Monday, January 6, 2020

Battle For Pakistan 2007-2019: Pak-US Ties and Civil-Military Relations

Shuja Nawaz's "The Battle For Pakistan: The Bitter Friendship and a Tough Neighborhood" looks at key events of the last decade that have characterized US-Pakistan ties and civil-military relations in Pakistan.  One of the biggest developments in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is a well-written treatise but it is strangely silent on the implications of this major development for South Asia region and the world.

Author Shuja Nawaz

US Raid in Abbottabad:

On May 2, 2011, US commandos raided a house in Pakistani city of Abbottabad and killed Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden. There are many stories about who led the Americans to Bin Laden's hideout. The story that Shuja Nawaz appears to confirm is the one about ex Pakistani spy Lt Col Iqbal Saeed Khan walking into the US Embassy in Islamabad to tell the CIA station chief the exact location of Bin Laden. This spy was apparently well rewarded for it. He now lives in San Diego, California where he owns a multi-million dollar home and drives a BMW convertible.

“Col. Saeed, who ran a security firm in Islamabad, may have been responsible for providing logistic and surveillance assistance to the Americans in tracking and locating movements related to what turned out to the final lair of bin Laden in Abbottabad,” says Shuja Nawaz in his book. “Col. Saeed’s office in Abbottabad is reported to have been used as a listening and staging post. He is reported to have been recruited by Lt. Col. Hafeez, his predecessor at the helm of the 408 Intelligence battalion, who had been hired by the U.S., and according to one report, was even in the U.S., and that CIA Director George Tenet once brought him to a meeting with Gen. Kayani,” it adds.

Imran Khan's 2014 Dharna (Sit-in):

Shuja Nawaz confirms what was widely reported by Pakistani media in 2014: Pakistan ISI was behind Imran Khan's Islamabad dharna. He cites US Ambassador Richard Olson as his source. Olson said the following in a January 2017 interview with the author:

"We received information that Zahir [-ul-Islam, the DG-ISI] was mobilizing for a coup in September of 2014. [Army chief] Raheel [Sharif] blocked it by, in effect, removing Zahir, by announcing his successor...[Zahir] was talking to the corps commanders and was talking to like-minded officers....He was prepared to do it and had the chief been willing, even tacitly, it would have happened. But the chief was not willing, so it didn't happen."

Pakistan Military Dominance:

Shuja Nawaz argues in the book that "the armed forces, and in particular the army, continue to dominate decision making in Pakistan" in spite of the fact "the constitution of Pakistan established civilian supremacy". He explains that it is "largely because of its (army's) experience in running the country through successive military regimes and, to some extent, by the inability of civilian regimes to exhibit the political vision and will necessary to exert their constitutional control over the military".

Going back to the 1970s, Shuja Nawaz says in his book:

"The elder Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) had wished to cut the military down to size, demoting the commanders-in-chief of the services to chiefs-of-staff. But, he failed to understand that their power stemmed from their disciplined and organized institutions, while the political party that he headed, not unlike other political parties, tended to be fractured and weak, especially on governance.....family rule was the order of the day. Civilian leaders failed to empower the people who elected them time and again, and they failed to deliver on the promise of economic development."

Shuja Nawaz's Silence on Rise of Hindutva:

The biggest development in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is strangely silent on the implications of this development for South Asia region and the world.

Clearly, Nawaz did not foresee what has happened in India and Indian Occupied Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and the passage of highly discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act. Nor did he see Modi's dangerous gambit with attack on Balakot in Pakistan. The Indian action drew strong Pakistani response with Pakistan Air Force crossing the Line of Control in Kashmir and shooting down two Indian fighter jets.  Pakistan also captured an Indian fighter pilot shot down down in Azad Kashmir. It was Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's deft handling of the regional crisis that prevented further escalation into a full-blown India-Pakistan war that could have gone nuclear.

