what does this have to do with Kashmir?” All told, say Indian officials, the two meetings with the representative of Her Majesty’s Service were “pretty awful.”

The respectful New Delhi

Still, Indian officials, a large number of whom are anglophiles, were kind. “He’s a young man and I guess this is the way he thinks diplomacy is conducted,” a senior official told The Hindu. “In both his meetings, his posture and style of talking were a little too aggressive. The PM and EAM are much older and this is not what they are used to,” he added, describing the meetings as “quite an episode.”

It is interesting to note that Miliband can play the villain as well. When he was environment secretary earlier, he was picked by noted movie director Steven Spielberg to play the role of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes-Booth. The movie is still under production.  Spielberg said in an interview in 2006: "Casting for the film is really at an early stage, so far only Liam Neeson is down to be in the film… however, when I saw David (Miliband) in Paris I saw the face that was perfect for my film." Both the Indian prime minister and external affairs minister should feel relieved that Miliband did not use the meeting a trial run for the Spielberg role.

Why did Miliband act out so violently? The reasons have to do with the objective Her Majesty’s Services had sent him to accomplish. The first task was to pressure New Delhi and bring the Kashmir issue into the spotlight. The second task was to link the Nov.26-29 Mumbai attack with Kashmir and close all other investigations of the incident.

The first task was assigned to Miliband due to pressure from the majority of Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims of mainly Mirpuri (belonging to three districts in the Pakistan-part of Jammu & Kashmir) and Pakistani origin. In 2002, a survey was reported in the British media that showed these British Muslims have voted with their feet on Kashmir, saying it dominates their concerns and they are fearful of a nuclear war erupting from the dispute. Leading Kashmiri activists, however, contested the Pakistani tag, saying the Mirpuri community accounts for at least half the 700,000 British "Pakistanis.”

MI5 and the Mirpuris

Analysts said the poll was an important indicator of the domestic pressure on leading British politicians to articulate their constituents’ opinion on controversial South Asian issues. The poll recorded "the world’s biggest expatriate Kashmiri population in Birmingham," in north-west England.

A leading Birmingham Mirpuri politician subsequently told The Guardian that the opinion poll would probably go a long way towards convincing mainstream British leaders of the need to hammer away at "India’s resistance to international engagement and mediation.”

In a hard-hitting statement to the British Parliament, then-Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Kashmir was a bilateral issue, but of international concern because of the nuclear implications and human rights deficit.

What is going on? Why is the British establishment so concerned about the Mirpuri Muslims? There is a serious problem here. According to a high-level intelligence source in India, the Mirpuris in the Pakistani diaspora in Britain have been in the forefront of those supporting jihadi terrorism against India in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of India since 1993, when the Pakistani jihadi organizations of Afghan vintage were infiltrated into India by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 

They collected and sent funds to the jihadi terrorists in India. Many of them underwent training in the camps of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), the Hizbul Mujahideen (HuM) the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) in Pakistan and assisted them in their jihadi operations. British intelligence was aware of members of the Pakistani diaspora going to Pakistan for training, but closed its eyes to it since it thought that they were going to wage a jihad against the Indians in J&K.

The same intelligence source points out that a careful examination of the details relating to the various jihadi terrorism-related cases in Britain would reveal that British domestic intelligence, MI5, was intercepting the telephone conversations of these Mirpuris and other Punjabi Muslims in which they spoke of their going to Pakistan for jihadi training. MI5 did not take any action against them because it thought that they were going to wage jihad only against the Indians and hence did not pose a threat to the British. MI5 even intercepted the telephone conversation of one of the perpetrators of the London blasts of July 2005, about his going  to Pakistan for jihadi training, but did not act on it thinking he intended  to wage a jihad against the Indians.

In fact, MI5 wanted these jihadis to attack India. The British objective since 1947 had been to create a conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and maintain that conflict through the jihadis with the objective of creating an independent Kashmir. London has long been promising this outcome. But New Delhi came in the way.

Will the children now devour their parents?

Over the years, MI5 began to lose “total control” over these Mirpuris who had their eyes trained on Kashmir. This loss of control showed through in July 2005, when the intelligence agency realized that their disgruntled “puppets” were not talking any more of going to India to wage a jihad against the Indians, but are now planning to go to London to wage a jihad against the British.

On July 18, 2005, Madeleine Bunting pointed out a few interesting facts in a Guardian article. First, the families of the three Leeds-based bombers involved in the July 2005 incident in London were originally, in all likelihood, from Mirpur. Mirpuris form 70% of the British Muslim population, and the figure is even higher in northern towns, Bunting claimed. Just as the dominant role of Saudis in the 9/11 attacks in the United States led to a spotlight on the religion and politics of Saudi Arabia, so the attention of investigators focused on the Mirpuris - the long-maintained MI5 assets.

