The spy chronicles: RAW, ISI, and the illusion of peace.
(by Amarjit Singh Dulat, Asad Durrani and Aditya Sinha; published by HarperCollins in 2018, India)
Composed of 33 chapters, the book revolves around the idea that if Indians and Pakistanis can become friends on a neutral land, they can also become friends while inhabiting their respective lands.
Aditya Sinha writes that on the one hand TV talk shows are a platform to express one’s respective hyper-nationalism portraying as if the space of conciliation were lost between the two countries. However, on the other hand, people-to-people contact narrates a different story – a story of cooperation and friendship. TV talk shows or other platforms spewing hyper-nationalism cannot be permitted to close the space of amity shared by the people of two countries at the individual level. The book is an attempt to keep the space of amity open and opportunities for reconciliation possible in the future.
Amarjit Singh Dulat wishes what if we were friends. Dulat reveals that it was the Track-II dialogue on Kashmir took place in the aftermath of the Mumbai attack (26/11) bringing him and Asad Durrani closer to each other. It was the Chao Phraya Dialogue in Bangkok, Thailand, where they co-chaired a session on terrorism. This precisely was the purpose of the dialogue which was informal to discuss the possibilities of peace between the two countries, to rule out any possibility for revenging for 1947 or 1971 by Pakistanis. Dulat thinks that the turn around in the recent Pak-India relations came when, in 2014, at the occasion of the oath taking ceremony of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was invited on the request of two notables from Srinagar. Perhaps, Nawaz Sharif was not permitted by the powers that be to visit India but he did (without seeking permission).
The situation in Kashmir is volatile ever than before because of two reasons. The first is indigenous. One component of which is that the muscular policy of the Indian government is backfiring to alienate Kashmiris especially in the Valley from India. Another component of which is that compared to the past the Kashmiri youth in the Valley is getting radicalized (religiously) thereby offering more latitude to organizations such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba to exploit them. The atrocities inflicted upon the Kashmiri youth are forcing them seek refuge in religion. The consequent indoctrination-based growing radicalization is keeping these militants active independent of the support of Pakistan. The second reason is external. That is, Pakistan may not be offering any active (or direct) support to these newly radicalized Kashmiri Islamic militants of the Valley, but Pakistan may be keeping the Line of Control and the Working Boundary on the boil to offer its tacit support to their cause. This is why the government running the Indian part of Kashmir thinks that it is important not to overlook the importance of Pakistan and that it is important to talk to it, as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said in the state assembly in February 2018.
Asad Durrani says that during his visits abroad for training or recreation, he happened to meet Indians. Abroad was a neutral ground for him and so were the feelings of neutrality sans animosity. The physical and mental state of neutrality permitted him to understand Indians and their perspective and allowed him to get closer to them beyond the prism provided by his institution, the army. Over the years, both Dulat and Durrani concluded that a healthy relationship between their countries is more advantageous than it is detrimental.
Chapter 1: Setting the scene
The path led to writing the book started on 25 May 2016 at a hotel in Istanbul, where both Dulat and Durrani stayed or met. What prompted Durrani to give consent to co-author a book with Dulat was the latter’s book “Kashmir: the Vajpayee years” published in 2015 mentioning one side of the picture. Durrani thought that he could provide the other side of the story. Hence, the idea of co-authoring a book started gelling. Nevertheless, Dulat’s book revealed to Durrani that one of the major differences between RAW’s approach to the Kashmir issue and that of ISI’s is that the RAW deployed its officers for a longer duration of time (even for more than a decade) compared to the short span postings of ISI’s officers, and this practice made RAW’s officers better expert on Kashmir than ISI’s officers.
The invitation to co-author a book came from Dulat in the wake of the co-authoring projects done by them in the past, such as intelligence cooperation after the Pugwash Conference in Berlin in 2011, and a paper published by the University of Ottawa on Kashmir in 2013.
Both tacitly admitted that they used proxies against each other.
Chapter 2: The accidental spymaster
Durrani narrates his induction into the ISI when he was full colonel and posted as defence attaché (1980-1984) at the Pakistan Embassy in West Germany. After General Zia’s death in 1988, Durrani was inducted in the Military Intelligence (MI), where he spent two years before he rejoined the ISI for another 18 months.
Durrani says that ISI’s job was the evaluation of any developing/gathering threat and informing the relevant quarters about the same. Durrani claims to have developed the Corps of Intelligence employing specialists (instead of generalists), on certain aspects of intelligence, to evaluate a threat.
