Who is Kulbhushan Yadav (aka Kulbhushan Jadhav or Husain Mubarak Patel)? How did he end up in Balochistan? What was he doing there? Is he a mere spy collecting snd transmitting intelligence to his native India? or is he a covert Indian operative responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of Pakistanis? Why has he been sentenced to death after a field court martial trial in Pakistan? Is Pakistan sending a strong message as a deterrent to further Indian actions to sabotage the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)? How will it affect future India-Pakistan ties?
How is President Donald Trump dealing with Syrian and North Korean crises so early in his presidency? Are the crises changing Mr. Trump? Is he abandoning his isolationist/protectionist rhetoric to deal with the realities of governing? What message did Mr. Trump send by dropping the massive MOAB, the mother of all bombs, in Afghanistan soon after cruise missile strikes in Syria? How will this message be heard in world capitals, particularly in Pyongyang and Teheran who are believed to have weapons development programs operating in underground bunkers?
Viewpoint From Overseas host Misbah Azam discusses these questions with panelists Ai H. Cemendtaur and Riaz Haq (www.riazhaq.com)
Kulbhushan Yadav: Can ISPR Compete Against India's Spin Machine?
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
US Missile Strikes in Syria
Does the US Share Responsibility For the Rise of ISIS?
Impact of Trump Appointment on US Domestic and Foreign Policy
Talk4Pak Youtube Channel
3 Options For India In Saving Kulbhushan Jadhav by Mani Shankar Aiyar
We have already spread the word around the world about how Pakistan is a global terrorism sponsor, how there is a "Deep State" in Pakistan that is unrestrained in the nefarious work it does, that the formal government is complicit in all this underhand activity, that it is not the government but the army and intelligence that determine Pakistan policy, that the whole world is threatened by this "failed state", that a peculiarly barbarous version of Islamization is Pakistan's motivating ideology, and that it is, therefore, incumbent on the international community to isolate Pakistan and, Inshallah, promote such regime change as would make Pakistan a fount of sweet good sense.
The world has politely listened. And gone about its own business. They have other interests that go back to the last phase of the twin movements for Independence and Partition. The British establishment believed their crowning achievement to have been the unification of a congeries of disparities into a single nation; the British defence authorities were, however, much more concerned with the military opportunities that a divided sub-continent would offer British global interests. They argued that British geo-political hegemony in the region stretching from Afghanistan through Iran to the Gulf to Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and Israel crucially depended on granting Pakistan a separate state because that state would be happy to offer the West military facilities that Nehruvian India would doubtless deny them. The Defence view won out and Pakistan was granted. In the last 70 years, Pakistan has thwarted India and cocked its snook at us precisely because its geo-strategic position makes it vital for the West, and now, the Russian Federation, to cultivate our neighbour,
while China uses its vice-like grip on Pakistan to outwit India. It is unlikely that any of them will be moved by the brilliant forensic and persuasive diplomatic arguments of our Foreign Office to save Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav (retd).
So, if neither unanimous domestic outrage in India nor the stern reach of international law nor the global outreach of our well-travelled Narendra Damodardas Modi can rescue Kulbhushan, is there no hope for him? Oddly enough, yes. For there are at least three options we have that might yet save the young, 46-year old former naval commander who has been under Pakistani incarceration since April 2016, that is, since about one whole year........ Our mission in Islamabad and our formidable bank of international law experts might perhaps be leveraged to see how our poor retired naval commander, who for a decade or more has been running an innocent business at Chahbahar and Bandar Abbas ports in Iran, might be rescued through top-class legal intervention. The excellent relations that both India and Pakistan enjoy with Iran make me inclined to believe that an outstanding Iranian law team, rather than an attempt to cobble together one in the British Inns of Court, might provide the answer.
#Pakistan Minister Ahsan Iqbal claims 3,600 MW #electricity will be added in May 2017 to cut #loadshedding #CPEC
Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal on Monday said some 3,600 megawatt (MW) electricity would be added to the national grid by next month, which would help reduce energy shortfall in the country.
