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The effort to create the bogey of ‘Hindu terror’ was to ‘provide a camouflage net for the activities of domestic terror groups owing allegiance to ISI and also to make Muslims distrust Hindus’.
MADHAV NALAPAT | SUNDAY GUARDIAN | NEW DELHI | 23 APRIL, 2016:: The $15 billion narcotics lobby in India was used by GHQ Rawalpindi to promote the concept of “Hindu terror”, sources close to that establishment aver. They say that “manufactured evidence was planted about such groups that were accepted at face value by Indian investigators at the time”. The effort to create the bogey of “Hindu terror” was to “provide a camouflage net for the activities of domestic terror groups owing allegiance to the ISI and also to make Muslims distrust Hindus”. Another objective was to make other countries “as suspicious of Indians as they were of Pakistanis”.
However, creating the bogey of “Hindu terror” was only Strand 1 in the design of GHQ to “make the international community regard India and Pakistan as birds of a feather in matters of extremism and terror”. Strand 2 was to “sow suspicion and mistrust about Delhi in Tehran and Kabul”. It will be remembered that cooperation between the security establishments of Iran, Afghanistan and India is vital in order to defeat the designs of the ISI and its proxies against the three countries. Strand 3 was to show to China that “India was facilitating acts of terror against Chinese nationals operating in Pakistan”, thereby passing the blame for such actions from the security establishment in Pakistan, which is honeycombed with ultra-Wahhabis who believe in the establishment of an ISIS Caliphate across the subcontinent. Strand 4 was to ensure that the international community equates India with Pakistan as countries that sponsor terror, extremist and insurgent groups, thereby preventing India from leveraging the international community against Pakistan.
These sources claim that “under the direction of Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, all four strands are proceeding well”, even though Strand 1 (Hindu terror) appears to have hit rough weather with revelations of the flimsy nature of the charges against the alleged “Hindu terror” perpetrators.
Establishment sources claim that General Raheel Sharif is working on “reversing the global perception that India is the victim and Pakistan the aggressor in the matter of fomenting terror and unrest”. This is being done by “getting India and Pakistan equated in the matter”. “This strategy (of painting India in the same colours as Pakistan was globally regarded) was worked on (by General Sharif) during his time heading the Pakistan military academy around a decade back”.
General Sharif, according to these contacts, “asked for and got set up a special cell which collected information on Narendra Modi while he was Chief Minister in Gujarat”, as the present Prime Minister of India was identified as the likely successor to Manmohan Singh in 2014, in 2011 itself by the GHQ brains trust. It will be recalled that the ISI, which functions as per the direction of GHQ, expended considerable effort in seeking to damage the image of Narendra Modi in London, New York and Geneva through the instrumentality of NGOs set up for the purpose of blackening the global image of India, including Khalistan groups that have recently become hyper-active after years of relative somnolence. These NGOs were also given significant traction in Washington and other capitals through “logistical support” by individuals linked to the ISI.
Sources within Pakistan claim that Kulbushan Yadav, accused by GHQ of being an R&AW agent, will only be the first in a long chain of those who are to be paraded globally as evidence that India is involved in destabilisation operations in Pakistan, “especially in seeking to do a Bangladesh in Balochistan and even in assisting terror groups active against the Pakistan state”. They say that nine individuals are now in the custody of the security agencies in Pakistan and they are being coached to come out with stories of Indian involvement, not only in Pakistan but in Iran and Afghanistan as well. They say that in the case of Kulbushan Yadav, “General Sharif personally briefed the Chinese that the Indian national was involved in seeking to blow up a lodge in Gwadar where Chinese technicians were staying and also seek to commit other acts of sabotage along the $45 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”. The Ashraf Ghani government in Afghanistan “has been given dossiers (which purport to show) that India is keeping contact with and assisting elements of the Taliban, contrary to stated policy”, while Iran “has been given dossiers about Yadav using the territory of that country to assist the Baloch not only in Pakistan but in Iran as well”. Soon, “other (so-called) Indian agents will be outed and made to tell how they were active not only against Pakistan, but against China, Afghanistan and Iran as well”.
The sources say that “by 2019, when the present term of Prime Minister Modi ends, the objective is to paint Delhi as South Asia’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and insurgency, far ahead of Rawalpindi on both counts”. Indeed, Pakistan Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz has publicly called India a “state sponsor of intervention”, including in giving support to terror groups. It is extremely unlikely that any of the unfortunates apprehended by the ISI is a genuine agent, as sources in Pakistan admit that “even the most elementary precautions (such as dead drops, cut-outs and personal meetings) were dispensed with in their operations”. However, the Pakistan side claims that such lack of precautions on the part of the supposed agents was motivated by “a desire for quick results as well as over-confidence”.
Already, Islamabad has briefed ASEAN as well as GCC envoys about manufactured claims of “Indian interference and support to terror”, and after more so-called Indian agents get paraded, more such briefings are likely. In short, Pakistan is following to the letter the rulebook followed by India in the past while exposing the activities of GHQ.
There has also been a ramping up of efforts to ensure a drumbeat of terror strikes in India during the coming two years, which are seen as crucial for the Modi government as it enters 2019, when Lok Sabha elections take place. No less than 13 suicide attacks have taken place in Kashmir since Modi became PM, and an organised effort is on to re-ignite insurgency in the Valley. Simultaneously, “clusters of Indian nationals are being organised in India and in other locations and given directions on what is needed to get done to poison communal relations in India”. It needs to be kept in mind that the ISI recruits from all communities for its activities in India, rather than just a single community. Indeed. “in Nepal, almost all the key ISI facilitators are Hindu”, many involved in the hawala trade, which, together with narcotics, is controlled in South Asia by the ISI.
GHQ is looking warily at Prime Minister Modi’s innovative approach towards diplomacy, and to his outreach towards Pakistan, China and the US. The nightmare scenario for the generals would be a closer military partnership with the US (through the signing of the three Foundation Accords) and ultimately a trillion-dollar commercial partnership with China, beginning with an India-China Economic Corridor that would cut through the Maoist belt across India with roadways and growth opportunities. Fortunately for GHQ, elements in the Indian strategic and security establishment remain wedded to the hyper-cautious approach of the past, and regard with disfavour the breakthrough in India-US and India-China relations that could take place before 2019, in case Prime Minister Modi is able to ensure that “naya soch” enters a system clogged with debris from the past. What is clear is that there is an organised effort by GHQ to blacken the international image of India, and that this is a process in which General Sharif has registered some success. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has lost much ground to the Chief of Army Staff, in large part because the US and China both favour the military rather than the civilian leadership, unlike India.
The “masterstroke” being planned by GHQ, according to sources close to the establishment, is to pin the blame for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on India before 2019, thereby “further planting suspicions about India within the international community”. The coming years will show whether General Sharif will succeed or fail in his efforts at separating the US, Iran, Afghanistan and China from India through allegations that are a mirror image of the charges made against Pakistan by successive governments in Delhi.