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Saturday, April 15, 2017

L’Affaire De Kulbhushan Jadhav: A Case Of PARVAZ-E-WAHIYAT (Unmitigated Flight Of Nonsense)

If the public administration motto of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ‘maximum governance, minimum government’, the exact opposite holds true for his Pakistani counterpart Mian Mohd Nawaz Sharif, i.e. maximum government, near-zero governance’. And that is because the Pakistan Army (PA), while not being in the driver’s seat, is very much so the sole provider of driving cues, i.e. it is 100% involved in Pakistan’s national governance. Only this can explain the volte face on April 14, 2017 by Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistani Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs and Pakistan’s de facto Foreign Minister. For, it was on December 7, 2016 that Aziz had told the Pakistani National Assembly’s Senate Committee of Foreign Affairs chamber that the dossier on alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav contained mere statements, and that additional evidence needed to be collected. “So far, we have just statements about the involvement of this Indian spy in terror activities in Pakistan…now it is up to the concerned authorities how long they take to give us more matter on the agent,” Aziz had said, adding that “more evidence was needed, and that the United Nations had been given a dossier about the Research & Analysis Wing’s (R & AW) involvement in Pakistan”.
And this was the very same Aziz who shared Pakistan’s charge-sheet against Kulbhushan Jadhav and a timeline of his trial in a media briefing on April 14, 2017. Aziz also asked why Jadhav, who was handed the death sentence on April by an in-camera Field General Court Martial (FGCM) for his involvement in espionage and sabotage activities inside Pakistan, had been carrying official documents under an alias at the time of his arrest. “I would like to ask India why he Jadhav was using a fake identity and masquerading as a Muslim. Why would an innocent man possess two Passports—one with a Hindu name, and one with a Muslim name? Since India has no credible explanation about why their serving naval commander was in Balochistan, it has unleashed a flimsy propaganda campaign,” he said. Aziz also condemned India’s “baseless allegations”, adding that India’s lack of cooperation and refusal to provide Pakistan legal assistance were the reasons Jadhav had not been granted consular access. “Inflammatory statements and rhetoric about pre-meditated murder and unrest in Balochistan will only result in escalation, serving no useful purpose,” he added. Aziz further said that steps had been taken to ensure transparency during the trial of Kulbhushan Jadhav under Pakistan's Official Secrets Act 1923’s Section 3 and the Pakistan Army Act 1952’s Section 59. Elaborating on these steps, Aziz revealed that Jadhav’s confessional statement had been recorded before a Judicial Magistrate under Section 164 of Pakistan’s Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), whereas the proceedings had been conducted under the Law of Evidence. Jadhav was also appointed a qualified legal officer to defend him in court proceedings. Witnesses recorded their statements under oath in front of the accused, who was allowed to question them. It should be clear from these details that Kulbhushan Jadhav was tried under the law of the land in a fully transparent manner,” Aziz said. “His sentence is based on credible, specific evidence proving his involvement in espionage and terrorist activities in Pakistan. A Letter of Assistance requesting specific information and access to certain key witnesses was shared with the Government of India on January 23, 2017. There has been no response from the Indian side so far. Kulbhushan Jadhav still has the right to appeal within 40 days to an appellate court. He may also lodge a mercy petition to the PA’s Chief of the Army Staff within 60 days of the decision by the appellate court and may file a mercy petition to the President of Pakistan within 90 days after the decision of the COAS on the mercy petition”, Aziz added.

Aziz revealed that Jadhav had been held responsible for the following terrorist activities in Pakistan:
· Sponsored and directed Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and grenade attacks in Gwadar and Turbat.
·  Directed attacks on a radar station and civilian boats in the sea opposite Jiwani Port.
· Funded subversive secessionist and terrorist elements through hawala/hundi for subverting the Pakistani youth against the country, especially in Balochistan.
·  Sponsored explosions of gas pipelines and electric pylons in Sibi and Sui areas in Balochistan.
·  Sponsored IED explosions in Quetta in 2015, causing massive damage to life and property.
· Sponsored sectarian attacks on Hazaras in Quetta and Shias en route to and back from Iran.
· Abetted attacks through anti-state elements against law enforcement agencies, the Frontier Corps (FC) and Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) in areas of Turbat, Punjgur, Gwadar, Pasni and Jiwani during 2014-2015, killing and injuring many civilians and soldiers.

Aziz also provided a timeline of the trial and proceedings against Jadhav:
· Kulbhushan Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, 21 days before his arrest was officially announced by Balochistan’s provincial Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti on March 24, 2016
· Confessional video statement recording of Kulbushan Jhadav—March 25, 2016
· Initial FIR filed with the Counter-Terrorism Department in Quetta—April 8, 2016
·  Conduct of initial interrogation—May 2, 2016
·  Conduct of detailed interrogation—May 22, 2016
·  Joint Investigation Team constituted—July 12, 2016
·  Confessional statement under Section 164 of the CrPC—July 22, 2016
·  Recording of summary of evidence—September 24, 2016
·  1st proceeding of FGCM—September 21, 2016
·  2nd proceeding of FGCM—October 19, 2016
·  3rd proceeding of FGCM —November 29, 2016
·  4th proceeding if FGCM—February 12, 2017
· Death sentence endorsed by FGCM—April 10, 2017

Aziz’s press-briefing 24 hours ago raises several questions about the veracity of his revelations due to the changing Pakistani narratives on L’Affair Kulbhushan Jadhav over the past 13 months. For instance, Pakistani says that when Jadhav was apprehended inside Balochistan, he was in possession of an Indian Passport, L-9630722, identifying him by the pseudonym of Hussein Mubarak Patel, born in Sangli, Maharashtra. This Passport had been issued on May 12, 2014 from the Thane Regional Passport Office (RPO) and was valid until May 11, 2024. Pakistan also alleges that Jadhav is concurrently serving with both the Indian Navy (IN) and the Indian Union Cabinet Secretariat’s R & AW, and that he will be retiring from the IN only in 2022. While Aziz also disclosed on April 14 that Jadhav was nabbed while trying to cross the border from Saravan city (the capital of Saravan County in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchestan province) into Mashkail in Balochistan, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director had on March 29, 2016 claimed that Jadhav was picked up by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in Balochistan’s Chaman Border Crossing Point near the shared border with Afghanistan, and that Jadhav had entered Balochistan from Afghanistan a total of 12 times, and that he had been in Balochistan for 15 days distributing millions in cash of different denominations among Baloch insurgents, and that he was carrying Pakistani and Afghani SIM cards and navigational maps. In a crowded hour-long military-civil press conference held in Islamabad on March 29, the ISPR released a ‘confession’ video of what it alleged was an Indian spy in Pakistan’s custody. In the 6-minute video, Kulbhushan Jadhav, 46, ‘confessed’ to launching covert operations against Balochistan province while operating from Chah Bahar port in southeastern Iran.

Earlier, on March 25, the then Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhary summoned the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad, Gautam Bambawale, and handed over a Démarche over the arrest of Jadhav, describing Jadhav as someone who was indulging in “subversive activities in Balochistan and Karachi”. On March 26, a day after the start of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s first official two-day visit to Islamabad, the then Director General of ISPR, Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, had tweeted that when the PA’s then COAS Gen Raheel Sharif met President Rouhani, he had raised the issue of R & AW’s involvement in Pakistan’s internal affairs, especially Balochistan. A subsequent statement issued by the ISPR said: “There is one concern that R & AW is involved in Pakistan, especially in Balochistan, and sometimes it also uses the soil of our brother country Iran.” On March 27, the very next day, the President Rouhani at a press-conference in Islamabad denied having discussed any matter with Gen Sharif, saying that “there was no discussion about Indian spy during my meeting with Gen Raheel”, and adding that “whenever Iran comes close to Pakistan, such rumours are spread”. Iran’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Mehdi Honardoost had then slammed the leaking of the details of Jadhav’s arrest instead of the issue being discussed between the security agencies of both countries.

When news of Jadhav’s arrest broke, the well-connected Afghan journalist Malik Achakzai tweeted to report that Jadhav had been abducted. On the same day, in Karachi, a former and very knowledgeable German ambassador to Pakistan Dr Gunter Mulack, said “that the Indian spy recently arrested in Balochistan was actually caught by Taliban and sold to Pakistani intelligence.”

Questions that arise from the above-mentioned Pakistani narratives are:

1) If Sartaj Aziz on April 14 stated that when Jadhav was apprehended inside Balochistan, he was in possession of an Indian Passport (L-9630722) identifying him by the pseudonym of Hussein Mubarak Patel, why did he contradict himself in that very same press-conference by asking: Why would an innocent man possess two Passports—one with a Hindu name, and one with a Muslim name? Where is the second Passport and why has it not yet been shown by Pakistan?

2) Why should anyone carry two Passports at all when it is a well-known rule that any person found in possession of two Passports—even showing identical identities but of different nationalities or differing identities with the same nationality—is a criminal offence?

3) Why is Pakistan not disclosing the material evidence which shows that Jadhav is still employed with the IN and R & AW? Does Pakistan possess Jadhav’s naval service records which say that Jadhav will retire in 2022?  

4) If indeed Jadhav was apprehended while trying to cross the border from Iran’s Saravan city into Mashkail in Balochistan, why did the ISPR on March 29, 2016 claim that Jadhav was picked up by Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies in Balochistan’s Chaman Border Crossing Point near the shared border with Afghanistan?

5) If Jadhav had indeed been ‘entrapped’ by Pakistan inside Balochistan, then why is it that the ‘Kaminda’—3,500-tonne Dhow that he owned, had also disappeared at the same time as Jadhav and remains untraceable? Is it possible for this Dhow to be operated by a single person, or did it have an on-board crew complement? If the answer is yes, where is it now?