Addressing a press conference here, he said total 10,000 MW electricity would be added to the grid by May 2018 bridging total gap in demand and supply.
He said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government had made record investment in the energy sector. Such investment had not been seen in the sector for the last 15 years and production of only 16,000 megawatt electricity was made possible during 66 years. After completion of projects, uninterrupted power supply would be available, which would start a new of era of development in industry, agriculture and services sectors, he added.
Responding to the criticism that the present government could not manage to overcome the energy crisis despite lapse of four years, the minister said energy projects took three to four years to complete. The projects initiated by the PML-N government were near completion and would soon start commercial operations, he added.
He said since the PML-N government came into power, the economic indicators were on the upward trajectory. “Economic growth has gone up to over 5 per cent in 2016 from 3.7 per cent in 2013, inflation rate has come down and industrial growth rate is improving,” he added.
He said the government was focusing on manufacturing high cost commodities instead of low cost ones, therefore, during last three years the export of former had increased.
To a question, he said though the public debt had increased, yet the debt to GDP (gross domestic product) ratio decreased to 60.5 per cent in December 2016 against 62.4 per cent in December 2015.
The minister said the opponents of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were trying to mislead the people that the project would increase the public debt and damage the local industry. In fact, it would help strengthen the country’s industrial sector, he added.
“Huge number of employment opportunities will be created for the local people as Chinese industries are being shifted to Pakistan,”, he said, adding that the Pakistani industry would also become more competitive.
He said due to the CPEC, Pakistan’s economy was now shifting from low cost agriculture industry to high value industrialization. Major development projects, which had been pending for decades, were now at the completion stage, he added.
He said the government had completed the long awaited N-85 connecting Quetta with Gwadar. It would construct over 1,000 kilometer roads across the Balochistan province, he added.
It was the current government that made the long awaited Diamir Bhasha Dam project a reality as its ground breaking was going to be held in a few months, he added.
Ahsan Iqbal rebutted an allegation levelled by scientist Dr Samar Mubarak against the government of fixing tariff rate of Rs 24 per unit of electricity produced from Thar Coal. The traiff was fixed at only Rs 8.5 per unit, he added.—APP
China-Pakistan economic corridor unacceptable to India: Shivshankar Menon
THE CHINA-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as it stands today, is not acceptable to India, Shivshankar Menon, a former National Security Adviser to the Government of India, said on Friday. “The sovereignty aspect of the CPEC, as proposed now, is unacceptable to us,” Menon said during a conference on The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): India’s perspectives on China’s ambitious plan. The former diplomat’s statement comes at a time when China has made a fresh attempt at inviting India’s interest in President Xi Jinping’s pet project, the BRI, of which CPEC is a part.
On March 4, Chinese diplomat Fu Ying asked India to reconsider its position on the BRI keeping in mind the “larger picture”. India has been wary of the CPEC as a part of it passes through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. “For India, there is an added contradiction that the CPEC passes through Indian territory under Pakistani occupation,” Menon said. By making “long-term financial investment in the initiative”, he said, China seems to “solidify and legitimise that occupation”, Menon said at the conference held in Mumbai by the Observer Research Foundation.
The conference was held to deliberate India’s position on the BRI ahead of China’s first international forum in May. Several economists, diplomats and mediapersons participated in panel discussions. While Menon acknowledged the economic benefits of the trans-continental initiative that connects 60 countries in Asia and Europe, he said that not all projects under the BRI were for economic justification, including the CPEC.
“Not all projects under the BRI are economically viable, which suggests that there is geo-strategic motivation involved,” he said, adding that most parts of the BRI passed through some of the “most insecure” regions. Menon, however, stressed that India would be more willing to join the BRI if it were more comfortable about the security in the regions concerned and the geopolitical context within which BRI is proposed.