Durrani’s preference remained to catch those who were on the payroll of an enemy country (to act as a fifth column) but he kept on stumbling on an activity personal to a person (nothing to do with national interest), such as an illicit relation of an officer with a girl, to exact information of any kind from him by blackmailing him.
Chapter 3: Brotherhood to the rescue
On two counts, the RAW obliged the ISI. First, in 2003, when a tip-off from the RAW to the ISI saved the life of General Pervez Musharraf. This favourable act contributed to the ceasefire agreement (not to violate the sanctity of the Line of Control and the Working Boundary) on Kashmir. Secondly, in May 2015, when Durrani’s son, Osman, originally settled in Germany for 20 years, but with a Pakistani passport working for a Germany’s software developing company for 15 years, went India for business. Osman was having a visa for Kochi only but he travelled to Mumbai to get a flight to leave India. He was ignorant of the visa procedure for Pakistanis. He was held in Mumbai and released only after intervention by Dulat.
Chapter 4: Pakistan’s deep state
Durrani thinks that the concept of the Deep State, an establishment comprising a troika (big money, the military-industrial complex and the Jewish lobby) prevalent in the US, running the affairs of state behind the scenes, is absent in Pakistan: no Deep State with a similar constitution exists in Pakistan. Durrani claims that the Deep State in the US was found powerful to scuttle policies of the US President Barack Obama to end the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The Deep State is also resisting US President Donald Trump from disengaging the US army from foreign military engagements and from improving relations with Russia. Nevertheless, Durrani admits that on critical matters the ISI imposes itself simply because it needs a decision or to take a certain step without alerting anyone. Interestingly, Durrani claims that the ISI is ineffective in getting civilian cooperation unless they are willing.
Durrani also makes a tentative claim that when the ISI came to know of the presence of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, it not only informed but also offered an opportunity to the US to take bin Laden away from Pakistan.
Durrani claims that the international clout of the ISI swelled during the Afghan war of the 1980s. The ISI got plenty of resources which enhanced its capability to perform. However, the post-1991 phase brought challenges to the ISI owing to the same reasons and hence the ISI had to focus on quality instead of quantity in every sphere.
Durrani admits that domestically, police’s Special Branch was more effective in intelligence gathering about a possible threat than the ISI, whether the example is of the Red Mosque crisis in Islamabad or the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar. Durrani thinks that the success of the Intelligence Bureau or the Special Branch of the police lies in the accretion of experience and the continuity of service of its personnel which is not the case with the ISI. Similarly, the ISI could not predict the electoral outcomes in 1970 elections, 1990 elections, and 1998 elections. Interestingly, no such claim made by Dulat if the RAW was successful or not in predicting the outcome of any elections.
Durrani considers that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan loved to be seen, recognized and appreciated. Self-projection was his biggest weakness.
Chapter 5: ISI vs RAW
Dulat flatters Durrani on two counts. First, Dulat says that the ISI is better just because it is older than the RAW which was founded in 1968 after bifurcating the Intelligence Bureau (IB) owing to the failure of the IB in 1962 and 1965 wars against China and Pakistan respectively. This is an understatement because Dulat tries to see the qualitative difference, if any, through the prism of age. Here, Dulat has projected the ISI to appease the sense of superiority of Durrani. Secondly, Durrani claims successes of the ISI and one of them was that none of its operators ever defected or got caught on camera. The same point is acknowledged by Dulat as the failure of the RAW, but it is another feat by Dulat to vaunt the success of the ISI in terms of the failure of the RAW.
Durrani thinks that the ISI was successful in the 1965 war in terms of how the Indian army was assembled for war but a failure in the 1971 war in terms of not anticipating the attack in East Pakistan. The 1965-war episode was an exaggeration by Durrani because the Lahore front was left unattended under the presumption that India would not cross the international border. Similarly, the 1971-war episode was a double failure for not counteracting the activities of Mukti Bahini which did not make a sudden rush to East Pakistan but it bid its time to set training camps inside India along the border.
Durrani thinks that in the wake of 1989 elections in Kashmir, the ISI was successful in predicting if India was going to attack Pakistan but the ISI failed to calculate the intensity and duration of the Kashmiri uprising, and this point made the ISI wary of the future of the uprising and it thought to keep a handle on the uprising. Nevertheless, the ISI could not maintain its leverage over the uprising on its own terms, though the formation of Hurriyat (to represent multiple factions) was a success to offer a political direction and cohesion to the uprising.
