India-Pakistan Spy Chronicles; Trump-Sharif Troubles

What are Asad Durrani and AS Dulat, ex spooks of India and Pakistan, trying to accomplish with their joint appearances and book collaboration? What is “Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace" all about? What have the two revealed about the work of ISI and RAW spy agencies with Kashmiri insurgents? Has the Modi government lost control of the situation in Kashmir? Why does Durrani say that all Pakistan has to do now in Kashmir is "sit back and watch"? Why have both spy agencies been bribing the militants to buy influence? Is "corrupting someone with money more ethical than killing them" as AS Dulat has put it? Is Dulat's optimism about solution to Kashmir issue justified?

Why are both Nawaz Sharif and Donald Trump attacking the "deep state" or "establishment" in their respective countries? Why are they both spinning conspiracy theories? Is it to deflect public attention from the serious allegations against them? How serious are the problems of Russia collusion in the US case and money laundering in Pakistan's case? Are they succeeding in their efforts? Are their defense strategies causing major harm to the national cohesion in Pakistan and US? How will it all end?

Viewpoint From Overseas host Faraz Darvesh discusses these questions with panelists Misbah Azam and Riaz Haq (

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW's Successes Against Pakistan

Mohanalal Bhaskar: An Indian Spy in Pakistan

Sharif's and Trump's Strikingly Similar Narratives

Who's at Fault for Failure to Resolve Disputes: India or Pakistan?

700,000 Indian Soldiers vs 10 Million Kashmiris

UK Says Pakistan Among Top 3 Money Laundering Sources

Riaz Haq's Youtube Channel


Riaz Haq said…
Spy Chronicles: A one-sided narrative
in Book Review — by Murtaza Shibli — May 30, 2018

Durrani comes across as candid and frank, even nonchalant at times but wedded to a narrative that has currency within the American policy circles. In comparison, Dulat is cautious, mostly diplomatic and quite circumspect in his responses. He remains guarded and even deliberately obfuscating when it comes to his own role or that of his organisation in scheming subterfuge and planning insurgencies in the region.


For example Durrani appears to support Indian notions that the non-state actors in Pakistan are capable of launching the Mumbai like attacks and that it must warrant India to extract revenge by attacking targets inside Pakistan. Durrani sleepwalks into the setup as he starts to sympathize and endorse the Indian official view that the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008 had backing from the elements within the ISI, a position that was recently articulated by Nawaz Sharif. Durrani uses a false claim from a CIA mole, David Headley, within the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba about “an ISI major” to try to support Indian claims on the atrocity. The Mumbai Attacks remain couched in controversy amid gaping holes in the declarations that put the blame on the Pakistani state structures. Durrani also discredits Kashmiri political movement, Hurriyat Conference, and suggests that it was forged and later managed by the ISI. Although Durrani had left at the time the Hurriyat was formed, his claims have thoroughly embarrassed the Kashmiri leadership and compromised their prestige, including perhaps their future political weight and character.

In comparison, Dulat is always slippery and evasive and avoids any references or acknowledgments to the incidents that might reveal unpleasant events and distasteful things. In fact, he does not reveal anything and even sounds insincere by deliberately choosing to ignore or deflect from the topics or events that needed his honest input to build trust in the exercise that this book sought to advance. While he talks about ISI’s role in specific terms, there is hardly any acknowledgment forthcoming on the RAW’s role in creating deadly and vicious counterinsurgency that was unleashed in Jammu and Kashmir or the murders in Wandhama or Chattisinghpora that targeted Hindus and Sikhs to malign the Kashmiri insurgency. He mentions in passing the first state-sponsored terror outfit Al-Faran that kidnapped some western tourists who are still untraceable after more than two decades. Dulat rejects the most authentic investigation into the kidnapping as revealed by two western authors Adrian Levy and Cathy-Scott-Clark in their famous book, The Meadow, which blames the Indian security agencies for the drama. While Dulat emphasizes a joint investigation of the Mumbai terror attack, he does not even bother about the 2007 Samjhuta Express train bombings that killed 76 civilians, mostly Pakistanis. In fact, there is no mention of the tragedy in the whole book. The former Indian spy chief shows utmost hesitation in talking about the alleged Indian spy, Kulbhushan Jadhav, and when he does he is extra cautious not to say anything that might incriminate him or his organization, RAW.
Riaz Haq said…
Spy Chronicles: A one-sided narrative
in Book Review — by Murtaza Shibli — May 30, 2018

