- With Indian minister talking of ‘countering terrorism with terrorism’, MoU between intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan will help counter RAW’s activities
- Defence analyst, Brig Saad, sceptic over MoU, terms it an opportunity to bridge gaps but not something ‘actionable’
Pakistan’s initiative of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Afghan intelligence outfit National Directorate of Security (NDS) is aimed at reducing the influence of Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing (Raw) in Afghanistan – a task which some analysts term “overambitious planning”.
This is the first time that Pakistan has officially said that its intelligence sharing pact with Afghanistan aims at containing RAW in Afghanistan.
In a shocking and radical official statement, Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday apparently admitted RAW’s role in terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, telling the Indian media that terrorists have to be “neutralised through terrorists”.
“India will take proactive steps to prevent a 26/11 type attack hatched from foreign soil,” Press Trust of India reported quoting the minister. “There are certain things that I obviously cannot discuss here. But if there is any country, why only Pakistan, planning something against my country, we will definitely take some proactive steps,” he said at an event in New Delhi.
MOU TO HELP CONTAIN RAW:
An official source on anonymity told Pakistan Today that the major objective of signing the MoU between the intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Afghanistan was to help counter the subversive activities of RAW whose agents were using Afghan soil to conceive, plan and launch terrorist activities inside Pakistan.
It has been proved that the terrorists had planned and launched recent acts of terrorism from Afghanistan inside Pakistan, including the attacks on APS Peshawar, Karachi dockyard and airport.
“We want to exchange strategic information with our Afghan brothers to help counter terrorist attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The MoU is a major step in this direction. Despite strained past, we hope to make a major impact,” the official said.
Asked about the reason for criticism over the pact between the two countries, the official said that Pakistan understands that there was trust deficit between the intelligence officials of both the neighbouring states.
“We have tried to make a new beginning and the MoU is a first small step towards the shared goal to curb the menace of terrorism which is hampering growth in both the countries. We are seeking cooperation and we will share strategic information with Afghanistan to help counter acts of terrorism there. So this would be a win-win for both the neighbours,” the official added.
Brigadier Mohammad Saad, a noted defence analyst, while talking to Pakistan Today, expressed scepticism over the issue, questioning if the MoU could help contain activities of RAW agents in Afghanistan.
“This is a good step to help normalise the relations and bridge gaps between the intelligence agencies of both the neighbouring states. This would definitely help bridge gaps. It’s an opportunity to reduce the gulf. But it’s not something ‘actionable’. I am sceptical about the MoU’s effect on containing RAW in Afghanistan because it won’t be possible. However, it may help reduce RAW’s influence and the resistance against Pakistan could also be minimised. Moreover, both the countries may share intelligence to reduce attacks of Afghan Taliban and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),” he added.
Brigadier Saad said that the intelligence officials between both the neighbours were unable to understand the new cooperation pact due to “strained past”.
“Having served in Afghanistan, I understand the resistance bring put up in Afghanistan against this MoU. Actually, the Afghan intelligence agency has been hostile towards Pakistan since long as most of its officials are the same who were employed by the Communist regime back in 1970s and 1980s. So they are either communist or are from Panjshir valley – both are hostile against Pakistan due to our role in Afghan war against Soviet Union and policy towards Taliban regime,” he said.
He added that intelligence officials also recruit likeminded people to work on ground and so was the case in Afghanistan where even foot-soldiers were mainly hostile towards Pakistan.
“This is the reason that not only anti-Pakistan militants operate easily from Afghanistan, RAW spooks also work comfortably as the environment is cordial,” the analyst said.
Brigadier Saad said that in the interstate relations, it is necessary for officials to observe cordial relations.
“But I had a bad experience in Afghanistan. During my stay, Afghan intelligence was mostly hostile even during talks. They felt that the Communist regime was due to Pakistan. Even the field workers of the Taliban government were also the same people as they could not recruit new people. It would be difficult to change the mindset. The president can make a major breakthrough,” he said, adding that even the Taliban government had to rely upon the same communist officials as they could not recruit new agents.
AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS:
The analyst said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s fate also hangs in the balance as there was a power struggle going on in Afghanistan between him and Dr Abdullah Abdullah while Taliban are also making strategic gains on ground.
“Ghani and Abdullah have different approaches and policies. In my view, there is no major breakthrough in Afghan talks with Taliban. Pakistan is building pressure on the Taliban but Afghans have always been defiant and it is not possible for Pakistan to compel the Taliban to come to terms.”
“Pakistan can build pressure over the Shura-e-Rehbri to some extent but we can’t make talks result-oriented. Only the two sides can do so. It is a good omen to note that Dr Ghani has used the word ‘strategic patience’ while talks with Taliban. It reflects that Dr Ghani understands that talks would take time. But Dr Ghani does not have much time either. If there is no breakthrough in next two-three months, Dr Ghani would not be able to resist pressure and the Pakistan-Afghan relations could go back to square-one,” he added.
Brigadier Saad said if attacks continued in Kabul by Taliban, this time period could be reduced and Dr Ghani might not be able to resist as Abdullah, Hamid Karzai, Afghan establishment, RAW and even the regime forces would build more pressure over him to review nature of relationship with Pakistan.