Dulat thinks that it was the failure of the RAW to predict and counter Dawood Ibrahim, Hafiz Saeed and Masood Azhar. Dulat admits that the RAW did not like the ISI have a free hand in Afghanistan just because it meant to feed the Hizb, Lashkar and Jaish in Kashmir. He thinks that the situation in Afghanistan has repercussions on the situation in Kashmir. Free the ISI in Afghanistan means free the ISI in Kashmir. Here, Dulat perhaps thinks that militants trained in Afghanistan would be a potential export to Kashmir.
Dulat says that the major challenge comes not only from intelligence collection but also from intelligence analysis. He thinks that both the ISI and RAW face problem in collection and not in analysis. This is despite the fact that modern equipment has eased collection but a human brain is required for analysis. This is the point where both Dulat and Durrani tell a lie.
Dulat was an IB guy spending 30 years as its chief before heading the RAW. Dulat explains this shift in his career as painful. However, in fact, he brought along substantial experience in intelligence gathering to the RAW which is Research and Analysis Wing meant for analysis of intelligence. This point opens two points. First, in India, a non-military man can also be the head of the RAW, unlike in Pakistan. Secondly, the RAW chiefs are more experienced for the task at hand than the ISI men are. This point must be seen against the background that Durrani admits the success of Police’s Special Branch vis-à-vis ISI’s in alerting the state regarding domestic challenges.
Durrani admits that both General Zia-ul Haq and General Hamid Gul had nurtured ambitions beyond Afghanistan. Durrani claims that both organisations have entered the age of the media wars to wage a psychological war through financing, micro-managing, and choreographing TV news channels. The example is borrowed from CIA’s bids to manage certain American TV channels.
Chapter 6: The CIA and other agencies
Durrani does not rate CIA highly. He thinks that the CIA relies too much on technology which is deceptive as happened when CIA failed to pick Indian preparation for a nuclear test in 1998. Nevertheless, it is interesting to listen to Durrani saying this point and citing only one example to declare an organization’s failure despite the fact that Durrani himself lays emphasis upon the qualitative strength of the ISI, which is incomprehensible without technology.
Both Dulat and Durrani consider the British intelligence (MI6 and MI5) cool and silent actors who have developed a culture of doing work without much fanfare.
Chapter 7: the Intelligence dialogues
Durrani flaunts that there was no bar on him to discuss intelligence and intelligence work with the chiefs or ex-chiefs of any other spy agency of the world. However, contrary to his claim, Durrani is being asked by the GHQ to explain his position on the revelations he made through the book.
Chapter 8: Status quo
Durrani says that in the past, India was in favour of the status quo on Kashmir whereas Pakistan was keen to disrupt it. However, now reverse is the situation. Dulat agrees on this point substantiating that the BJP-PDP coalition has dispirited Kashmiris in many ways. This time the militancy in Kashmir is indigenous in the Valley. A few boys are in the forefront backed by the whole population. In the past, the All Party Hurriyat Conference was prohibited from meeting Pakistani officials in Delhi and from letting Hurriyat’s leaders to visit Pakistan. However, now the situation has changed. Mehbooba Mufti is asking for opening talks with Pakistan.
Durrani thinks that the composite dialogue which was concluded in 1998 to discuss the less thorny issues such as trade first, and the bitter issues such as security, Kashmir, and terrorism) later was a plausible formula to resolve differences in an environment of confidence. Durrani says that there is a problem that in India some people think that Kashmir is a bitter issue but not a core issue. Nevertheless, the Kargil war interrupted the chances of the dialogue, about which Dulat says that Musharraf regretted as his mistake. The dialogue was resumed in 2006 with the promise of allowing Kashmiri leaders from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) to interact.
Durrani says that through the 1998 nuclear tests, Pakistan achieved strategic stability in the region. The four-point formula offered by General Musharraf was accepted by Kashmiris but rejected by India just because India wanted to develop a strategic stalemate (and not a strategic solution). India might have feared that making the LoC irrelevant for trade could be the first step towards a European Union-type arrangement. Moreover, Durrani thinks that by inducting the ballistic missile defence system, India has disturbed the strategic stability forcing Pakistan to balance it with tactical nuclear weapons.
