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Opinion

May 20, 2015

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Our agencies and RAW

Being a strategic partner of the US and an economic giant of the region, India was right to expect that after 2014, the command in Afghanistan would be handed over to it.
With this assumption, India invested heavily on the previous Afghan government and sketched many plans with Iran. To some extent, even the Amrican posture suggested that India would be its nominee for power after Nato’s exit from Afghanistan. However, things did not go as the US and its allies had anticipated.
The US realised that without Pakistan an honourable exit from Afghanistan was difficult, and so they agreed to grant Pakistan due role in the future configuration of Afghanistan. On the other side, India expected that after Hamid Karzai the upcoming government would heat up the hate against Pakistan.
However, Dr Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah adopted a realistic and mature course. They extended a hand of friendship towards Pakistan. They acknowledged the military and strategic demands of Pakistan, which Hamid Karazi had failed to accept in twelve long years. India, in utter disappointment and desperation over the failure of all its political, diplomatic and strategic aims – and to settle the score – has activated RAW to utilise proxies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, encourage more intrigue in Balochistan with the help of Iran, and increase what it is investing in its agents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
From an Indian perspective, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project is terrible news. Whether our own incompetent and selfish political leadership understands it or not, it is very clear to strategists sitting in India and Iran that if the project is completed according to its original potential and plan, it would result in regional economic boom – with the axis in Gwadar. The project’s success also means the economic supremacy of China and not India in the region.
It is natural for India and Iran to join hands against the project. There are many plans to do

that: presenting the Bandar Abbas Port as an alternate to Gwadar; making the project contentious within Pakistan (also thanks to the incompetence of our government); terrorist operations on Pakistani soil to discourage any actual progress on the project and creating a negative image of Pakistan in the international market. ISPR hinted openly at these RAW activities after the corps commanders’ conference and same has also been mentioned by our Foreign Office.
The question that comes to mind after each such terrorist activity is: if RAW is doing all this, why our agencies are not able to check them? Indeed one of the spy agencies of Pakistan is rated and acknowledged globally as one of the best agencies in the world. Besides, Pakistani agencies command a fare amount of authority. For the most part of their actions they are not answerable to parliament; neither can the judiciary act as ombudsmen on their operations.
After legislation such as the PPO and approval of the National Action Plan now they are also armed with the necessary legal cover. To my mind five major areas are responsible for the apparent failures of our spy agencies against RAW.
First and foremost are resources. If we compare the defence budget of India and Pakistan, and the allocations for spy agencies, it is very clear that India spends much more than us. It is unfortunate that in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan the most deadly weapon is still money.
The second is the area of focus. RAW is dedicated for foreign operations while in Pakistan spy agencies have to invest most of their time in dealing with internal assignments. In the very recent past, our spy agencies were thought to have been involved actively in domestic politics.
The third factor is India’s civilian and military unity. In India any operation against Pakistan by the military is supported by the civilian leadership and the media along with the civil society. In the same way any action against Pakistan by the political leadership enjoys fuller support from the military and society.
In Pakistan we witness the worst kind of civil-military mutual distrust. To promote civil-military coordination, the Cabinet Committee for Defence and Security was formed, and among other things Pak-India relations are also on its agenda. For obvious reasons, the prime minister has not called the committee to meet for the last seven months.
The fourth main reason for RAW’s success in Pakistan is fuller coordination between spy agencies and law-enforcement agencies in India. All institutions with the same objectives work in the same direction. In Pakistan we don’t have any such mechanism. The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) was formed for this very purpose, and the government aggregated all internal security related issues in the same institute. But same government has so far not provided ample fund, staff and facilities to make Nacta active.
Instead, coordination between the minister for interior and the prime minister dwindled; apparently both have not talked to each other for many months. The ministers for interior and defence also repotedly do not get along. So how can a political leadership that lacks coordination in the cabinet possibly coordinate the military administration, spy agencies and civil institutions?
The last reason behind the weak response from Pakistani spy agencies is that the proxies Pakistan prepared against India are now mixed somewhere with anti-Pakistan militants. If those proxies are pampered, militants too get new vigour. And if there is even-handed treatment against militants, the proxies are at risk. For quite some time the entry of mujahedeen into Kashmir has been made almost impossible.
Against this backdrop, Pakistani spy agencies and law-enforcement agencies are neither weak nor incompetent. The problem lies in absence of priorities, clarity in thought, coordination and the resultant civil-military mutual distrust.
The writer works for Geo TV.
Email: [email protected]

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