Places of darkness: A “#Blasphemy killing” at a university shocks #Pakistan. #Mardan http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21721223-violence-sign-rising-intolerance-campuses-blasphemy-killing-university-shocks … via @TheEconomist
Allegations of blasphemy are often made by those with other grievances against the accused: the charge can be used as an excuse to knock off a business rival or someone who causes the accuser trouble. Three days before Mr Khan’s death, he had alleged that some members of the university’s staff were corrupt. Several of them, who have links with the Awami National Party, a secular Pushtun group which controls the university, have been arrested in connection with Mr Khan’s death.
The participation of so many students in Mr Khan’s murder is a sign of growing religious intolerance on campuses. Pakistan’s Islamist parties have been fanning the flames of it: since the assassination in 2011 of Salman Taseer, a governor of Punjab who had pushed for reform of blasphemy laws, support for the current ones appears only to have grown.
Student organisations sympathetic to the Islamists have taken up the cause. They often wield the threat of a blasphemy allegation in order to browbeat university departments into scrapping courses in music or comparative religion. A liberal lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University in the city of Multan was accused of blasphemy in 2013 by Islamist undergraduates; he remains in jail. His first lawyer was assassinated by unknown assailants.
Alarmingly, it took two days for the prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to condemn Mr Khan’s murder. He has helped to stoke hysteria about blasphemy himself: a few weeks ago he ordered police to hunt for blasphemous content on social media. In the eyes of Huma Yusuf, a columnist, blasphemy-related violence is now a more intractable problem in Pakistan than terrorism. A campaign against militant groups has sharply reduced deaths from terrorism. But, as Ms Yusuf notes: “You can’t use the same tactics with the entire population.” What is needed is better teaching in schools, religious and secular alike, about the evils of vigilante justice; a government that is far quicker to condemn it; and, crucially, legal change. Bringing any of that about will be hard: cases like Mr Khan’s show all too clearly the perils involved.
Ex-Pakistan #Taliban Spokesman Ehsanullah Says #India, #Afghanistan Targeting #Pakistan via #terrorist proxies #TTP
A central leader and ex-spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, has alleged Afghan security forces and their intelligence agency, NDS, together with the Indian spy agency are supporting cross-border terrorist attacks against Pakistan.
The militant leader in a video confessional statement released by the Pakistan Army, said he was also participating in anti-state activities from sanctuaries on the Afghan side of the border and surrendered himself "voluntarily" to Pakistan army.
There was no immediate reaction from the Afghan government and Indian officials to the allegation leveled by Ehsan against them, though both Kabul and New Delhi have previously denied Islamabad's allegations of funding terrorist attacks on Pakistani soil.
When Pakistani security forces unleashed counter-militancy operations in the border region of North Waziristan (in June, 2014), Ehsan said militants fled to neighboring Afghanistan where they established contacts with the Afghan intelligence agency, NDS (National Directorate of Security), and through them with operatives of the Indian spy agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing).
“They supported them (Pakistani Taliban), funded them, and even assigned possible targets [for attacks in Pakistan],” Eshan asserted, adding that anti-Pakistan militants have established their “special committees” in Afghanistan for maintaining contacts with the NDS.
He went on to allege that the Afghan spy agency also issued national identification cards, called ‘tazkira,’ to members of the Pakistani Taliban to facilitate their infiltration into Pakistan to undertake subversive activities in the country.
A Pakistan military spokesman announced last week that Ehsan surrendered himself to security forces but would not say where and how they got hold of the militant leader.
Pakistani officials have described his arrest/surrender as a major success in counter terrorism operations and hope information gleaned from Ehsan will help further degrade Pakistani Taliban's activities in the country.
Before surrendering to authorities, Ehsan was mainly acting as spokesman for the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Pakistan Taliban.
He claimed responsibility on behalf of his group for a number of deadly attacks in Pakistan, including an Easter suicide bombing of a crowded park in Lahore that killed killed at least 70 people, including Christians and Muslims.
It was not clear from the video whether Ehsan was speaking under duress.
The United States last year designated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar as a terrorist group for claiming responsibility for attacking a U.S. diplomatic mission in northwestern Pakistan.