Both of them seem unwilling to acknowledge the changing atmosphere in India – the rise of mass hatred and paranoia against Muslims, its official patronage and even justification, growing militarization of nationalism and its ever-changing new narratives as well as phenomenal increase in hatred against Muslims and Pakistan, and ossification of this revulsion across the elite society – from the military to politicians and media to diplomats. This informs the public opinion and their behaviour; causing an unprecedented surge in public violence, including murder, against the Muslims in particular. In his self-propelled enthusiasm, Durrani even proposes a confederation between the two countries – a fanciful prospect that Dulat is even reluctant to admire. I found interesting similarities between Durrani’s vision of Akhand Bharat and a US-funded official study about the future of South Asia. The study, Asia 2025, conducted by the US Undersecretary of Defence (Policy) in 1999, envisaged India taking over Pakistan after the US neutralizes Pakistani nuclear weapons to avoid a nuclear war following deadly ‘terrorist incursion’ from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) into the Indian side of the territory. As Pakistan loses control of the situation, it fails to respond to the Indian calls to reign in the militants, and as a result, India moves into AJK. According to the study, India also launches an unsuccessful conventional strike on Pakistani nuclear arsenal, prompting Pakistan to launch nuclear strikes against Indian forces along their common border. The US threatens China to keep away from the theatre of war and attacks and destroys the remainder of the Pakistani nuclear forces leading to total anarchy. In the American imagination, Pakistan disappears by 2020, and the Indian confederation emerges as a regional super state. In the meantime, Afghanistan is also dismembered and annexed by the neighbour states – Iran, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – per their ethnic proximity. In the end, India and Iran emerge as great powers and become allies of the US willing “to participate in combined peace operations with the US” and also as a countervailing force against China.

When discussing Kashmir, Durrani comes across as cold and distant. Shockingly, he admits being overwhelmed by the public reception of the idea of militancy in the early 1990s in Kashmir and how the ISI worked desperately to control the situation lest it got out of hand to cause a direct confrontation with India. Back then in Kashmir, the narrative that was advanced by his organization or their assets on the ground talked about nothing but complete azadi. This got millions of Kashmiris excited and provoked thousands to cross over to AJK for arms training and fight for a free homeland. In the process, thousands have perished while millions have been affected. Despite Pakistan’s several U-turns on the issue since, or regardless of how fanciful or impractical the idea of azadi might seem, the Kashmiri youth continue to mount a resistance which is but symbolic. Dying for a predetermined failure is extremely painful and deeply unsettling!
Riaz Haq said…

The reality is a lot more complicated than this Eurocentric view of Pakistan’s civil–military relations, which tends to reinforce a perception of Pakistan that serves Western powers and interests. At the core of this Eurocentrism is a tendency to view Pakistan’s civil–military relations through a foreign policy lens, while almost entirely neglecting the domestic political and structural issues at play. Western commentary also tends to treat civilian political leaders as passive actors, overlooking their role in the imbalance.

The civilian and military leadership in Pakistan are on the same page when it comes to foreign and security policies. Disagreements are only over the right methods for achieving these foreign policy goals, and reflect an internal power struggle rather than an ideological difference between civilian and military factions.

For instance, after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif took power at the 2013 elections, he was interested in bold steps to move quickly on peace with India — often even going beyond state protocol and opening backdoor channels. The Pakistan Army was not disinterested in peace with India. Military leaders just wanted to mend relations in a systematic way that would not compromise Pakistan’s interests and that would make peace last beyond rhetoric.

Military leaders advised caution and small steps to achieving sustainable peace with India — advice which Sharif ignored. After several months of futile attempts to court Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pressed hard on Pakistan after his rise to power, Sharif faced an embarrassing situation. He accepted that his strategy had been a failure and allowed the military to devise a new strategy to engage India.

Civilian and military leaders were similarly split over issues of method when it came to tackling terrorist safe havens inside the country. In 2013, the then new government under Sharif was not interested in launching operations inside the country against the Taliban and other extremist actors. The government instead began peace talks with the terrorist outfits despite repeated advice from the Pakistan Army to the contrary.