Summary:

"The Battle For Pakistan" by Shuja Nawaz covers the period from 2007 when President Musharraf fired former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to the beginning of 2019 before Balakot attack by Indian Air Force. The book is strangely silent on the implications of far-right Indian Prime Minister Modi's rise for South Asia region and the world.  Most of the book is devoted to discussion of US raid on Osama Bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Salala incident that took the lives of 24 Pakistani soldiers, Memogate that led to Husain Haqqani's ouster, Dawn Leaks incident that soured relations between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the military and Pakistan Army operations to defeat Pakistani Taliban. The author appears to confirm stories about an ex ISI colonel helping CIA find Bin Laden and Pakistan ISI's instigation Imran Khan's 2014 Islamabad  dharna (sit-in). One of the biggest developments in the period covered by Shuja Nawaz's book is the rise of Narendra Modi and the Hindu Nationalists in India. His book is strangely silent on the implications of this development for South Asia region and the world.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

India: A Paper Elephant?

Modi's Hindutva

Imran Khan's 2014 Dharna in Islamabad

Seeing Bin Laden's Killing in Wider Perspective

Top US CIA Agent on Pakistan ISI

Shuja Nawaz on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

Ownership of Appliances and Vehicles in Pakistan

CPEC Transforming Pakistan

Pakistan's $20 Billion Tourism Industry Boom

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

10 comments:

Rashid A. said...

Thank you Riaz Sahib for this great review of this excellent book.

It was well known the it was a former employee of Army/ISI who told CIA about OBL. Even PMIK admitted/claimed that ISI informed CIA.

Ziaul Islam was very ambitious and was making moves. His shenanigans were revealed during Dharna.

I have no respect for these military dictators, but Shuja Nawaz is spot on when he says,

"The elder Bhutto (Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) had wished to cut the military down to size, demoting the commanders-in-chief of the services to chiefs-of-staff. But, he failed to understand that their power stemmed from their disciplined and organized institutions, while the political party that he headed, not unlike other political parties, tended to be fractured and weak, especially on governance.....family rule was the order of the day. Civilian leaders failed to empower the people who elected them time and again, and they failed to deliver on the promise of economic development."

It is lack of values, conviction and courage coupled with greed for money or power that invites military.

Riaz Haq said...

I think the book is definitely worth reading for anyone interested in Pakistan affairs.

Shuja Nawaz's credibility comes from his family background and his inside connections in the military.

His father, uncles and grandfather all served in the military.

His cousin Asif Nawaz served as Army Chief briefly before he died under mysterious circumstances.

We had a couple of conversations with him in 2014 when dharna was going on. Here are the links:

https://youtu.be/nafyJdpGqW8

https://youtu.be/LCawsTRitCM

BTW, the ISI chief was Zahir ul Islam, not Zia ul Islam.

Rashid A. said...

Pakistan Army Act Amendments have been approved by both houses and signed by the President.

Any comments from this esteemed group?

My thoughts:

Given their past noise, the speed at which this was “processed” and how PMLN and PPP turned around to support it was surprising.

The language of the act has already become controversial, technically. It seems like it was hastily drafted. The constitution says President “shall” appoint but this law says, he “may” appoint. Also this law says Appointing authority (President) has discretion, whereas the constitution gives no discretion to the Pres.

The law says the appointment /extension of Army Chief cannot be challenged in any court. That is also questionable. I wonder if the law itself can be challenged. Don’t know for sure.

The theory that Parliament is supreme, and hence it can make laws that are not subject to judicial review, may allow such exemption from judicial review. Yet, the other theory is that Parkuamebt cannot make laws that are ultra vires if the Constitution, and the Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means. Hence the law cannot escape the judicial review.

The parliament can change the constitution, but that is a different exercise.

See: https://harvardlawreview.org/2016/02/the-constitution-means-what-the-supreme-court-says-it-means/

Riaz Haq said...

Rashid A: " Pakistan Army Act Amendments have been approved by both houses and signed by the President."


It’s the triumph of Shahbaz Sharif/Chaudhry Nisar wing within PMLN....a step toward reconciliation with the military

I think Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar are very wise. They know the alternatives are far worse for their party and for Pakistan as a nation-state.

Compromises are the only way to make gradual progress toward a better future for democracy in Pakistan.

Confrontation has not and will not work.

Meanwhile, the politicians need to work on the best ways to deliver for the people to wean them off direct/indirect military rule.

BTW, have you heard about Concordance theory on civil military relations?

