India-Iran-Afghanistan Axis Against Pakistan?

A JIT (Joint Investigation Team) report recently released by Sindh government in Pakistan has revealed that the infamous Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch worked for Iranian intelligence. Apparently, Uzair Baloch was also in contact with Indian intelligence agents working in Iran, according to Indian media reports. Baloch's interrogation led to the discovery and arrest of Indian undercover agent Kulbhushan Jadhav in Balochistan shortly after Baloch's arrest. Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi.
He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

L to R: Indian Prime Minister Modi, Iranian President Rouhani and Afghan President Ghani


Chabahar vs Gwadar:

Chabahar is a port being constructed by Indians in Iran. The stated goal of this project is to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran. Indian media have promoted Chabahar as a competitor to Gwadar Port which is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).  Indian government is openly hostile to CPEC and declared support for Baloch insurgents.  The leaders of Afghanistan, India and Iran have held regular summit meetings to promote Chabahar port project.

4,000 Indians in Chabahar:

There are 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar, Iran, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar. Some of them, like Kulbhushan Jadhav, work undercover for Indian intelligence agency RAW.  It is hard to believe that the Iranian intelligence is not aware of the presence of undercover Indian agents among the 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar. After all, Jadhav had two passports, one in his own name and another in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel. The Indian Express and Asian Age, both Indian publications, suggest that Jadhav had links with Uzair Baloch who has been convicted by for working for the Iranian intelligence in Pakistan.  Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

Pakistan's Complaint to Iran:

Paskistan has complained to Iran about allowing Baloch insurgents to use Iranian territory to launch terrorist attacks in Pakistan after an attack  killed 14 people along Pakistan’s coast in 2019, according to Reuters.

“The training camps and logistical camps of this new alliance...are inside the Iranian border region,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad. Qureshi said he has spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and conveyed to him the “anger of Pakistani nation”.

Karachi Stock Market Attack:

Four terrorists belonging to Baloch Liberation Army attacked the Pakistani stock exchange in Karachi on June 29, 2020, killing two guards and a policeman and wounding seven others before being shot dead. Pakistan believes that the attackers came from southeastern Afghanistan where they enjoy safe havens with the support of intelligence agencies like Afghan NDS and Indian RAW.

Qasem Soleimani:

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) commander General Qasem Soleimani who was assassinated by the United States in drone strike was particularly hostile toward Pakistan. In February, 2019, Soleimani threatened Pakistan. He boasted about Iran's "independent power and honor". Soleimani, known to be close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khanenai, reportedly had serious policy disagreement with the Rouhani government.  He said:

"I warn you not to test Iran and anyone who has tested Iran has received firm response. We are speaking to Pakistan with a friendly tone and we are telling that country not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighboring countries..... Iran enjoys independent power and honor. Some countries have wealth, but no prowess. Trump tells the Al-Saud that if it hadn't been for the US support, Saudi Arabia would not have survived and Saudi Arabia's coalitions in the region have all ended in failure."

Soleimani's tone in this message to Pakistan is anything but "friendly".

Summary:

Recent release of Sindh government report reveals that Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch spied for Iran in Pakistan.  There are 4,000 Indians working in Chabahar, Iran, according to Indian journalist Karan Thapar. Some of them, like Kulbhushan Jadhav, work undercover for Indian intelligence agency RAW.  Chabahar is a port being constructed by Indians in Iran. The stated goal of this project is to bypass Pakistan for India's trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia via Iran. Indian media have promoted Chabahar as a competitor to Gwadar Port which is a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The Indian Express and Asian Age, both Indian publications, suggest that Jadhav had links with Uzair Baloch.  Kulbhushan Jadhav has confessed to orchestrating deadly terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. He has said that India's RAW funneled money through Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandhar (Afghanistan) and  Zahidan (Iran) to BLA and TTP for terror attacks in Balochistan and Karachi. Targets of terror attacks included people, mosques, roads, port and Balochistan's Hazara Shia community.

Here's Kulbhushan Jadhav's confession video:

https://youtu.be/nVp62OinTeU




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

General Soleimani's Hardline Against Pakistan

Iran-Pakistan Ties

Iran's Chabahar and Pakistan's Gwadar Ports

Indian RAW Agent Kulbhushan Jhadav Used Chabahar

Iran-Saudi Conflict

Pakistan's Nuclear Program

Iran Nuclear Deal

1971 India-Pakistan War

Chabahar vs Gwadar Ports

Did America Contribute to the Rise of ISIS?

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
https://youtu.be/nVp62OinTeU


Jadhav: "...while crossing over into Pakistan I travelled all the way from Chahbahar in a private Taxi along with Rakesh to the Iranian-Pakistan border near Sarawan. From wherein I crossed into Pakistan along with Baloch Sub Nationals and after about an hour or so I was apprehended by the Pakistani authorities in Pakistan...........Research and Analysis Wing through Mr Anil Kumar has been abetting and financing and sponsoring a lot of activities within Balochistan and Sindh. The entire Hundi and Hawala operations are undertaken from Delhi and Mumbai via Dubai into Pakistan and during one such important transaction was the 40,000 dollars which was transferred to Baloch sub Nationals via Dubai. Also the finances which are coming into Balochistan and Sindh for various anti-national activities are coming through consulates in Jalalabad and Kandhar and the Consulate in Zahidan. These are very important consulates which are used by Research and Analysis Wing to transfer dollars into the Balochistan movement. And one such instance was where I was directly involved and I was observing the transaction was when 40,000 Dollars were recently transferred from India via Dubai to one such Baloch National operative within Pakistan. Research and Analysis Wing and Mr Anil Kumar on behalf of RAW had been sponsoring regularly the various terrorist activities within Pakistan. Especially Hazara Muslims, Shia Muslims who move around on pilgrimage between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan were basically to be targeted and killed. They were already being done, it was being done but the level had to be raised to the very high level so that the movement completely stops. Then the targets on various workers of FWO who were conducting construction of various roads within Balochistan and the third major activity was the IED attacks which were being carried out by the Baloch sub nationals within Quetta, Turbat or various other cities of Balochistan.They were being directly sponsored by RAW. Mr Anil Kumar has been sponsoring sectarian violence across Sindh and Balochistan and also sponsoring various assassinations across this same region so that instability or some kind of fear is set into the mindsets of the people of Pakistan, and in one such process SSP Chaudhary was assassinated. This was a direct mention by Mr Anil Kumar to me. The various financing which subsequently happened for the TTP and various other Afghan anti Pakistani terrorist groups led to the attack by TTP on one of the Mehran Naval Bases in which a lot of damage was cost to the Pakistani Navy. Other sort of radar installation attack, the Sui pipeline gas attack, then attacks on civilian bus Stations where some I suppose Pakistani Nationals were being targeted by Sub Nationals and murdered and massacred so that a sort of disruption in the CPEC is done that was being funded and directly supported by Mr Anil Kumar. He wanted it to be raised to the next level so that complete disruption and complete stoppage of the Economic corridor between Gwadar and China is achieved. One of the operations which was being planned by RAW officials along with Baloch insurgents was a military style attack on Zahidan Pakistani consulate. The aim was to either attack it with a grenade or some kind of RPG or IED attack or then try to harm the consulate General or some kind of vicious attack on the Pakistani consulate in Zahidan.
Riaz Haq said…
#KulbhushanJadhav: #India's #RAW funneled money through #Indian consulates in #Jalalabad, #Kandhar & in Zahidan to #BLA & #TTP for #terror attacks in #Balochistan & #Karachi. Targets included people, mosques, roads, port & #Quetta's #Hazara #Shia community https://youtu.be/nVp62OinTeU
Riaz Haq said…
#China-#Iran Deal: #India is a big loser. Chabahar port is India’s counter to the #Gwadar port in #Pakistan that is part of China’s Belt and Road initiative(BRI), if China invests heavily in Iran the Chabahar port could lose its relevance. #CPEC https://www.wionews.com/india-news/as-china-eyes-multi-billion-dollar-iran-deal-indias-chabahar-port-may-lose-relevance-313054 @wionews

Indian View:

China has struck a deal with America's enemy - Iran. It's a $400 billion economic and security strategic partnership deal.

