By M D Nalapat
Erroneous testimony coerced out of Jadhav about his activities in Pakistan is a part of ISI’s ploy to show India as a perpetrator rather than a victim of terror.
Worried at the prospect of a full-fledged India-US alliance becoming a reality during the tenures of leaders Donald John Trump and Narendra Damodardas Modi of their respective countries, GHQ Rawalpindi has worked out a plan to (a) intensify the ongoing terror campaign in India while simultaneously (b) blaming India, and in particular the Research & Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat (RAW) for terror attacks occurring within Pakistan. A combination of these two factors, combined with foot-dragging by Lutyens Zone bureaucrats in the matter of a genuine India-US alliance out of fear that links such as their children studying or settling in the US would then lead to allegations of bias, is expected to ensure that the alliance keeps revving engines on the policy highway but never takes off. The continuing effort at indoctrinating captured Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav into repeating an ISI-manufactured story about his activities in Pakistan under threat of execution are a part of efforts designed to show India as a perpetrator rather than a victim of terror. GHQ Rawalpindi has already misbriefed envoys from China and from select Muslim-majority states about the erroneous testimony coerced out of Jadhav, that he was running a clandestine network active in acts of terror and sabotage mainly within Baloch-majority regions in Pakistan.
Thus far Islamabad has hesitated to present such “Fake Facts” to the US for fear that Washington has evidence in its possession that would show such a claim to be false. According to individuals from the military establishment in Mumbai who have been tracking the former naval officer’s career, Kulbhushan Jadhav took premature retirement from the service “in order to try and become a millionaire through import-export business”, which is what he was doing when captured by the Pakistan army and handed over to the ISI for “intensive interrogation”, usually a synonym for sleep deprivation and other psychological and other methods of torture first refined by KGB chief Lavrenti Beria in the USSR in the 1930s, who bragged that if he were given an individual to interrogate, “within a day he would admit to being the King of England”. Now that the danger of his execution has been lowered as a result of the intervention of the Internal Court of Justice, hopefully Jadhav will be enabled to stick to the truth, which is that he was engaged in commerce, not espionage and certainly not attempted sabotage of the CPEC, the story peddled to Beijing by GHQ. Separately, Teheran was conveyed by Islamabad the falsehood that the former naval officer was seeking to encourage and arm Baloch separatists in Iran. It may be mentioned that a significant portion of the Baloch homeland is now part of the territory of Iran, while the rest is in Pakistan. In that country, an independence movement against Pakistan’s occupation has been continuing since the region was occupied by the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan army in 1948.
The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) has been known to be working with the ISI, usually through the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). It has, for example, been working closely with the ISI in Nangarhar in Afghanistan, from where in an intelligence coup 22 recruits to ISKP from Kerala were discovered by agencies in India. Apparently with the connivance of GHQ Rawalpindi, the ISKP has carried out numerous attacks on religious minorities in Pakistan, focussing mainly on the Shia community. Other such attacks have been carried out by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which too is known to be collaborating with the ISI in covert operations against mutually detested targets. Despite such a record, because of the success of GHQ Rawalpindi deception (or US credulity) during the continuing Afghan campaign from 1990 (after the defeat and withdrawal of USSR forces the previous year) that continues to this date, the US has in effect given a free pass to GHQ Rawalpindi in the matter of connivance in the murder of US troops through terror cutouts of the ISI. Thus the Pakistan military continues to act as both arsonist and volunteer fire force. The resurgence of the Taliban during the past 15 years can be traced to the error committed by the George W. Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, of refusing to take seriously the fact that groups such as the Haqqani network are within the control of the ISI and have been assisting the Taliban to go after US targets and take out as much of them as they can.
Despite the fact that the Haqqani network is the driving force behind the Afghan Taliban, and that the group gets weapons and other facilitation from GHQ Rawalpindi, thus far the new Republican administration has not carried through on Candidate Trump’s vow that he would take decisive action against such sabotage by a so-called ally in the war on terror. Nor do Trump’s choices for Defense Secretary or National Security Advisor (James Mattis and H.R. McMaster) have a visible record of having called out Pakistan’s double game during that part of their tenures which involved working with GHQ Rawalpindi in matters conceding Afghanistan
However, it is expected by Indo-Pacific backers of the 45th President of the US that both McMaster as well as Mattis will soon get liberated by President Trump from the constraints imposed on both by the traditional Pentagon line on Islamabad. This is that the country’s prolific terror factories notwithstanding, Pakistan is a sincere ally and that any contrary activity taking place is the work of rogue players not representative of the leadership of the Pakistan army. They would then be able to free the US military from the disastrous Reagan-Clinton-Bush strategy of accepting GHQ Rawalpindi’s versions at face value, an error which has led directly to the chaos in Afghanistan caused by the resurgence of the Taliban. It is expected that Trump may even be able in the future to stop the Pakistan army from passing on US-supplied equipment to terror groups that later hand them over to the ISKP and the Taliban. An example is the way the LeT has over the past 13 months been using GPS instead of local Kashmiri guides to avoid detection while infiltrating into the Valley, although it must be added that increasingly, the equipment being supplied by GHQ Rawalpindi to terror groups and facilitators is sourced from China and not the US. Beijing continues to be in denial mode about such transfers of sensitive hi-tech equipment supplied by it.