After observing that most civil-military theory assumes that the civilian and military worlds must necessarily be separate, both physically and ideologically, Rebecca L. Schiff offered a new theory—Concordance—as an alternative. One of the key questions in Civil-Military Relations (CMR) theory has always been to determine under what conditions the military will intervene in the domestic politics of the nation. Most scholars agree with the theory of objective civilian control of the military (Huntington), which focuses on the separation of civil and military institutions. Such a view concentrates and relies heavily on the U.S. case, from an institutional perspective, and especially during the Cold War period. Schiff provides an alternative theory, from both institutional and cultural perspectives, that explains the U.S. case as well as several non-U.S. civil-military relations case studies.

While concordance theory does not preclude a separation between the civilian and military worlds, it does not require such a state to exist. She argues that three societal institutions—(1) the military, (2) political elites, and (3) the citizenry must aim for a cooperative arrangement and some agreement on four primary indicators.

1. Social composition of the officer corps.
2. The political decision-making process.
3. The method of recruiting military personnel.
4. The style of the military.


If agreement occurs among the three partners with respect to the four indicators, domestic military intervention is less likely to occur. In her book, The Military and Domestic Politics, she applied her theory to six international historical cases studies: U.S., post–Second World War period; American Post-Revolutionary Period (1790–1800); Israel (1980–90); Argentina (1945–55); India post-Independence and 1980s; Pakistan....

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Just as there are many versions of democracy, Schiff argues that there may exist
various types of civil-military relationships and that these arrangements are rooted in the
cultural and historical experiences of the nations they serve. Concordance theory relies on
the agreement of the ''three social partners" with respect to ''four indicators": the social
ix
composition of the officer corps, the political decision-making process, recruitment
method, and military style. If there is general acceptance among the partners with respect
to these indicators, then the likelihood of military interventions is diminished. The theory
has the additional value of explaining the institutional and cuhural conditions that affect
relations with the military.
The pmpose of this thesis is to test Rebecca L. Schiff's ''Theory of Concordance"
against the case of Argentina. I use the case study method to determine whether this
relatively neglected theory of civil-military relations accounts for the occurrence of
military interventions in the past and the subsequent return to democracy. Secondary to
this, I examine whether the theory provides a better tool than separation theory by which
to analyze civil-military relations in this case and the suitability of its generalization to
other cases both within Latin America and trans-regionally.


https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/36731691.pdf

Ahmad F. said...

Civil-Military convergence

The theory that perhaps responds best to the peculiar security and political environment of Pakistan is Rebecca Schiff’s Concordance theory. According to that theory for best civil-military relations there should be complete concordance between the political elite, the military and the people on four indicators ie social composition of the officers corps, political decision making process, method of recruitment and the style of the military.

The allegory does not end with military oppression alone but the economic and political exploitation of hapless Pakistanis too. The concordance as per Rebecca Schiff’s theory between Pakistan Army, the political elite and the hapless citizen is fraught with discordance between the citizen and the rapacious political elite. It is within this externally threatened and internally fractured politico-economic milieu that the appointment of the COAS assumes the greatest salience. The need of the hour in this critical juncture for Pakistani “anocracy” (mixture of democracy and autocracy) is of a sheet anchor that can provide stability to the political sailboat of a fledgling democracy being buffeted by the winds of democratic turbulence. The change of a military helmsman at this crucial juncture would be a risky proposition considering the fragility of the slim majority political parvenus of PTI who are up against an obstreperous sea of political opposition infested by the sharks of status quo.


https://pakobserver.net/civil-military-convergence/

Riaz Haq said...

Senior #US Diplomat Alice Wells in #Pakistan Amid Warming Mutual Ties that have followed meetings between #Trump and PM #ImranKhan. The warmth stemmed mainly from #Islamabad’s facilitating US-Taliban peace talks bringing an end to the war in #Afghanistan. https://www.voanews.com/usa/senior-us-diplomat-pakistan-amid-warming-mutual-ties

The Trump administration last month announced it would soon resume International Military Education and Training (IMET) programs for young Pakistani army officers. U.S. officials say they are also working together with counterparts in Islamabad to boost bilateral trade and commercial ties.

"We expect our bilateral relationship to continue to mature to one more focused on trade than aid, and we are continuing to target investments in ways that help improve the overall business climate,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA in an email.

She noted there is much room to grow the current $6.6 billion annual bilateral trade relationship, adding Washington looks forward to working together with Islamabad on energy and agricultural exports in 2020. The Trump administration sees the U.S.-Pakistan relationship as one of potential, she added.