6) Is is really possible for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and its proxies to pull off a successful ‘enforced abduction’ and smuggle the entrapped target over land from Iran’s restive Sistan-Baluchestan province into Balochistan when that entire Iranian province is crawling with covert operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran), the Basij Mostazafan, and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (Vezarat-e-Ettela’at Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran)?

7)  If Jadhav’s ‘confessions’ have enabled Pakistan to destroy the underground networks of several Pakistan-based separatist and terrorist networks, then why is there no news about any such Pakistani citizen or citizens being tried along with him as co-accused/co-conspirators via the FGCM route?

8) Was it possible for the ISI to monitor Jadhav’s cellphone conversations between Chah Bahar and any other place in India? If not, then what was the most probable area-location for the ISI to use its COMINT capabilities for listening to Jadhav’s cellphone-based communications?  
The above-mentioned questions can only be answered AFTER one examines in detail 1) the business activities of Kulbhushan Jadhav; and 2) the operating environment in and around Chah Bahar FTIZ. Born on April 16, 1971, Jadhav is the son of Sudhir Jadhav, and a resident of B-502 Silver Oak Point, Hiranandani Garden, Powai, Mumbai, in Maharashtra. He secured admittance into the Khadakwasla-based National Defence Academy in 1987 (Charlie Squadron, 77th Course), following which he was commissioned into the engineering branch of the Indian Navy in 1991 (Commissioning Number 41558Z). According to the Govt of India’s statement made on March 27, 2016, Lt Cmdr Jadhav took premature retirement from the Navy in 2003 and thereafter went into business as a merchant marine entrepreneur. Jadhav sank his life’s savings into his company, named Kaminda Trading Pvt Ltd and struggled to make ends meet, stumping up only meagre business ferrying scrap-metal, gypsum, tractor parts, bitumen, rice and wheat between the ports of Kandla and Porbandar in India, and Bandar Abbas and the Chah Bahar FTIZ in Iran. These were all transported by the‘Kaminda’—a 3,500-tonne Dhow that Jadhav’s company owned. All this while, Jadhav was apparently using a Passport (E-6934766, issued in 2003) registered in his true name. Jadhav’s maritime freight business picked up steam from 2012 onwards after Iran was slapped with crippling UN-mandated trade sanctions by the US and EU member-states. In fact, Iran during this very period dramatically increased its exports of commodities and crude oil-related downstream byproducts to India, while at the same time proportionally increased its imports of finished agricultural and chemicals-related products from India, which led to an annual bilateral trade of US$4 billion by 2014. In 2014, following the expiry of validity of his Passport, Jadhav decided not to renew the validity and instead chose to obtain a new Passport (L-9630722), this time giving his name as Hussain Mubarak Patel (born on August 30, 1968 in Sangli, Maharashtra), whose certified address was that of a flat in Thane owned by his mother, Avanti Jadhav. This Passport was issued on May 12, 2014 and was valid till November 5, 2024. He also succeeded in obtaining an Iranian business residency permit (valid till June 2016) for entering and residing in Chah Bahar FTIZ, located just 75km west of the Pakistani deep-sea port of Gwadar in Balochistan province.

The reason why Jadhav had to give the Thane address of his residence was for the sake of identity verification by the Thane Police’s Special Branch and the District Intelligence Bureau (DIB), which is a mandatory process whenever any Indian citizen applies for a Passport for the very first time. In Jadhav’s case, since he was assuming a new identity then, the earlier security authentication carried out by the Mumbai Police’s Special Branch and the DIB when Jadhav had acquired his first Passport in his original identity was now no longer valid.
The question that arises here, and which has not yet been explained either by Jadhav’s next-of-kith-and-kin or by the Govt of India, is what made Jadhav assume a new identity and that too at a time when his marine freighter business was doing quite well? Was it because it was brought to his attention by some authorities of either India or Iran that there was a high possibility of him being kidnapped in the high seas in an act of piracy—this probability being based on certain SIGINT/COMINT chatter of Pakistani origin that had been picked up by either Iran or India? After all, the waters between Balochistan province and Oman are the favourite operating areas of Baluchi smugglers like the notorious Baloch drug smuggler Haji Wali Mehmood Baloch, who operate in these waters and have close links with the ISI as they are always used to ferry consignments of compressed heroin (that are produced in Pakistan from the raw opium originating from Afghanistan) to various Arabian ports in the Persian Gulf. In fact, it is this drug trafficking business that sustains the Afghan Taliban’s Pakistan-supported guerrilla warfare inside Afghanistan. It is perhaps this possibility that prompted India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to state on March 29, 2016 that Jadhav was most likely kidnapped. However, for obvious reasons, The MEA stopped short of identifying the most likely location where the kidnapping took place.   
But this much is sure: Jadhav WAS NOT kidnapped from Chah Bahar or anywhere else inside Irannian territory. His last cellphone conversation was on February 29, 2016 in Chah Bahar, following which it was left unanswered. It is therefore highly probable that as he along with the Kaminda was heading back eastwards toward India, his vessel was stealthily boarded by some highly skilled Pakistanis (who had definitely rehearsed this act of piracy a few times in advance, probably between July 2015 and January 2016) at nighttime in international waters just outside Iran’s territorial waters in such a manner that neither Jadhav nor any of his crew-mates had absolutely no time to respond by transmitting an SOS distress signal from the vessel’s bridge. After forcibly commandeering the Kaminda and taking its crew complement hostage, the sea-assaulters then set sail for the nearest Pakistani coastal belt of Jiwani (34km east of the Iran-Pakistan maritime boundary) where Jadhav and his crew complement were offloaded. Thereafter, either the Kaminda was scuttled, or was repainted for assuming a new identity. This is the only plausible explanation for the continued disappearance of the Kaminda. So what became of the Kaminda’s crew complement? Have they too been tried by the Pakistan Army’s FGCM as co-conspirators or facilitators? If yes, then is Pakistan waiting for a suitable opportunity to reveal their fate?

There is some reason to infer that this could well happen since Balochistan’s Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri had subsequently claimed in 2016 that at least 15 more ‘operatives’ of R & AW had been arrested from his province,  based on the leads provided by Jadhav.

In addition, the mere fact that despite specific provisions in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, India has been denied access to Jadhav 15 successive times only confirms beyond any doubt that Pakistan does not want the truth to be revealed about the place and manner of Jadhav’s forced abduction. Consequently, the prospect of Jadhav securing his release from captivity and returning back to India too has now become an impossibility.
Coming now to the operating environment in and around Chah Bahar FTIZ, it needs to be noted that the Iranian province of restive Sistan-Baluchestan province is Iran’s most securitised area. This is because it is the favourite hunting ground for Pakistan-based extremist Baloch Sunni tanzeems like the Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice), the Jundullah (Soldiers of God), the Sipah-e-Sahaba or Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (which was traditionally dominant in South Punjab but is now also ascendant in Parachinar, Kurram Agency) and of late the Jamaat-ud-Dawa headed by Hafiz Saeed. These rabidly anti-Shia tanzeems have since the late 1980s engaged in several barbaric sectarian massacres of Shias residing in both Pakistan and  Sistan-Baluchestan, and are also known to be in cohorts with the Quetta Shura of the Afghan Taliban. Together, they all are active throughout the 936km-long Iran-Afghanistan border and the 909km-long Iran-Pakistan border. Consequently, these two today constitute of the world’s most heavily fortified land borders. The already-constructed Iran-Pakistan Barrier (built by Iran from 2007 till 2013) features a three-foot thick, ten-foot high concrete wall extending across 700km of forbidding desert terrain. The actual wall, however, is merely one part of an elaborate system of barriers that include several parallel structures running along much of the border, which evidently consist of deep canals, linked embankments and ditches. Fortress-like garrisoned observation towers too exist in several areas, as are extensive road and track networks. Since the barbed-wire fences, walls, berms, dry moats, and other fortifications are all built on the Iranian side of the border, Pakistan has voiced no objections to such projects.
The official purpose of the Iran-Pakistan Barrier is two-fold: to stop illegal border-crossings and to curtail the flow of narcotics into Iran. The latter issue is certainly serious, since Iran has the world’s highest rate of opiate addiction by a substantial margin, with an estimated 4 million regular users in a population of roughly 73 million. Afghanistan is the ultimate source of narcotics entering Iran, but Afghan opium is often processed in, and exported from, Pakistan as compressed heroin. As there is only one legal crossing-point between the two countries—at the small oasis town of Taftan—Teheran has banked on hopes to gain control over the flow of narcotics and other smuggled commodities by hardening the Iran-Pakistan border.
The issue of illegal border-crossings by Pakistanis is more complicated. Iran is a much more prosperous and less densely populated country than Pakistan—circumstances that often result in a large flow of surreptitious immigrants. And indeed, the westward movement of undocumented migrants is substantial. It is also apparently increasing, despite the Barrier stretching from Taftan to Mand. But most of the people illegally crossing the border evidently aim to pass through Iran on their way to either Europe—a region with substantially higher wages and benefits—or to Iraq, Syria or Turkey in order to join the ranks of ISIS. The illegal movement of drugs and people, however, is not the main reason for the construction of the extraordinarily expensive barriers by a cash-strapped Iran. More important is the desire to quell the Baloch rebellion. The boundary between Iran and Pakistan also divides the land of the Baloch people, a distinct ethno-linguistic group some 9 million-strong. The bulk of the Baloch, a Sunni Muslim people, live in Pakistan, but as many as 1.5 million reside in southeastern Iran, with another 500,000 or so in southwestern Afghanistan. The Baloch in Pakistan have been engaged in a low-intensity insurgency for decades, while those of Iran have become increasingly restive in recent years. In 2003, Iranian Baloch separatists along with their Pakistani counterparts formed a violent tanzeem called Jundullah (Soldiers of God), dedicated to fighting on behalf of Sunni Muslims against the Shi’ite regime of Iran. Pakistan, by the way, just does not bother about narcotics trafficking by the Afghan Taliban and their Baloch facilitators, but is highly concerned about smuggling from Iran, but of a different kind: alcohol. 
To curtail such activities, Pakistan’s FC has built the highly securitised ‘Pakistan Gate’ at Taftan in Balochistan’s Chagai district and it went operational on August 14, 2016). Iran has already constructed a parallel securitised gate inside its border at Mir Java in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province.
In light of the above, it is therefore impossible for anyone to abduct/entrap/kidnap a person inside Iranian territory and then have him smuggled into Pakistan. Any such action that promises 100% success and 100% plausible deniability can only be conducted in international waters along the Pakistani coastline. 
Why Is Iran Paranoiac About Sindh & Balochistan?
In response to the alarming spread of Wahabism/Salafism throughout Pakistan during the civil war in Afghanistan between 1980 and 1988—when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) along with Pakistan’s then military dictator-cum-Army COAS Gen Mohd Zia-ul-Haq went on to create anti-Shia cults like the Sunni Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith inside Pakistan to counterbalance the threat of Shiism—the Islamic Republic of Iran, since the mid-1980s, has been engaged in waging proxy wars against the KSA-financed Pakistani Sunni adherents of Wahabism/Salafism throughout Pakistan.This in turn has, over the years, led to complex relationships of opposing extremist ideologies, cross-border smuggling networks, and alliances based on religio-ethnic faultlines and among several militant Pakistani tanzeems.