#TTP's Ehsanullah Says #India & #Afghanistan Sponsor #Terrorism in #Pakistan https://youtu.be/pl69fVbGC1w via @YouTube
April 13 #US #MOAB bombing killed 13 #India's #RAW agents in #Afghanistan: #Pakistan FO
Indian media reports suggested that some Indian nationals were also among the fatalities. The reports claimed that these Indian citizens were, in fact, Da’ish militants.
Former spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan rips apart TTP in confession video
However, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria has a different story to tell. At his last weekly media briefing, the spokesperson had said he would get back with details when asked to confirm reports of presence of RAW agents in Afghanistan.
Now, Zakaria claimed that 13 RAW agents were killed in the US bombing in Nangarhar province close to the border with Pakistan.
“Your reference to the presence of 13 agents of Indian intelligence agency RAW among those who died by the bombing on a terrorists’ sanctuary vindicates our claim that India is using Afghan soil against Pakistan,” Zakaria said.
The presence of RAW’s agents should also be seen in the backdrop of revelations made by Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesperson of terrorist groups TTP and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, who turned himself in last week, Zakaria added.
“India clearly stands exposed as a state sponsoring and financing terrorists. Confession of Kulbhushan Jadhav and now revelations by Ehsanullah Ehsan are irrefutable proof against India. We have raised the issue of Indian involvement and terror financing in Pakistan at the UN and with other countries.”
He further said that Pakistan had always highlighted to the international community that India was using Afghan soil against Pakistan and it had been repeatedly stated by those in India in position of authority and responsibility that their effort was to squeeze Pakistan from the eastern and western borders.
Kulbhushan Jadhav’s mother appeals to Pakistan for his release
“The international community should take note of Indian state sponsorship of activities of subversion, terrorism and financing of terrorists against Pakistan.”
Turning towards the current unrest in Kashmir, the spokesperson said India has waged war against unarmed and defenceless Kashmiris through state terrorism.
“Indian occupation forces forcibly barged into camps of schools and colleges in Pulwama on April 15. Ever since, students – including girls from primary to college levels all over Kashmir valley – have been demonstrating with pro-freedom and anti-India slogans. Over 150 students have been injured in the brutal use of force, pellets and teargas shells fired by Indian occupation forces.”
To hide grave human rights abuses and crimes against humanity, Indian occupation forces have imposed a ban on Internet services in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK). Indian media has quoted an Indian official in IOK that “no amount of brute and lethal force could deter these girls”.
Spokesperson Zakaria termed the recent decision of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh to ban holidays such as Jumatul Widah and Eid Milad-un-Nabi as discriminatory treatment meted out to minorities, especially Muslims, in India.
“We have seen numerous examples of what’s happening in India in terms of persecution of minorities like Muslims, Christians or Dalits. This has become a matter of concern for the international community.”
#ICJ’s communication on #KulbhushanJadhav to #Pakistan: Is #India counting its chickens too early? #fakenews http://www.firstpost.com/india/icjs-communication-on-kulbhushan-jadhav-to-pakistan-is-india-counting-its-chickens-too-soon-3437632.html
In this case, the only action that has been reported in the media is that the president Judge Ronny Abraham of France has written to the Pakistani government on 9 May "calling upon" the Government of Pakistan "to act in such a way as will enable any order the court may make on this request to have its appropriate effects" pending the court’s decision on India’s request for the indication of provisional measures under Article 74, paragraph 4 of the Rules of the Court, 1978.
#Pakistan captures #Taliban leader blamed for three bombings in #Balochistan. #CPEC #India #TTP http://po.st/qrFGqB via @ChannelNewsAsia
Pakistan has arrested a Taliban militant leader authorities describe as the "mastermind" behind three major attacks in Baluchistan, a spokesman for the government of the restive southwestern province said on Wednesday.