As always, China is using its chequebook to have its way. It has bought Iran over for $400 billion dollars. It is a 25-year strategic accord with an 18-page agreement that weds Iran to China for a quarter of a century.

Once it is signed, Iran will open its doors for Chinese investment not just in one or two sectors but across the Iranian economy. The Chinese presence in Iran would expand in banking, telecommunications, ports and railways, also more than a dozen projects will go to Chinese companies.

Beijing hopes to get cheap oil in return. China will walk away with a steady supply of Iranian oil at a heavily discounted rate for 25 years and this is just one side of the story of the economic aspect.

The deal also has a military dimension. There will be reportedly joint training and exercises, joint research and weapons development, even intelligence sharing as part of the agreement.

The deal will fundamentally change Iran’s relationship with China. It will put Tehran in Beijing’s corner and India could see its influence diminish overtime.

The biggest threat is to the Chabahar port. It was seen as India’s counter to the Gwadar port in Pakistan that is part of China’s Belt and Road initiative(BRI), if China invests heavily in Iran the Chabahar port could lose its relevance.

However, it is hypothetical as of today. The Iran-China agreement reportedly has not been submitted for Parliament’s approval yet and hasn’t been made public. China hasn’t shared the details of the deal yet as well. The ministry of foreign affairs in Beijing was asked about it today and it didn’t share any information.

It is not yet clear if the top brass of the Communist Party has signed off on it but the details of the deal that have leaked are reportedly part of the “final version”. Iran is not hiding the fact that it is negotiating the agreement with China. On July 5, Iran's foreign minister Javad Zarif indicated that the deal will happen and it will be presented before Iran's Parliament for approval.

The potential agreement is a big threat to India. Historically, India and Iran have enjoyed a close relationship. India was one of the biggest buyers of Iranian oil but New Delhi stopped buying oil from Iran in 2019 after the United States slapped sanctions against Iran and refused to grant any waivers to India.

Now, Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran has failed. China went under the nose of the Americans and managed to negotiate a deal with Tehran that could create more flashpoints in West Asia and even cost India its relationship with Iran.
Riaz Haq said…
Iran drops India from Chabahar rail project, cites funding delay


Four years after India's IRCON and Iran railway signed an MoU to build the Chabahar - Zahedan railway, Iran starts project on its own, cites funding delays from India. The development comes as China finalises a massive 25-year, $400 billion strategic partnership deal with Iran, which could cloud India’s plans.


https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iran-drops-india-from-chabahar-rail-project-cites-funding-delay/article32072428.ece
Riaz Haq said…
Why is India losing Iran? Death of #IRGC’s General Qassem Suleimani, who frequently criticized #Pakistan and fostered #India’s interests in #Afghanistan and #Iran's #Chabahar port, has altered the Iran-India equation. #China #CPEC #BRI https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/why-india-is-distancing-itself-from-iran/article31272949.ece

A month after his (Soleimani's) death at Baghdad airport, Iran’s Ambassador to Islamabad, Syyed Muhammad Husseini, revived an old proposal to build an association of five nations to resolve problems of this region. Termed as the “ golden ring”, the proposed alliance, besides Iran also included Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China.

------
Long before Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif criticised India for the “massacres of Muslims” during the Delhi riots, an act that attracted sharp rebuke from India’s foreign ministry, there were plenty of signs that the two countries had begun to move away from each other in different directions that were prompted by their respective foreign and domestic policy compulsions and now the coronavirus pandemic.

---


All these reasons and more are raising severe doubts about even the recent Indian foreign policy investments in Iran including on the Chabahar port. The big question is: Will India’s attempts to have an enduring land route to Afghanistan and Central Asia, by sidestepping Pakistan, through Chabahar survive the vicissitudes of recent times? In the past few months though, the Commerce Ministry has eased rules to speed up the project, but it continues at its own pace.

The Chabahar port
India’s existential anxieties about its creative foreign policy to side step Pakistan and rebuild ties with Iran through investing in Chabahar port have deepened ever since US signed an agreement with Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — as Taliban is called. The agreement will allow Washington to withdraw its troops that have been locked in a war for 19 years. Agreement with Taliban does not factor Indian interests and the shifting ground realities. It has been crafted by a desperate US to get out of Afghanistan before the US elections so that President Donald Trump could safely say that he fulfilled most of the electoral promises.

India has justifiable fears that the Taliban — a proxy of Pakistan — would not respect Indian interests or investments. After the agreement in Doha was signed, Taliban is expanding rapidly. Like it happened in the past, city after city may start falling. They may also unleash violence against Indian interests — the recent massacre of 25 Afghan Sikhs in a gurdwara is a case in point.

Taliban’s rise also could see the stifling of Chabahar port’s growth and the transit route to Afghanistan’s route 606 or Zaranj-Delaram road (built by India), which allows India’s ingress to garland highway and connects further to Central Asia. This could fit well with Pakistan’s plans that has been lobbying hard to prevent Chabahar from acquiring any commercial or strategic meaning.

There is a belief that the agreement with Taliban may not have taken place so soon if Iran’s Quds Force chief, Qassem Suleimani, had not been assassinated at the turn to the new year.

Islamabad has been resentful of General Suleimani and his visible proximity to India, which saw his frequent criticism of Pakistan’s use of terror as state policy. “We are telling that country (Pakistani) not to allow their borders to become a source of insecurity for the neighbouring countries; anyone who has made this plot for Pakistan is seeking to disintegrate that country,” Suleimani told an Iranian news agency. There was expectedly, great joy in Pakistani military establishment when Suleimani was killed.
Riaz Haq said…
Ex #Indian Official @NavtejSarna:"China’s influence will facilitate better relations between Iran and Pakistan, already evident in the conciliatory attitude shown by Pakistan to militant attacks from across the border in Balochistan" #Iran #Pakistan #China https://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/neither-east-nor-west-only-china/story-1R51QEx2HRos1s2RKNIPbM.html

Chinese investment in ports and railways can hamper India’s plans to get access to Central Asia and beyond through Iran. The report that India will no longer be part of the Chabahar-Zahidan railway project foreshadows this scenario. Iran’s ambassador in Islamabad has spoken of a “golden ring” of China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey and of a western arm to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)+ that would link Gwadar and Chabahar to China by rail through Pakistan. Further, our own economic limitations and the shadow of US sanctions will make it difficult for Indian companies to compete in Iran, particularly if the hundred proposed projects are aligned to a Chinese economic paradigm.

is only cold comfort to India. China’s increased political and economic influence on Tehran can squeeze us on several fronts.

First, Tehran has watched our growing proximity to the US and Israel with a resentful sullenness. The cutting of oil imports and delays in project implementation have further shown the limits of the bilateral relationship; “civilisational links” can only take us only so far and no more. Iran’s pact with China will strengthen the perception that we are in “the other camp”. Given our energy dependence and large diaspora, great power rivalry would not be our preferred game in West Asia.

Second, China’s influence will facilitate better relations between Iran and Pakistan, already evident in the conciliatory attitude shown by Pakistan to militant attacks from across the border in Balochistan. The two could also narrow their differences on Afghanistan, with a direct impact on India’s interests.

Third, Chinese investment in ports and railways can hamper India’s plans to get access to Central Asia and beyond through Iran. The report that India will no longer be part of the Chabahar-Zahidan railway project foreshadows this scenario. Iran’s ambassador in Islamabad has spoken of a “golden ring” of China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey and of a western arm to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)+ that would link Gwadar and Chabahar to China by rail through Pakistan. Further, our own economic limitations and the shadow of US sanctions will make it difficult for Indian companies to compete in Iran, particularly if the hundred proposed projects are aligned to a Chinese economic paradigm.

Fourth, even if the Chinese do not get a major slice of Chabahar, they are keen to participate in the development of Bandar-e-Jask, the port outside the Straits of Hormuz. Iran envisages Jask as its main oil-loading point in the near future; it can then close the Straits without harming its own exports. In a worst-case scenario, Jask could become another Chinese dual-use port and with Gwadar and Djibouti threaten India’s energy and maritime security in the Arabian Sea.