The Sunni-Shia sectarian divide is 1,400 years old worldwide, with adherents of Shi’a Islam in Pakistan making up 25% of the country’s population, while the remaining 75% practice Sunni Islam. This makes Pakistan the country with the second-largest Shia community after Iran by number of adherents (India hosts the world’s third-largest Shia community). Globally, Shia Islam constitutes 15% of the total Muslims, while the remaining 75% practice Sunni Islam. Sunni militant tanzeems inside Pakistan include the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipah-e-Sahaba (now known as the Ahle-Sunnat Wal Jama’at or ASWJ), Jundullah and its the Jaish al-Adl/Jaish al-Nasr offshoots, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (affiliates of Al-Qaeda and supporters of the Afghan Taliban), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and the Khorasan chapter of ISIS (Daesh). On the Shia side, Maulana Mureed Abbas Yazdani formed the Sipa-e-Muhammad Pakistan in the early 1990s. This is the armed wing of Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan and has been involved in the assassinations of Sunni Ulama and violence against Pakistan’s Sunni community in Shia-dominated areas of the country. It was banned in Pakistan by President Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2002. It is accused of killing the central leadership of the Sipa-e-Sahabah, starting from Haq Nawaz Jhangvi to the subsequent assassinations in Karachi and Rawalpindi. Its headquarters is in Thokar Niaz Baig, Lahore, and its leader is Syyed Ghulam Raza Naqv,i who was imprisoned in 1996 and released in 2014. It is also alleged to be behind the massacre of students of a Sunni madrassa and the burning down of Madrassa Taleem-ul-Quran in Rawalpindi in 2013.

According to Pakistan’s Federal Ministry of Interior, Punjab province alone has 122 Saudi-funded madrassas and 25 Iran-backed ones. In Balochistan and Peshawar, funding is mostly flowing from KSA, while in the Shia-dominated northern territory of Gilgit-Baltistan inside PoK, money comes almost exclusively from Iran. Pakistani cities like Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Multan are also home to large Shia communities. The majority of Pakistan’s Shia community adheres to the Twelver cult, while other sub-sects/cults are the Ismailis, Khojas and Bohras. Most of these are not easily distinguishable by either name or identity. Among Twelver Shias, however, the most vulnerable is the Hazara community in Quetta region as its members are easily recognisable due to their ethnicity and language. Quetta is home to nearly 6,00,000 Shi’ite Hazaras, who have been the victims whenever extremist Sunni tanzeems have gunned down buses packed with pilgrims heading to Iran via the Pakistan-Iran border at Taftan ever since Pakistani Sunni clerics since the mid-1980s began issuing fatwas that declared the Shias as heretics and apostates. In Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the Bangash, along with the Orakzai and the Turi, are the only Pashtun tribes with significant Shia population and they are concentrated around the Parrot’s Beak area of Parachinar in the Upper Kurram Agency, as well as in Hangu and Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Opposing them is the Mehsud—a big Karlani Pashtun tribe based in South Waziristan Agency alongside the Ahmadzai Wazir tribe. The centre of Mehsud tribe’s population is the Makeen-Laddah-Tiarza-Sarwakai belt in South Waziristan. However, the Mehsuds also live in Dera Ismail Khan and Tank and it is they who have provided support for the Iranian Baloch cadres of the Jundullah, almost all of whom are from the Rigi tribe and are also graduates of madrasses located in Karachi and interior Sindh. Between 2003 and 2016, 2,558 Pakistani Shias were killed, while around 600 Shias were killed between 1999 and 2003 and approximately 500 Shia doctors fled the country as a result of the assassination of more than 50 of their colleagues in Karachi alone.  In 2012, more than 400 Shias were killed in target killings and bombings, making it possibly the bloodiest year in living memory for the Shia population of Pakistan.

The Jundullah (the name in Arabic stands for ‘soldiers of God’) was created in 2003 by an Iranian Sunni Baloch named Abdol Malek Rigi in Sindh. This tanzeem was also known as the People’s Resistance Movement of Iran He had a Pakistani national identity card by the name of Saeed Ahmed, son of Ghulam Haider. He and his deputy Hamza were arrested by Pakistan (with US help) on February 23, 2010 while on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, and were subsequently extradited to Iran where they both were executed on June 20, 2010. Abdol Malek Rigi had been educated at Karachi’s Binori Town madrassa and all his murderous activities were focussed on Sestan-Baluchistan, which is Iran’s only Sunni-majority province. Since the previous decade, Jundullah has carried out a number of high-profile terrorist attacks in Iran.  These include a 2005 attack on then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade in Sestan-Baluchistan (one of Ahmadinejad’s bodyguards was killed); a 2006 attack on a bus in Sestan-Baluchistan that killed 18 members of the IRGC (Pasdaran); the abduction and execution of 16 Iranian policemen in 2007; a car-bomb attack on a security installation in Sestan-Baluchistan in 2008 that killed at least four people; a 2009 ambush in Sestan-Baluchistan that killed 12 Iranian policeman; a 2009 bomb-attack on a mosque in Sestan-Baluchistan that killed 25 people and injured 125; and a suicide-bomb attack on October 18, 2009 in Sestan-Baluchistan that killed 42 people, including several senior IRGC officers. All in all, Jundullah since 2003 was responsible for the killing of 154 members of Iranian security forces and other innocent people and wounding of 320 people, Abdol Malek Rigi’s younger brother, Abdol Hamid Rigi, was captured in Pakistan in June 2008 and after being extradited to Iran, he was executed in May 2010 in Zahedan. Abdol Sattar Rigi, another brother of Abdol Malek Rigi, along with Abdol Salam Rigi (who is the cousin of Abdol Malek Rigi)bwas arrested by Pakistani authorities in March 2015 following a tip-off about his movements and consequently the bus they were travelling in was intercepted some 50km south of Quetta. While Abdol Salam Rigi used to head the Jaish al-Adl, Abdol Sattar Rigi headed the Jaish al-Nasr. In February 2014, Jaish al-Adl had abducted five Iranian border-guards outside Sarbaz, a town in Sestan-Baluchistan. The guards were taken to Pakistan and one of them was reportedly killed in captivity while the remaining four were released two months later. Although Iran has since March 2015 been demanding the extradition of both Abdol Salam Rigi and Abdol Sattar Rigi, Pakistan has yet to respond positively and has privately insisted that Teheran curb the activities of India’s Consulate in Zahedan, which it suspects is extending moral, financial and political support to separatist Pakistani Baloch movements like the Baluchistan Liberation Front.

In light of the above, it is not surprising at all that Iran has a multitude of field operatives operating throughout Pakistan, and especially inside Sindh and Balochistan, on various information-gathering and counter-intelligence missions. One such example is a 39 year-old Pakistani Baloch national called Uzair Baloch. On December 28, 2014 Uzair was detained by INTERPOL in Dubai as he was travelling by road to the United Arab Emirates from Muscat, Oman. He was later deported back to Pakistan (prior to this Iran was demanding his return since Uzair was travelling on a genuine Iranian Passport but another an assumed identity) within 30 days where arrest-warrants had earlier been issued for his involvement with targetted killings and extortion. Uzair was formally arrested by Pakistan’s Sindh Rangers on January 30, 2016 on the outskirts of Karachi and was subsequently charged with spying and anti-state activities. On April 12, 2017 he was taken into military custody under the Pakistan Army [and] Official Secrets Act.