Militant and separatist violence has long riven Baluchistan, which has rich reserves of natural gas, copper and gold, and is at the heart of a US$57-billion Chinese-funded "Belt and Road" trade and development initiative.
Pakistan blames neighbours Afghanistan and India for fomenting an ethnic insurgency in the province, besides aiding the Pakistani Taliban, a movement separate from, but allied with, the Afghan Taliban aiming to topple the Afghan government.
The arrested man, Saeed Ahmed Badani, was among the planners of three attacks in 2016 that killed more than 180 people, the spokesman, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, told Reuters.
"He was involved with a team in all the attacks, but I can describe him as a mastermind, because he was the lynchpin in providing targets and facilitating suicide bombers," he said.
During interrogation, Badani confessed to receiving funding from Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, the province's home minister, Safraz Bugti, told a news briefing on Tuesday.
The arrested militant leader had also encouraged an attack by a suicide bomber last year on a provincial hospital that killed at least 70 people, Kakar added.
"He encouraged and convinced the suicide bomber in the lawyers' attacks because he was his madrassa mate, he knew him since childhood," Kakar added, referring to a religious school the two attended.
A large portion of Baluchistan's small legal community was wiped out in the attack that targeted a hospital treating the president of the Baluchistan Bar Association after he was shot the same morning.
Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/pakistan-captures-taliban-leader-blamed-for-three-bombings-in-restive-southwest-8879592
Chinese univ report on Pak economic corridor warns of India ‘creating trouble’
India’s strategic closeness with Afghanistan too is “destabilising” the border areas of Pakistan and creating problems for CPEC, the report contended.
India’s alleged support to separatist forces in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, its diplomatic offensive against Islamabad and involvement in Chabahar port of Iran are factors that could impact the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a report sanctioned by the Chinese government has said.
Referring to the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national who Pakistan says was apprehended in Baloshistan province, the report compiled by scholars from Renmin University said: “Apart from formally pressurising (Pakistan), India with friends and in secret supported the Balochistan separatist movement in an attempt to divert the limited military strength of Pakistan towards the western side.”
It added, “Kulbhushan Jadhav’s code name was monkey. The target of his activities are: Penetrate Balochistan National Party, deliberately increase the dispute within Pakistan on CPEC, being in contact with Balochistan separatist group and terrorist groups, aiding terror activities and providing combat training to traitor groups.”
Scholars from Renmin University’s Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies and Caijing magazine put together the report after a two-week field trip to CPEC sites, including Gwadar port and Bin Qasim coal-fired power plant.
“India is most anxious about the construction of the CPEC and the opening and operation of the Gwadar port by China,” the report said.
“India thinks the CPEC and a strong Pakistan are huge threat to the security of India. Not only will the Chinese military forces come up on the north, east and west of India but also that Pakistan may completely cut off India from the channels to get oil and natural gas from the Persian Gulf and central Asia,” the report in Chinese argued.
It claimed India was “buying” poor refugees from Afghanistan with money and training them in terror activities. “They are a huge threat to the internal stability of Pakistan,” it added.
The report also contended that India’s cooperation with Iran to develop Chabahar port was aimed at countering the CPEC.
“India’s policy in dealing with Pakistan is not just limited to being destructive on the face. At the end of May (last year), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Iran and it had an important outcome. India will undertake constructions worth $50 billion in the Chabahar port of Sistan-Balochistan province in southeast Iran,” it said.
The report argued that compared to Chabahar port, Gwadar would evolve into a better port as bigger ships will be able to dock there and because of natural mountainous protection from hurricanes.
“But Chabahar port is not without any merit. The infrastructure within Iran is far better than in Pakistan. It can easily connect to the water and electricity network of the country. It only needs investment and construction; then it can be easily connected to the transport network within Iran,” it said.
The mysterious Mr Jadhav
The case of the Indian sentenced in Pakistan offers more questions than answers
First, why does Jadhav have two passports, one in his own name and another in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel? According to The Indian Express, the second passport was originally issued in 2003 and renewed in 2014. The passport numbers are E6934766 and L9630722. When asked, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson would only say that India needs access to Jadhav before he could answer. But why not check the records attached to the passport numbers? Surely they would tell a story?
