Friday, April 01, 2016

L'Affaire Kulbhushan Jadhav

ISPR has released a very long video of a confession by Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav.

The video contains numerous oddities which suggest an operation that is outside the traditional parameters of external intelligence activities in India. A detailed summary of these oddities may be found in this article.

Apart from relatively minor trade-craft issues that seem to have cropped up, the major discrepancy in this affair is that it is well known that India follows the global intelligence community norm of not using serving military officers in an offensive intelligence gathering capability in foreign lands.

Democratic nations typically rigidly enforce this norm especially when operating in hostile nations. For example, when the CIA sends someone over to Moscow - they go to great lengths to "civlianize" them and detach them from an past military associations. This is necessary to avoid triggering the impression in Moscow that the US is keen on a military confrontation.

Very few nations like Pakistan do not follow this global norm. ISI officials are deputed from the Pakistani Armed Forces and retain their ranks and privileges in their parent cadre. Publications by serving and retired personnel celebrate the use of regular troops in "irregular" or "extra-regimental" duties. This kind of behavior goes back to the early days of Pakistan when the Pakistani COAS sent regular forces alongside tribal lashkars into the valley to seize large parts of the kingdom for Pakistan.

One of the major issues that India has complained about regularly is that serving Pakistani army people were directly involved in terrorist operations inside India. The Pakistani Army website occasionally lists its people as having been martyred in terrorist acts in India.

Whatever else the Pakistanis hope to achieve by publicizing the confession of Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav, it is implicitly seeking to legitimize its dissonance with the global norm. By saying that "India does it too" - Pakistan hopes to create a way of deflecting criticism for its own behavior.

I have been asked several questions, I list them here for completeness

Could Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav have been part of some ill conceived and poorly executed operation from New Delhi?

I suppose anything is possible. Normally I would have said - no it is not likely - but after hearing DCP Kamalkar's story - I can't honestly say that stupid things aren't attempted by people who seem to be marching entirely to their own tune. A normal person might think that launching a subconventional operation with serving military personnel in a nuclear armed adversary's land is stupid - but then that sort of stupidity is not in short supply anywhere in the world. 

Could it be that he worked for the DIA?

The time frame provided by his testimony suggests that he may have been inducted into the nascent DIA under Gen. Davar but again there is no evidence that the DIA ever attempted offensive operations in an area that exceeded the original DGMI remit of "close to the border" and "along the LoC". At sea, the border translates into the maritime border per conventions.

Is it possible that he was keeping an eye on Pasni, Jiwani, Gwadur and Ormara for the Navy?

That seems possible - as the IN is heavily invested in the northern Arabian sea in various international security operations - it needs to know what Pakistan is doing with China at those ports. Specifically are Chinese submarines being based there. Can they dock? or are the supplied via a tender at high seas? etc... etc...  

Could he have been providing transshipment services to India's infrastructure projects in Afghanistan via Chahbahar?

Also seems plausible. Given the volume of Indian activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan's reluctance to let anything go through its landmass, India had to setup a footprint in Chahbahar. 

At this point there is nothing for anyone to do here.

This farce will drag on  in the press for a few months as the Pakistanis seem intent on maximizing the publicity they get out of Commander Jadhav, after they are done with this - they will under take negotiations to exchange him for some Pakistani in India's jails.


At 7:09 AM, Blogger Nanana said...
while claiming that the Indian spy recently arrested in Balochistan was actually caught “by the Taliban and sold” to Pakistani intelligence.

At 4:32 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Gunter's perspective is quite interesting.

It is difficult to believe he could have been snatched in Chahbahar. There are no known Taliban groups active in the area. That is why Chahbahar was chosen in 2002 to be the footfall for India's presence in Afghanistan.

The decision to put down in Chahbahar was formalized in early 2003 when President Mohammed Khatami came to Delhi and was the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade.

The BR Monitor (which I edited at the time) celebrated the footfall at Chahbahar (or Bandar Behesti as the Iranians like to call it) by publishing a cover photo of President Abdul Kalam and President Mohammed Khatami conferring with each other at the R-day parade.

The title of that issue was "Among Friends".

As you may be aware a very influential and now deceased Indian intelligence officer had made contact with the revolutionary regime in Paris in 1979. This contact had helped resolve misunderstandings that could have built up between India and the Islamic Republic of Iran. It had also helped many Indians who were invested alongside the Shah regime. That contact was the effective underpinning of India's relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was there that the re-engagement with Qom began. It was there that the agreement to bring Iranian AF pilots and their families to Delhi after they had served honorably against Iraq in the war got its wings. These are all old stories - no one cares about them any more.

There is another problem with Gunter's theory - there was no report of the Commander going missing in Afghanistan.

At 4:34 AM, Blogger maverick said...

It is possible that he was intercepted at sea while monitoring a Taliban friendly heroin shipment.

If he was snatched by the Taliban as Gunter says - the high seas intercept is a more likely scenario.

The fact that Pakistan won't give consular access to him is a red flag. They don't want the details of his arrest made public.

If they have not mistreated him. This farce can continue, otherwise woe betide any PA officer who strays too close to the border.

At 4:37 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Sorry to be even more blunt.

If DSS and AKD are not okay with this from the get-go and the Aabpara Angels have pulled off some stupid stunt - this will backfire big time.

Namo and AS don't care what happens to Aabpara. And neither will be too upset if AKD or DSS declare open season on Aabpara's boys.

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

Munir's droppings

At 5:54 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Wow.. wife beater has aged quite a bit.

At 5:58 AM, Blogger maverick said...

As an aside, it is all too easy to write a python sentiment driver which adds one liner posts with the right syntactic elements to pass for a positive review.

Really Aabpara - I expected more.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger maverick said...

It seems that the JIT saw enough evidence of Pakistani involvement that it felt it necessary to come up with a complete contradiction of its own stance from a few days ago.

I fully understand why the Pakistanis felt the need to provoke the Indian security establishment at P'kot with an armed assault. I also realize that unless Pakistan distances itself from the act, it will be seen as igniting a major escalation. So the JIT behavior is understandable.

If dismissing the whole affair as staged is the public face saving Pakistan needs to secretly eliminate the true perpetrators, then so be it - otherwise I don't think the AS, Namo, DSS and AKD combine will forget the JITs behavior.

The next time around instead of Pakistan sending a JIT to India, the Nahanwale will just go to Pakistan.

It is best to just hand over the people responsible secretly and then India can just claim them "interdicted", "somewhere in the western sector".

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Pax-Indica said...

Mav, you have email.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger maverick said...


looks good.


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