"We have made clear that fulfilling that potential requires progress on our joint efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible action against the militant groups and terrorist groups that destabilize the region from its soil,” the spokesperson stressed.

Pakistan hails IMET

The IMET was a part of U.S. security assistance for Pakistan worth some $2 billion that Trump suspended in January 2018 to press Islamabad to crackdown on militant groups on its soil and help in Afghan peace-building efforts. The overall security assistance remains suspended, however.

U.S. officials maintain the resumption of IMET, administered by the State Department, was meant to boost military-to-military cooperation between the two countries to advance “our shared priorities” of regional security and stability through concrete actions.

“U.S. decision to revive IMET is one more step in the right direction and reflective of our growing bilateral relationship,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui noted in her official reaction.

Farooqui emphasized, however, the two countries needed to work for a “broad-based and enduring relationship, based on mutual trust and mutual respect.”

Washington credits Islamabad with helping to facilitate U.S. negotiations with the Afghan Taliban, mostly held in Qatar, to help bring an end to the 18-year-old conflict, America’s longest.

U.S. officials have long alleged the Taliban insurgency has organized itself militarily and logistically on Pakistani soil with covert support from the neighboring country’s military. Islamabad rejects the charges.

Latest round of meetings between U.S. and Taliban negotiators underway in the Qatari capital of Doha are said to have brought the two adversaries on the verge of signing a peace deal.

Khan 'Sort of' Trump of Pakistan

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, has also called for offering more economic incentives to Pakistan to encourage it to do more to bring stability to Afghanistan. Graham noted after his last month’s visit to Islamabad that Pakistani leadership wants an end to the Afghan war to promote national and regional peace.“

Prime Minister Khan is a different kind of politician. In many ways he is sort of Trump of Pakistan. So, we got a magic moment here where we could persuade Pakistan to do things differently and give them an economic incentive they never had before to do things differently,” Graham told reporters after his last month’s visit to Islamabad.

Senator Mushahid Hussain, who heads the foreign affairs committee of the upper house of Pakistani parliament, says Washington’s emphasizes on broadening bilateral ties beyond Afghanistan and security-related cooperation will go a long way in resetting relations between the two nations.

Riaz Haq said...

How Pakistan’s Politicians Help the Military
Every time civilian politicians bend laws to accommodate the generals, they damage long-term prospects for democracy.

By Aqil Shah

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/opinion/pakistan-politicians-military.html

Since its foundation in 1947, Pakistan has spent more than three decades under military rule. Even when out of power, the military has exerted behind-the-scenes influence to maintain its firm grip on politics and national security. Establishing democratic institutions, including civilian control of the military, has thus been an arduous process riddled with uncertainty, backsliding and reversal.

The military has often found civilian politicians willing to do its bidding. Every time civilian politicians bend laws to accommodate the uniformed autocrats, they undermine the trust of the people, damage the long-term prospects for democracy and further enhance the military’s power.

On Aug. 19, Prime Minister Imran Khan extended the term of Gen. Qamar Bajwa, the chief of the country’s army, by three more years. General Bajwa was supposed to retire in November, but the decision was made in view of the “regional security environment.”

Two days before General Bajwa’s extension was about to kick in, the Supreme Court of Pakistan considered a petition challenging it and suspended the extension. Eventually, the Supreme Court gave the general a six-month extension and ordered the government to get the Parliament of Pakistan to decide on such an extension and its duration.

---------


On Jan. 7, the Parliament hurriedly passed the legislation as the country’s main opposition parties voted in support of the law. They are the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People’s Party run by the slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto, which have alleged that the 2018 elections which brought Mr. Khan to power were rigged by the military under General Bajwa.

The supporters of Mr. Sharif’s P.M.L.N., Mr. Bhutto’s P.P.P. and the country’s beleaguered civil society activists interpreted it as a stark betrayal of their apparent commitment to the democratic process. They seem particularly disappointed with Mr. Sharif, who has popularized the slogan, “vote ko izzat do” or “honor the ballot,” a thinly veiled rebuke to the military’s habitual political meddling.

Mr. Sharif stepped down as prime minister in 2017 after the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified him from holding public office after a corruption inquiry linked to the Panama Papers. Mr. Sharif was not named in the Panama leaks and there is no evidence that he abused public office for private gain, but the judges disqualified him for hiding assets, and therefore failing to being “honest,” a constitutional requirement for being a member of Parliament.