All of this may not happen, but we cannot afford to wait for the Majlis to kill this deal, or for Joe Biden to become US president and wean Iran away from China. Our interests are immediate: A strong outreach to Iran with expedited work on Chabahar and its integration into the North-South Transport Corridor as well as a vigorous follow-up on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful 2015 Central Asian visit would be timely initiatives to consider.
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #Iran romance endures despite the huge gap between hype & reality in ties but costs of neglecting #Arabian business are far higher than a lost railway contract in Iran. #Chabahar #GCC #Arabs #SaudiArabia #UAE #Modi #Pakistan https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/chabahar-rail-project-india-iran-relations-us-sanctions-c-raja-mohan-6515415/ via @IndianExpress

The theory of the case in Delhi for an extra-special relationship with Iran rests on a number of claims — historical connections, civilisational bonds, energy supplies and regional security. All these factors are of far greater import in India’s engagement with the Arabian peninsula. Millions of Indian immigrants in the Arab nations, massive hard currency remittances from them, and the density of commercial engagement with the Arab Gulf outweigh the relationship with Iran. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have, in recent years, extended invaluable support in countering terrorism and blocked attempts to condemn India in the Muslim world.

The sources of this curious inversion in India’s intellectual imagination are many. But first to the latest anxiety in Delhi about the loss of a railway contract in Iran. Large countries with major foreign investments and projects win some and lose some. That is part of doing business in other countries. Then there is no escaping the political risk associated with foreign projects. And politics — both domestic and international — is all-consuming in Iran.

The sanctions regime imposed by the US has crippled the Iranian economy. It also targets third countries that do business with certain Iranian entities. India is careful not to attract the US sanctions. India did gain an exemption from the US sanctions regime for its participation in the Chabahar port project in Iran. But they don’t apply to some of the partners suggested by Iran in the railway project. Iran would like India to break the US sanctions regime. A prudent Delhi is resisting that temptation. It would rather lose the railway contract than get into the raging crossfire between the US and Iran.

Sections of the foreign policy elite, however, see India’s Iran policy as a continuous purity test for Delhi’s “strategic autonomy”. They expect Delhi to conduct its relationship with Iran without a reference to either a cost-benefit calculus or Iran’s troubled relationship with others with whom India has important partnerships. For the romantics, it is about proving Delhi’s friendship with Tehran by defying the US.

No government in Delhi can buy into that proposition. The criticism of the NDA government today is similar to that directed at the UPA government in 2005 over its stance on Iran’s covert nuclear programme. As the US mounted pressure on Iran to come clean 15 years ago, there was a strong view in Delhi that India should cast its lot with Tehran. But pragmatists pointed to one of the preconditions for the India-US nuclear deal — Delhi’s strong commitment to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Backing Iran in its nuclear confrontation with the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), they warned, would mean killing support in the US Congress for the historic civil nuclear initiative signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush in July 2005.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran's purported $400 Billion #China "secret deal" is in fact #Teheran floating a trial ballon: "This is something that has been stirred up by the Iranians and turned into a political problem," Mr Hua told The Straits Times. #UnitedStates #Geopolitics https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/irans-purported-us400-billion-secret-deal-with-china-needs-to-be-viewed-in-context

BEIJING - Against a backdrop of worsening bilateral relations with the United States, news emerged earlier this month of a purported secret deal between China and Iran that would offer some US$400 billion (S$555 billion) of Chinese investments in the Islamic Republic over 25 years.

While it sparked concerns that the deal could re-calibrate geopolitics and pose a potential strategic challenge to the US, analysts say this is essentially the fleshing out of a prior agreement from 2016, and needs to should be viewed as Teheran floating a trial balloon.

Riaz Haq said…
#India to face tougher world. #Pakistan-#China nexus has only deepened with #BRI, #CPEC. Two-front threat is real possibility. Political elites in neighboring capitals are now open to undermining India. #Bangladesh #Nepal #Bhutan #SriLanka #Modi #Hindutva https://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/india-must-get-ready-for-a-tougher-world/story-dJ2EjOpW1j5KiHQ8nren3N.html

For close to a decade-and-a-half, broadly between 2000 and 2015, India was lucky in having a conducive international environment for its growth and ambitions. It was not just luck though. A series of Indian leaders and bureaucrats ensured that the country was able to shape this international environment, within its limited powers, in its favour.

Think back. The end of the 1990s, under the remarkably far-sighted leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saw India conduct nuclear tests. This invited international sanctions. But it also opened the doors for substantive dialogue with the international community, particularly the United States (US), about the underlying logic of the relationship between the two countries. The Strobe Talbot-Jaswant Singh dialogue, Bill Clinton’s visit to India, Vajpayee calling India and the US natural partners, and the two countries moving ahead with the next steps in the strategic partnership, fundamentally altered the texture of the relationship. Manmohan Singh ably took the baton, signing the defence framework agreement and, of course, the nuclear deal — over which he staked his government. Narendra Modi too carried forward this legacy, letting go of the hurt that the US visa ban on him must have caused, introducing a new diplomatic style at Madison Square, getting Barack Obama as chief guest for Republic Day, and remaining invested in the relationship with Donald Trump. The US, despite its differences with India, is now a steady partner.

But while this partnership has deepened, a lot else has changed.

In the early 2000s, under Vajpayee and Singh, there was an effort to engage with China productively. There was hope that a solution to the border dispute could be found. India recognised Chinese sensitivities on Tibet; China recognised India’s claim over Sikkim. The economic linkages were deepening. The prevailing narrative was of China’s peaceful rise, and a strong view emerged that the two countries could grow together. In the neighbourhood, even thoughtful diplomats argued that India and China could cooperate on projects. There was room for cooperation on global issues — from reform of international institutions to the climate crisis. PM Modi too wished to give this framework a chance, which is what his Ahmedabad invitation to Xi Jinping represented. China, many believed, was not a friend, but it need not be an adversary either. This was a view that many revised with the rise of Xi, but others held on to it — in hindsight, unwisely so.

The neighbourhood was suddenly looking more favourable in the 2000s too. India had embraced the idea of South Asian regionalism and connectivity. It had facilitated a historic peace deal in Nepal, bringing an end to a decade-long war, ensuring the entry of the Maoists into peaceful politics. And there was enormous goodwill among both the Nepali people and the Kathmandu leadership for Delhi — which gave Indian diplomats enormous leverage. In Sri Lanka, India had, quietly, helped the government bring an end to the civil war, but here, it was through military means and an outright defeat of the Tamil Tigers — some believed that this would erode Indian leverage, but it did give points to Delhi in Colombo. Bhutan remained Delhi’s closest friend, but now within the modern framework of a new treaty, as the country turned semi-democratic. In Bangladesh, after a turbulent transition, Sheikh Hasina returned, with an explicit platform of deepening ties with India, leading to the most-friendly dispensation in Dhaka in decades.
Riaz Haq said…
#Bangladesh PM refusing to meet #Indian envoy to #Dhaka despite repeated requests over 2 months. Hasina has ordered slow-down of all #India funded project while #Chinese funded projects are fast-tracked in BD. #Modi's #Hindutva rhetoric is affecting ties.
https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sheikh-hasina-failed-to-meet-indian-envoy-despite-requests-dhaka-daily/article32187068.ece

All Indian projects in Bangladesh have slowed down since the re-election of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2019.
A prominent newspaper of Bangladesh has said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not meet India’s High Commissioner despite repeated requests for a meeting in the last four months.
Bhorer Kagoj, a prominent daily, has reported that all Indian projects have slowed down since the re-election of Prime Minister Hasina in 2019 with Chinese infrastructure projects receiving more support from Dhaka.
“Despite India's concern, Bangladesh has given the contract of building an airport terminal in Sylhet to a Chinese company. Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das tried for four months to get an appointment with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh but did not get it. Bangladesh has not even sent a note of appreciation to India in response to Indian assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic”, said the newspaper's editor Shyamal Dutta in an article on the recent tilt of Dhaka towards Pakistan and China.
Riaz Haq said…
#UN says thousands of anti-Pakistan militants in #Afghanistan. #Pakistan being attacked by #terrorists, particularly linked to the #TTP or Jamaat-ul-Ahrar or Lashkar-e-Islam, as well as those with the Baluchistan Liberation Army (#BLA). https://news.yahoo.com/un-says-thousands-anti-pakistan-102605170.html?soc_src=hl-viewer&soc_trk=tw via @YahooNews

A U.N. report says more than 6,000 Pakistani insurgents are hiding in Afghanistan, most belonging to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban group responsible for attacking Pakistani military and civilian targets.