These rural, impoverished citizens of Mirpur and two other adjacent districts provided cheap, unskilled labour for Britain in the 1960s and 1970s. Most immigrants were from subsistence-farming communities and had had little or no schooling. They made a huge cultural and geographical leap to settle in Britain and Her Majesty’s Service promised them their return to an independent Kashmir.

It is evident from the way Miliband behaved, or misbehaved, that the British establishment feels that if the Kashmir issue cannot be brought into the spotlight again to rekindle the hopes of these 700,000 Mirpuris, London will face the wrath of the terrorists they created and still maintained. Therefore, it was opportune in light of the Mumbai attack to browbeat the former colonial subjects to link all terrorism in the sub-continent to Kashmir.

One of the things the Mirpuris brought with them to Britain was the perception of a long history of dispossession and marginalization. Partition brought terrible bloodshed and the division of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. (This was the issue cited until very recently as the most pressing political priority in the UK by the majority of British Muslims.) Within Pakistan, Mirpur is to the more dominant Punjabis what the Irish have historically been to the British, explained one Mirpuri.

Zardari throws a monkey-wrench

Spielberg’s John Wilkes Booth also ran into a problem in Pakistan. It is to be noted that Miliband was on an official two-day visit to Pakistan the day the Mumbai hotels were attacked, but no statement was issued by him at the time. Now, on Jan.16, when he went to Islamabad, his objective was two-fold. First, Pakistan should name the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which also has its presence in Britain, among other places, for the Mumbai attacks, identify them as a group based in Pakistan and thus claim the responsibility for the incident. Second, Pakistan should also make clear that Kashmir is the dispute that triggered the Mumbai incident.

Earlier, London had dished out misinformation through MI5-linked analysts to press home the Kashmir issue. Take, for instance, a recent write-up by Paul Cruickshank, author of the book, Al Qaeda: the Current Threat. In The Guardian, he said the Nov 26-29 Mumbai attack “was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Kashmiri militant group…”

Yet, the fact is that the LeT, created by the Pakistani ISI in the 1980s, is not a Kashmiri group: it is active not only in India, but in Chechnya, Sudan and in Britain, where Cruickshank resides. Moreover, there is hardly a single Kashmiri in the LeT organization. Most of the LeT members are Pakistanis from Punjab and the tribal areas, in addition to a smattering of British Muslims. It is unlikely that Cruickshank does not know these facts, yet he chose to distort them, to make the point that Kashmir is what keeps these two nations at each other.

The point of Miliband’s intervention in Pakistan was to close the investigation on the Mumbai attack quickly. Here, too, Miliband met with resistance. Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari told him that Pakistan is determined to uncover the "full facts" behind the Mumbai attack and needs India's cooperation for the trial of any suspect linked to the terror strikes. During a meeting with Miliband, Zardari reportedly said an elite Pakistani counter-terror team is conducting a probe into the Mumbai incident.

Whether President Zardari will carry out a full-fledged investigation, or New Delhi will back him to do so, is not certain. But it was enough to scare Miliband. What is at stake in the event of a full investigation are a number of sensitive issues.

Ignore the elephant in the room, says London

To begin with, a part of the drug money that is generated in this area due to gargantuan output of opium annually in Afghanistan is being laundered through the Pakistan ISI-MI6-CIA-protected criminal, Dawood Ibrahim, who runs his operation through British-controlled Dubai. Drug comes into Dubai through Dawood's “mules” protected by the ISI-MI6, and by containers that carry equipment sent to Dubai for “repair” from Kandahar, and elsewhere in southern Afghanistan. British troops control the southern Helmand province in Afghanistan where 53% of Afghanistan's 8,200 tons of opium was produced in 2007.

The drug gets converted to cash in Dubai, where Dawood maintains a palatial mansion, similar to the one he maintains in Karachi. Dubai is a tax-free island-city and a major offshore banking center.

With the development of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which is the latest free trade zone in Dubai, flexible and unrestricted offshore banking has become big business. Many of the world’s largest banks already have significant presence in Dubai, big names such as Abbey National Offshore, HSBC Offshore, ABN Amro, ANZ Grindlays, Banque Paribas, Banque de Caire, Barclays, Dresdner and Merrill Lynch, all have offices in the Emirate already. And as the drug production continues in Afghanistan and bankruptcies proliferate in the coming days, more banks will surely “find” Dubai. The drugs that Dawood's mules carry are doing a yeoman's service for the Anglo-Dutch global financial system, as well as for the terrorists who are killing innocents all over the world. Why create waves about that?  New Delhi ponders.

It is certain that Her Majesty’s Service’s movers and shakers did not find Miliband’s trip amusing. In fact, they will remain deeply concerned about the failure of their emissary to accomplish the mission they consider urgent for London. Now, let the chips fall where they may.

The author is South Asian Analyst at Executive Intelligence Review News Services Inc.


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