India - Pakistan Diplomatic Ties

RISING SUN

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Dec 3, 2017
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A former ISI chief's SENSATIONAL story​

General Asad Durrani's disclosures could leave considerable egg on the face of those currently wielding the stick in Pakistan, notes Rana Banerji, who headed the Pakistan desk at the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency.




All Illustrations: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com


A new book, Honour among Spies (Harper Collins, India, 2020) by Pakistan's former ISI chief, Lieutenant General Asad Durrani (retd) has just hit the stands.


Claimed to be a fictional account, with 'any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, being entirely coincidental', it is nevertheless a hard-hitting critique of those currently in power in Pakistan's military establishment.


With scarcely ill-conceived angst, Durrani describes in detail the travails he had to face in an enquiry by the Inter Services Intelligence after his jointly co-authored book with former R&AW chief A S Dulat, The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace (Harper Collins, 2018) saw the light of day in Pakistan.


Durrani's pension was stopped temporarily (since restored) and he was put on an Exit Control List while this enquiry was being conducted.


Durrani asserts confidently that the enquiry could find nothing detrimental against him, as he had not disclosed any State secrets which were not already known or had not been disclosed earlier by other generals like Pervez Musharraf, in his book, In the Line of Fire. A memoir, (Simon & Schuster, 2006).


He points out that he told his interlocutors in ISI that he had rather been able to get much more out of Dulat about India's mishandling of events than he had revealed, about the ISI's support to 'non-State actors' in Kashmir.



Durrani believes the real reason why he was harassed was because he had let on, in interviews to the BBC and Al Jazeera while at conferences abroad, that the Pakistani army leadership may have been aware of Osama bin Laden's whereabouts in Abbotabad (his gender is converted to a female here) and was privy to the US Navy Seals's Operation Neptune Spear to take him out in May 2011.


This had been worked out in a deal between then Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, then ISI director-general Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha and the concerned American officers in the CIA, after a Pakistani cclonel serving in the ISI had walked in to the US embassy in Islamabad and had 'blown the whistle'.


The deal was to have otherwise remained under wraps.


Durrani admits having disclosed to his foreign interlocutors: 'It was more likely that they knew about the raid, which otherwise would have been very risky: Vulnerable to interception, ground fire, and resistance from bin Laden's security guards or the locals'; 'If I were at the helm of affairs in Pakistan, I would have tracked down' Bin Laden, kept him where no one suspected, and one day asked the US to come take him away.


Of course, he 'would express ignorance and concede incompetence when it came to interdicting a foreign raid well inside Pakistani territory, but would not risk domestic backlash for helping a foreign power kill a local hero'.


He also admits, 'It started with a "walk-in" Colonel, who betrayed bin Laden's whereabouts, a former intelligence man, who had served under him earlier'.





Throughout the book, Durrani uses thinly veiled nom de plumes for his fictional characters, which are not only hilarious but can be easily identified with real personalities who played a role during interesting phases of Pakistan's recent history, and especially, in its relations with India.


In the book, he plays Osama Barakzai in the first person, a Pashtun tribal whose feudal ancestors settled in Gujrat (Pakistani Punjab).


Musharraf is named Gulrez Shahrukh, current Pakistan army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa is called Jabbar Jatt, whom Naveen Sheikh (Nawaz Sharif) selected out of turn and merit, as the Sharifs were family friends of Bajwa's in-laws.


Hamid Gul is Gul Muhammed, Aslam Beg becomes Akram Moghul, current Prime Minister Imran Khan is named Khurshid Qadri, a 'U-turn specialist' and so on.


Former army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is identified as 'Raja Rasalu, once one of the author's 'favorite students' at the Quetta Staff College (Durrani was instructor there), who is described as 'one of Pakistan's rare thinking generals', who became 'rather vulnerable to temptation, financial or professional' later in his career (a reference to known allegations about involvement of Kayani's relatives in lucrative business deals while he was army chief).