The report released this week said the group, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), has linked up with the Afghan-based affiliate of the Islamic State group. Some of TTP's members have even joined the IS affiliate, which has its headquarters in eastern Afghanistan.

The Afghan government did not respond Sunday to requests by The Associated Press for comment.

The report said IS in Afghanistan, known as IS in Khorasan province, has been hit hard by Afghan security forces as well as U.S. and NATO forces, and even on occasion by the Afghan Taliban. The report was prepared by the U.N. analytical and sanctions monitoring team, which tracks terrorist groups around the world.

The report estimated the membership of IS in Afghanistan at 2,200, and while its leadership has been depleted, IS still counts among its leaders a Syrian national Abu Said Mohammad al-Khorasani. The report also said the monitoring team had received information that two senior Islamic State commanders, Abu Qutaibah and Abu Hajar al-Iraqi, had recently arrived in Afghanistan from the Middle East.

“Although in territorial retreat, (the Islamic State) remains capable of carrying out high-profile attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul. It also aims to attract Taliban fighters who oppose the agreement with the United States,” the report said, referring to a U.S. peace deal signed with the Taliban in February.

That deal was struck to allow the U.S. to end its 19-year involvement in Afghanistan, and calls on the Taliban to guarantee its territory will not be used by terrorist groups. The deal is also expected to guarantee the Taliban's all-out participation in the fight against IS.

The second and perhaps most critical part of the agreement calls for talks between the Taliban and Kabul's political leadership.

Late Saturday, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying its peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was again shuttling through the region seeking to jump start those negotiations, which have been repeatedly postponed as both sides squabble over a prisoner release program.

The U.S.-backed deal calls for the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban to free 1,000 government and military personnel as a so-called good will gesture ahead of talks. Until now the government is refusing to release nearly 600 Taliban prisoners it calls high-profile criminals and has offered to free alternatives. The Taliban have refused.

“The parties are closer than ever to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, the key next step to ending Afghanistan’s 40-year long war," said the U.S. State Department statement. “Although significant progress has been made on prisoner exchanges, the issue requires additional effort to fully resolve.”

The Taliban's political spokesman earlier this week said it was ready to hold talks with Kabul's political leaders after the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha at the end of the month, providing the prisoner release is completed.

A big worry for Pakistan is the presence in Afghanistan of militants, particularly linked to the TTP or Jamaat-ul-Ahrar or Lashkar-e-Islam, as well as those with the Baluchistan Liberation Army, which has taken responsibility for high-profile attacks this month in the southern Sindh province as well as in southwestern Baluchistan Province. Several Pakistan military personnel have been killed this month in southwestern Baluchistan province in battle with insurgents.
Riaz Haq said…
#Bangladesh-#Pakistan ties: #ImranKhan-#Hasina Talks Stir Unease in #Delhi. #India suspects #China's role https://www.deccanherald.com/national/pakistan-bangladesh-ties-imran-hasina-talk-stirs-unease-in-india-mea-suspects-chinas-role-865664.html @deccanherald

A phone call between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier this week stirred unease in New Delhi, which suspected China's hidden hand behind the rare outreach.


Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called up his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina on July 22. A Bangladesh government spokesperson in Dhaka said that Hasina briefed Khan about the Covid-19 pandemic and the flood situation in her country in resp...
Riaz Haq said…
#India’s #RAW recruited 3 warlords in #Afghanistan, including Ahmad Shah Masood, says 'RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations' by investigative journalist Yatish Yadav. He doesn’t disclose the names of 2 other warlords still in #Afghan politics

https://www.deccanherald.com/national/raw-had-recruited-three-warlords-in-afghanistan-says-book-868599.html

At least three RAW spies involved in covert action in Afghanistan have claimed that Afghan armed forces were "demoralised and divided, remained practically inactive" during the Soviet army’s December 1979 invasion, the book, which will be released on Monday said.


The book also claims that the US knew about the Indian activities in Afghanistan and the Americans launched propaganda against the RAW with stories appearing with Washington dateline, which said that the US supply of arms was a "sort of punishment" to India for failing to oppose the Soviet Union on Afghan soil and the Soviet-Vietnam interference in Cambodia.

RAW also feared, the book said, that the Taliban would not waste time in killing former President of Afghanistan Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai once they gained dominance in the war. An Indian spy recalled the message the RAW sent to Najibullah,
who was staying at the UN mission in Kabul, to leave the country but he refused outrightly. Another effort was made through a reluctant Massoud, but Najibullah rejected the offer once again, arguing that the Taliban may not attack him.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/


Peace is an illusion because India is constantly at war in the shadows. Just as soldiers in uniform guard our borders, a different kind of highly trained and motivated soldiers crisscross the world in various guises with deceptively innocuous code names; meeting sources, activating sleeper spies and double agents, deploying honey traps, conferring with fellow spooks in cafes and safe houses, and bribing informers with clandestine funds—all to protect the nation. They are the unsung heroes of India’s formidable spy agency R&AW who unearth dark plots against the country and destroy traitors and at great personal risk. RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations illustrates their daring exploits.

After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, pro-CIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities.

R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey. R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistan-friendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI.

Since intelligence inputs play a significant role in shaping policy, the spymasters saw firsthand political leaders in action. The book describes how Rajiv Gandhi stood in front of Deng Xiaoping like a schoolboy in front of a principal, though he was assured that he had nothing to fear from the Chinese. A chapter describes how Narasimha Rao’s taciturn “Okay” meant the mission had the go-ahead. R&AW’s main enemy continues to be Pakistan’s ISI, which has been playing a cat and mouse game for decades. It also faced a formidable enemy at home—Indian diplomats who exposed their identities abroad and bureaucrats who interfered with operational budgets. These are some of their stories.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/

In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island.

Avinash Sinha arrived at Colombo Fort Café on the morning of 3 December 2005, looking forward to what he had been told was the best Sri Lankan breakfast in the city. Avinash, a R&AW operative, perhaps a few autumns younger than Kosala Ratnayake, had returned to Colombo that October after three years. He had recruited Kosala, a top functionary in the Sri Lankan government, over several wet evenings in January 2002. That was when the Sri Lankan regime had been seriously engaging with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for peace talks.

Satellite Spycraft: Avinash said that the R&AW had penetrated Sri Lanka’s northern province deeply, especially districts like Jaffna, Vavuniya, Kilinochchi and Mannar. ‘Our assessment was solid and as the war loomed large over the horizon, our primary objective was to evacuate as many Tamils as possible. But that was just a foggy dream. Under tremendous pressure from the Tigers, the Tamil populations had decided to remain and we couldn’t do anything about it,’ said Avinash.

The Indian government had taken a principled decision to support the Sri Lankan army offensive because the entire international community had been outraged by the LTTE’s string of suicide bombings. According to Avinash, between late 2007 and May 2009 when Sri Lanka declared total victory against the LTTE, the R&AW provided satellite imagery of all the Tigers’ camps in the north and east provinces to the Sri Lankan military.

The intelligence included the Tigers’ military formations as well as civilian populations so as to avoid casualties. ‘It was not LTTE alone that killed our assets,’ said Pawan Arora, a R&AW officer. ‘We later learnt that the Sri Lankan army had also been involved in hitting our informers. Just before the final and massive offensive in April 2009, some important assets were evacuated from Jaffna on a ship headed to the Maldives... At Kilinochchi in the northern province of Sri Lanka, he revealed, a compound that housed some R&AW informers had just one survivor that month and a white cat.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/

MEA Bungling on China: R&AW agents began to enquire in Beijing and Islamabad about Colombo’s plan. The liaison unit, working with friendly foreign intelligence agencies, reported that China had secretly provided arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan army during the civil war and was now ready to invest more than $2 billion in Sri Lanka…China had not only provided fighter jets to the Sri Lankan army, it had also trained the pilots with the help of Islamabad.