The gangster was born on October 10, 1977, to an Iranian Baloch family in a neighborhood of Lyari, outside Karachi. During judicial investigations in 2016, Uzair disclosed that one of his aunts was permanently settled in Iran and was a dual-nationality holder of Iran and Pakistan. In 1987, she had obtained photographs of her nephew (Uzair) in order to make his fake birth certificate under the name of her deceased son, Abdul Ghani, who had died seven years ago at the age of 14. This was a time when it was not mandatory for Iranian birth certificates to have a picture; therefore, forged documents could be easily made by a simple cut-and-paste. In 2006, during on-going operations by the Sindh Police against the criminal gangs of Lyari, Uzair along with his cousin Jalil fled from Pakistan to Iran via Oman. There he applied for and acquired an Iranian National Identity Card and Passport, which was again managed by his aunt. It was in 2011 when the validity of Uzair’s Iranian Passport expired, he along with his associate Abdul Samad, Baloch returned to Iran via road and was able to renew his Passport’s validity through the help of an Iranian friend, Sabir alias Sabri. By 2012 Uzair had been declared a proclaimed offender and a Pakistani court had ruled that proceedings against the offender would be conducted in absentia under Section 19 (10) of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. In 2014, after the Sindh Rangers initiated full-fledged anti-crime operations in Karachi, Uzair was living with his friend Malik Baloch near Chah Bahar, Iran. There he reportedly came into contact with an individual named Haji Nasir. Uzair has allegedly revealed that Nasir was a resident of Tehsil Mand of Balochistan’s Kech district and was a dual-national of Pakistan and Iran. He was settled in Teheran and owned business and property there. Haji Nasir offered Uzair to relocate to Teheran where he would be provided with a bungalow to reside in. He also told Uzair about his close ties with Iranian intelligence officers and offered to make an introduction. With Uzair’s consent, Haji Nasir arranged a meeting with the Iranian intelligence officials, who asked him for information about Pakistan’s armed forces. He was also asked to brief them about the general security environment of Balochistan and Sindh. Haji Nasir’s name popped up again in a multi-agency joint investigation team (JIT) report of Ahmad Saeed alias Saeed Bharam, an MQM political activist arrested by the UAE’s in March 2016. During investigations after his arrest, Bharam confessed to his connections with Nasir and of interactions with Iranian intelligence officials.

The JIT report, signed by representatives of the Sindh Police, Sindh Rangers, ISI and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), was sent to the Federal Ministry of Interior’s Home Department on April 29, 2016 for “perusal and necessary action”. According to the JIT report, Uzair was involved in “espionage activities by providing secret information regarding army installations and officials to foreign agents (Iranian intelligence officers) which is a violation of the Official Secret Act of 1923”. It was only after nearly 15 months of his detention-without-trial with different Pakistani law enforcement agencies that he was formally arrested and chargesheeted on January 30, 2016.

So, is there a connection between Iran’s on-going proxy wars inside Pakistan and its still undisclosed policy standpoint regarding L’Affaire Kulbhushan Jadhav? Is it in Iran’s and Afghanistan’s interests to keep Pakistan’s Balochistan province on the boil? If yes, will either Afghanistan or Iran even consider allowing anyone from India to use their soil for engaging in subversive activities inside Balochistan and Sindh? If not, then what were Pakistan’s intentions/motivations behind/for kidnapping Kulbhushan Jadhav?  And what did it hope to achieve through this incident? 
How A Faustian Bargain Was Struck
To get answers to these questions, one first has to map out the mindsets of Pakistan’s military elite in the post-1971 era and the consequent actions of Pakistan’s armed forces against both India and Afghanistan. After December 1971, the vanquished PA developed a deep sense of low self-esteem (and the follow-on inferiority complex) due to the discrediting of the ‘Two-Nation Theory’ (this being the foundational ideology of Pakistan) that led it to conclude that Pakistan’s armed forces could never take on their Indian counterparts in head-on confrontations, i.e. all hopes of attaining and maintaining strategic military parity with India were dashed forever. Concurrently, there was a rise, especially after 1976, of deep-rooted anti-US sentiment that led on November 21, 1979 to the storming and burning  of the US Embassy in Islamabad by Pakistani students who were enraged by a mischievous radio news-report claiming that the US had bombed the Masjid-al-Haram, Islam’s holy site in Mecca. This was followed by the creation of Pakistan’s first ‘jihadi tanzeem’, the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami, in 1980. Such anti-US passions got further amplified from 1990 onwards after the US decided to go by the book when it came to implementing the provisions of the Pressler Amendment. At that time, the PA also decided to further fuel the fire raging inside the Kashmir Valley in J & K by raising, equipping, financing and mentoring various terrorist tanzeems (operating inside both Afghanistan and J & K) like the Afghan Harkat-e-Inquilab-e-Islami, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (which merged back with the Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami in 1993 to form the Harkat-ul-Ansar),Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Yet, by 1997, India’s security forces had succeeded in marginalising the effectiveness of the terror campaigns of these tanzeems inside the Kashmir Valley. This, coupled with the steady growth of India’s economic prowess since 1991, forced the PA to conclude that in both politico-military and economic terms, the ever-growing differential between India and Pakistan was such that leave alone strategic parity, India would for all intents and purposes become the permanent ‘big brother’ in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the greater Indian Ocean Region (IOR). Thus, from 1997 onwards, Pakistan has always, without fail, referred to India as South Asia ‘hegemonistic regional bully’ in almost all multilateral fora. Such sentiments became further deep-rooted after mid-1999, following the conduct of OP Vijay/OP Safed Sagar/OP Trishul by India’s three armed services in response to the PA’s OP Badr. This then led a badly-bruised PA to initiate an information warfare (IW) campaign using anti-Islam religiosities that actively encouraged all three armed services and the various paramilitary forces of Pakistan to be extremely scornful about their ‘Kafir’ Indian counterparts—this being the only way of shoring up the morale of Pakistan’s demoralised armed forces.  
In the post-9/11 era, during the reign of Pakistan’s President-cum-COAS Gen Pervez Musharraf, this IW campaign was coupled with double-dealing and perfidy at all levels. For instance, while Pakistan from January 2004 till mid-2008 began to discourage the HuM, JeM and LeT from staging ‘fidayeen’ attacks against Indian military targets inside J & K (which began in 1999 and lasted till late 2003), there was a proportional increase in targetted attacks against Indian citizens inside Afghanistan. On November 8, 2003 an Indian telecommunications engineer working for the Afghan Wireless Co was shot dead. On December 9, 2003 two Indian engineers—P Murali and G Vardharai—working on a road project in Zabul province were abducted but were released on December 24 after intense negotiations by Afghan tribal leaders with the Pakistan-supported Afghan Taliban militia, which was demanding the release of 50 imprisoned militants in return for the Indian engineers. On November 19, 2005 Maniappan Kutty, a driver working with India’s Border Roads Organisation’s (BRO) Zaranj-Delaram highway-building project, was abducted and his decapitated body was found on a road between Zaranj, capital of Nimroz, and an area called Ghor Ghori, four days later. On February 7, 2006 Bharat Kumar, an engineer working with a Turkish company, was killed in a bomb-attack by the Taliban in the western province of Farah. On April 28, 2006 an Indian telecommunications engineer working for a Bahrain-based firm in Zabul Province, K Suryanarayana, was abducted and subsequently beheaded after two days. On May 7, 2006 an explosion occurred near the Indian Consulate in the fourth police district of western Herat Province. On December 15, 2007 two bombs were lobbed into the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad, capital of Nangarhar province. On January 3, 2008 in the first-ever suicide attack on Indians in the country, two Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) soldiers were killed and five others injured in Razai village, Nimroz province. On April 12, 2008 two Indian nationals working for the BRO, M P Singh and C Govindaswamy, were killed and seven persons, including five BRO personnel, sustained injuries in a suicide-bomb attack in Nimroz province. On June 5, 2008 an ITBP trooper was killed and four others injured in an attack by the Afghan Taliban in Nimroz. On July 7, 2008 a suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul killed 66 persons. The killed included two senior diplomats, Political Counsellor V Venkateswara Rao and Defence Adviser Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta, and ITBP soldiers Ajai Pathaniya and Roop Singh. A day later, on July 8 a bomb was found on a bus transporting 12 BRO personnel in Zaranj.