----------

Pakistan’s army has long been the ultimate arbiter of politics in the country, which has tilted the political playing field against its opponents with detrimental consequences for democracy. Politicians have turned to the military as a shortcut to power and their politically expedient knocks on the doors of the barracks have allowed the generals to divide and rule.

Mr. Sharif’s seemingly steely defiance of the military had raised hopes that Pakistan’s most popular opposition leader had learned his lesson. Democracy does not necessarily need principled democrats, but it does need determined political leaders who can rise to the occasion.

Even though democracy requires compromises and accommodation between authoritarians and democrats, politicians of all persuasions must commit to civilian supremacy as the only game in town.

Pakistan’s politicians have chosen to reward the military’s egregious violations of the sanctity of the vote, a principle they had sworn to stand by no matter what. Their abject betrayal of their own word augurs ill for the future of democracy in Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Top #US General hits back against 'offensive' #Republican criticism and defends #Pentagon diversity efforts! Civil-military tensions are not unique to #Pakistan! https://www.cnn.com/2021/06/23/politics/milley-diversity-pentagon-gop/index.html

The most senior general in the US military, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, offered a forceful rebuke of renewed efforts from Republican members of Congress to question the Defense Department's diversity efforts and alleged embrace of "critical race theory."

Responding to a question by Rep. Mike Waltz about the appropriateness of a seminar at the United States Military Academy at West Point called "Understanding Whiteness and White Rage," Milley responded: "I want to understand White rage. And I'm White. And I want to understand it."
Tying the question to the January 6 insurrection, Milley asked: "What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here."
Milley called it "offensive" that service members were being called "quote, 'woke' or something else, because we're studying some theories that are out there."

"I've read Mao Zedong. I've read, I've read Karl Marx. I've read Lenin. That doesn't make me a communist," Milley said. "So what is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend?"
Milley's forceful pushback came as military officials have faced a chorus of GOP voices questioning the Defense Department's efforts to promote diversity and combat extremism in the ranks.

The exchange took place during a House Armed Services hearing on the Defense Department budget, where Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin faced similar questions on "critical race theory," a decades-old academic concept that recognizes systemic racism as part of American society, that has become a political talking point for Republicans nationwide.
Embattled Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, who was seen shaking his head during Milley's comments, later tweeted a video of Milley's remarks, writing in the tweet: "With Generals like this it's no wonder we've fought considerably more wars than we've won."
Gaetz had earlier asked Austin about the stand down he ordered regarding extremism, claiming he had heard complaints from service members from "majority minority" units, as well as what Austin thought of critical race theory.
Austin responded by calling the GOP-driven conversation about critical race theory "spurious" and said that he had received far more positive feedback on the stand down than Gaetz's "anecdotal" negative feedback.
"I have gotten 10 times that amount of input, 50 times that amount of input on the other side that have said, hey, we are glad to have had the ability to have a conversation with ourselves and with our leadership, and that's what we need," said Austin.

---------

The strong responses from Milley and Austin come a week after Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday fired back at Republican members of Congress who criticized his recommendation of the book "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi on a voluntary reading list for Navy sailors.
"What this is really about is trying to paint the United States military, and in this case, the United States Navy, as weak, as woke," Gilday said. "We are not weak."
Gilday further defended his recommendation as part of a national security concern, arguing that conversations about racism and diversity in the military are necessary to combat misinformation by US adversaries.

Riaz Haq said...

Top #US general warned of a #coup in #Trump’s last days. General Milley: “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed. You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns” #biden

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/14/donald-trump-reichstag-moment-general-mark-milley-book


Shortly before the deadly attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Gen Mark Milley, told aides the US was facing a “Reichstag moment” because Donald Trump was preaching “the gospel of the F├╝hrer”, according to an eagerly awaited book about Trump’s last year in office.

The excerpts from I Alone Can Fix This, by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker, were reported by New York magazine on Wednesday. The authors’ employer, the Washington Post, published the first extract from the book a day earlier. It will be published next week.

Milley’s invocation of Germany under the Third Reich follows a report in another book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election, by Michael C Bender, that Trump told his chief of staff, John Kelly, “Hitler did a lot of good things”.

Trump denies having made the remark.