Avinash said: ‘When we warned the India foreign service about the Chinese, a senior officer told me not to worry. Let China build the roads, he said, and we will ply our buses on those roads. When we complained about him, he was immediately removed and shifted to some insignificant position at the Delhi headquarters.’ The officer codenamed ‘PAS’ was fond of scotch and the Indian spies had reported on various occasions that he was more interested in attending high-spirit parties than protecting and preserving India’s interests in Sri Lanka. ‘Once he was trapped by our spies and subsequently confronted with the evidence, we wanted him out of Sri Lanka. He was a compromised man,’ Avinash said, quoting a report that the R&AW had ciphered to New Delhi.

The Indian government had taken a principled decision to support the Sri Lankan army offensive because the entire international community had been outraged by the LTTE’s string of suicide bombings. According to Avinash, between late 2007 and May 2009 when Sri Lanka declared total victory against the LTTE, the R&AW provided satellite imagery of all the Tigers’ camps in the north and east provinces to the Sri Lankan military.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/

THE CASE OF THE MYSTERIOUS MAID

There is no single documented account of Operation Satori carried out with the help of an Indian maid named Sundari. The 55-year-old Tamil and Sinhalese-speaking woman worked to rescue and evacuate R&AW sources. Although the R&AW knew the weaknesses of Sri Lankan intelligence, they realised that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s spies were also keeping an eye on the northern and eastern provinces, scouting for prize catches. Within a week, fictitious papers were arranged for Sundari through Kosala that would allow her to travel inside the battle zone freely to help the badly wounded in their makeshift hospitals. Sundari was pivotal to Operation Satori.

Though she was not a conventional spy, she was a thorough professional. With the help of Asanka, an ambulance driver, and Ramanuj, an animal activist, she managed to rescue several leaders who were R&AW recruits and thus on Rajapaksa’s hitlist. The area where Sundari operated was darkened via Photoshop before images were shared with the Sri Lankan army and its intelligence unit, and Kosala had bribed certain senior personnel in the army so that people could safely be smuggled out of the war zone.

R&AW AGENTS began to enquire in Beijing and Islamabad about Colombo’s plan. The liaison unit, working with friendly foreign intelligence agencies, reported that China had secretly provided arms and ammunition to the Sri Lankan army during the civil war and was now ready to invest more than $2 billion in Sri Lanka.

PARIS/LONDON

Operation Hornet

R&AW launched an operation in Paris and London to neutralise UK-based Pakistani national Abdul Khan who was sheltering extremists and planning attacks in India with the help of ISI and renegade Indian businessmen Balwant, Harbakhsh Singh, BN Sandhu, Avtaar Sethi and Harpreet Ahuja. Indian agent Sanjeev Jindal was given clearance by his pop star of spies boss Anuj Bharadwaj to swing into action. With foreign operatives Clarke and Sophie, he foiled the plot and Khan was shot dead.

Target ISI Terror Trio: At the Café de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris, in November 1984, Sanjeev Jindal was lost in thought.... ‘Sir, we need to launch an operation… My information suggests ISI chief Akhtar Abdur Rahman is directly supervising the operation….’
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/

Sophie’s Choice: This was the beginning of Operation Hornet. Jindal had already identified the spy to be posted in London. The officer codenamed Mohan Narayanan had earlier worked in Prague. Sometime in late January 1985, Jindal was at Café Aida in Landstrasse, Vienna. He had waited for almost a week for this meeting with his old informer Sophie Klor. Jindal, known by a different name at the time, had dumped her two years earlier at the end of an operation he had run in Austria. It is not unusual for an intelligence officer to dump her or his source or informer once the job is done. There are no permanent relationships in the world of espionage.

Everyone has an expiry date. But Sophie was perhaps an exception. Like the R&AW’s other subconscious agents in Europe in the 1980s and 1990s, she transferred money to moles, trained new assets in the target country and occasionally ran assets on behalf of the handler. But renewing contact with a subconscious agent was something he had never done before. ‘Just be honest with me. I am getting worried about your sudden reappearance,’ said Sophie. ‘Do you know where Harpreet Ahuja is?’ Jindal asked. ‘The Indian guy who worked with our organisation? He left about a year ago. Why are you looking for him?’ ‘I want you to dig him out for me,’ Jindal said, placing an envelope containing $10,000 on the table. ‘Don’t worry. Harpreet has always been nice to me.’ Sophie winked at him and left the café.

Greedy Gardener: The London team, Narayanan and Clarke, had used cash to lure Abdul Khan’s gardener, a Pakistani named Tariq Siddiqui. The list included officials from the ISI, the Pakistani army and Pakistan’s civil servants, as well as Sandhu and the two aides who were supposedly Sandhu’s bodyguards and another Indian… Harbakhsh Singh. He also passed on classified information about Sandhu’s and Harbakhsh’s impending visit to Islamabad in February. After Narayanan paid him $5,000, Tariq promised to give him the letter. One document about a money transfer from a bank was significan, the details about the key players arriving at Khan’s house gave the R&AW top brass valuable insights into the ISI’s plans and intentions.

At their meeting at Café Aida, Sophie recounted her hunt for Harpreet Ahuja. It had taken her to Salzburg, Bregenz and finally to Innsbruck... She told Jindal about going out with Ahuja on a date. ‘My priorities are clear. I can’t let this man slip out of our hands,’ Jindal said.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/

Recruiting the Mole: Jindal recruited Ahuja in Austria that April. Upon agreeing to work for the R&AW as a spy, Ahuja was given the codename Einsiedler. But before the British could act, Harbakhsh disappeared from London overnight. Jindal and Bhardwaj suspected that he had been evacuated by the ISI before British security officials could interrogate him on his links with militants and Pakistan. A source based in Pakistan informed Bhardwaj about the arrival of Harbakhsh and his family in Rawalpindi, in the neighborhood of Islamabad.

Arm twisting Terror’s Banker: Sethi took a circuitous route to Paris in order to avoid ISI surveillance on his movements. Bhardwaj, Jindal and Narayanan held two day-long meetings with the dangerous financier of terrorism in India. In Jindal’s words, Sethi sang nonstop. He shared the smallest details of the Sandhu-Khan network, revealing the role of ISI officers posted under diplomatic covers in London. The ISI had a special detachment in London for the India operation and a team of six officers had been deployed to create and continue sponsoring terrorist networks to carry out activities inside India. At the time, an ISI officer named Mahmood was running Sandhu and Khan. Sethi said he was not aware if the ISI was handling any other anti-India module.

He provided a list of the officers, profiles of people connected to Khan and Sandhu, and above all, names of recruits in India who he believed were staunch supporters of the network. In the meantime, he forwarded the names of the Indian module to the R&AW headquarters. Jindal was informed sometime in April that eighteen people on the list had been neutralized in a covert operation and they had launched a manhunt for nine others. The conversation among the network involving Khan, Sandhu and the ISI officers revealed a plan to expand the operation and the Pakistani intelligence officers assured substantial sums of money for the attacks. In July and August, Bhardwaj was informed by his contacts in British counterintelligence agencies that the Pakistanis had been told to shut shop.

The Knockout Round: New plans were made every day to ambush Khan’s remaining network but none worked out because Bhardwaj was against covert action in British territory. In the first week of May 1987, Narayanan informed him that Abdul Khan was planning to visit his hometown, Lahore, sometime in June. His plan was to meet the newly appointed ISI chief, Lt General Hamid Gul. Jindal and Bhardwaj decided that Abdul Khan had to be killed in Lahore. The terror financier was gunned down by two motorcycle-borne men as he entered his house that fateful day in June. He was shot nine times in the head and the neck. The Lahore police believed that the killing was the result of an old business rivalry but the ISI knew it was the R&AW that had chased and killed the fountainhead of terror. At his burial, a R&AW asset noticed that flowers had been sent from Hamid Gul.
Riaz Haq said…
RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations
By Yatish Yadav, Indian Investigative Journalist

https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-new-book.678921/

THE LONDON team, Narayanan and Clarke, had used cash to lure Abdul Khan’s gardener, a Pakistani named Tariq Siddiqui. The list included officials from the ISI, the Pakistani army and Pakistan’s civil servants, as well as Sandhu and the two aides who were supposedly Sandhu’s bodyguards and another Indian… Harbakhsh Singh.