Chapter 9: The Core-K word
Whereas India considers Kashmir a bitter issue, Pakistan considers Kashmir a core issue. The dispute is in the positioning of the Kashmir issue between the two countries.
Chapter 10: Amanullah Gilgiti’ s Dreams of Independence
Durrani tells that when Amanullah, who was originally from Gilgit, settled in Kupwara, raised the slogan of the Independence of Kashmir, as the third option, no one took him seriously. Rather, Pakistan (and especially Pakistani establishment) went against him. Local politics also played a role such as Sardar Qayyum wanted Kashmir to accede to Pakistan, and so was the slogan of the Jamaat-i-Islami. Amanullah Khan was doubted because he had a background in the National Conference. In the Valley, he used to be the general secretary of the Plebiscite Front. He founded the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). He got settled abroad and during General Zia’s time when he came to Pakistan, no one took him seriously. Retrospectively, it was a mistake to ignore him or penalize him on this account. Durrani says that we doubted the intentions of Kashmiris that after independence they might not gravitate towards us. Our paranoid behavior. Independence could counter the Special Status given to Kashmir by India under Article 370. The option of an independent Kashmir is still a viable option. However, Dulat says that India will not concede to the independence option.
Chapter 11: Kashmir: The Modi Years
Sinha points out that Durrani keeps on referring to ongoing turmoil in Kashmir as the fallout of Burhan Wani’s death in 2016. Dulat says that the crisis erupted after December 2014 elections when BJP and PDP could not fetch seats they had hoped for. A consequent PDP-BJP alliance was forged but it could not deliver on the ground. Mehbooba Mufti was made the Chief Minister, but she remained incompetent to solve issues. By June 2016, everything was going fine, but then the Burhan Wani incident took place. India appointed a special representative, Dineshwar Sharma, the former IB chief, to talk to Kashmiris.
Chapter 12: The Unloved Dr Farooq Abdullah
Dulat says that in 2002, when Farooq Abdullah lost the assembly elections, he decided to visit Pakistan. Farooq thought he was not liked by India but he was not liked by Pakistan either. Pakistan considers him unreliable. He behaves like his father Sheikh Abdullah behaved: revolting against Delhi, spending 23 years in jail, entering into a peace accord with Mrs Indra Gandhi in 1975, again revolt against Delhi, and getting his assembly dismissed in 1984.
Chapter 13: Take What You Can Get
Durrani says that when the context is Kashmir, do not dream for absolute gains. Take what you can get. Durrani also says that both countries should make Kashmir the focus of cooperation. However, for that three things have to be overlooked: events at the time of partition, Article 370, and the LoC. The beginning must be done from trade and bus service to enhance people-to-people contact. It is an indirect approach to solve the Kashmir issue.
Chapter 14: India and Pakistan: ‘Almost’ friends
Dulat thinks that the basic problem lies in mutual distrust, which has grown for several reasons embedded in history. After 1975 when Sheikh Abdullah entered into an agreement with Mrs Gandhi, the things started calming down.
All Prime Ministers of India wanted to improve relations with Pakistan but Vajpayee went ahead of them. Vajpayee took the bus to Lahore (in February 1999), but he did not lose heart and, even after the Kargil war, invited General Musharraf to Agra (in July 2001). Despite disappointment at Agra, he visited Pakistan again for the 2004 SAARC (12th) Summit. Vajpayee wanted to get the benefit of Musharraf’s presence at the helm of affairs.
Durrani says that Vajpayee’s initiative continued to benefit India because one and all blamed us for Kargil, which was anyway a foolish operation. Durrani says that history is full of ‘almost’ such as we ‘almost’ achieved a breakthrough when Sheikh Abdullah was in Pakistan in 1964, but Nehru died, and the deal on Kashmir was almost clinched if Musharraf had not fallen into domestic trouble in 2007.
Chapter 15: Lonely Pervez Musharraf
Durrani says that General Musharraf was infatuated with the Kargil operation. The LoC giving Kargil heights to India was drawn after the 1971 war, as India had captured some heights in the Kargil sector. During the tenure of Benazir Bhutto, Musharraf could not launch the operation but after the 1998 nuclear tests Musharraf decided to go ahead on the premise that nuclear immunity would constrain India from crossing the international border. Pakistan was accused of risking nuclear confrontation which could have devastating effects. The road to Leh was blocked which was critical for India as a supply line to Siachen. Nawaz Sharif did not know the detail of the plan and its exact consequences.
