In an unprecedented development, Pakistan’s security forces arrested a “RAW agent” from Balochistan. Looking at the subsequent developments, it appears that the story was mainly for domestic consumption.

This perception is reinforced by the facts that neither a substantive protest nor any follow up lodged with Indian government. Neither the story was used for lobbying with Washington or Beijing, nor it has made any rounds in the UN. No other government has so far been involved except Iran. That too was badly busted by the visiting Iranian President who rejected the reports attributed to DG ISPR of bringing the RAW agent issue with Iranian President by Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff.

Analyzing DG ISPR’s tweets however, it appears that the above-mentioned claim was never made (unless he has deleted some tweets). All he tweeted was, the issue of Indian involvement in Balochistan was brought to the discussion. Iranian side, going by the news reports, rejected even that. What made ISPR divulge the information of a one-on-one meeting without taking Iranian buy-in is not understandable.

A couple of days ago there was a hotline exchange between Director Generals of Military Operations of India and Pakistan where concern was communicated to India from Pakistani side on the ‘unprovoked violations of ceasefire on LoC’. This was an opportunity of sharing the concern on this spy business. No such discussion has reported to take place. In the joint presser too, the DG ISPR is seen insisting on keeping it in Urdu despite the presence of international journalists while referring to one of them who he thought spoke better Urdu than anyone else in the room. The audience of the story, it is clear, was Pakistan none else.

The story did not end here. On March 31, another report was leaked about the arrest of another RAW agent named Sanober from the Hub district of Balochistan. This time a press conference did not follow. Another leak was about the arrest of two “RAW agents’ from a factory in Lahore. This was however denied by the DG ISPR in his joint presser but the usual suspects in media (and on social media) are still propagating this un-confirmed story as gospel truth. Few days into April and we hear about an Afghan agent arrested from Chaman. While Zarb-e-Azb is reportedly in its final stages, it seems region’s intelligence agencies have suddenly got busy with business in Pakistan.

But listening to Jadhav, it seems this has not happened so suddenly. Despite the standard procedure followed by all the intelligence agencies, of not divulging any information and admitting espionage under any circumstances, Jadhav started singing like a canary within three weeks of his being in custody. He tells very interesting details.

While claiming to be from the Engineering Department of Indian Navy, he states that he joined National Defence Academy in 1987 and was commissioned in Indian Navy in January 1991 where he ‘served till 2001’. But again says he is still serving there and is due to retire in 2022. Meanwhile, after leaving (he doesn’t make it clear what happened in 2001 with his service) Indian Navy, he kept ‘contributing to gather intelligence within India’ after the Parliament blasts. That means he probably served in Intelligence Bureau because RAW doesn’t work in domestic sphere.

After completion of ten years of service in 2002, Jadhav reports, he started intelligence operations in Iran and established a business as cover in Chabahar from where he made ‘undetected visits to Karachi in 2003 and 4’. After which he was ‘picked up by RAW in the end 2013 [SIC]’, he claims. It is not clear what he was doing from 2001 (when he says he left Indian Navy, but says he still is serving there) to 2002 when he started intelligence operations in Iran, and from 2003 (when he started making visits to Karachi) to 2013 (when he claims he was picked up by RAW).

He then confesses to have been ‘directing’ various activities in Balochistan and Karachi, which were ‘criminal and anti-national in nature’. He gives no specific details of which activities, contacted whom and what were his rendezvous. The Pak-Iran border at Saravan where he says he was arrested on Pakistani side where he crossed over to coordinate ‘some subversive activities in Gwadar, Jeevani and Pasni’. The claim is not supported by the geography. It would take him around 8-10nhours to travel from Saravan to Gwadar! Very lousy agent one must say.

Even the name of the Joint Secretary that he worked under, Anil Kumar Gupta, seems to be incorrect as per the story of senior journalist Praveen Swami published in Indian Express recently. The words ‘anti national and criminal activities’ and ‘maiming and killing Pakistani citizens’ come twice in his 6 minutes video edited rather chopped at many points with wrong lip sink that doesn’t sync with what he was speaking.

Apologies for these unnecessary details, but one is not trying to prove the story wrong. In fact, there exists very little doubt that our enemy exploits our fault lines and catalyses subversion on our land to weaken us. The issue here is presenting our case with proficiency and efficiently pursuing it at all forums where it could get us desired result. That would happen in case the desired result is to snub the enemy with credible evidence and weaken its tactics to hit us where it hurts the most. Raising it with P-5 grudgingly and leaking unsubstantiated information prematurely doesn’t serve that purpose certainly.

So what exactly did we get from the story? If at all it served something, it provided us the equaliser as far as India is concerned that too, only domestically. The reason we needed that equaliser was the presence of loud dissenting voices that have so far been insisting on getting strong evidence on foreign interventions or else seriously focusing on our own weaknesses and fault lines so no foreign or regional power could ever exploit our frailties to their advantage. Now this is a problematic narrative. It sequesters from the state, the comfortable and lethargic choice of blaming every little fault of our own making on outsiders instead of focusing inwards.

But even this very badly presented story open many questions. Questions on our neighbours as well as on our own security set-up too. Before asking Iran about the use of their land by RAW for subversive activities in Pakistan, we must answer what made us host Jundallah on our land for so long that viciously attacked Iranians.

It opens a question on Indians too, who have an elaborate intelligence network in Iran especially at the strategic site of Chabahar. If Indian government says they had nothing to do with Jadhav after he left Indian Navy in 2001, what their intelligence apparatus was doing since 2003 when one of their lost officers was present, active and moving to and from Pakistan at his will but clandestinely? Our own intelligence agencies can’t go sot free if Jadhav’s story is true. In a highly monitored area such as Balochistan, an Indian agent has been roaming around since 2003. What was our ‘world’s number one agency’ doing since so many years?

Someone should answer these critical questions from our side at least.