JINDAL RECRUITED Ahuja in Austria that April. Upon agreeing to work for the R&AW as a spy, Ahuja was given the codename Einsiedler. But before the British could act, Harbakhsh disappeared from London overnight.

From Kabul to Kathmandu, from London to Paris and Innsbruck, to Islamabad and Colombo, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) ran exciting operations using money, analysis, psy-ops, wet work and the occasional honey trap. A new book by Yatish Yadav brings to light some of the daring exploits of India’s spies and spymasters.



https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2020/aug/02/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-2176989.html
Riaz Haq said…
"RAW: A History of India’s Covert Operations" by Yatish Yadav reveals #Indian #RAW "helped" a top #Afghan politician/warlord. #India carved #Bangladesh out of East #Pakistan. #RAW played double game in #SriLanka, "helping" govt & LTTE https://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/2020/aug/02/raw-a-history-of-indias-covert-operations-showcases-indias-shadow-warriors-2176989.html via @NewIndianXpress

Set in the turbulent ’70s to the ’90s, R&AW spooks toppled dictators like General Ershad in Bangladesh and Fiji’s Colonel Rabuka by organising public protests and trading loyalties of people in their inner circles respectively. India had carved Bangladesh out of East Pakistan, which America opposed vehemently; President Richard Nixon even sent the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to intimidate India.

After Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, the ISI and CIA moved into Bangladesh. The Hindu refugee problem was a strain on India’s economy and Ershad’s pro-ISI, pro-CIA stance wasn’t helping. So unexpected were the R&AW-engineered protests that Ershad was forced to resign and a neutral government came in his place. In Fiji, where local Indians were being persecuted by nationalist Rabuka, R&AW used foreign contacts in Australia, New Zealand and the UK to launch a successful operation to oust him. The mission was almost compromised when the mistress of a Fiji bureaucrat who was spying for India informed the authorities.

R&AW also created immense goodwill in many countries; it helped a top Afghan politician and former warlord to escape the Taliban and even got his relative a job in Turkey. R&AW spooks relentlessly bribed, cajoled and blackmailed India’s enemies. At great danger to himself, a daring agent bought information from a mole among Khalistani terrorists who were preparing to attack Delhi, which were averted by the intel. The agency even managed to recruit the prime minister of an important Baltic nation. R&AW had support from most prime ministers, except Pakistan-friendly Morarji Desai, who had dismantled foreign operations and turned over imbedded agents to ISI.

-------

In Sri Lanka, R&AW played a double game, helping the Sri Lankan Army to destroy the LTTE while protecting Indian assets against the Tigers and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s hit men. According to a R&AW spymaster in Colombo, MEA bungled and allowed the Chinese to get a foothold in the island.
Riaz Haq said…
Iran recruited #Karachi gangster Uzair Baloch hurts #Pakistan-#Iran ties. "They don't simply try to penetrate typical networks that surround singular theological interests, for instance the Shia community. Iranians have historically used criminal networks" https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/pakistan-iran-gangster-uzair-baloch-spy-diplomacy

Earlier this month, a special investigations team in Pakistan revealed that a much-feared Karachi gangster had confessed to spying for Iran.

Uzair Baloch, the leader of the Peoples' Aman Committee (PAC) group, reportedly fessed up to spying for Iranian intelligence agencies in 2014.

The Sindh province's Home Department released a report on 6 July detailing allegations that Baloch had provided "secret information and sketches regarding army installations and officials to foreign agents".

But why are these revelations coming out now? And what does the case reveal about the complicated relations between Tehran and Islamabad?

A Joint Interrogation Team (JIT) composed of intelligence officers and law enforcement officials has brought charges against Baloch, who was detained in April 2017, for 55 crimes including extortion, drug trafficking, kidnapping and espionage.

The PAC was in 2008 nominally founded as a support group for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the centre-left political party that has ruled Pakistan for much of its post-independence history. Notorious gangster Sardar Abdul Baloch aka Rehman Dakait, its principle founder, was killed in a police encounter in 2009. Following Dakait's death, Uzair Baloch took over the
leadership role.

Baloch's violent and illegal activities in Karachi, the biggest metropolis in Pakistan, led to a severe crackdown on organised crime, subsequently pushing the interior ministry to ban the PAC in 2011 under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Amid a military and police crackdown, Baloch fled to Iran in 2013, thanks to Iranian residency documents he obtained in 2006 via a relative, the JIT report read.

According to the same report, once Baloch settled in Iran after leaving Karachi, he was in contact with a man named Hajji Nasir, who arranged to have him move to Tehran.

While Nasir reportedly offered to help Baloch move to the Iranian capital and grant him free accommodation, it was only later that he shared that he was on good terms with Iranian intelligence agencies and could arrange a meeting.

It was then that Baloch "shared information about certain army installations and armed officials," according to the JIT report.

There is much confusion regarding Baloch's arrest. In 2014 Interpol arrested Baloch in Dubai, then the military in Pakistan announced that he was in custody in 2016. As his trial was held at a closed military court, therefore, no details have been shared publicly regarding specific details of the information shared with the Iranian intelligence agencies.

The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Islamabad has not responded to Middle East Eye's repeated requests for comment. The Iranian consul-general in Karachi meanwhile declined to comment on the case.

Philip Smyth, a fellow at The Washington Institute think-tank, told Middle East Eye that the collaboration of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with Baloch was part of a broader strategy of recruitment of criminal gang leaders.

"They don't simply try to penetrate typical networks that surround singular theological interests, for instance the Shia [Muslim] community. Iranians have historically used criminal networks," Smyth said, pointing to documents made public by WikiLeaks alleging Iran tried to recruit Mexican criminal syndicate Los Zetas to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in the US in 2011.

Riaz Haq said…
Hamid Ansari, ex VP of #India & ex ambassador in #Tehran, accused of failing to protect #India #intelligence #RAW's undercover operatives in #Iran in 4 major incidents of kidnapping by SAVAK (aka Sazman-e Ettela’at va Amniat-e Melli-e Iran) agents.
https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/ex-raw-officers-want-pm-act-hamid-ansaris-anti-national-acts


Former Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officers had sought an inquiry against former Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari for what they have called “damaging R&AW operations” while he was posted as Ambassador in Tehran, Iran. They now hope that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get into the truth of the entire matter. These officers, who were posted in Tehran during Ansari’s tenure, had first approached the PM in August 2017. Ansari was posted in Tehran from 1990-1992.

One of the officers, N.K. Sood, who retired from the agency in 2010, told The Sunday Guardian that Ansari even went to the extent of recommending the closing down of R&AW stations in Iran.


Sood listed multiple instances which showed that Ansari, during his tenure in Tehran, did not fulfill his duty as was expected from him.

In May 1991, one Indian official, Sandeep Kapoor, was kidnapped from the Tehran airport, ostensibly by SAVAK. When the issue was brought before Ansari, he played it down despite the R&AW station chief—who was in Dubai when the incident took place, but flew back considering the emergency situation—briefing him personally on the matter. “Ansari did not take any steps to trace Kapoor, but sent a confidential report to the MEA that Kapoor was missing and that his activities were suspected in Iran as he was said to be involved with some local woman. He deliberately failed to mention that R&AW had reported about involvement of SAVAK in this case,” Sood said.

Three days later, an anonymous phone call to the Indian Embassy informed the receiver that Kapoor is lying at a particular place on the road side. He was drugged, the effects of which lasted for several years. Despite R&AW’s advise to report and lodge a protest with the Iranian foreign office, Ansari did not take any action.

In August 1991, R&AW was keeping eyes on Kashmiri youths who were regularly visiting Qom, a religious center of Iran, and were taking arms training. Despite the old R&AW staff advising him not to do so, the new station chief of R&AW told Ansari about his operation. “Ansari gave the name of the officer who was handling this operation, D.B. Mathur, to the Iranian Foreign office, who passed it to SAVAK, and Mathur was picked up by them on a morning while coming to the Indian embassy. By the evening, it was clear that he has been picked up by SAVAK,” Sood recalled.