The above-mentioned events prove beyond a shadow of doubt that between 2004 and mid-2008 while the PA on one hand was trying to give the impression of downscale its involvement in abetting/sponsoring/mentoring terrorism inside J & K due to the back-channel negotiations between the governments of India and Pakistan on a four-point formula that had been proposed by Musharraf in mid-2001 as the optimal way of resolving the issue of J & K, on the other this very same PA under Musharraf was hand-in-league with the Afghan Taliban, i.e. double-dealing, when it came to sabotaging in every possible manner India’s national reconstruction projects inside Afghanistan. This then leads us to ask: what was the justification provided by both Indian PM Dr Manmohan Singh & President/Gen Musharraf for signing the declaration of an ‘irreversible’ peace process on April 18, 2005? Or was the ‘peace process’ then visible/identifiable/definable to/by only Singh and Musharraf and their present-day proponents like Mani Shankar Aiyar, Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, Sudheendra Kulkarni etc etc?  
By this time inside Pakistan 80% of its citizens were opposed to their government’s cooperation with the US-led multinational coalition’s ‘war on terror’ because most of the Afghan/Pakistani jihadi tanzeems were now financing and facilitating the terror activities of Al-Qaeda and its various franchises inside Pakistan. During Musharraf’s tenure as the PA’s COAS, two major military campaigns—al-Mizan and Zalzala—were conducted between 2002 and 2006, Operation Silence in July 2007, Operation Mountain Viper in October 2007, and Operation Rah-e-Haq in November 2007 in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) as well as in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. Within the PA, Musharraf was facing increasing criticism from all officer ranks and especially his nine Corps Commanders because they all were finding it extremely hard to explain to their subordinates why a Muslim army was required to kill fellow Muslims when both believed in waging jihad in the name of Islam and that too only against non-Muslim ‘Kafirs’. In other words, the institutional contradictions facing the PA were both ideological (religiosity-based) and doctrinal (because the PA was never trained to conduct population-centric counter-insurgency operations, but rather to engage in low-intensity conflict (LIC) of the type it has been waging in Balochistan province). Consequently, since 2004, the PA got sunk into a quagmire in which it was forced by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to wage a three-front war against the TTP and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in South Waziristan (which also included Chechan and Uighur militants; against the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan in the sensitive Darra Adam Khel-Kohat area of KPK (formerly NWFP) and the Shia-dominated Kurram Agency of FATA; and, against the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), headed by Maulana Fazlullah, and the JeM in the Swat Valley of KPK. The TTP’s cadre base then was more than 20,000 tribesmen and the Abdullah Mehsud from the Alizai clan of the Mehsud tribe from South Waziristan commanded about 5,000 combatants. Other militant groups within the TTP included Maulvi Nazir from the Kaka Khel sub-tribe of the Ahmadzai Waziri tribe (South Waziristan), Hafiz Gul Bahadur from the Ibrahim Khel clan of the Utmanzai Wazir tribe (North Waziristan), the Haqqani network using manpower from the Mezi sub-tribe of the Zadran tribe (North Waziristan), Mangal Bagh (Khyber), TNSM (Swat, Dir, Malakand), and Faqir Mohammad (Bajaur). To top it all, the PA, in order to maintain the morale of its officer corps, began usurping an increasing quantum of fertile land-holdings in both semi-urban and rural areas throughout Pakistan so that these could be doled out at a later day to those officers who were destined for either superannuation or premature retirement due to injuries sustained in the LIC campaigns. This led to an acute sense of alienation and a spike in anti-PA sentiments among Pakistan’s rural masses.
It was this prevailing ground reality that called for a change in the top echelons of the PA in order to usher in a paradigm shift in the PA’s strategic orientation, purely for reasons of institutional self-survival. This resulted in President Musharraf resigning his post as the PA’s COAS on November 27, 2007 after 47 years of military service. He remained as President and was sworn in to a new five-year term, but as a civilian President his power was greatly diminished. The new COAS, Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, 55, was previously the Vice-COAS and prior to that he was the DG of ISI. In order to ensure institutional coherence, Gen Kayani had then sought the coalition federal government led by the Pakistan Peopke’s Party (PPP) to take the political responsibility for going after the various jihadi tanzeems so that the PA’s then-prevailing unpopularity didn’t worsen. But though the PPP-led coalition came up with a joint strategy, the opposition PML-N party led by Mian Mohd Nawaz Sharif Sharif refused to oblige because much of its vote banks was among the jihadi tanzeem-supportive religious clergy in Punjab province. A beleaguered Gen Kayani, then faced with an insurgency that threatened to overwhelm the Pakistani state, consequently began to cultivate the anti-India jihadists as well as political Islamists as his valuable allies. Concurrently, this stratagem also served the purpose of eliciting the PML-N’s political ownership of the PA’s on-going and future LIC campaigns against the anti-Pakistan jihadi tanzeems. This ultimately led to the ultimate Faustian bargain: while both the PPP and PML-N wanted the PA to ensure that Musharraf permanently disappeared into political wilderness (albeit in a face-saving manner acceptable to the PA), the PA in turn secured a pledge of reciprocal support from these parties of: 1) the PA’s subversion and ultimately reversal of the Musharraf/Atal Behari Vajpayee-initiated India-Pakistan ‘peace process’, 2) Articulation of Pakistan’s securitised policies dealing with geo-politics and geo-economics by the Rawalpindi-based GHQ and not the Islamabad-based Foreign Office. 3) Ensuring military supremacy of the command-and-control protocols of Pakistan’s nuclear WMDs. This in turn led to an all-party declaration in Pakistan’s National Assembly in early August 2008, which stated that all legislations/agreements/processes (including the India-Pakistan ‘peace process’) enacted during Musharraf’s reign in power were illegal and invalid. In return, Gen Kayani in the second week of August 2008 tried to persuade Musharraf to step down as President and when the latter refused, the former used coercion by placing Musharraf under virtual house-arrest for a week until Musharraf resigned as President on August 18, 2008 and left Pakistan for London via Dubai. Hence, Gen Kayani’s subversion and consequent reversal of the ‘peace process’ wasn’t some kind of mindless perfidy by any stretch of imagination.
In late August 2008, as part of a sustainable perception management exercise, Gen Kayani made arrangements for Riaz Hussain Khokhar (who was Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary from June 2002 till February 2005 and was previously Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India from 1992 till 1997) to give a series of lectures in all cantonments throughout Pakistan to the mid-level /senior-level officer cadre of the PA that sought to totally demolish all aspects of the ‘peace process’ while amplifying Pakistan’s existential fears of a ‘duplicitous, anti-Muslim and hegemonistic India that was hell-bent upon helping Afghanistan stand on its own feet and thereby ensuring that Kabul would in the not-too-distant future label Pakistan as being the regional hegemonistic bully that actively sought to sabotage all efforts by Afghanistan to attain politico-economic stability. This new IW stratagem of the PA also found support from the People’s Republic of China, which saw this as yet another strand of the collusive threat that could be posed by a China-Pakistan combine in both Central Asia and the IOR against India. The stage was thus set for not only a spike in anti-India terror strikes inside J & K and Afghanistan, but also a surge in the PA’s LIC campaigns throughout FATA between 2009 and 2012. In case of the latter, the PA conducted Operation Sherdil in August 2008, Operation Sirat-e-Mustaqeem in June 2008, Operation Rah-e-Rast in May 2009, Operation Brekhna,  Operation Eagle Swoop , Operation Mountain Scanner and  Operation Mountain Sweep between June and September 2009, Operation Rah-e-Nijaat in October 2009, Operation Khwakh Ba De Sham in March 2010, and Operation Koh-e-Sufaid in July 2011.
Inside Afghanistan, anti-India terror strikes began to spike. On October 8, 2009 the Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked once again when a suicide-bomber blew up an explosives-laden car outside the Embassy, killing 17 persons and injuring 80+ persons, including three ITBP soldiers.. On October 13, 2008 Simon Paramanathan, a 38-year-old man from Kalakurichi Village in Tamil Nadu’s Villupuram District, working with a food store attached to Italian soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, was kidnapped by the Afghan Taliban in Herat province. Simon died while in the custody of his abductors after four months. On February 26, 2010 nine Indian doctors, including two Major-rank Army officers, who were residing in the Arya Guesthouse (also known as Hamid Guesthouse) in Kabul were killed.  At least 10 others, including five Indian Army officers, were injured in the strike that killed eight others, including locals and nationals from other countries. The bombers, believed to be three in number, struck at the guest houses, particularly at Park Residence, rented out by the Indian Embassy for its staffers and those linked to India’s developmental work in Afghanistan. On October 11, 2010 two Indians were killed in a RPG-7 attack launched by the Afghan Taliban on an Indian NGO’s office in Kunar province. On May 10, 2011 the spokesperson of Afghanistan’s the Riyasat-e Amniyat-e Milli (National Directorate of Security, or NDS), Lutfullah Mashal, revealed that the ISI hired two persons, identified as Sher Zamin and Khan Zamin, to kill the Indian Consul General of Jalalabad province. In March 2013 the Afghan tried in vain to try to blow up the under-construction Salma Dam with 1,300kg of explosives On August 3, 2013 during a suicide attack intended to target the Indian Consulate at Jalalabad, nine Afghans, including at least eight children, were killed, and another 24 were wounded. On May 23, 2014 the Indian Consulate in Herat was attacked by heavily armed LeT gunmen. By that time, 219 armed personnel of the ITBP were catering not only to the main Embassy complex in Kabul, but also to the consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandhar and Herat. On January 3, 2016 India’s Consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif was attacked.
The conduct of anti-India terror strikes inside Afghanistan from late 2003 till today has been directly proportional to India’s increasing economic and military assistance to Afghanistan. In 2003, India signed a tripartite agreement with Iran and Afghanistan for preferential trade practices that would eventually ply through Iran’s Chah Bahar FTIZ and in 2013, committed US$100 million for Chah Bahar port’s development. On January 22, 2009 India handed over to Afghanistan the strategic Delaram-Zaranj highway (Route 606 AH-71) on the main Herat-Kandahar highway. Built at a cost of Rs.600 crore ($135 million), the 215km-long highway was handed over by India’s then External Affairs Minister (now President) Pranab Mukherjee in the presence of the then Afghan President Hamid Karzai and then Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta. A total of six Indians, including a BRO driver and four ITBP soldiers, and 129 Afghans were killed in attacks during the highway’s construction. Besides the highway, India had by then also constructed 58km of inner city roads in Afghanistan. The project was initially estimated to cost Rs.740 crore but the BRO completed it for Rs.600 crore and six months ahead of schedule and in three years with the help of 339 engineers. Due to construction of this black-top road, the journey between Delaram and Zaranj was reduced substantially from 14 hours to 2 hours. This highway also established direct road access to four of the major cities of Afghanistan—Herat, Kandahar, Kabul, and Mazar-e-Sharif. On its part Iran has since built a new transit route to connect its city of Milak to Zaranj in Afghanistan, and has also completed an important bridge over the Helmand River. These road-building projects in Iran and Afghanistan have shortened the transit distance between Chah Bahar and Delaram by 600km, thereby giving Afghanistan-origin exportable commodities/goods duty-free access to Chah Bahar. 
India’s state-owned Power Grid Corp also successfully completed a four-year effort in 2011 to build a 202km-long transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri near the Salang Pass on the Hindu Kush mountain range to bring electricity to power-starved Kabul after another 462km-long transmission line was built from the Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border to Kabul. Much of this fell in the ‘snow zone’ at heights reaching up to 3,800 metres ASL. As many as 613 towers have been erected, and these were designed in India to withstand inclement weather. Pakistan had refused the use of its territory for transporting these towers which then had to be sent via Iran. Also, heavy-turbine equipment was moved in what was among the largest Indian airlift operations to Kabul. Until this, the city was running on a single gas-turbine and some 25 heavy-duty diesel generators for which the US was providing $100 million of fuel per annum. Kabul had long power-cuts and matters became worse during winter. With the commissioning of the transmission line and the Chimtala sub-station near Kabul, there is now 120mWe available, which is enough for Kabul. There is now excess power and the Afghanistan government wants India to help start an industrial estate near Kabul. This may be the next big project for India because it has already funded a well-equipped tool-room for skills training.
Also in 2010, Indian water resources management experts were contracted by Afghanistan to draw up feasibility studies and detailed engineering project viability analysis of 12 hydro-power projects with capacity to generate 1,177mWe to be built on the Kabul River. Once the 12 projects get completed, they will store 4.7 million acre-feet (MAF) of water, thereby squeezing the river’s water-flow that reaches Pakistan. After completing the tendering processes, Kabul will initiate construction of the 12 dams with the help of the World Bank (WB), which will provide $7.079 billion as funds.  Since Pakistan has failed to construct the Munda Dam on the Kabul River, its case against Afghanistan’s resolve to build the 12 dams has considerably weakened.  Four hydro-power projects will be constructed in the Punjshir sub-basin. These include the $332 million Totumdara project that will generate 200mWe and have water storage capacity of 332,510 acre-feet; the $1.174 billion Barak project that will generate 100mWe and store 429,830 acre-feet of water; $1.078 billion Panjshir (100mWe) project with the capacity to store 105,4300 acre-feet of water; and the $607 million Baghdara (210mWe) project with the capacity to store 324,400 acre-feet of water. In the Logur Upper Kabul sub-basin on the Kabul River, four more dams are to be built that include the $72 million Haijana project (72mWe) with water storage capacity of 178,420 acre-feet; $207 million Kajab (15mWe) project with water storage capacity of 324,400 acre-feet; the $356 million Tangi Wadag (56mWe) project with capacity to store 283,850 acre-feet; and $51 million Gat (86mWe) project with water storage capacity of 405,500 acre-feet.  Four more dams will be built in the Lower Kabul sub-basin, including the $442 million Sarobi project (210mWe) with the capacity to store 324,400 acre-feet of water; the $1.434 billion Laghman project (1,251mWe) with water storage capacity of 233,568 acre-feet; and the $1.094 billion Konar (A) (94.8mWe) and Kama projects (11.5mWe). After all these projects are completed, Pakistan will suffer a 17% drop in water supply from Afghanistan when the Indus River sleeps during wintertime every year. Pakistan and Afghanistan currently share nine rivers with annual flows of about 18.3 million MAF of which the Kabul River accounts for 16.5MAF, while the River Chitral, which originates from Pakistan, contributes about 8.5 MAF. After it enters Afghanistan this river is called River Kunar. It joins the Kabul River near Jalalabad and then re-enters Pakistan. However, 90% of Afghanistan’s land area is located in the five river basins namely: Panj-Amu Darya River Basin, Northern River Basin, Harirud-Murghab Basin, Helmand River Basin and Kabul River Basin. The total storage capacity of these dams is around 4.7 million acre-feet. It is further estimated that the planned dams will utilise 0.5 MAF water to irrigate an additional 14,000 acres of land. Afghanistan has the right to utilise waters from the Kabul River since the total flow of Kabul River is 21,000 million cubic metres. But the Kunar River, which contributes 15,000 million cubic metes to the Kabul River, originates from Pakistan. Afghanistan’s National Security Council in March 2014 instructed the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance to convey Afghanistan’s concerns to the WB regarding Pakistan’s planned construction of the Dasu Dam on the Kabul-Indus River in KPK province. Kabul has since urged all financial donor institutions, including the WB, to prevent the flow of funds for this project without the written and formal agreement of Kabul. The $7 billion Dasu hydro-power project is expected to be completed by 2037. It will be constructed in two stages and four phases and will generate 4,320mWe. The first phase will comprise the installation of the full dam and three of the planned 12 turbines, while phase two, three and four will involve the installation of three more turbines in each phase.
India has already helped build the Salma Dam under a 10-year effort on the upper reaches of Hari Rud River in Herat province. The Rs.1,775 crore project, implemented by India’s state-owned Water & Power Consultancy Servicxe India Ltd (WAPCOS), a company owned by India’s Ministry of Water Resources, involved the construction of a 107.5 metre-high earth-and-rock-fill dam and a 42mWe power house with three units of 14mWe each. It also has a provision for releasing water for the irrigation of 75,000 hectares of land. The reservoir water spreads about 20km in length and 3.7km in width. The gross capacity of the Dam is 633 million cubic metres. The height of the Dam is 104.3 metres, length is 540 metres and width at the bottom is 450 metres. The dam is located 165km east of Heart. All equipment and material were transported from India to Iran’s Bandar-e-Abbas port via sea and then along 1,200km by road from there to Islam Kila border-post at the Iran-Aghanistan border and then a further 300km by road to the site. Kabul o June 4, 2016 renamed the Salma Dam as the Afghan-India Friendship Dam.  When the Salma dam began to fill in 2015, in a unique gesture of goodwill and appreciation, hundreds of Afghans braved security threats to build a human chain that held a 100 metre-long Indian Tricolour all the way to the Indian Consulate in Herat.
When it comes to Afghanistan-Pakistan economic ties, there has been a steady downward slide since 2013. For instance, according to IMF statistics, exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan grew from $142 million in 2001 to $2 billion in 2012. In August 2013 Afghanistan assessed that informal bilateral trade totalled an additional $2 bi8llion above what was officially reported. In 2012 32% of Afghanistan’s total exports went to Pakistan, while only 8% of Pakistan’s total exports went to Afghanistan. Of Afghanistan’s imports, 23.5% came from Pakistan, while less than 1% of the latter’s imports originated from Afghanistan. Though trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has increased substantially from $0.83 billion to $2.38 billion between 2007 and 2013, yet owing to a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers (NTB) mutual trade between the two countries has been declining since 2012. Afghanistan is now the 6th biggest export destination for Pakistan, compared to being the 2nd biggest destination in 2011. Moreover, the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC), which was established in 2003 to improve bilateral economic cooperation, has proven to be a total failure. The JEC’s 9th session in Kabul in late February 2014 and the earlier 8th session held in January 2012 in Islamabad, tended to be for form’s sake rather than producing anything of substance. Earlier, though the two sides had also signed an updated version of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) in 2010, this allows Afghanistan to transit duty-free goods overland through Pakistan and via Pakistani ports for export and import to other countries, but does not permit India to transit goods through Pakistan for export to Afghanistan, The incentives given to by Kabul Indian and Iranian exporters over the past 10 years have also contributed to the rise of their exports that has shrunk the market for formal exports of Pakistani goods. Iran’s exports to Afghanistan reportedly stood at $1.18 billion in 2013. Afghan traders have also rejected the APTTA banking and procedural instruments for payment in US$ since March 17, 2013. Security problems on both sides of the border have greatly hindered Pakistan-Afghanistan trade. Traders moving goods through Pakistan and Afghanistan often have to pay protection money to the Afghan Taliban to ensure that their goods can move safely, which increases the cost of trade. Afghan traders moving goods from Karachi to the border crossings at Chaman in Balochistan and the Torkham Gate in FATA have to pay extortion fees ranging from $960 to $1,900 per container, often at checkpoints in FATA. The US government has acknowledged that the private contractors who transport military supplies pay off the Afghan Taliban in order to move them safely through Afghanistan. Merchants in Afghanistan also are frequently required to pay off the Afghan Taliban to ensure that their goods are not harmed. Although traders often provide bribes to Pakistani and Afghan Customs officers to evade official duties and levies on their goods when crossing the 2,450km-long (1,519 miles) Durand Line, guards on both sides demand bribes from people moving across and subject them to harassment if they refuse, which has further discouraged cross-border trade. In addition, over the last 15 years, Pakistan has closed its border-crossings multiple times, with the frequency tending to rise when relations between the two countries are at a low ebb. For this reason, most Afghans believe that Pakistan uses border-crossing closures as a bargaining chip to force concessions from Afghanistan. Time and time again, such closures by Pakistani authorities have tended to force prices in Afghanistan higher, as a big chunk of Afghanistan’s imports and exports came through Pakistan.
Due to the above-mentioned reasons, since 2014, Afghanistan’s trade volume with Pakistan has dropped by about 80% but conversely, trade with India and Iran has increased significantly. The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce & Industries (ACCI) said recently that Iran has now replaced Pakistan as Afghanistan’s single biggest trading partner. According to the ACCI, 25% of Afghanistan’s total trade volume is with Iran. It added that Afghanistan’s annual trade volume tops $8 billion of which nearly $2 billion is exchanged between Afghanistan and Iran. Construction materials, raw materials and food are the primary goods Afghanistan imports from Iran. In addition to these goods, large quantities of salt, fuel and gas are imported into the country illegally and illicit trade between Afghanistan and Iran amounts to almost $1 billion annually. Having become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Afghanistan can now import from and export to 163 countries. Consequently, unlike in the past, despite the key Af-Pak border-crossings being closed by Pakistan for almost two weeks at least thrice every year since 2015, prices on Afghan markets have remained stable. And the longer the border-crossings remain closed, the less its impact on Afghan markets becomes, since Afghan businesspeople now have more time to substitute imports from Pakistan with those from Iran, India, China, and Central Asian countries. Consequently, trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan has declined from $3 billion a couple years ago to just $500 million in early 2017. This best showcases how Pakistan’s unwritten policy of closing border-crossings as a means of putting pressure on Afghanistan has failed to produce any tangible results.  In the meantime, Afghan-Iran trade volume has increased 25%, from $1.5 billion to $2 billion, and now accounts for a quarter of Afghanistan’s total annual trade. As trade with and through Pakistan has become more troublesome, Afghan businesspeople have tilted toward Iran. A number of factors now point to growing commerce between Afghanistan and Iran: the continuing deterioration in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan; the lifting of international sanctions against Iran; construction of a rail-road between Iran and Afghanistan; and India’s building of berthing facilities in Iran’s Chah Bahar FTIZ and the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Afghanistan and India are also working on ways to expand bilateral trade. In 2016, at the Heart of Asia Summit in Amritsar, Afghan and Indian officials looked at establishing a commercial air-corridor so that both countries would no longer have to rely on Pakistan for overland transit trade. As of October 2016, Afghanistan’s exports to India amounted to $79.81 million, with imports at $151.94 million. When Chah Bahar’s berthing facilities become operational in mid-2018, those figures (currently about half the Afghan-Pakistan trade volume) will rise. Unlike Pakistan, which continues to alienate Afghan businesspeople, India has liberalised its visa policy for Afghan businesspeople who can now obtain one-/five-year business visas, and can stay in India for up to 180 days continuously. This has also resulted in a significant drop in Afghan medical tourists visiting Pakistan. 
The Collusive Conspiracy Explained
For China, Pakistan is low-cost secondary deterrent to India while for Pakistan, China is a high-value guarantor of security against India. This became evident as far back as 1997, when a date was fixed mutually for the meeting of the Division Commanders of the IA and the PLA Army in Leh. At the last moment, the PLA Army sent word that its Division Commander will not be able to go to Leh and that the meeting should instead be held in New Delhi. IA HQ, then headed by the IA’s COAS Gen Ved Prakash Malik, felt that such a meeting will not serve the intended purpose. He, therefore, called off the proposed meeting. The reason behind this change was not Chinese accessibility to Leh, but because Pakistan did not like a senior PLA Army officer visiting J & K. In the latter half of 1999, after OP Vijay/OP Safed Sagar, when all foreign Defence Advisers were invited to visit Drass and Kargil, only the PLA’s Defence Attaché did not avail this invitation. Later, when Gen Malik asked him the reason for his absence, he said informally that the PLA did not want to hurt feelings in Pakistan.
Now, fast-forward to February 25, 2009 when Asif Ali Zardari, the then President of cash-strapped Pakistan, returned home from Beijing for the second time in a few months virtually empty-handed, without any commitment from China for any form of financial aid. During his first visit as President in October 2008, Zardari had failed to secure financial support from Beijing to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis, with Beijing flatly rebuffing a request for concessional loans. It was after this rebuff that Pakistan reluctantly reached agreement with the International Monetary Fund on a $7.6 billion loan facility, which in turn paved the way for Beijing to grant $500 million in bridging loans at market-value interest rates. These loans, however, received only conditional approvals, meaning Pakistan had to offer something in return. And that something was the securing by China of an overland access route to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea via the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, plus a safe air-corridor for evacuating Chinese citizens from either Africa or the Middle East during emergencies. Thus, the seeds of what is now known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were laid. But for all this to become a reality, both China and Pakistan needed to give a legal framework to the latter’s claim over PoK. And the related first shot across the bow was fired by Beijing in early August 2009 when, without any explanation, it began issuing stapled visas to all Indian citizens hailing from J & K who were scheduled nto travel to destinations inside China. As if on cue, Pakistan followed on August 29, 2009 with a formal plan to annex the Gilgit-Baltistan component of PoK. For providing a legal cover to this land-grabbing scheme, Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani disclosed that the ‘Northern Areas’ will henceforth be called Gilgit-Baltistan, which will have a 15-member Administrative Council that will choose the Chief Minister. There will be six Ministers along with three Technocrat seats and two women seats. This grouping will formulate and approve Gilgit-Baltistan’s annual budgets. In reality, it was just a case of old wine in a new bottle since it involved the mere change of designations of different office-bearers and giving them some additional but marginal rights. Previously Islamabad used to appoint the Chairman, and now that post has been upgraded with the title of Governor, which continues to be appointed by Islamabad. Similarly the Northern Areas Legislative Council (NALC) has been upgraded to the status of Assembly, and existing NALAs Advisers have become Ministers. The post of the Chief Executive has been upgraded to the post of Chief Minister. Furthermore, Gilgit-Baltistan now has an Auditor General and an Election Commissioner that are Pakistanis appointed from Islamabad, as is the case with Lent Officers in Pakistani Administered Kashmir. Lastly, Islamabad-appointed politicians from Gilgit-Baltistan can now sit in Pakistan’s National Assembly, but only as observers.
In December 2010, China’s state-owned Xinhua News Agency, desribed the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control (LAC) as being only 2,000km-long, thereby ignoring the entire 2,056km-long length of that portion of the LAC stretching from Ladakh all the way up to Afghanistan Wakhan Corridor. Xinhua’s reference to the LAC issue was based on an official briefing by the then Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue. When India retaliated by firstly refusing to officially reiterate her support for the ‘One China’ policy and following this up with the abrupt cancellation of the work-permits of 26,000 Chinese expatriates working in India in various business sectors, China blinked and consequently, in April 2011, Beijing quietly agreed to stop issuing stapled visas of J & K residents. Pakistan, however, continued to be China’s proxy and on May 30-31, 2011 during official talks held in New Delhi regarding the demilitarisation of areas around the Siachen Glacier, Pakistan unsuccessfully pushed for China to be represented during negotiations since it is China that, according to Pakistan, controls the Shaksgam Valley.
Another noteworthy partnership between China and Pakistan has been the conduct of The Shaheen series of bi-annual exercises between the PAF and PLAAF, which commenced in 2011 when, for the first time ever as part of Shaheen-I, a PLAAF contingent with four Su-27UBKs from the 8th Flight Academy (also known as ‘Blue Army Aggressors’) deployed to Rafiqui airbase in Shorkot, Pakistan. This exercise, lasting for over two weeks starting March 11, saw the PAF fielding its Mirage VEFs and F-7PGs executing various various air-to-air and air-to-ground combat scenarios. Since then, a total of six such bilateral air exercises have been conducted inside both China and Pakistan, with the scope and scale of such exercises increasing with each successive exercise. 
Seeking Moral Equivalence
Soon after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) returned to power in 2008, its Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari (who had by then replaced the deposed Pervez Musharraf as President) articulated the case for focussing first on economic and trade relations with all its immediate and other regional neighbours. Zardari did done what no other civilian Pakistani politician had ever mustered the courage to do. In an interview to the Wall Street Journal, he declared that India was no longer his country’s arch-enemy: indeed “India has never been a threat to Pakistan”. This was a truly extraordinary statement—if not of strategic reality or political assessment, then at least of intent to terminate Pakistan’s six-decades-long all-encompassing and compulsive hostility with India, rooted in an adversarial self-definition of the Pakistani state by much of its civil/military ruling elite, and expressed in a continuous hot-cold war for most of this period. Not only were Zardari and his “democratic government” not “scared of Indian influence abroad”, he also went a step ahead and called J & K’s and PoK’s militant separatists “terrorists” and had no objection to India’s 123 civil nuclear deal with the US: “Why should we begrudge the largest democracy in the world getting friendly with one of the oldest democracies in the world?” Apart from lavishing generous compliments upon India, which no other Pakistani leader had done till then, Zardari even made Pakistan’s “economic survival” conditional upon better ties and unrestricted trade with India: there’s no other strategy “for nations like us”. Within Zardari’s scheme, Pakistan’s cement factories would cater to India’s huge infrastructure needs, its textile mills would produce textiles to feed India’s growing demand, and Pakistani ports would help India relieve congestion at its own ports. However, for this bold departure from conventional wisdom in Pakistan, Zardari was quickly rebuked by the PA and shown the red-lines by being told in no uncertain terms that while the PA had no intention of being the government, it had every intention and the will to be involved 100% in national governance.

