Military & Aerospace

RAW Operations in Pakistan
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 27 Feb , 2013

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‘The Hindu” of February 26, 2013, has carried an article  titled “ No Solace In This Quantum of Accountability” written by Samir Saran, Vice-President, and Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Programme Co-Ordinstor of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).It is about the accountability of the intelligence agencies.

My views on accountability are well known and I do not feel the need to repeat them. I wanted to comment on the following observation by the two writers: “ If folklore has it right, if R&AW had a charter, it would have legally pre-empted a former Prime Minister’s order to abandon operations in Pakistan. It cost India 30 years worth of accumulated ground assets and priceless reach.”

The R&AW had two kinds of operations in Pakistan—- for intelligence collection and covert action.

The reference is apparently to former Prime Minister Inder Gujral. It is not correct that Gujral ordered the R&AW operations in Pakistan to be abandoned. The R&AW had two kinds of operations in Pakistan—- for intelligence collection and covert action.

He ordered only the operations for covert action to be closed since he felt that such a gesture might facilitate his efforts to improve relations with Pakistan under the so-called Gujral Doctrine. He did not order the intelligence collection operations to be discontinued. It would have been stupid on his part to have done so. He, like all our Prime Ministers before and after him, understood the importance of a good intelligence collection capability in Pakistan. What he ordered to be closed accounted for only about 15 per cent of the R&AW’s operations in Pakistan. He encouraged the remaining 85 per cent to continue.

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There was a debate in the intelligence community over the wisdom of his order to wind up the covert action operations. Many senior officers met him and explained to him that building a covert action capability took a long time. If one day the Government felt the need for resuming covert actions, there would be no trained and experienced assets on the ground. It was suggested to him that if he felt strongly on the subject, the covert action operations should be suspended, but not discontinued. He could not be convinced.

It was suggested to him that if he felt strongly on the subject, the covert action operations should be suspended, but not discontinued. He could not be convinced.

When the NDA Government under Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee came to office, the intelligence community was hoping that he would cancel Gujral’s decision and order  the resumption of covert action operations in Pakistan. To their surprise, they found that Vajpayee too, like Gujral, wanted the R&AW to focus on intelligence collection in Pakistan and avoid operations for covert action.

Some serving officers, who felt disappointed by the reluctance of Vajpayee to  resume covert actions, arranged a meeting for me with Brajesh Mishra, the then National Security Adviser. I met him in his office in New Delhi, and explained to him the importance of resuming our covert action operations in Pakistan.

He gave me a patient hearing and said: “ I am already convinced. You don’t have to convince me. But the Prime Minister (Vajpayee) thinks otherwise. We have to carry out his wishes.”

There the matter ended. Even if the R&AW had a charter, there was no question of its being able to pre-empt Gujral’s orders. As R.N.Kao used to say, the R&AW and the IB are the two clandestine swords of the Prime Minister. It is upto him to decide how they will be used. His desires and orders have to be observed. No intelligence chief can overlook them—charter or no charter.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

B Raman

Former, Director, Institute for Topical Studies, Chennai & Additional Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat. He is the author of The Kaoboys of R&AW, A Terrorist State as a Frontline Ally,  INTELLIGENCE, PAST, PRESENT & FUTUREMumbai 26/11: A Day of Infamy and Terrorism: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.

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4 thoughts on “RAW Operations in Pakistan

  1. This is really a matter of nations. Both the nations should maintain the peace and stops this unnecessary objects. The base of this blog is an article published in the news paper THE HINDU. It contains several revealing facts which are now been disclosed. May all these matter soon sorted out.

  2. The prime minister without a political base undertake funny decisions. He did, but there was no improvement in India’s relations with Pakistan. If Vajpayee did not cancel the order, he was under political complusions of coalition partners.

    In reverse did Pakistan oblige India by stopping all covert actions in India. They not only carried on but multiplied many times over. They used proxies to do the job, hence deniability was built as all covert actions were done by proxies. Close to 1,000 people are dead because of so many bombings undertaken by Pakistani proxies.

    What choices do India has. Probably none.

    Now an oblique reference is being made by the newly appointed US Secretary of Defence, that India is involved in Pakistan thru Aghanistan. I am glad India is. Without befiting reply Pakistanis do not listen.

    Pakistan does not care if its citizens are dead by any covert action by Afghanis or otherwise. They only care whether Indians are dead or not. That is their aim. hence in order to make them feel the loss that covert activirt has increased four times.

  3. Again failure of the Chiefs be it in the armed forces or the Intelligence.
    They are not mere postmen who direct the country to the wishes of a mad man or a mad decision of the president or PM. It is their office that demands to channelize the political and administrative class in case the decision taken is going against the country. No cock and bull of it not being possible. F.M Maneckshaw not only cautioned but also channelized the PM Indra Ghandi not tog o to war in the middle of 71.
    The chiefs including the intelligence chief has sworn to the republic of India not the individual who becomes the President or the PM. They should make it clear that if in their term in office such a decision is to be taken then it would be their duty to inform the citizens of India and then if the PM wants the chief to resign he will do so.
    The same had a domino effect on kargil war wherein an UNMILITARY strategy by people having NIL experience in warfare, topography or war MADE a decission of not crossing the LOC, increasing the rate of our soldiers getting killed and also paving way for an blackmail of increase in war momentum would be more detrimental to India than the one who has attacked her by both COAS Malik and CAS Tipnis both portraying their offices a postmen or spokesperson of the PMO instead of telling the um nilitary class that it was their job to fight the war and they know how to and the MOD , FM, The IAS class, The IFS class should go on doing their job with their counterparts abroad to garner and gain support militarily and strategically.

    We always have menons and morarji desais in every era. it is albeit difficult to get the Manckshaws and Carriappas
    Pehaps a close network of the serving and the veterans could be use to India when the PMOs are daft and the IAS have their own agendas, by being the spokesperson of the chiefs when they stand their ground. The civil society will be with the chiefs when the truth comes out. No intelligence in bringing out nOW

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