Most of the Afghan political elite haven’t yet recognised the Durand Line as an international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. They still claim some Pashtun-dominated northwestern areas of Pakistan as an integral part of their country. Reacting to the merger of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has lately said: “The government of Pakistan has no legal authority to dictate terms on the Durand Line. I want to remind to the Pakistani government that Afghanistan hasn’t and will not recognise the Durand Line.” But, Islamabad has repeatedly rejected this claim with vehemence. To achieve this objective, the NDS has joined hands with RAW to arouse nationalist and ethnic sentiments in Pakistan’s marginalised Pashtun population.
Afghanistan has been incessantly blaming Pakistan that it secretly shelters the Haqqani Network and the Quetta Shura of the Afghan Taliban. The Afghan leadership often points an accusing finger toward Pakistan’s policy of strategic depth aimed at sponsoring some ‘vetted Afghan Taliban’ in order to counter the rising Indian economic and military clout in war-battered Afghanistan. In retaliation, the NDS has closely partnered with RAW to furtively harbour hardcore Pakistani terrorists, insurgent and militants in ungoverned eastern Afghanistan.
As far as Indian designs behind the regional spy warfare are concerned, the Modi government has assigned RAW with the destructive task to scuttle the timely completion of the grand project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India’s intentions regarding the CPEC became crystal clear from the statement of Indian premier Narendra Modi in China where he vehemently bashed CPEC and termed the project as ‘unacceptable’ to India.
For subverting the CPEC, a special cell has been established at the RAW’s headquarters in New Delhi and has been entrusted with the task to sponsor terrorism and fuel insurgency in Pakistan that would slow down the progressive works on the grand economic corridor. Kulbushan Yadav openly disclosed that the main clandestine objective of his mission was to fully revive the separatist insurgency in Balochistan and disrupt the CPEC. According to him, the spy network of RAW against Pakistan stretches from southeastern Iran to eastern Afghanistan. The detained spy also revealed that he had set up a small business in Iran’s southeastern port of Chabahar in 2003 so that he may avoid detection and detention.
Why is India bent on subverting CPEC? Indian military strategists are highly apprehensive that emerging China will rely on the Gwadar Port to increase its naval presence in the Arabian Sea and near to the geo-strategically important Strait of Hormuz. They nurse the grudge that China will bank on its burgeoning trade with the oil-rich Middle East through the economic corridor to expand its military prowess. No doubt, such naval presence will greatly help China to protect its main sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the region, especially from the Indo-US bloc.
Apart from this, India unnecessarily deems CPEC and the Gwadar Port largely competitive and obstructive to the Indian-funded Chabahar Port. New Delhi has invested millions of dollars in the construction and upgradation of the Chabahar Port so as to augment its trade with Iran and Afghanistan, as well as the Central Asia Republics (CARs). India apprehends that the Gwadar Port and future expansion of CPEC will overshadow the Chabahar Port, thus immensely helping Pakistan and China to dominate the Iranian, Afghan and Central Asian markets.
The RAW-NDS duo is also out to create instability in Pakistan so that West remains increasingly worried about Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Since the US shares this objective with India, the CIA may also be working along with RAW to exacerbate Pakistan’s already fragile security situation. In this hybrid warfare, India has extensively lobbied in some Western capitals to stop them from supporting Pakistan on the nuclear front.
It is highly laudable that the security agencies of Pakistan have, so far, successfully countered the offensive by the RAW-NDS nexus against the country. After dismantling the spy network under Kulbhushan Yadav in 2016, the ISI and the Army have continued to conduct operations against the presence of RAW’s operatives in the country.
In this Indo-Afghan intelligence warfare against Pakistan, it is imperative that we try to break the nexus between the NDS and RAW. In this regard, the government should assure Afghanistan of stringent measures against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network in Pakistan. To complement this step, Islamabad ought to reset its economic and political relations with Kabul; the broader economic connection between the two countries will goad Afghanistan into breaking the NDS-RAW nexus.
Pakistan cannot completely neutralise the threat of RAW without enhancing intelligence coordination with Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). Some of RAW’s operatives are believed to be working at the Chabahar Port as Indian engineers and servicemen. If both Pakistan and China include Iran in CPEC, Tehran would not allow RAW’s agents to use its soil against Pakistan.
Presumably, the most effective means to counter the ongoing Indian proxy war against Pakistan is to build the capacity of the civil and military intelligence agencies so that they respond promptly to security challenges faced by the country.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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