Despite this, the wily Zardari refused to be intimidated and accordingly, he instructed the executive branch of the Govt of Pakistan, then led by Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani, to authorise Pakistan’s then newly-appointed Ambassador to the US, Dr Husain Haqqani, to begin work on a plan to convince the US State and Defense Departments of the need to do everything possible to ensure civilian supremacy over Pakistan’s military establishment. In this, Dr Haqqani succeeded brilliantly and the consequent result was the five-year Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009—popularly known as Kerry-Lugar–Berman Bill—that was signed into law by then US President Barak Obama on October 15, 2009. The Bill required periodical, once every six months assessments by the US Secretary of State to provide certification that Pakistan’s military wass not subverting Pakistan’s political and judicial processes. These assessments had to include a “description of the extent to which civilian executive leaders and Parliament exercised oversight and approval of military budgets, the chain of command, process of promotion for senior military leaders, civilian involvement in strategic guidance and planning, and military involvement in civil administration“. The assessments also had to verify whether the US$7.5 billion in non-military aid wass being diverted “directly or indirectly” to expand Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. The Bill also asked Pakistan to cease support for terrorist groups on its soil, dismantle terrorist camps in Quetta, Muridke and other areas that threaten its neighbours. In addition, the Bill asked Pakistan to provide information or direct access to the proliferation network operating in Pakistan without mentioning disgraced nuclear scientist Dr Abdul  Qadeer ‘Bhopali’ Khan by name. Needless to say, such provisions were viewed by the PA as being “highly intrusive” and it officially raised its concerns and reservations at a meeting of Corps Commanders, chaired by Army COAS Gen Kayani in late October 2009. Unknown to everyone then, behind-the-scenes, the stage was being set by Gen Kayani and the then DG of the ISI Director, Lt Gen Ahmed Shuka Pasha, to bring the PPP-led civilian coalition government to its knees through a series of political subterfuges.
Meanwhile, by mid-2008, Commander Muhammad Ilyas Kashmiri of the JeM (formed after breaking up with the Harkat-ul Jihad-i-Islami, or HUJI) had appeared on the horizon. Born in Bimber (old Mirpur) in the Samhani Valley of PoK on February 10, 1964, Ilyas had passed the first year of a mass communications degree at Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. He did not continue because of his involvement in jihadi activities. The J & K separatist movement of the early 1990s was his first exposure in the field of terrorism. Then there was the, and ultimately his legendary 313 Brigade. This grew into the most powerful terrorist group in South Asia, with a strongly knit network in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Little is documented of Ilyas’ life. However, he was invariably described as the most effective, dangerous, and successful guerrilla leader in the world. Kashmiri left PoK in 2005 after his second release from detention by the ISI, and headed for North Waziristan in FATA. He had previously been arrested by Indian security forces inside J & K, but had broken out of jail and escaped. He was next detained by the ISI as the suspected mastermind of an attack on then-President Gen Pervez Musharraf in November 2003, but was cleared and released. The ISI picked Ilyas up again in 2005 after he refused to close down operations inside J & K. His relocation to the troubled border areas sent a chill down the spines in Washington DC. The US realised that with his vast experience, he could turn the unsophisticated battle blueprints in Afghanistan into audacious modern guerrilla warfare. Ilyas’ track record speaks for itself. In 1994, he had launched the Al-Hadid operation in New Delhi to secure the release of some of his captured jihadi comrades. His group of 25 included Sheikh Omar Saeed (the abductor of US journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi in 2002) as his deputy. The group abducted several foreigners, including British, US, and Israeli tourists, and took them to Ghaziabad near Delhi. They then demanded that the Indian authorities release their colleagues. Instead the Indian security forces attacked their hideout. Ilyas escaped unhurt. On February 25, 2000, the Indian Army, as part of a retaliatory cross-LoC raid, killed 14 civilians in the village of Lonjot in PoK after its SF (Para) forces had crossed the Line of Control (LoC). They returned to the Indian side with abducted Pakistani girls, and threw the severed heads of three of them at the Pakistan Army soldiers manning their side of the LoC. In retaliation. Ilyas along with 25 HuJI combatants in the early hours of February 27, 2000 attacked the Indian Army’s Ashok listening post in the Nakyal sector at Nowshera, Rajouri district, and ambushed and killed seven Indian soldiers, and beheaded 24 year-old Sepoy Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar of the 17 Maratha Light Infantry and left behind his decapitated body. Talekar’s severed head was then paraded in the bazaars of Kotli in PoK. Soonm thereafter, Ilyas was felicitated by Gen Pervez Musharraf and rewarded with Pakistani Rs.1 lakh for bringing back “the head of an Indian soldier” (Ilyas was reportedly killed on June 3, 2011 by a CIA-mounted drone strike against a compound in the Ghwakhwa area of South Waziristan).