Additionally, The Times of India claims that since 2007, Jadhav has rented a Bombay flat owned by his mother, Avanti, in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel. Why would he use an alias to rent his own mother’s flat?
Perhaps Jadhav changed his name after converting to Islam? But then, why did he deliberately retain a valid passport in his old name? Indeed, why did the government let him, unless he deceived them?
Second, the government claims Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran and forcibly brought to Balochistan. A former German ambassador to Pakistan, Gunter Mulack, at least initially suggested this was true — but has the government pursued the matter with Mulack?
If it has, that hasn’t been reported, nor has what he revealed.
However, we did pursue the matter with Iran, but, as the MEA spokesperson admitted, they don’t seem to have responded or, perhaps, even conducted an investigation yet. We seem to have accepted that.
Odd, wouldn’t you say?
If Pakistan did abduct Jadhav, don’t we need to ask why? Doesn’t that raise the question of what was so special about him that made them do this? After all, there are 4,000 Indians in Iran — and no one else has been abducted.
Third, both The Indian Express and Asian Age suggest that Jadhav has links with the Pakistani drug baron Uzair Baloch. Did he play dirty with him and get caught in a revenge trap set by the drug mafia? Given that Jadhav was arrested a month after Baloch, this could be part of the explanation.
Finally, The Indian Express has reported that between 2010 and 2012, Jadhav made three separate attempts to join the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW). The paper suggests he also tried to join the Technical Services Division. What more do we know about this? Even if the media doesn’t, surely the government does? A. S. Dulat, a distinguished former chief of R&AW, has unhesitatingly said Jadhav could be a spy. As he put it, if he was the government, he would hardly admit it.
Just a few days before Jadhav’s sudden conviction and death sentence, the Pakistani media claimed a retired Pakistani army officer, Lt. Col. Muhammad Habib Zahir, had gone missing in Lumbini, close to the Indian border. The Pakistani media is convinced he’s been trapped by R&AW. Was Jadhav convicted and sentenced to preempt India from claiming it had caught a Pakistani spy? And now, is an exchange of ‘spies’ possible?
I’m not sure who will answer these questions, and perhaps it would not be proper for the government to do so, but whilst they hang in the air, the mystery surrounding Jadhav will only grow.
#India journalist Thapar's tough questions re #KulbhushanJadhav: fake name #passport, #India's #Iran abduction claim
Simply but aptly titled “The mysterious Mr Jadhav”, well-known journalist Karan Thapar has written a hard-hitting article about the Indian spy who has been sentenced to death by a military tribunal in Pakistan.
The sub-head coined for the piece — published on Friday on the website of the Indian Express — was equally instructive in that it succinctly summed up what kind of an article it was. This standfirst said: “The case of the Indian sentenced in Pakistan offers more questions than answers.”
Mr Thapar said he was intrigued by Kulbhushan Jadhav’s story. So he began reading about it, but the more he read about it the more he became confused. “Alas, all I’ve ended up with is questions. The more I learn, the more they multiply,” he wrote.
The first thing that troubled the Indian journalist was why Jadhav had two passports, one in his own name and the other one in the name of Hussein Mubarak Patel.
“According to the Indian Express, the second passport was originally issued in 2003 and renewed in 2014. The passport numbers are E6934766 and L9630722,” he wrote.
When the journalist contacted the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), he was told that the answer could be obtained only if Indian officials managed to gain access to Jadhav. Mr Thapar responded to the suggestion by writing: “But why not check the records attached to the passport numbers? Surely they would tell a story?”
The Indian government claimed that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran and forcibly brought to Balochistan. Mr Thapar said that New Delhi did pursue the matter with Iran. “But, as the MEA spokesperson admitted, they don’t seem to have responded or, perhaps, even conducted an investigation yet. We seem to have accepted that. Odd, wouldn’t you say?”