The Pakistan army pushed the view that terrorist outfits use ‘peace talks’ as a pretence to regroup, develop credibility and then launch attacks again when the government is vulnerable. Months later, when the terrorists continued their attacks on Pakistan and US forces despite the ongoing negotiations with the Pakistani government, Sharif again was sheepish in front of Pakistan’s security establishment and allowed the military to launch an operation.

When it comes to Pakistan’s current foreign policy posture, there appears to be no rupture in civil–military relations. Both civilian and military leaders support deep ties with China, opening up to Russia, balancing the Middle East, defying the United States and finding a sustainable peace with India and Afghanistan. Even the ‘Dawn leaks’ controversy was less a matter of disagreement over foreign policy than a case of the civilian government trying to embarrass the military establishment.

While civil and military leaders in Pakistan are locked in a power struggle, they are on the same page in terms of foreign and security policy — which is why Pakistan has seen much policy continuity over the past four decades. Civilian leaders pitch this domestic power struggle to international audiences as a matter of ‘foreign policy’ and a ‘fight for democracy’ for the purposes of seeking international endorsements that can be leveraged in the local power tussle.

This absence of nuance in Western academic writing and commentaries on Pakistan is not just a blind spot. It is deliberate neglect whereby the dominant characterisation of Pakistan’s civil–military relations is constructed to suit Western political interests that include aligning Pakistan’s national security policies with that of the West, and having a strong check on its nuclear program.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s New Spymaster Samant Goel: Mastermind of the Unproven #Balakot Strike that killed a crow. #Pakistan #RAW #Kashmir via @@GVS_News

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed Samant Goel as new chief of India’s premier spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), while Arvind Kumar has been appointed as the Director of the Intelligence Bureau.

Indian media is touting Samant Goel as the “mastermind” of the alleged Balakot strikes that damaged 19 Pakistani tress after the Indian Air Force jets “hastily dropped their payload”. Indian media reports indicated that before his appointment as the RAW Chief, Goel was handling operations of the external intelligence agency.

Samant Goel was “instrumental” in planning the alleged Balakot air strikes on 26th February and was also responsible for planning the 2016 surgical strike, which India claimed to have carried out within Pakistan’s territory after the false-flag Uri terror attack.

Goel hails from a 1984 batch of the Punjab cadre, and reports reveal that he also played a “crucial role” in quelling the Sikh militancy while it was mounting its peaks in the 1990s. His appointment as India’s new spymaster ushered in almost three months after India’s claims of staging a counter-attack on allege terror networks and infrastructure “deep inside” Pakistan’s Balakot region.

India claimed to have carried out this offence in retaliation of the Pulwama attack, which killed 40 CRFP soldiers in Indian-occupied Kashmir. Speaking to the New Indian Express, a senior Indian security official said, “R&AW had developed primary intelligence and was involved in choosing probable targets for the February air strikes. Goel was actively involved in the planning of both the strikes.”

Indian media reports reveal that Goel is responsible for quelling “Rawalpindi-sponsored terrorism” across Punjab, and also played an instrumental role in reeling “Khalistani propaganda” across Europe during his foreign appointments.

A report by the Times of India stated, “As an intelligence officer specializing in counter-terrorism, he has in-depth knowledge about the origins and operations of Pakistan-based terror groups as well as global jihadi outfits like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.”

Other reports suggest that given his vast expertise in security, intelligence and militancy in Punjab, Goel is thought to have a sound understanding of the dynamics of Pakistan’s premier security agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Speaking to Global Village Space, defence and security expert, Zaid Hamid highlighted Goel’s role in quelling the Khalistan movement and his appointment along the lines of RSS-Hindutva supporters. Hamid noted, “As it can be seen by everyone that the new power structure of the establishment that Modi is creating is hardcore RSS.

And this new RAW Chief appointment, Samant Goel-he is an old hardcore, ideologically Zionist.” “He has a track record of being venomously against the Khalistan Movement. He specializes in working against insurgencies, as they call it, or separatist movements. He was first in Dubai, and then he was the station chief of RAW in the United Kingdom.

