RAW, from Palk Strait to Balochistan

Waqar K Kauravi

The arrest of Commander Kulbhushan Yadav from Balochistan may have surprised many in the media and political hierarchy; however Indian prime agency RAW’s involvement to destabilize neighbourhood of India is nothing new as it is part of a larger Indira Doctrine. The Doctrine as stated by Bhabani Sen Gupta in 1983 appeared to be very benign and simple but it had germs of a La Monroe doctrine. One of the clauses of Indira Doctrine stated, “India will not tolerate external intervention in a conflict situation in any South Asian country, if the intervention has any implicit or explicit anti-Indian implication. No South Asian government must, therefore, ask for external military assistance with an anti-Indian bias from any country”.
The timing of promulgation of Indira Doctrine coincided with the implosion of civil war within Sri Lanka which converted this beautiful tourist paradise into a hell hole for next three decades. Palk Strait became the main conduit of supplying of arms and logistics to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE), as RAW would push it through the strategic base of Tamil Nadu into Mollativu Forests and Jaffna peninsula. When the feared and mighty Generalissimo Prabharkaran of LTTE was taken out by Sri Lankan forces in 2009 at Nanthi Kadal,the rear guard action was being fought by RAW’s operatives led by a Colonel level officer who wanted Prabharkaran to escape across the Palk Strait. With the fall of Mollativu and Elephant pass to Srilankan defence forces, their intelligence uncovered a trove of RAW’s secret cells and logistic bases which had kept Srilanka burning for thirty years.
RAW’s next big game opened against the arch rival Pakistan after fall of Taliban regime, as Afghanistan became the centre of power game led by the US with a plethora of approximately 40 intelligence agencies actively pursuing their agenda. RAW exploited the swaths of ungovernable areas of Afghanistan for setting the bases across the Durand Line and even within some of Indian Consulates in Iran, with the objectives like, Befriend anti Pakistan terrorist organizations and support selective but ruthless terrorist organizations like TTP, Lashkar e Jhangvi and Daish etc; Penetrate the area east of River Indus including Balochistan to support proxy war against Pakistan; support dissident leadership of BLA etc, and supply them arms and ammunitions to sabotage life line of Balochistan, especially the communication networks; Provide diplomatic support to dissident leaders and organize seminars and conferences in major capitals of the western world to highlight cause of liberation of Balochistan.
The RAW plans also included to develop a network of criminals, smugglers and terrorist organizations within Pakistan for targeting urban areas, military installations and law enforcement agencies and also penetrate militant wings of some nationalist parties to make entire cities hostage to RAW’s agendas. Balochistan became a prime target because of three major reasons; the deep sea port of Gwader would propel Pakistan into the maritime game of the Indian Ocean and allow it to grow faster than India. Development of mineral and energy resources of Balochistan would give an added advantage to Pakistan and lately CPEC would bypass India as the economic hub of South Asia weakening Indian economic and strategic position vis-a-vis China.
The extent of RAW’s involvement in Karachi, Balochistan, KPK and even urban centres of Punjab and Sindh may not be fully known; however, the intelligence being gathered from Commander Kulbhushan may uncover some of the strategic directives given to him by South block and Mr. Ajit Kumar Dovel.
Pakistan’s defensive attitude to RAW’s blatant involvement within Pakistan in kinetic and non-kinetic domains is one reason this agency has operated so freely and ruthlessly on Pakistani soil. Despite the handing over of dossiers to Indian leadership in Sharm al Sheikh, the cozying of top political leadership to Indian overtures has probably convinced Indian establishment that Pakistan was a soft state and its leadership could be taken for a ride behind a smoke screen of Bollywood and smiling Modi.
Indian track record of dealing with her neighbours is not very bright, Pakistan had its share of four wars right from 1948 including dismemberment in 1971, Sikkim was absorbed, China was engaged in a war across the Himalayas in 1962, Srilanka was invaded and subjected to RAW’s proxy war for three decades, Maldives was coerced, even the Kingdom of Nepal has been isolated through trade embargos and arms twisting. What could be Pakistan’s strategy to deal with RAW’s blatant involvement as this agency has been badly exposed to the entire world? This is million dollars question. Kulbhushan Yadav aka Hussain Mubarak Patel is just tip of the iceberg; how many serving and retired RAW operators are operating on Pakistani soil may not be ever known; however the arrest of such high ranking officer and his ability to operate from Iran raises more questions.
Pakistan has to build her case with complete preparations through the trove of intelligence likely to be gathered from Commander Kulbhushan and present it bluntly to Indian Political leadership. Pakistan also needs to share the information with Iran and Afghanistan with a request to uncover the Indian agenda to use soil of friendly countries against Pakistan. For international community and our western allies, Pakistan needs to build its case on the lines of post Mumbai India; especially exposing Indian State’s active involvement in unleashing a reign of terror within Pakistan.
Pakistan also needs to weigh the cost of appeasement of India in last two decades and what benefits it has given to Pakistan; has this policy solved Pakistan’s teething problems like Indian theft of water from Pakistani Rivers, trade and commerce, Sir Creek, Siachen and Kashmir dispute? If the answer is no, then Pakistan may review its policy vis-a-vis India, there is no other way.
— The author is a Defence Analyst based in Lahore.

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