Sinha says that much to the relief of India, the telephonic discussion between General Musharraf (speaking from Beijing) and General Aziz (speaking from Rawalpindi) was intercepted by the RAW revealing many inside of the matter. Durrani says that the political responsibility lay on the shoulder of Nawaz Sharif who then thought of getting rid of Musharraf but the ugly way he used to do that on 12th October 1999 ricocheted on him and he lost his government.
Durrani says that General Musharraf’s decision to send his army to South Waziristan in 2004 boomeranged on Pakistan in the form of militants, hardliners, fundamentalists and suicide bombers.
Dulat says that L K Advani was the architect of the Agra Summit (July 2001) and he was also its destroyer.
Chapter 16: Modi’s surprise moves
Dulat says that Modi was keen to improve relations with Pakistan, but the Pathankot and Uri incidents discouraged him.
Durrani says that ISI’s preference to hardliners was because hardliners could take hard decisions.
Chapter 17: The Doval doctrine
Both discuss the Doval doctrine (pronounced in 2010) for Kashmir. India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval said that the use of force against Kashmiris pelting stones was legitimate and this was depicted as India’s iron fist policy in Kashmir. However, the Indian army should not overreact in Kashmir as the crisis would fade away spontaneously after some time. The crisis cannot sustain beyond a point. On the one hand, the Indian army was allowed to exterminate militants while on the other hand the Indian army was asked to attack Pakistani posts to stop it sending militants by providing the cover of fire.
Chapter 18: The hardliners
Durrani says that Indian foreign office (the South Block) was a hardliner to Pakistan, even more than Indian intelligence agencies and the army.
Chapter 19: BB, Mian Saheb and Abbasi
Durrani thinks that both General Yahya Khan and Mujib-ur Rehman tried to accommodate the interests of both wings, but Zulfiqar Ali Bhuto sabotaged their efforts, as he wanted to become the prime minister at all cost. Moreover, Modi’s visit to Raiwand after bad-mouthing Pakistan both in Dhaka and Kabul was not liked by anyone. Despite that, Nawaz Sharif welcomed him.
Chapter 20: Good Vibrations, India-Pakistan
Durrani says that the positive in bilateral relationships were that, first, the Indus Water Treaty took place; secondly, during 1965 and 1971 wars, neither side bombed civilians; and thirdly, after nuclear tests, the first thing established was a hotline between two countries to avoid misunderstanding of any future event.
Chapter 21: Hafiz Saeed and 26/11
Durrani says that he was perturbed over the Mumbai attack and one of reasons for this was that David Headley had named an ISI major involved in the attack. For the past 15 years, any report American has prepared on Afghanistan concludes in Pakistan’s complicity. Dulat says that the strength of Hafiz Saeed lies in abusing India publicly, whereas Durrani says that the cost of prosecuting Hafiz Saeed is too great bear.
Chapter 22: Kulbhushan Jadhav
Durrani says that espionage is one of the oldest professions deserving respect. The common pattern is not to sentence them to death but to do a swap deal with the sender country. The catch offered Pakistan a counter-narrative when India was trying to implicate Pakistan’s involvement in the Pathankot incident. Pakistan now says that we know you have been doing this in Balochistan.
Dulat says that Pakistan did not waste time to equal score by putting Jadhav straight to TV to let the people know of India’s act, as India aired the intercepted Musharraf-Aziz telephone talk during the Kargil war.
Durrani says that Pakistan is in a hurry to appease any dissident in Balochistan even by paying money or by force so that CPEC could run. Durrani says that there are four Indian consulates and an Indian embassy in Afghanistan but the number is highly exaggerated in Pakistan and these offices are not the source of espionage contrary to the belief in Pakistan, where silly and ill-informed people keep bandying about such news. Moreover, Jadhav like phenomenon is the expression of the Doval doctrine: bleeds Pakistan through the Taliban and Baloch separatists.
Chapter 23: Talks and Terror
Dulat says that Pakistan has a handle on militancy in Kashmir, but Durrani says that this is not the case in absolute terms, though Pakistan tried to have influence so that events proceed on its way, especially without any factional infighting.