Interestingly, not only the ISKP but its rival in the field, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) was set up by the Pakistan ISI, evidence of the same being in the possession of both the US as well as China, although as yet only one of these two countries has shared input on the activities of this foreign terrorist organisation with authorities in India. The other country, China, has thus far been as protective of the Pakistan army as the US was until the second term of President Barack Obama, when glimmers of realism began to appear over US policy in the subcontinent. GHQ Rawalpindi on multiple occasions interviewed AQIS Emir Sanaul Haq (who is from Sambhal in UP) before confirming him in the job. After changing his name to Asim Umar, Sanaul Haq trained in Pakistan (mainly with the Harkat-ul-Majuhideen) during 1996-98. AQIS cadre come mostly from Punjab province in Pakistan, the same region where the bulk of the Pakistan army’s personnel also hail. Despite ongoing and increasingly desperate efforts by both Defense Secretary James Mattis and NSA H.R. McMaster to get GHQ Rawalpindi to cease and desist its arming of elements battling US forces in Afghanistan, thus far the efforts of these two “Friends of the Beltway” in what was presumed to be an anti-Washington Beltway Presidential administration have not borne fruit, to the surprise of few other than two generals themselves. Both Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats are known by analysts in Washington to be far more sceptical of a turnaround in the longstanding Pakistan army policy of assisting the Taliban and other forces against the US (the same country that lavishes billions of dollars on GHQ Rawalpindi).
They regard it as highly unlikely that this longstanding GHQ Rawalpindi policy will change the way successive US Presidents, their NSAs and their Defense Secretaries have expected it to, especially given the fact that it is China and no longer the US that is the key Great Power ally of the Pakistan military. Such “realists” in Washington as opposed to pro-Pakistan “romantics” look forward to President Trump cutting through the untruths and evasions that have clouded NSC-Pentagon policy towards Islamabad for decades. They want the President to order a set of options that are grounded in facts rather than in the fiction peddled by those with a vested interest in keeping alive the fiction of Pakistan being part of the solution in the war on terror rather than being among its major problems. It bears repetition that well-funded lobbies such as those active on behalf of Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia that are active in Washington completely back the Pakistan army in their approaches to US policymakers. It is a fact that there exists a dwindling but still sizeable number of individuals in Pakistan who have rejected calls by Wahabbis to join their group. However, any freeing of Pakistan from the Wahabbization first systematically and comprehensively put into operation during the period of rule by General Zia-ul-Haq four decades back will need to await the evolution of Pakistan as a normal state, where the military is controlled by the civilian authority rather than the other way about. In the meantime, India can expect more unfortunates who are its citizens to be brought before television cameras by the ISI, each of whom may recite what they have been told to by the handlers the way Stalin’s victims did in the show trials of the 1930s. More deadly still, as many as 39 training camps have been identified by friendly intelligence agencies as being active in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) where staff from the ISI train recruits from JeM, Hizbul Mujahideen and LeT in how and when to conduct terror operations against India, and Afghanistan, with a separate facility set up in Baloch territory since 2011 to look after operations in Iran, although it must be added that measures against Iran will of course do no harm to Islamabad’s goodwill in the US, given the fact that Washington Beltway toxicity towards Teheran is at the level seen in the case of Moscow. While the thirty-nine PoK camps referred to earlier are meant to target India, there are six others that are identified as having become functional during the past four years in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. These are designed to assist in the Taliban offensive against US forces and their allies, principally the Afghan National Army. Neither the US nor India is likely to get an early respite from the direct and indirect assaults of the Pakistan army and its associated irregular forces. However, clear instructions have apparently been given by GHQ Rawalpindi to ensure that there is no blowback into China by terror training camps organised by the ISI. Those who run the terrorists, some of the key elements of whom have been shielded at the UN by Beijing’s blocking of international action against them, are showing their gratitude at the consistent support given by Beijing to GHQ Rawalpindi and its irregular associates.