Seems Kulbhushan Jadhav was not the last RAW man in Pakistan. Nor he was the first. But everyone seems to be, apart from being really excited, so bewildered and shocked over this ‘discovery’.

Following Jadhav’s arrest two “RAW agents” were reportedly arrested from a factory. Within a week of this ‘grand discovery’, another RAW agent was arrested from Hub district of Balochistan on March 30. Following which, an Afghan spy was arrested from Chaman. And the latest is, two RAW agents from among the fishermen community have been arrested from Karachi.

There was a conspicuous demand that the news of all these arrests was should be highlighted with media uproar. Yes, these ‘demands’ are in vogue these days. Another such demand landed in many media houses reportedly when reports came up about the unconstitutional parallel courts run by the ‘anokha ladlas’ of Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD). The ‘demands’ this time were ‘urging’ media houses to hush the news up. No wonder you don’t see any follow up of the story. Long live media freedom!

To probably give an impetus to this hitherto a mild simmering in the voluble space, Chief of Army Staff was heard in Gwadar on April 12 complaining to the world community about the evil designs of India. You know, all of us are apparently so appalled to see that an officially designated enemy state is actually working against us. Sweet!

To quote the COAS, “CPEC has also raised many eyebrows by those competing for influence in the region. In this context, I must highlight that India, our immediate neighbor, has openly challenged this development initiative. We all know that hostile intelligence agencies are averse to this grand project. Here, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to make a special reference to Indian Intelligence Agency RAW that is blatantly involved in destabilizing Pakistan”.
As mentioned last week, we presented our story to the Permanent Five members of the UN, but did not respond to UN Secretary General’s public offer to support Pakistan-India dialogue. One is not aware of any strong and result-based diplomatic effort to lobby against the ‘Indian involvement to destabilise Pakistan’. Our main allies remain elusive on this. When asked last week during a routine briefing, the Deputy Spokesperson of the US State Department, Mark Toner limited his response to an embarrassingly parsimonious one line: “I am aware of the reports about the arrest, however, I don’t have anything – any details of the arrest.” No one approached the State Department and briefed about the details of what we know.
Let alone the State Department, it seems no special effort has been made to take China in confidence. China remains a ‘higher than Himalayas’ friend of Pakistan that has offered its (unconditional?) support to us in influencing the 1267 Committee of the UN to quash a ban on Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and unbanning JuD. What a beautiful comity of acolytes we have, which we have to protect on every international forum!

The Iranians we did approach, that too by tweeting away their trust and all diplomatic norms. On April 1 subsequently, Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior sent an official letter addressed to the Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost, seeking assistance to counter and overcome the involvement of India in spying and sabotage activities inside Pakistan. In the letter, reference has been made to another RAW agent who had been assisting Kulbhushan Jadhav in ‘subversive activities in Pakistan’. The letter identifies the other spy as RAW Sub Inspector Rakesh alias Rizwan who is also working undercover as a businessman dealing in jewelry.

The letter goes on to give their shop address as well (Shop No709, Abresham Mall, Chabahar, Iran). Through this letter, Pakistan asks for the “immediate arrest and handover of Rakesh alias Rizwan for interrogation in Pakistan”. The response to this letter has so far not seen the light of the day except a recent briefing by Iranian Foreign Office at Tehran in which the spokesperson indicated that his country was looking into the matter. If at all this Rakesh alias Rizwan exists, a bargain could be made by extraditing Abdul Salam Regi of Jaish-al-Adl who was arrested last year in Quetta, wanted by Iran. In case he has not already been extradited.

It is also not understandable why the routine presence of the spy network (that every intelligence agency builds in enemy lands as part of day-to-day work) is being flaunted as the biggest successes of our intelligence agencies. The spy pawns like the Karachi fishermen could have been easily made into double agents or double informers for longer-term benefit. They are instead being utilised to strengthen an immature narrative of absolute futility or at least, very limited use. Why did we even think Indians were not involved? Wasn’t Sarabjeet Singh arrested and jailed? Remember Kashmir Singh who was released after decades of imprisonment and who then went back home and admitted that he was a spy? If memory serves right, a RAW agent Ravindra Kaushik was arrested a while ago. He succeeded in sneaking into Pakistan Army as a civilian clerk and later died while serving his jail term. How did we handle all these cases?
The only difference in these past stories and the current case is that Kulbhushan Jadhav has not been charged with any specific activities unlike Sarabjeet, Kashmir and Kaushik. The charges that the Counter-Terrorism Department of Balochistan has put on him are fairly general and hardly strengthen our case that we want to build against Indian involvement. Someone needs to shun lethargy and move the butts rather actively to get more solid evidence in case we really want to build a case and don’t just want domestic ripples to save our own rats.

This sudden surge in RAW activities, which are not being effectively pursued through diplomatic channels with India, remains an enigma. The stories are helping the establishment build a narrative of zero responsibility of the homegrown terrorists for the mayhem. The domestically blown-out-of-proportion stories also undermine the establishment’s own narrative of ‘no good or bad terrorists’ propagated under NAP for the hype about foreign hand distracts everyone from looking inwards. It gives immense space to the militant discourse of organizations like JeM, LeT, JuD and others, who then pounce with vitriol on anyone who talks of peace between the two archenemies.

Labeling the peaceniks as RAW agents or the agents of the enemy hardly serves the purpose of home cleaning that was promised by civil and military leadership after the tragic attack on our children at APS Peshawar. One thing that even the establishment knows is, there is no other way except détente with India. To achieve that without compromising our internal security, Pakistan will have to keep talking to them. Today, the Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue is far more necessary than ever. Why have we put the brakes on Foreign Secretary level talks in which we could have brought RAW’s involvement? Why can’t effective intelligence cooperation be negotiated with India with DGMO style hotlines between intelligence agencies? Isn’t this the formula that came under discussion back in 2011?
Keep it under your control if you want dear ‘men at your best’, but do it.