Leonnig and Rucker report that Milley spoke to an “old friend”, who warned the general that Trump and his allies were trying to “overturn the government” in response to Joe Biden’s election victory, which Trump falsely maintains was the result of electoral fraud.

Milley is reported to have said: “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed. You can’t do this without the military. You can’t do this without the CIA and the FBI. We’re the guys with guns.”

Reportedly calling Trump supporters “Brownshirts”, a reference to paramilitaries who served Hitler in Germany in the 1930s, Milley is reported to have believed long before the Capitol attack that “Trump was stoking unrest, possibly in hopes of an excuse to invoke the Insurrection Act and call out the military”.

Milley notoriously appeared with Trump in Lafayette Square in Washington in June 2020, after anti-racism protesters had been aggressively cleared and as Trump walked to a church to stage a photo op with a Bible.

The general apologised for that incident. It has been widely reported that he resisted Trump’s efforts then to invoke the Insurrection Act and crack down on the protests.

Milley’s “Reichstag moment” remark refers to a fire at the German parliament which the Nazis used to consolidate their authoritarian rule in 1933.

Trump’s supporters attacked Congress on 6 January, the day the electoral college results were certified . Five people died.

Leonnig and Rucker report that Milley called the attackers “Nazis” and, in reference to two far-right groups, said “they’re boogaloo boys, they’re Proud Boys”.

“These are the same people we fought in [the second world war],” he reportedly said.

According to New York magazine, the authors also report that Milley, who made headlines and stoked rightwing ire last month by defending teaching about historic racism in army educational establishments, met former first lady Michelle Obama at the Capitol on 20 January, the day Biden was inaugurated.

“No one has a bigger smile today than I do,” Milley reportedly said. “You can’t see it under my mask but I do.”

Riaz Haq said...

Military got tap equipment illegally, says V.K. Singh

MADHAV NALAPAT & VISHAL THAPAR
Published : January 26, 2013

https://www.sundayguardianlive.com/news/1276-military-got-tap-equipment-illegally-says-vk-singh

The Indian military acquired phone tapping equipment illegally, said former Army chief General V.K. Singh in an interview with The Sunday Guardian, but claimed that he had nothing to do with it. He also owned up for the first time to a shadowy spy agency — the Technical Support Division (TSD) — which has been accused of misappropriating secret military funds and bugging the political leadership. However, the general, who is now a political activist, strongly protested his innocence and insisted that the spying charges against him were the result of a conspiracy to tarnish his image. He alleged that sophisticated phone tapping equipment, including off-air interceptors, was acquired by “one particular DG DIA” without the government’s authorisation and that he was not responsible for it.

----------------

Snoop List Has 40 Indian Journalists, Forensic Tests Confirm Presence of Pegasus Spyware on Some
Those on leaked list of potential targets include journalists at Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Wire, Indian Express, News18, India Today, Pioneer, besides freelancers, columnists and regional media.

https://thewire.in/media/pegasus-project-spyware-indian-journalists


The phone numbers of over 40 Indian journalists appear on a leaked list of potential targets for surveillance, and forensic tests have confirmed that some of them were successfully snooped upon by an unidentified agency using Pegasus spyware, The Wire can confirm.

The leaked data includes the numbers of top journalists at big media houses like the Hindustan Times, including executive editor Shishir Gupta, India Today, Network18, The Hindu and Indian Express.

The presence of a phone number in the data does alone not reveal whether a device was infected with Pegasus or subject to an attempted hack. However, the Pegasus Project that analysed this list believes the data is indicative of potential targets identified in advance of possible surveillance attempts.

Independent digital forensic analysis conducted on 10 Indian phones whose numbers were present in the data showed signs of either an attempted or successful Pegasus hack.

Of equal importance is how the forensic analysis shows a strong correlation between the time a phone number appears in the leaked records and the beginning of surveillance. The gap usually ranges between a few minutes and a couple of hours. In some cases, including forensic tests conducted for two India numbers, the time between a number appearing on the list and the successful detection of a trace of Pegasus infection is just seconds.

Pegasus is sold by the Israeli company, NSO Group, which says it only offers its spyware to “vetted governments”. The company refuses to make its list of customers public but the presence of Pegasus infections in India, and the range of persons that may have been selected for targeting, strongly indicate that the agency operating the spyware on Indian numbers is an official Indian one.