By: Ammar Ahmed
The arrest of Indian spook Kulbhushan Yadav in March 2016, was not only unexpected but also came at a time when India and Pakistan were on a political and military level trying to resolve bilateral issues. However, the arrest of a serving high ranked Indian official has reset the India Pakistan relations. Both countries have been spying on each other for decades so what is so different this time one might ask, well first Pakistan has never apprehended an Indian serviceman for spying in the last two decades nor has Pakistan faced the brunt of terrorism this high as it has been after 9/11.
There had been convincing voices in Pakistan echoing an Indian hand in some, if not all, terror attacks in the country, and now the country finally has proof. While Mr. Yadev is no Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko, his timely capture has profoundly unraveled a Pandora’s box and our boys in the intelligence department need to look if RAW has infiltrated Pakistan’s top offices through their male/female operatives.
While Pakistan conveniently sentenced Yadav to death, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) deferred the penalty by intervening on India’s insistence. The UN´s top court has asked Islamabad not to execute the alleged agent until they have had time to pass final judgement in the case. This is given this case a new dimension in which the RAW agent can actually get away with it.
When High profile Spies got away with it!
Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko
On 27 June 2010, the stunning Anna Vasil’yevna Kushchyenko was arrested on suspicions of working for the Russian Federation’s external intelligence agency, the SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki). However, probably due to her stunningly good looks and after becoming the most talked about spy on US television; she was sent back to mother Russia. The US government’s stand was that it just didn’t want any bad blood with modern-day Russia. For the sake of greater good, apparently, both countries chose to sweep the matter under the rug.
Most Pakistanis are well aware of Tom Cruise’s character Ethan Hunt, the protagonist, of the Mission Impossible films, well Raymond Davis was Pakistan’s real life Ethan Hunt, sent into the country on a black op, ending up killing two Pakistani nationals in broad day light. Ironically Davis was arrested by Pakistani authorities, and put under protection of the watchful eye of Pakistan rangers. However, instead of serving penalty for manslaughter, the spy was handed over to the US authorities as a gesture of goodwill.
Sarjeet Singh was awarded death penalty after getting caught in 1985 while spying for India. He, however, after spending 27 years in a Pakistani prison was released by Islamabad yet again as a gesture of goodwill and in a bid to normalise relations with India. The spook after reaching back home openly admitted to spying for India.
In hindsight, Yadav can also be released to stabilize the deteriorating relationship between the arch rivals.
While the Indo-Pak tension simmers, releasing a spy might seem logical; however, this would be a terrible mistake on Pakistan’s part as both countries need to understand that waging a shadowy war against each other would eventually be catastrophic. The collapse of any of the countries would destabilize the whole region. After the collapse of the Taliban in Afghanistan both India and Pakistan have a tremendous opportunity to help in the reconstruction of the war ravaged country and play a vital role in bringing prosperity to the whole region. On India’s part it would make no sense to link peace talks to the safe return of Yadev as it would only be adding more problems to the already fragile peace process between the two countries.
The Iran Factor
For the first time in history Iran has been caught up in a feud between Pakistan and India. This time the Iranian state has been dubbed as the hosts of Yadev where not only did he live but also ran his covert operations from. This has put Iran in a very awkward place, and instead of staying in denial the Iranians perhaps should work on finding a way to subdue Pakistan’s disappointment. While Iran and Pakistan have enjoyed close ties, this international incident might reset the relations towards unwanted bitterness.
Perhaps the Jundallah factor had crucial impact on Pakistan-Iran relations. The separatist group is alleged by Iran to be operating from Pakistan to destabilise Iran. The founder of the group Abdolmalek Rigi was executed by Iran in 2010. Seems like someone in the Iranian intelligence thought it was time to neutralise the threat by letting RAW run operations from inside Iran. Whatever may the reason be, Iran and Pakistan should mend their differences before things spill out of hand – ending up destabilising the whole region.