Ilyas’ deadliest operation took place in the Akhnoor cantonment in J & K against the Indian Army in 2002. In this, he planned attacks involving 313 Brigade divided into two groups. Senior Indian Army officials were lured to the scene of the first attack of which two were injured (in contrast, the PA did not manage to injure a single Indian Army General in the previous four wars), and some were killed. This was one of the most telling setbacks for India in the long-running insurgency in J & K. With Kashmiri’s immense expertise in Indian operations, he stunned Al-Qaeda leaders with the suggestion that expanding the theatre of war was the only way to overcome the present impasse. He presented the suggestion of conducting such a massive operation inside India that it would bring India and Pakistan to war. With that, all proposed operations against Al-Qaeda would be brought to a grinding halt, he opined. Al-Qaeda excitedly approved the proposal to attack India. Kashmiri then handed over the plan to a very able former PA Major from the Special Service Group (SSG), Haroon ‘Ashik’ Rasheed, who was also a former LeT commander and was still very close to LeT chiefs Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi and Abu Hamza. Haroon knew about a contingency ISI plan for a low-profile routine proxy operation in India to be executed by the LeT in the event of an all-out war between India and Pakistan. It had been in the pipeline for several years prior to 9/11, but was eventually shelved. The former Army Major, with the help of Ilyas Kashmiri’s men, hijacked this very ISI contingency plan and turned it into the devastating 26/11 attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008. It was almost identical to 9/11 in that it aimed to provoke India to invade Pakistan in the same manner as 9/11 had prompted the US to invade Afghanistan. The purpose of 26/11 was to distract Pakistan’s attention from the ‘War on Terror’, thereby allowing Al-Qaeda the space to manipulate its war against NATO in Afghanistan.