Dulat says that insurgency in Kashmir was a new thing and it was spurred when, in December 1989, some Kashmirs became able to kidnap Mufti Saheb’s daughter. This act bolstered the confidence of Kashmiri youth that they could pressurize India to succumb to their demands. To extend this point, they started thinking that through such daring acts they could also seek independence from India. Pakistan also got surprised at this quick turn of events and constructed Hizbul Mujahideen to get involved.
Dulat says that India was worried on the extension of terrorism to the South of Pir Panjal engulfing Jammu. The two beginners were the JKLF and the Hizbul Mujahideen whereas other militant organizations erupted afterwards. Certain incidents such as the siege of Haratbal fanned militancy. Since 2015, groups of local boys projecting themselves as freedom fighters have been found active in terrorism. Sinha says that the Gujrat riots of 2002 also affected the insurgency. Dulat says that the Babri Masjid demolition also contributed to the rise of Indian Mujahideen and sought help from Pakistan, as appeared in the case of Mumbai attacks. Dulat says that the Al Faran group which kidnapped five foreigners in 1995 never appeared again. Durrani says that the Al Faran group might be an Indian intelligence group which did such an act to discredit Kashmiri fighters.
Durrani says that the emergence of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan can be attributed to General Musharraf who annoyed tribal people by sending hundreds to them to Guantanamo Bay without any due process of law in 2001-2002 and then by sending army to South Waziristan in 2004.
Chapter 24: Surgical strike
Durrani says that the pretext of Uri attack was used to launch a surgical strike in Pakistani part of Kashmir in September 2016, if it was a strike, on Pakistan and the claim of the strike served the Indian purpose domestically. It was a new version of strike as it was also not a hot pursuit – to hit a place from where hostility originates. Pakistan thinks that a surgical strike as the beginning of the Cold Strike doctrine cannot take place under the nuclear overhang, but Pakistan should consider that it can happen as the Kargil war happened. Durrani says that owing to the Cold Start doctrine, Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons.
Dulat says that his fear is that another Mumbai like incident or a parliament attack should not take place. In such a case, India would find restraint difficult.
Chapter 25: The politics of war
Sinha says that in reaction to attack on Indian parliament in 2001, through Operation Parakram in 2002, by moving troops to the border to actualize coercive diplomacy, the status quo was threatened. Durrani says that, at that time, the presence of the US in Afghanistan and the nuclear overhang made us know that there was no prospects of war. It was called the conventional-unconventional strategic paradox.
Dulat says that Aman Ki Asha launched in 2011 was a fruitful effort.
Chapter 26: The Deal for Osama bin Laden
Durrani says that Pakistan might have cooperated with the US to capture Osama bin Laden in May 2011 but the US did not reward Pakistan because the US has a history of eating its own words. This is how neither was Pakistan incompetent nor Pakistan was complicit. Durrani thinks that Pakistan is not admitting it openly because of political fallouts.
Durrani also claims that the Americans did not reach Osama through Dr Shakeel Afridi but through a tip-off from a retired Pakistani officer who had worked in intelligence, ISI. The name of the officer is known to him and he is missing from Pakistan since then.
Chapter 27: Selfish Self-interests in Afghanistan
Durrani says that the meaning of the term strategic depth is that if India attacks, we will flee to Afghanistan and let Indians come there to get buried as happened to big armies in the past. He says that we also talk of Iran as a relief zone to shift our air force there to protect from an Indian attack. Similarly, Pakistan offers Afghans a strategic depth to flee Afghanistan and seek protection and livelihood in Pakistan.
Durrani says that Pakistan’s Afghan policy is not India-centric, as he keeps on revising his knowledge and assessment every six months.
Durrani says that the emergence of President Ashraf Ghani was because of the sustained support of Americans and that Ashraf Ghani bad-mouthed Pakistan in Amritsar at the behest of Americans. Ashraf Ghani is a weak President because he has no footing on the ground and that Taliban had sustained the anti-Taliban coalition for 16 years. There should an intra-Afghan settlement on the Taliban terms. Lately, two rounds in Doha and one round in Murree has taken place. The second round in Murree was sabotaged by the Kabul regime and by Americans, who are annoyed with Pakistan blaming Pakistan playing a double game, by revealing that Mullah Umar had died in 2013 and this news hurt the unity of Taliban. Similarly, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor who became Amir of the Tablian and who was instrumental in sending the Taliban delegates to Doha and who sent the Taliban delegates to the first Murree round in July 2015 was eliminated by an American drone in May 2016. This is how the US spurns all efforts of the Taliban to negotiate a settlement on the table. Durrani thinks that the US does not want a negotiated settlement with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Durrani says that the main component of the US’ Afghanistan policy is to sustain bases there. The presence of Americans bolsters the Kabul regime and Delhi. Without American presence, neither of them can exist in Afghanistan. Another reason for India’s presence in Afghanistan is the financial assistance it offers and the cultural clout it enjoys. Durrani thinks that India will never send its army to Afghanistan to assist the US-NATO forces. The problem with Afghans is that they seek refuge in Pakistan but do not listen to Pakistan.