There, he was very successful in infiltrating the Sikh organizations in UK, and almost converted them into Hindu organizations of Punjabi-Hindus, and Sikhs were almost eliminated from there.” Zaid Hamid added that Goel also harbors close ties with the current Chief Minister of Punjab, the “Hindutva tout”, Amarinder Singh.

The Afghan war veteran Zaid Hamid explained, “His appointment gives a very clear signal that as far as RAW is concerned, as far as their intelligence establishment is concerned, we are going to be seeing a very, very hardliner RAW chief who has a track-record of being active in suppressing the separatist movements and insurgencies, particularly those which they suspect of being affiliated with Pakistan.”
Riaz Haq said…
#UnitedStates is “closely following...We are concerned about reports of detentions (in #Indian Occupied #Kashmir) and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities..” #India #Pakistan #Article370revoked


The removal of Kashmir’s special status comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, performed well in recent elections in May. Some raised concerns that curtailing Kashmir’s autonomy could lead to a demographic transformation of the Muslim-majority region and inflame tensions between Hindus and Muslims throughout the country.

What has the reaction been?
Opposition politicians in India have decried the move as an attack on Indian democracy, and analysts have described it as unprecedented.

Political leaders in Kashmir, meanwhile, called the special status revocation “illegal and unconstitutional.” Mehbooba Mufti, a former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state, warned that it would render India an “occupational force” in the area and called this the “darkest day in Indian democracy.”

Mehbooba Mufti

 · 18h

Today marks the darkest day in Indian democracy. Decision of J&K leadership to reject 2 nation theory in 1947 & align with India has backfired. Unilateral decision of GOI to scrap Article 370 is illegal & unconstitutional which will make India an occupational force in J&K.

Mehbooba Mufti


It will have catastrophic consequences for the subcontinent. GOIs intentions are clear. They want the territory of J&K by terrorising it’s people. India has failed Kashmir in keeping its promises.

3,639 people are talking about this

The Pakistani government has condemned the decision as an infringement on a United Nations resolution on the question of Kashmir’s sovereignty. In a statement, Pakistan’s foreign ministry described Kashmir as an “internationally recognized disputed territory” and said it would back its residents “right to self-determination.”

The ministry added that it would “exercise all possible options to counter the illegal steps” India had taken. The Pakistani government has indicated it hopes to involve the U.S. government as an arbitrator in the dispute, Reuters reported. Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, had already discussed the possibility of President Trump mediating between India and Pakistan in talks over Kashmir when Khan visited the White House last month. India rejected this offer againlast week.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Monday that the United States is “closely following” the situation in Kashmir, though she noted that the Indian government described these measures as “strictly an internal matter.”

“We are concerned about reports of detentions and urge respect for individual rights and discussion with those in affected communities,” she said. “We call on all parties to maintain peace and stability along the Line of Control.”

Monday’s order could be challenged in court as a violation of India’s constitution, since it effectively overturned a constitutional provision “through executive whim,” Suhrith Parthasarathy, an expert on constitutional law, said.

Imran Khan


I condemn India's attack across LOC on innocent civilians & it's use of cluster munitions in violation of int humanitarian law and it's own commitments under the 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. UNSC must take note of this international threat to peace & security.

3:34 AM - Aug 4, 2019
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23.2K people are talking about this

Riaz Haq said…
India’s espionage agency RAW lifts the veil on its founder Rameshwar Nath Kao with this biography
An excerpt from ‘RN Kao: Gentleman Spymaster’, by Nitin A Gokhale.

There are many reasons cited in public domain why R&AW was created. However, in absence of any official document in public domain on the subject, we will never know the exact reasoning given by RNK in a detailed note to Mrs Gandhi in late 1967 or early 1968.
That background note is still classified. K Sankaran Nair, RNK’s closest friend and colleague, has, however, written a longish passage in his book as to why and how R&AW came into being. Nair’s contention in his book is based on his personal knowledge and memory. He wrote, “As often happens with bureaucracy, the right hand does not know what the left hand does. Sometimes it cuts its nose to spite the rivals’ face, in the course of turf wars.”

