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Mizzima: Khin Nyunt's visit to Paki

Khin Nyunt?s visit to Pakistan, a concern for policy makers in Delhi
(Part II)

New Delhi, July 6, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

Some policy makers in India view that China is actually behind the close
intelligence ties between Pakistan and Burma as a part of its policy of
containing India from outside. In fact, it is an embarrassment for
Indian Army Chief V. P Malik that while he is visiting Burma, Burmese
intelligence chief is in Pakistan fostering closer bilateral ties. But
still, General Malik certainly would like to deal with the military
rulers in Burma to revive the counter insurgency operations in North
East of India and would seek more assistance from the junta to flush out
Indian insurgents from Burmese side.

The following is excerpts from interview with Mr. Brahma Chellaney,
professor of security studies at Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research

Q: How do you see the close ties between Burma and Pakistan?

A: In the first place, the nexus that we have between China, Burma and
Pakistan has been operationed for quite some time. China has been using
both Pakistan and Burma as surrogates to contain India from two
different flanks and the Pakistani used by China has been a known case
but in recent years Burma has also emerged as an important strategic
flank of China to contain India from the eastern side. And in that
context, the Burmese intelligence chief's current visit to Pakistan when
the Indian Army Chief is actually on an official visit tour in Burma is
reflective of the strong intelligence links that are being fostered by
China between its surrogates, in this case between Burma and Pakistan.
Since these two countries are being employed for a larger strategic
objective by China, China has been encouraging both Pakistan and Burma
to establish better strategic rapport and the Burmese intelligence
current chief to visit to Pakistan is part of the exercise to build a
better rapport. And I think from the Indian perspective that the Burmese
intelligence chief?s visit is an enormous sign that not only do we have
strong China-Pakistan, China-Burma links as well as covert actions but
we also have seen Pakistan-Burma covert links of various kinds emerging.

Q: What about Pakistan supplying arms to Burma junta and the ties of two
intelligence agencies?

A: The Pakistani intelligence service called ISI has been operating out
of Kathmandu, Dhaka and Burma against Indian interest. ISI is using
these three places as staging grounds for operations in India.
Especially Burma is very useful for operations in North East of India.
And Burma and Bangladesh between themselves have become very attractive
staging grounds for ISI to send arms and ammunition and militants into
Northeast India. So these links that we are now seeing, the growing
links between intelligence services of Pakistan and Burma are part and
parcel of the ISI's penetration into the Burmese leadership structure
and it's influence largely because of China. China has played the role
in ensuring that Pakistani intelligence operatives are welcomed in Burma
or if they are not welcomed, they are at least allowed to operate out of
Burmese territory and many of these operatives according to information
we have in New Delhi have been operating very close to the border with

And their main purpose is to fuel insurgency in India: Manipur, Assam,
Nagaland and they also have been operating in other parts of North East
India like Tripura and Mizoram and they also eyeing Arunachal Pradesh
for example. And all these linkages between the Burmese and Pakistanis
intelligence, the growing role of Pakistanis' intelligence operatives in
Burma, the way the Pakistani's operatives are expending their base of
operations in Burma. Plus China?s encouragement of such activities
against India are all important signals for India that China is doing to
India what is complaining the United States is doing to China, which is

The Chinese complained so loudly that America currently use engaged in
its strategy to contain China from outside. But the Chinese have been
ruthless practitioner of power politics and they have been containing
India from outside. And they have been doing it almost ruthlessly. So
this use of Burma and Pakistan is an important on fact the central
relevant of China containment strategy against India.

Q: Indian army Chief General Malik is in Burma for the second time in
six months. How do you look at his visit in Burma while Khin Nyunt is in

A: I am sure it is an embarrassment for General Malik that while he is
visiting Burma, the Burmese intelligence chief is actually in Pakistan.
I don't think he had any inkling that this would happen while he was in

But the visit of Gen. Malik is part of an excise by India to mend fences
with Burma?s military junta. For many years, India was actually taking
very hard-line position against the Burmese military rulers. In fact,
even the United States and Western Europe were actually doing business
with the military junta in Burma, but India had you know said ?we will
have no business with military leadership there?. But, as the military
has consolidated its hold on Burma that becomes increasingly clear to
India that such a policy of seeking to promote democracy in Burma is a
policy which carries only negative returns for India. Because while
India was preaching democracy to Burma, China not only managed to gain
strategic space in Burma, it in fact set up various kinds of strategic
facilities in Burma that are specifically aimed at India. For example,
these listening posts at the Coco Islands are designed to eavesdrop on
India. And Chinese are also being quite interested in building naval
facilities along the shores of Burma.

So an effort has been made on the part of India to build a working
relationship with the military junta in Yangon and not have this kind of
very hard line pro-democracy stand, you know, that all the matters that
Aung San Suu Kyi that there is more to Burma than just a democracy
movement while India?s interests are definitely with the democratic
forces. Because if you look at India, all the regimes around India that
are undemocratic, that are authoritarian or totalitarian, happen to be
engaging in roguish conduct. They engage in various campaigns of
terrors. They are preaching international laws through covert actions
and through other means. So, undemocratic regimes in India?s
neighborhood are all very hostile to India. It is Talibans in the
Afghanistan, it is Musharraf?s military junta in Pakistan and we have
China, which is our largest neighbor, a big communist power and you have
military in Burma. So this arch of undemocratic states around India is
most inimical to India?s interest.

So India would certainly like to see democratic forces in Burma
triumphed. But until they do triumphed, it makes sense for India to
establish a working relationship with Burma so that Burma does not go by
default in China?s lap.

Q: What about the counter insurgency operations between Burma and India?

A: Counter insurgency operations done jointly with Burmese security
forces definitely are an attractive proposition for India. And some
joint counter insurgency operations have been done in the past. One
major exercise (Operation Golden Bird) was done, then it was halted
because Aung San Suu Kyi was given the Nehru International Award for
Peace by India. At around time, the operation was actually then halted.
General Malik would certainly like to revive counter insurgency
operations with Burma. Because the ISI is actually helping militants who
are on the Burmese side to intrude into India and to send arms and
ammunition across to rebels in India.

So, if security forces of Burma cooperate with para-military and army
troops of India, it will be easier to flush out insurgents from the
hide-outs in the jungle along the India-Burma border. So certainly that
is an important objective that India seeks. But that is a very narrow
term objective.

In the longer frame of things, India would like to develop much closer
relationship with its neighbors and certainly it is very keen to develop
better relation with countries towards ?East?. It?s just not Burma, it
is the whole of South East Asia and Japan that India is looking at these
days just the way China has been containing India from outside.

The only way to counter China is to have good relations with China?s
major neighbors and Burma is one important neighbor of China. It may not
be powerful neighbor but it is an important neighbour that China has
been using as a staging ground for working against India?s interest. So
in that sense, I think the Indians on balance believe that while they
should be supportive of democracy forces in Burma, yet it makes sense to
have a good relationship with the military junta and not be seen as
being inimical to the interests of the military in Burma.

Q: So, you don?t think there will be any change in India?s Burma policy
because of Pakistan-Burma relationship.

A: India?s policy tends to be one of caution. So India will be watching
this new intelligence networking that is going on currently, but it is
not going to respond publicly to this development. I think the Indians
trend to be very cautious in relation to events relating both to Burma
and China. Any kind of public reaction by India might give offence to
military junta in Burma and also suggest that India is taking side in
this power fute between the two powerful generals that is going on at
the moment?.

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