The Indian journalist went on to ask what was so special about Jadhav that only he was kidnapped by the Pakistani sleuths and not any other Indian living in Iran. “After all, there are 4,000 Indians in Iran — and no one else has been abducted.”
The Indian journalist quoted A.S. Dulat, a former chief of RAW, as saying unhesitatingly that Jadhav could be a spy. “As he put it, if he was the government, he would hardly admit it,” he wrote.
Turning to the disappearance of Lt Col Mohammad Habib in Nepal, the Indian journalist said: “Was Jadhav convicted and sentenced to pre-empt India from claiming it had caught a Pakistani spy? And now, is an exchange of ‘spies’ possible?”
Chilling account of captured spy’s fate
An Indian Spy in Pakistan
by Mohanlal Bhaskar. Translated by Jai Rattan. Shrishti. Pages 329. Rs 295.
AN Indian Spy in Pakistan is the true account of Mohanlal Bhaskar, a spy and an Indian espionage agent in Pakistan. In his preface, Khushwant Singh says, "Not all the wealth of the world would persuade me to undergo what Mohanlal Bhaskar had to go through in the jails of Lahore, Kot Lakhpat, Mianwali and Multan. It is a miracle that after all that he lives to tell his tale, retain his sanity and teach in a school"
Bhaskar was on a mission to find out information about Pakistan’s nuclear bombs. Betrayed by one of his colleagues — a double agent who was also subsequently arrested and had to face his own demons. "Would he (Amrik Singh) be able to go back to his own country alive? And even if he succeeded in doing so would life be worth living? Would the Indian Government spare him? Such thoughts had driven him mad. The hunter was caught in his own net."
However, Bhaskar was condemned to prison and torture in an alien country where he was to spend 14 years of his life. Perhaps he would not have been allowed to emerge alive. His salvation came when he was exchanged for Pakistani spies held by India.
The novel, originally in Hindi, has been translated into English by Jai Rattan. Says Khushwant Singh "Jai Rattan’s translation from the original Hindi reads very well. I can recommend it to readers who have the stomach to take in suspense and horror"
Bhaskar got initiated into the profession of espionage when, fired with patriotism in 1965, he quoted the following lines in a speech on Bhagat Singh:
"We have eaten the grain cultivated with your blood,
It has nurtured the seeds of martyrdom in us"
While the audience applauded vociferously, one man questioned his sentiments to which Bhaskar responded, "If it’s a question of serving my country I will not be found wanting. I’m prepared to serve with my life and soul in whatever capacity you want me" And so silently that not even his family got to know of it, Bhaskar "quietly underwent circumcision and became a Muslim convert`85.even my wife was not aware of this momentous fact"
The novel is set at the time when "Ayub’s swagger had lost some of its bounce. Bhutto’s star was in ascendancy`85he had won over the people of Pakistan to himself, and was now hanging like Damocles’ sword over Ayub’s head`85martial law was proclaimed and the jails filled in no time`85It was during this period of turmoil that I had started making incursions into Pakistan"
The novel is full of descriptions of the torture that Bhaskar and other prisoners had to undergo at the hands of the Pakistani police and army. However, these accounts of inhuman torture are interspersed with descriptions of the many interesting people that Bhaskar came across in the Pakistani jails. People who were sadistic and cruel and people who showed unexpected kindness. For example he writes of Havaldar Abdul Rahman Khatak "who even in prison had helped me to keep up my morale`85his love and affection were like a fountain a desert which sprays cool, life giving water`85there was no hatred for me in his heart`85when I think of him my head is bowed in gratitude."
Another fact that Bhaskar brings to light time and again is the shared lineage and heritage of the people of the two warring nations. Raja Gul Anar Khan, who was considered to be "a living terror" traced his history back to Chandravanshi Rajputana while certain others had Sikhs as their forefathers but in turbulent times converted to Islam either by choice or necessity.
These and many other such colourful characters pepper the pages of the book, which in spite of its many printing errors, is an easy read.
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