As a result of subsequent investigations conducted by Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), 20 militants associated with the LeT were chargesheeted for being actively involved in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and they still appear in the ‘fugitives’ category. They—all Pakistani nationals—include Muhammad Amjad Khan from Karachi, Iftikhar Ali of Faisalabad, Sufyan Zafar of Gujranwala, Muhammad Usman Zia of Rawalpindi, Muhammad Abbas Nasir of Khanewal, Javed Iqbal of Kasur, Mukhtar Ahmad of Mandi Bahauddin, Ahmed Saeed of Batagram, and Muhammad Khan of Balochistan. To this must be added Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum who are now undergoing trial in Pakistan. Four others—Abdullah Ubaid, Zafar Iqbal, Abdur Rehman Abid and Qazi Kashif Niaz—were also detained after being picked up from the Muzaffarabad-based Baitul Mujahideen HQ in PoK, but were not chargesheeted. However, according to India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA), the following were the key players behind 26/11: Brigadier Riaz, Major Sajid Mir, Major Samir Ali, Major Iqbal, Major Abdur Rehman Hashim (Pasha), Major Haroon Ashik, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Muzammil Bhat, Mazhar Iqbal (Abu Kafa), Abdul Wajid, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed, Younis Anjum, Abu Qama, Abu Hamza, Yakub, Ehsanullah, Saad Shabbir, Kasim, Hassan, Rashid Abdullah, Abu Usama, Imran, and Abu Shoaib. The last one is Indian citizen Zabiuddin Ansari  alias Abu Jundal. In August 2009 India has shared its sixth and last dossier given to Pakistan and all these dossiers were also shared with as many as 16 countries including Australia, US, UK, France, Israel, Germany, Canada, Japan and Singapore and others whose citizens were killed in the attacks.

What, however, remains unexplained till this day is the NIA’s inability till this day to link the perpetrators of 26/11 terror-attacks with those responsible for the Samjhauta Express bombing on February 18, 2007, when IEDs packed into suitcases located in the upper compartments in coaches GS-03431 and GS-14857, both filled with passengers, just after the train passed Diwana station near the Indian city of Panipat, 80km north of New Delhi. Sixty-eight people were killed in the ensuing fire and dozens more were injured. Of the 68 fatalities, most were Pakistani civilians. Both the Indian and Pakistani governments had then condemned the attack, and had speculated that the perpetrators intended to disrupt improving relations between the two nations, since the attack came just a day before the then Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri was to arrive in New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders.  An official US report had subsequently declared Arif Qasmani to be involved in this attack (Read:


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Also, unknown to India at that time, as part of a sustainable perception management exercise initiated by Gen Kayani and entrusted for implementation to both the ISI’s DG and to Maj Gen Athar Abbas, the then DG of the Inter Services Public Relations, or ISPR (from January 2008 through to June 2012), all-out efforts were being made to portray Pakistan not as a perpetrator of state-sponsored terrorism, but rather as a victim of state-sponsored terrorism being perpetrated by Afghanistan and India together as part of a stratagem of collusive coercion, i.e. Islamabad was striving for moral equivalence with India. First indication of this new move by Pakistan came on July 3, 2009 when Lt Gen Pasha at his HQ in Islamabad met with the Indian Defence Adviser posted at the High Commission on during which it was reportedly communicated to India that the ISI had in its possession certain materials connected with India’s support for separatist/subversive Baloch movements. Matters subsequently became crystal-clear on July 16, 2009 when India’s then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh met with his Pakistani counterpart, Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani, on the sidelines of NAM (Non-Aligned Movement) Summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh. The subsequent joint statement stated: “Both Prime Ministers recognised that dialogue is the only way forward. Action on terrorism should not be linked to the Composite Dialogue process and these should not be bracketed. Prime Minister Gilani mentioned that Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.” While the Indian PM was heavily criticized back in India for acceding to Pakistan’s point-of-view, his Pakistani counterpart was jubilant because he had secured moral equivalence by inserting the world ‘Balochistan’, meaning he had verbally raised the issue of India’s alleged moral support for non-violent Baloch separatist movements.

By then, the PA’s LICs against the TTP and its Al-Qaeda supporters inside Swat Valley and FATA were in full swing and hence, in order to provide some cosmetic relief to a still-enraged India, Lt Gen Pasha on September 10, 2009 attended an iftar hosted by India’s then High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal on behalf of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. He was among the earliest guests to arrive at the maximum-security five-star Hotel Serena and stayed on for nearly 45 minutes, chit-chatting with the invited Pakistani and foreign guests from the diplomatic world and their Indian hosts. Wearing a black sherwani over a white shalwar, the small-built Lt Gen Pasha blended in with the other, mostly Pakistani guests. Many did not even notice his presence until it was brought to their attention. Lt Gen Pasha broke his fast with a bowl of fruit; he was seated at the head table along with Sabharwal and several other Pakistani guests, including the former Foreign Minister, Gohar Ayub Khan (the late Field Marshal Ayub Khan’s son), ANP leader Hashem Babar and some well-known TV anchors. The guests in attendance included former diplomats, foreign Defence Advisers, local journalists, politicians, lawyers, civil society representatives and businessmen. “It’s a huge gesture by him,” said the former ISI DG, Lt Gen (Ret’d) Asad Durrani. When asked if things will improve between the two countries, the Lt Gen answered: “Yes, I think they certainly will”. When one TV anchor-person, Hamid Mir, arrogantly said that he was sure they would not, the good-humoured riposte by the ISI’s DG chief was: “You seem to be giving a fatwa”. Lt Gen Pasha stayed to offer namaaz after breaking his fast, and left soon after in a flurry of bodyguards and Indian officials who escorted him to the door. This was the first time that a serving military official, let alone the ISI’s DG with a well-known dislike for India, has attended an official sponsored Indian event in Islamabad. And he took this step not due to any new-found love for India, but to demonstrate to one and all that Pakistan no longer had to lose face to India because the latter too was now well on the way to being branded, portrayed and painted as a country that was no longer being perceived as either the sole aggrieved party or the one with moral ascendancy. 
Unravelling The Cross-LoC Beheadings
(to be concluded)