This incident has also been mentioned in the letter that has been shared with Prime Minister Modi. When Ansari refused to take any concrete action, apart from registering a missing report about Mathur with the Iranian Foreign office and sharing it with Delhi without mentioning that he was likely to be picked by SAVAK, the R&AW officers, on the second day, through a scene out of a spy movie, managed to inform Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Delhi, who then told this to P.V. Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, which led to the release of Mathur from Evin prison, where he was kept, on the fourth day of his kidnapping, but he was given 72 hours to leave the country. Once inside the Indian Embassy, Mathur disclosed what had happened to him and how the SAVAK was already aware of the identity of Sood and the station chief, which the letter says can be attributed to Ansari sharing it with the Iranian Foreign Office.

These officers believe and are extremely hopeful that PM Modi will order a thorough probe into this issue, which damaged India’s strategic capabilities deeply.

The Sunday Guardian also reached out to the office of V.P. Ansari through emails, seeking his response on the charges leveled by the R&AW officers. However, no response was received till the time of the story going to press.

Riaz Haq said…
#Iran paid #Taliban to kill #US troops in #Afghanistan which contributed to #Trump's #Soleimani airstrike decision. Payments to Haqqani led to deadly Taliban rocket attack at Bagram Air Base killing 2 civilians & injuring over 70 others. https://americanmilitarynews.com/2020/08/report-iran-paid-taliban-bounties-to-kill-us-troops-which-contributed-to-trumps-soleimani-airstrike-decision/ via @amermilnews

The bounty allegations came about amid a delicate moment in U.S.-Taliban peace talks. Trump had previously declared Taliban peace talks dead, but less than two weeks before the December attack on Bagram Air Base, Trump did tell U.S. troops during a visit to Afghanistan that he planned to resume peace talks with the Taliban.

The internal discussions about the bounty payments reportedly lasted for around three months amid the peace deliberations between the U.S. and the Taliban. The discussions reportedly ended in late March after a peace agreement was already underway between the U.S. and the Taliban. An internal memo obtained by CNN said the relationship between the Haqqani Network and Iran “poses a significant threat to US interests” but that National Security Council officials ultimately recommended against taking action to address the relationship.

The Pentagon declined to comment on the specific Iran-Taliban allegations but did acknowledge Iranian efforts to undermine the U.S.-Taliban peace process and overall Iranian efforts to destabilize the Middle East.

“The administration has repeatedly demanded, both publicly and privately, that Iran cease its scourge of malign and destabilizing behavior throughout the Middle East and the world,” Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Rob Lodewick told CNN. “While the United States, its NATO allies and coalition partners are working to facilitate an end to 19 years of bloodshed, Iran’s inimical influence seeks to undermine the Afghan peace process and foster a continuation of violence and instability.”

The report comes just weeks after similar allegations Russia’s GRU intelligence service has also paid bounties for Taliban fighters to attack U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The Russian bounty allegations also raised controversial claims Trump was warned about the bounties but declined to take action against Russia or the Taliban. Separately, Pentagon officials have said the Russian bounty allegations had not been corroborated.

U.S. military officials have previously accused Iran’s military and Soleimani in particular of proliferating aid to terror groups in attacking U.S. forces. In April of 2019, the Trump administration did designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the parent military branch of the Quds Force, as a terrorist group based on its sponsorship of terrorist activities throughout the Middle East.
Riaz Haq said…
In a 2016 drone strike in Balochistan, Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was killed while returning from Iran. https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/mullah-mansour-iran-afghanistan-taliban-drone/


On May 21, after a drone strike obliterated a car and its two occupants in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, local officials discovered a Pakistani passport, miraculously intact, amid the smoldering wreckage and two bodies charred beyond recognition. The passport belonged to a man identified as Wali Muhammad. Its photo bore an uncanny resemblance to Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban targeted by the drone strike, who lay dead close by. According to reports in the Pakistani press, the passport indicated that its owner, presumably Mullah Mansour, had been returning from Iran, where he had been since April 26. He had also traveled there for several weeks in February and March.

Mullah Mansour’s decision to visit Iran and leave his sanctuary in Balochistan — where the Afghan Taliban’s top leadership had long been safely ensconced — is odd. After all, Tehran is no friend of the Taliban; on the contrary, it has formally aligned itself with Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance and other anti-Taliban actors. It played an instrumental role at the 2001 Bonn Conference that established a post-Taliban government. In the early years of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Tehran gave Washington maps showing Taliban positions, and its military offered to train 20,000 Afghan troops.

Iran also has good reason to distance itself from the Taliban. Simple sectarian considerations — Iran is Shiite, the Taliban is Sunni — offer one explanation. But the divergences run deeper: The Taliban harbors links to Jundallah, an anti-state Sunni terror group in Iran. It oversees a flourishing narcotics trade that feeds Iran’s crippling heroin epidemic, and it has been blamed for the killings of nearly a dozen Iranian diplomats at their consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1998, which brought Iran and Taliban-run Afghanistan to the brink of war (according to some accounts, the Pakistani anti-Shiite militant group Sipah-e-Sahaba was behind that attack).

Western authorities have a simple explanation for Mullah Mansour’s presence in Iran: He was there to receive medical treatment, according to a European official quoted in the New York Times, in order to avoid Pakistani hospitals and the watchful eye of his patron, Pakistan’s intelligence agency. No specifics were given as to what he was being treated for. The Wall Street Journal, curiously, has reported that Mullah Mansour was actually in Iran to visit family. In any case, U.S. officials knew of his whereabouts and, aided by communications intercepts, were able to track him there. According to a tweet by NPR correspondent Tom Bowman, Washington even had his SIM card number.

Mullah Mansour’s trip to Iran may well have been a simple trip to the doctor. But the trip may have had more nefarious purposes, too. Despite the differences between Tehran and the Taliban, they share some key interests and have often cooperated operationally. Indeed, Tehran and the Taliban have a more symbiotic relationship than meets the eye.Indeed, Tehran and the Taliban have a more symbiotic relationship than meets the eye. In particular, they are both wary of the West and particularly the United States. And each seeks to undercut Washington’s influence.
Thomas Joscelyn, an international security analyst and senior editor with the Long War Journal, has presented a compelling case of long-standing links between Iran and the Taliban. These links date back to 2000, when, according to unclassified U.S. government memos, Mullah Mohammed Omar tasked Khirullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, the Taliban governor of Herat province, with improving relations between the organization and Tehran. As a result of this outreach, Iran agreed to supply the Taliban with mines and small arms.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran sourced #fakenews at work to strain #Saudi-#Pakistan bilateral ties. Dawn Newspaper's Tanveer Arain fooled by "Saudi Defense Minister calls #Pakistani "slaves" story. https://www.thequint.com/news/fake-news-saudi-arabia-calls-pakistan-slave-country

It is no news that all is not well in the Arab world. In the latest, it has been reported that Pakistan has offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in order to avoid strained relationships with both countries.

The spread of fake news, however, is a ready-made recipe for straining bilateral relationships.

Tanveer Arain, journalist and political analyst with some of the leading publications in Pakistan, including The Dawn, took to Twitter to draw attention to a letter, allegedly written by Saudi Arabian Defence Minister Muhammad Bin Suleiman.

The letter allegedly quotes the defence minister calling Pakistan a “slave country” and that “it will remain Saudi Arabia’s slave” country.

Tanveer’s tweet was retweeted 679 times, and was liked 605 times by Twitter users. His tweet also prompted Postcard.news to swiftly pick up story.

The story was shared 33,000 times on Facebook, from the Postcard portal. The story elaborately describes how Saudi considers other Muslim countries to be of ‘converted’ status. The story reads:

Muhammad Bin Suleiman believes that Pakistanis are the slaves of the Arabs. This statement proves that Saudis looks at every other Muslim country with the ‘converted-Muslim’ perspective. Muslims from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are called ‘Hindu-Muslims’ in Saudi.
The story was also picked by Defence Tube, a YouTube channel which has 7,800-odd subscribers and by a Facebook page on Indian Defence, where it was widely shared.