Nair was referring to what he calls a minor conflict that had erupted in 1965 between the army and the Bureau over intelligence turf immediately after the war with Pakistan. Apparently, Army Chief General JN Choudhry sent a strong paper to the minister of defence, YB Chavan. His main point was that the Army could not land a decisive blow on Pakistan because precise intelligence was not available since collection of intelligence was entrusted to “flat-footed Çlouseaus of the IB”.

The paper argued that military intelligence should be the preserve of military men who should be posted abroad in Indian missions abroad to collect information, replacing the IB representatives. Defence Minister Chavan agreed with these views but the cabinet did not pursue the matter at that time.


Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had given him a free hand except for two conditions. Firstly, the new organisation should be a multidisciplinary one and should not draw its higher personnel exclusively from the IPS. Secondly, the top two posts would be filled at the discretion of the prime minister from within the organisation or from outside.
Nair, who many old timers of R&AW describe as RNK’s alter ego, wrote, “Within a few months, Ramji produced his magnum opus, defining the proposed structure of India’s CIA. The designation of the personnel was to be in secretariat terms. The Chief was to be a Secretary and the junior ranks were to run down the line to the rank of Under Secretary.” Nair claimed that the then Cabinet Secretary, DS Joshi, suggested that the organisation be called R&AW in order to camouflage it and be attached as a wing of the Cabinet Secretariat.
Riaz Haq said…
My wild guess is that Ehsan was instrumental in providing the clues that led to #TTP commanders whereabouts in #Afghanistan and their killing. Ehsan’s “escape” is probably a reward for his valuable help to #Pakistani sleuths

The fatal shooting of two men in the heart of the Afghan capital Kabul - a city unfortunately used to violence - went almost unnoticed.

But then, the dead men had hoped to go unnoticed: according to one source, they were both carrying fake IDs.

Exactly what they were doing in Kabul, and who killed them, remains a mystery that touches upon the murky links between security services and extremist groups in the region.

Who they really were, at least, has become clear. According to sources in Pakistani intelligence and militant circles, the men were senior members of the Pakistani Taliban - a group that has killed hundreds of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other attacks.

One of the dead men was Sheikh Khalid Haqqani, who held a key position in the Pakistani Taliban's leadership council, and formerly served as the group's deputy leader.

He had been accused of involvement in several high-profile attacks on Pakistani politicians and linked to one of the country's deadliest militant attacks, the 2014 assault on a school in Peshawar, which left more than 150 people - mainly children - dead.

The second man was Qari Saif Younis, a military commander within the group. In a statement on Thursday, the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the men's identities and their deaths but gave few other details.

According to one militant source, the men had been due to hold a secret "meeting" in Kabul, on the direct orders of the group's leadership, apparently travelling from the eastern Afghan province of Paktika.

Their bodies were found near the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul
The militant would not say who they were meeting. According to a source in Pakistani intelligence, the men's bodies were discovered in the vicinity of the high-end Intercontinental Hotel - the site of two deadly attacks in recent years.

The deaths occurred last week, but the source in the Pakistani Taliban said the group's leadership had initially ordered the news to be kept "secret", partly as they were rattled by the assassinations, and partly to avoid awkward questions about why the men were in the city.

It is highly unusual for senior members of the Pakistani Taliban to be travelling to Kabul. The group is an entirely separate entity from the Afghan Taliban, with different aims and different supporters. The Afghan Taliban have been fighting a long-running insurgency against the Afghan government, which is backed by US-led forces, while the Pakistani Taliban have focused their attacks inside Pakistan.


The source within the group acknowledged it was also possible that gunmen or militants linked to Pakistani intelligence services were responsible.

They have in the past conducted other audacious assassinations, targeting figures wanted by Pakistan who were living in Afghanistan. For example, in December 2018 a suicide bombing in an upmarket district of the southern city of Kandahar killed a separatist Pakistani leader who had been living there in exile.

Conversely, figures linked to the Afghan Taliban have previously been killed in Pakistan. In 2013, one alleged senior Afghan militant figure was shot dead in a bakery in Islamabad.

According to sources within the Pakistani Taliban, the bodies of the men killed in Kabul, Sheikh Khalid Haqqani and Qari Saif Younis, were handed over to the group, and a large funeral was held for them on Monday in their stronghold in eastern Kunar Province.

Of course, how the bodies ended up back in the hands of their militant group remains another part of the intrigue.

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