Andrew Korybko

Terrorist-on-terrorist violence carried out in Global South countries usually doesn’t make headline news anywhere in the world, but what just happened in Afghanistan a few days ago got everyone talking in South Asia because of the profound implications that it’s bound to have. Aslam Achu, the mastermind behind the last month’s terrorist attack at the Chinese consulate in Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, was assassinated by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar. And this killing has not gone unnoticed.

The Baloch Liberation Army, which claimed the Chinese consulate attack, also staged a number of other terrorist hits – mostly in the south-western Balochistan. The ripples of chaos caused by the back-to-back BLA assaults soon spilled over the border into Iran and its Chabahar port came under a militant attack two weeks later.

The BLA’s connections with Indian intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) are no secret. The agency funds and trains BLA cadres and provides them logistic support for its operations to destabilise Pakistan in general and frustrate the Sino-Pak mega project of CPEC in particular.

Achu was reportedly sent to Afghanistan earlier this month in a desperate bid by India to distance itself from its terrorist proxy after the high-profile incidents from its ‘asset’ threatened to undermine New Delhi’s delicate relations with China and Iran. And now that he’s been killed, questions have been raised as to if he was eliminated deliberately by his own masters or his death at the hands of another militant outfit was just an accident in the war-ravaged Afghanistan - where different groups keep fighting each other for securing maximum space and influence.


Dr Jumma Marri Khan, the founder of the Overseas Pakistani Baloch Unity (OPBU) organization that works towards reintegrating wayward Baloch abroad back into the Pakistani mainstream, warned his ethnic compatriots just a few weeks ago against being used as “tissue paper” by India in what can be seen in hindsight as a prescient prediction about the fate that would ultimately befall Achu in Afghanistan. In fact, the assassination of this terrorist leader at the hands of other terrorists sends a very disturbing message about what might await all of India’s intelligence assets – whether Baloch or others – in the event that they too become too much of a liability to the RAW, which could have the unintended effect of deterring others from wanting to collaborate with it in the future.


It’s been almost two and a half years since Indian Prime Minister Modi infamously brought up the Baloch in his August 2016 Independence Day speech and confirmed what Pakistan had been saying for years about RAW’s patronage of separatist-terrorist groups on its territory, especially seeing as how the country captured Hybrid War operative Kalbushan Jadhav earlier that year who eventually confessed to working on behalf of the neighboring country’s intelligence agency to carry out attacks in Balochistan.

This needless bragging put RAW and its Baloch assets in an awkward position because both had hitherto vehemently denied any association with one another but then all of a sudden Modi spilled India’s secret to the whole world on live TV because he got carried away thumping his “56-inch chest”.


Now that the cat was out of the bag, India temporarily went full-throttle with its open support for the Baloch separatist cause, doing everything from broadcasting incendiary radio programs into the Pakistani region to taking up the issue at the UN. This, however, evidently caused serious divisions within RAW over the wisdom of advertising its association with those forces in the event that they (expectedly) got out of control and became a serious liability for New Delhi. That’s why schizophrenic behavior soon followed such as India signaling that it would grant citizenship to some separatist leaders around that time but failing to fulfill their request to this day, as well as announcing their participation at a recent “human rights” conference only to postpone it at the last minute.


Whether Achu was ordered by his RAW handlers to carry out the Karachi attack or “went rogue” and did it on his own volition to impress Modi regime, the international consequences of his terrorist actions made him much too big of a liability for India to continue associating with and resulted in him being sent to Afghanistan as New Delhi struggled to deal with the diplomatic fallout of what he did.

Seeing as how the war-torn country is one of the most dangerous places on this planet, he was either transferred there by RAW to be killed after a false flag attack for “knowing too much” or was sloppily dispatched there by India despite the fact that New Delhi should have known that he’d probably be killed at the hands of other terrorists soon enough.


Whatever the reason may be behind why Achu was sent to his ultimate death in Afghanistan, that doesn’t change the fact that RAW’s current and future assets can never trust it again after they saw for themselves how he was treated like a used tissue paper and thrown in the trash just like Dr Jumma predicted.

One way or another, India ended up getting rid of one of its most important intelligence assets in a surprisingly cruel way instead of “quietly retiring” him somewhere safe after he outlived his many years of usefulness, which will inevitably affect its recruiting prospects among possible agents for the foreseeable future since they can’t ever be sure that they won’t follow in his footsteps and meet a similarly dismal fate when their time is done too.


Regardless of whether it’s RAW or the high-ups in the Modi administration who are primarily responsible for Achu’s dramatic end, the fake news narrative is already circulating that Pakistan is to blame for his demise. This is obviously an attempt to control the collateral damage that this incident wrought to the reputation of India’s intelligence services.

Former Pakistani Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, who is considered a traitor by most in Pakistan, tweeted a provocative message implying that Islamabad was behind Achu’s assassination, but he inadvertently revealed the invisible hand of India’s perception managers by pushing forth a narrative that aligns with their interests.

Haqqani is the chief figure most directly involved in the 2011 “Memogate” scandal wherein the then Pakistan Peoples Party government asked the US for assistance against the country’s military. The ex- ambassador was charged with treason and he has since been living in self-imposed exile in America.


Aslam Achu’s assassination is bound reverberate from Balochistan to India’s Congress opposition party. Dr Jumma’s OPBU looks even more attractive than ever before to RAW-aligned Baloch separatists abroad after they can no longer rely on their patron to ensure their security, while the consequent ruining of RAW’s reputation could be picked up by Congress following its surprise victory in several recent regional elections in order to become a heated political issue ahead of next year’s general election.

The aftershocks of this incident might therefore be even more far-reaching and impactful in the long term than the terrorist attack that Achu masterminded as part of the hybrid war on CPEC, unintentionally contributing to Pakistan’s stability and possibly even the democratic ouster of Modi from office (the latter of which might occur with a wink from some RAW factions).