What The Letter Actually Says
Senior journalist Abbas Nasir, who was a former editor of The Dawn and has also been associated with BBC, was quick to raise that a Tehran dateline was dodgy for a story related to Saudi.

Mustaqbil Pakistan party leader Nadeem M Qureshi also responded to Taveer’s tweet about the letter being “fake news”.


Riaz Haq said…
Indian Newspaper Deccan Herald Opinion: #India obsessed with #Pakistan's #terrorism at a time when an array of issues are crying for urgent attention, and action on the domestic front and at the global level where India could play a role
https://www.deccanherald.com/opinion/second-edit/india-obsessed-with-pakistans-terrorism-880267.html @deccanherald


It is unfortunate that at a time when an array of issues are crying for urgent attention, and action on the domestic front and at the international level where India could play a global leadership role, the Narendra Modi government is busy harping o...

It has been going on and on about Pakistan’s support to terror groups at every forum, even if these meetings have nothing to do with counter-terrorism. For instance, TERI is engaged in research and advocacy on issues like climate change. While Jaisha...


Terrorism is not an existential threat to our country anymore and a country of India’s size and capacity cuts a sorry figure when it persists with whining and whimpering at every available forum about its woes with its troublesome neighbour. Does it ...

In recent years, India’s diplomatic energies have been dissipated by its obsession with getting Pakistan reprimanded internationally. In the process, geopolitical issues including the Chinese threat to our border, Beijing’s growing strategic ties wit...
Riaz Haq said…
Iran Primer: Iran and the Gulf States - Tehran Bureau | FRONTLINE | PBS


https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tehranbureau/2010/10/iran-primer-iran-and-the-gulf-states.html

Modern Iranian leaders -- from shahs to ayatollahs -- have sought a dominant role in the Gulf region because of Iran's economic and demographic weight, as well as the value of Persian Gulf oil shipping lanes. In the 1960s and 1970s, Iran was the preeminent Gulf power and guarantor of U.S. national interests in the region.
Iran's 1979 revolution dramatically altered Tehran's regional stance. Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for the overthrow of existing pro-American monarchs in the Gulf. Iraq's 1980 invasion of Iran pulled the Gulf Arabs and the United States into the brutal eight-year conflict, mostly on Baghdad's side.

The end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989, and the rise of more pragmatic leadership in Tehran led to an easing of tensions between Iran and the Gulf Arab states. The two subsequent "Gulf wars" in 1991 and 2003 weakened Iraq, thereby strengthening Iran's relative regional power. Iran's relationship with the smaller states of the lower Persian Gulf has historically been centered on trade. The emirate of Dubai has emerged as Iran's most vital Gulf trade partner and an occasional outlet to skirt sanctions.

--------------


The future

* An Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities could spark a wider regional war with dramatic repercussions for the Persian Gulf region, leading to a skyrocketing oil prices, and potential conflict between Iran and America's key Gulf Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

* The world's major oil players have largely abandoned Iran, but are active in Iraq. If Iraq achieves its ambitious oil targets, it could surpass Iran as the Gulf's second largest producer within a decade. This would have repercussions for the regional balance of power.

* The Iran-Dubai trade relationship will be tested by sanctions and U.S. pressure. But historic links are too deep to imagine a drastic reduction in trade, even though Iranian merchants may not feel as welcome as in the past.
Riaz Haq said…
Pro-#Azerbaijan protestors in #Tabriz demand closure of #Iran-#Armenia border. #Azeris, making up majority in Iranian cities like Ardabil, Tabriz and Urmia, support Azerbaijan. Iran govt supports #Armenia. #Turkey supports Azerbaijan #KarabakhisAzerbaijan http://sabahdai.ly/_fsa

Ethnic Azerbaijanis, who constitute a large portion of the population in Iranian cities like Ardabil, Tabriz and Urmia, poured onto the streets Thursday, in support of Baku amid clashes in the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.

The protesting groups demanded Iranian authorities close the country’s border with Armenia and the Norduz border gate, through which military equipment have reportedly been transferred to Armenia.

Video footage circulating on social media showed Iranian police breaking up the protests, using tear gas and rubber bullets.

Earlier Wednesday, Iranian authorities arrested at least 11 pro-Azerbaijan protesters, according to the Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency.

It said police forces used tear gas to disperse activists, who had gathered at a park in Ardabil in solidarity with Azerbaijan in the wake of Armenian attacks.

Three activists were also wounded, it added.

Azerbaijani Turks constitute at least one-third of Iran’s 81.8 million population, according to different estimates. It was approximately 30 million according to Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization's (UNPO) 2017 data.

Armenia and Azerbaijan have been locked in a bitter stalemate over the Nagorno-Karabakh region since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The fiercest clashes between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in years, over the occupied region, ignited Sunday. As of Thursday at least 130 deaths have been confirmed as fighting spilled over into the fifth day.

Four U.N. Security Council and two U.N. General Assembly resolutions, as well as many international organizations, demand the withdrawal of the occupying Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh.

The OSCE Minsk Group – co-chaired by France, Russia and the U.S. – was formed in 1992 to find a peaceful solution to the conflict, but to no avail.

Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as Azerbaijani territory by the U.N. and virtually every government in the world except Armenia.
Riaz Haq said…
#Iran kicks out #Indian gas company. OVL and its partners had offered to invest up to $11 billion. #India #energy http://toi.in/5RU9ca/a24gk via @timesofindia

Iran has decided to prefer domestic companies over foreign firms

Riaz Haq said…
Demand for #Pakistan Visas Sets Off Deadly Stampede in #Afghanistan, Leaving At Least 14 #Afghans dead! https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/world/asia/afghanistan-stampede-visas-pakistan.html?smid=tw-share

A stampede in a crowded stadium in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday left at least 12 women dead, officials said. The women were among thousands of people hoping to get visas to enter Pakistan for medical treatment.

Many people in Afghanistan, a war-ravaged country with minimal health care facilities, cross the border into Pakistan for treatment. But since the spring, Pakistan had drastically reduced the number of visas that it issued to Afghans, hoping to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

Pakistan recently announced that it would resume issuing visas at a more normal rate. But there was so much pent-up demand that thousands of people gathered before dawn at the soccer stadium, in the city of Jalalabad, waiting for tokens to be given out that would enable them to apply for visas. Just 1,000 visas were to be processed that day.

About 10,000 people were in the stadium when the stampede occurred, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar Province, which includes Jalalabad. The stampede began as the tokens were being distributed to the crowd, Mr. Khogyani said.


“There were several thousand women,” he said. “All of those killed were ill women who were trying to get a visa and go for their treatment to Pakistan.”


ImageA man injured in the stampede arrived for treatment at a Jalalabad hospital.

Pakistan, despite its tense relations with the Afghan government over its tacit support for the Taliban, is a key destination for Afghans. About three million Afghan refugees live there, and until the pandemic struck, there was a constant flow of Afghans across the border, seeking work or medical care.

The Pakistani Consulate in Jalalabad, which distributes visas for residents of seven eastern and southeastern provinces, recently reopened after being closed for nearly eight months because of Pakistan’s coronavirus travel restrictions. Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special envoy for Afghanistan, had recently announced a new visa regime that would ease the process for issuing long-term, multiple-entry visas for Afghans.

“The charges of corruption and mishandling of applicants in recent years had tarnished the image of Pakistan and caused hardship to visa applicants,” Mr. Sadiq said in announcing the new visa policy.

Continue reading the main story

The provincial authorities in Nangarhar announced the new procedure for distributing tokens to visa applicants, which was meant to discourage crowding in light of the heavy demand. Under the rules, the first 1,000 people would get tokens and the rest would have to try their luck the next day, Mr. Khogyani said.

“The stampede broke out in the women’s section,” said an eyewitness, Abdullah, who like many Afghans goes by one name. “Then police arrived and the situation got worse. I escaped from the stadium. When I came back, several women were lying on the ground and they were dead.”

-------------

Other security officials put the toll even higher. “I have counted 50 dead bodies and I have got tired of counting,” said Karimullah Bek, a pro-government militia commander in the area.

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