Chapter 28: Donald Trump, Nudger-in-chief
Durrani says that Donald Trump is continuously nudging Pakistan to do more even if it were beyond Pakistan’s capacity to meet the demand.
Dulat says that, in the 1990s, Americans were active in Kashmir meeting Kashmiri leadership but this activity stopped after 9/11. They even changed the jargon from freedom fighters to terrorists.
Chapter 29: Pakistan’s Pal, Putin
Durrani says that, in 2012, the Russians invited him under the ruse a nuclear conference to discuss post-Soviet Afghanistan. In 2015, he was pleasantly surprised to read an article written by a London-based writer Polina Tikhonova who claimed that a new superpower axis comprising China, Russia and Pakistan was emerging. Iran might join it in due course.
Durrani says that recently Russia has asserted itself by annexing Crimea and has gained influence in the Levant. Even Turkey is paying Russia respect.
Chapter 30: Forge Structure or Break Ice?
Dulat says that Kashmir be given priority in confidence-building between the two countries, besides undertaking all efforts to restore people-to-people contact, trade, sports, travel, communication, cultural exchange, mutual talks, etc. Durrani says that the Track II, behind the scene channel, be continued.
Chapter 31: Council of Spies
Dulat says that the talk between intelligence agencies be institutionalized, instead of relying on occasions to converse with each other. There should be institutional interaction, if not cooperation, on terrorism. There are grey areas where intelligence agencies of both countries can work together. In an institutional arrangement, the station chiefs in both Delhi and Islamabad would be open posts. Intelligence officers in both the embassies should be known to each other for forging regular communication between them. Further, India and Pakistan should keep talking no matter what the situation is, good or bad. When we stop talking, the media find an opportunity to start speaking whatever it likes making a situation reduced from bad to worse.
Durrani says that the institutional interaction is absolutely necessary at least for not letting any group derail the peace process. Jadhav should be returned at the right price. Durrani says that as Masood Azhar is wanted by both India and Pakistan, China should stop vetoing the action on Azhar at the UN. Moreover, India should not play the big brother role in bilateral relations. After the Mumbai attack, DG ISI was not sent to India (against the advice of Zardari) because the mode to send him was objectionable and because a precedent would be set for any similar incidents in the future.
Chapter 32: Akhand Bharat Confederation Doctrine
Durrani says that the Gujral Doctrine had much sense especially its sub-regionalisation aspect calling for improving relations with every country. The doctrine called for starting with the smaller countries or even regions or sub-regions such as two Punjabs, two Kashmirs and across the border. The doctrine allowed these sub-regions to open their space of sports, festivals, etc., for each other. This would initiate people-to-people contact and would lead to confidence building. However, the dilemma with the establishment is that it is paranoid and looks at everyone with suspicion.
Dulat says that the idea of Akhand Bharat, a mad obsession with nationalism, was an ultra-right idea but it was laid to rest when Vajpayee visited Minar-e-Pakistan Lahore in February 1999.
Durrani says that it was Indian National Congress which did not accept the Cabinet Mission Plan. Jinnah had accepted it to preserve united India. Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan was to get the best deal for Muslims such as maximum autonomy for the regions with a Muslim majority when the British were leaving. Divisions created conflicts and problems. If not now, in the future, the new South Asian Union or a Confederation of South Asia can be developed on the pattern of the European Union having a common currency. This idea can appease the nostalgia of Akhand Bharat. Similarly, a unified independent Kashmir is also possible.
Chapter 33: Deewangi Khatam
Dulat and Durrani agree on the point that talks should be continued between the two countries and also between two intelligence organisations, RAW and ISI. There is much to gain from each other by understanding each other. The madness between India and Pakistan must end: “Yeh deewangi kab khatam hogi?”
By Dr Qaisar Rashid