So Nepal is going to be a democracy and the king has ?surrendered?. The Parliament has been resurrected and hopefully, things will work out and real peace restored in the only ?Hindu? nation on earth. The Government of India has been charged with not doing enough to restore normalcy in Nepal which is professedly ?Hindu? but in past years has had a love-hate relationship with India. Delhi has to tread carefully in its treatment of its northern neighbour. It is all very well to be ?Big Brother? but we should know from experience that it is not an easy role to play. It can?and often does?invite resentment which can prove to be destructive. But then we cannot ignore Nepal either.
Nepal'ssusceptibility in recent years has been fully exploited by our western neighbour, Pakistan, which has been seen actively to pursue its own strategy to drive a wedge between India and Nepal. Till recently it was China that supposedly was playing games in Kathmandu, especially after the protectorate of Sikkim merged with India. But China has now publicly accepted the merger and now it is Pakistan that needs to be handled, considering that since 1980, ISI operatives have been functioning freely to disturb peace in India, using Pakistan'sdiplomatic missions in Dhaka, Colombo and even Delhi, as their bases of operation. Kathmandu, according to reports, has been turned into an ISI centre with active help from the Muslim population on either side of the 1,664 km long Indo-Nepal border, a fact that the media has to date rarely taken note of. Of the 1,664 km border, as many as 821 km lie in Uttar Pradesh, and of these, 391 km is spread across Poorvanchal'sfive districts with a total of 252 villages, of which 60 are Muslim-dominated. The Indo-Nepal border being entirely porous, Pakistan intelligence agencies are reportedly having a grand time encouraging and supporting criminals, smugglers, saboteurs, fugitives and intelligence agents in their anti-national activities.
Few policy-makers in India have taken meaningful note of this hard fact. According to Indian intelligence sources, there has been a phenomenal rise in Muslim population in Indian districts bordering Nepal. Thus, the percentage rise of Muslim population between 1981 and 1991 in Uttar Kashi has been of the magnitude of 196.44, in Chamoli 109.74, in Pithorgarh 43.45 and in Nainital 59.70. Along with the growth of Muslim population, there has been a significant growth in the number of madrasas in these districts. According to Maloy Krishna Dhar, former Joint Director, Intelligence Bureau, India, in his book Fulcrum of Evil: ISI-CIA-Al Qaeda Nexus, these madrasas are being used to teach anti-India hatred and Muslim separatism, in order to prevent the growing Muslim population from getting emotionally integrated with the rest of the Hindu population.
At the same time, according to Dhar, the ISI of Pakistan has been active through, the Joint Intelligence Miscellaneous (JIM) and Joint Intelligence X (JINX) to carry out systematic exploitation of Nepal'sMuslim population. Apparently involved are organisations like the Nepal Islamic Yuva Sangha. Jamait-e-Islami, Nepal Muslim Seva Samiti, Nepal Muslim lttehad Association, Jammr-e-Ahle-Hadis, which are reported to promote Talibanisation through forging links with SIMI and HUJI for deepening the communal divide. It was through Nepal that Pakistan provided weapons and explosives to Sikh separatists between 1983 and 1993, Money was also provided to separatists through five banks, the Nepal Bangladesh Bank, Nepal Arab Bank, Nepal Investment Bank, Bank of Kathmandu and Nepal Bangladesh Finance and Leasing Company.
It is now widely known that about 5,000 Kashmiri Muslims have settled down in semi-urban pockets of the Terai region bordering Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. According to Dhar, ?scores of Kashmiri militants were given assistance in Nepal by ISI operatives and their front men? while some 150 Kashmiri mujahideens were sheltered by the ISI is Kathmandu alone. It is now suspected, says Dhar, that Dawood Ibrahim owned a major cable network in Nepal and used it as a cover for ISI and mafia activities. Incidentally, use of Kathmandu by the ISI was highlighted when arrests made in Ahmedabad after the Lajpat Nagar blasts in New Delhi provided information on Mumbai'sserial blast accused Tiger Memon'slinks with Dawood Ibrahim and JKLF. Memon had received certain instructions from Dawood through ISI'sKathmandu base. It is not that Indian Intelligence is unaware of what is going on in Nepal.
We have Dhar'sword?and he should know, given his status in the intelligence community?that one Mohammad Sharif, a Pakistani ISI agent arrested in Delhi in June 1993 revealed that he had been housed in Nepal by Pakistani Embassy-based ISI operatives. In Janury 1997 Nepal police recovered 13.4 kg of RDX from Baneshwar area in Kathmandu. The consignment belonged to one Mohammad Shaqil Siddiqi who was reportedly deputed by the ISI to cause a bomb blast at the World Trade Centre in Mumbai. Several such instances of ISI supported activities have been detailed by Dhar in his fact-filled work. So where does one go from here? The latest information goes to suggest that the ISI had been active in supplying explosives to Nepali Maoists through sealed container services that Nepal is diplomatically entitled to avail of from Kolkata and Haldia ports in West Bengal.
The point is that during King Gyanendra'sregime, India has not been able to contain ISI activities in Nepal in any meaningful way and the time has surely come for Delhi to be more pro-active in Nepal and to tell the government there that it is time it attempts to contain ISI'smurderous activities aimed against India. Writes Dhar: ?It is now confirmed that Maoist rebels are being given subtle support by the ISI with tacit connivance of the Chinese Intelligence for strengthening the emerging political force which is not expected to follow the existing Indo-Nepal Treaties and traditional ties between the two countries. Such a contingency, Pakistan appreciates, will give rise to a new social engineering, which will witness considerable de-Hinduisation of Nepal.? Ergo, the immediate duty of Delhi is to checkmate the ISI and see to it that its influence in Kathmandu is totally eradicated. If this is not done in time, Delhi may have to pay terrible consequences in the days to come. It is not enough for King Gyanendra to step down. It is important that the new Nepal government steps up containment of ISI ruthlessly and effectively . Too much time has been wasted in the past.