The all powerful army establishment is referred to as 'the National Guards', the ISI headquarters where Durrani is repeatedly interrogated becomes the 'Lair'.


Several ISI interrogators are named and described, who could perhaps be easily identified by serving peer officers in Pakistan.


Dulat is 'Randhir Singh', the Kargil 'misadventure' is described as 'the Pir Panjal pass'.


The recently murdered Kashmiri journalist, Shujaat Bukhari is called Wajahat Samarkandi.


Well-known American journalist Seymour Hersh, who worked on the Osama bin Laden story is named Simon Hirsh.


Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is referred to as 'Sharma' and Manmohan Singh is called K I Gujjar. The Kartarpur gurdwara becomes Sardarpur.





Interestingly enough, Durrani also discloses in the book that an approach was made to him by diplomats in the US, UK and Germany (obviously intelligence officials under cover) in Islamabad to get more details of his interaction with the Indians which led to his book with Dulat.


Apparently, as claimed by Durrani, a similar approach was made to Dulat in Delhi.


While not much succor was given on the Indian side, Durrani decided to hold several clandestine meetings with his diplomat contacts to ascertain what their game was.


Nothing much seems to have come out in this endeavor.


The fictional denouement is resolved finally as a partial exoneration for Durrani in the Federal Shariat Court, at one stage of whose proceedings, one Bashar Khan of air defence, who apparently identified and disclosed to the Americans gaps in air defence at OBL's Abbotabad hideout, was to appear as a witness but fails to testify at the last minute, fearing for his life.


As the case unfolds with a reserved judgement, Durrani suggests that the current army chief was egged on to harass him by Kayani, who was Bajwa's former boss and belonged to the same regiment.


Quoting Ghalib, the author laments, 'Ya rabb, wo na samjhein hain, na samjheingey mairi baat. Na dey dil unko, toe dey mujhko zuban aur (I was misunderstood and will always be. Oh God, give them another heart or me another voice).


Publication of this book, albeit a fictional account, is interestingly timed, as it is written by a retired Pakistani general at a turbulent juncture in Pakistani politics, when the role of the generals in disrupting democracy has been starkly questioned by Nawaz Sharif.


More so, that it could be smuggled out for publication in India.


Durrani's disclosures could leave considerable egg on the face of those currently wielding the stick in Pakistan.
 

RISING SUN

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Dec 3, 2017
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Imran Khan’s Pakistan wants to call. But Modi’s status is, ‘Can’t talk, WhatsApp only’​

Kashmir Day might have passed, but Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Which flower should you give to an estranged neighbour who refuses to talk? But nothing says “I want to talk” like missed calls. There’s apparently been plenty of those missed calls from Prime Minister Imran Khan but the answer from Narendra Modi has remained “Can’t talk, WhatsApp only”.

How does one change that?
Like the issue of Kashmir persisting all our and our ancestors’ lifetime, we did hope that India-Pakistan talks would also continue. Plot twist: It didn’t. Since 2008, there has been no bilateral dialogue between the two countries. And after the 2015 Modi and Nawaz Sharif surprise meeting in Lahore, Pakistan leaders haven’t met at all. Even the media hype over “who first smiled and waved at whom” at international summits has withered away.

So, where are we now?

Even if love isn’t in the air, at least peace is. Or at least the good-old-days’ talk about peace and tranquillity is. Who better to signal peace but the army chief of Pakistan? “It is time to extend hand of peace in all directions,” Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said recently. One hand extending peace, the other holding his own plate of omelette — what else can one hope for? Or given the past experiences of talks, does India think that extending a hand would mean hath kar jana?

‘Yaar’ or not?
Then there is the curious case of PM Khan who still hasn’t recovered from Modi snubbing him. “I couldn’t understand why Modi didn’t want to talk,” he perhaps thinks. But Khan understands that he wants to talk to Modi on Kashmir, the same Modi he wanted to see re-elected and solving the issue of Kashmir. So, in one speech you go on to compare the Modi government with ‘Nazis’, while in the next, you want Modi to be your ‘yaar’. How does that work? Nonstop rhetoric will win you hashtags, but that doesn’t take forward the bilateral discourse.

Then there is the dilemma of foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. One day, he tells us Pakistan won’t talk to India till it rolls back the scrapping of Article 370. The next day, he asks why India fears talking to Pakistan? Consider this the modern version of Allama Iqbal’s “shikwa, jawab-e-shikwa (complaint, response to the complaint)”. Only making it more potent with Qureshi’s theatrics. Unlucky, Iqbal isn’t around to witness it. Lucky us, or not.

There was also special assistant to Imran Khan on national security division and strategic policy planning, Moeed Yusuf, who was the first to break the news that India desires to start talks with Pakistan. Yusuf seemed to imply that India was dying to talk to Pakistan, only that India was oblivious of its desires, as we later found out. “Pakistan will take two steps if India takes one,” he now tells us. All hangs in balance over the “if”.

A continuing K-drama
What now? Pakistan is ready to talk to India, but no one is asking India what it wants, or if it even cares.

Pakistan’s hope of going back to the golden era of talks, confidence-building measures, people-to-people contact, thora-bohot Kashmir chooran, then a major act of terrorism (Mumbai 2008, Pathankot 2016) and then a reset again, has unfortunately passed. The new reality, as much as Pakistan doesn’t want to see it, is that those days are over and Kashmir talks is hardly even a chooran that sells anymore. Especially with the incompetent government of Imran Khan, with whom even political rivals at home don’t want to talk.

We are told that a strategy is needed to foil Delhi’s Kashmir plan. So, even after two years we still don’t have a strategy? For now, Pakistan President Arif Alvi can continue to lead Kashmir Day solidarity walks alongside Azad Jammu and Kashmir PM Raja Farooq Haider, against whom the Pakistan government had recently registered a sedition case. That’s some sight for sore eyes.

The seriousness of this hybrid regime is on full display, just look at the prime minister’s speech on Kashmir Day last week. He said that Kashmiris will be given an option to become independent. And the foreign office rushed to give out a late-night statement that there is no change in Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. But what Khan was offering is written in the constitution of Pakistan, and is nothing new.

The constitution says that after the plebiscite, if Kashmir chooses Pakistan, “the relationship between Pakistan and that State shall be determined in accordance with the wishes of the people of that State.” But the foreign office thought that anything coming out of PM’s mouth has to be fact-checked (I don’t blame them). It was as if no one at the foreign office was paying attention to the Pakistan Studies lectures in school. But then there are leaders who have taught us that the constitution is just a piece of paper that could be thrown in the dustbin.

Laughable that a country that has spent decades for a cause, doesn’t know what to do with it in the end. Or it is sure that there will never be any end to its ‘K policy’. Talks shall continue even if with oneself.
 
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Lolwa

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Feb 6, 2020
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I hope they reinforce the border since a terrorist attack is going to come sometime in the future..
 

Jaymax

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Apr 1, 2019
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Paxtan's FATF review is coming up. Connect the dots.

That would explain why Pak is looking to be the good boy.

Question is why is India playing along. Do we expect ISI will change its mission to seek world peace and eliminate world hunger?

Or we are playing along for the sake of maintaining appearances. Pak has been quiet for a while some mayhem is due from their end. It will bring us back to square one and India will shrug and say at least we tried.
 

_Anonymous_

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Dec 4, 2017
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That would explain why Pak is looking to be the good boy.

Question is why is India playing along. Do we expect ISI will change its mission to seek world peace and eliminate world hunger?

Or we are playing along for the sake of maintaining appearances. Pak has been quiet for a while some mayhem is due from their end. It will bring us back to square one and India will shrug and say at least we tried.
Simple answer. The economies of both India & Paxtan is down in the dumps with the latter in a far worse shape. Then there's the FATF for Paxtan to consider & for India there's China.
 
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