Crisis looms over Pakistan’s impending execution of alleged Indian spy

Kulbhushan JadhavAnalysts warn that South Asia may witness its worst crisis since the 2008 Mumbai attacks if Pakistan carries out its threat to execute an Indian former naval officer whom it accuses of espionage. Authorities in Islamabad say Kulbhushan Jadhav (pictured) worked for the Indian Navy until 2003, when he was recruited by India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), a government intelligence agency that conducts operations abroad. The Pakistanis claim that Jadhav was arrested in southwest Pakistan in 2016, where he was engaged in funding and training secessionist militants from Pakistan’s Baluch minority. The Baluch are an Iranic people, most of whom live in a region known as Baluchistan, which is split between Iran and Pakistan. There are populous Baluch communities in the southern city of Karachi, one of Pakistan’s most populous ports. Some members of the Baluch community have secessionist aspirations and are accused of terrorism by Iranian and Pakistani authorities.

Soon after Jadhav’s arrest in March 2016, the Pakistani military released excerpts of an alleged videotaped confession by the Indian former naval officer. In it, Jadhav can be seen confessing to having worked on instructions by the Indian government to inflame ethnic divisions in Pakistan, from 2013 until his arrest. Last month, a secret military court in Pakistan sentenced Jadhav to death on charges of espionage. India, however, has rejected Pakistan’s allegations, saying that Jadhav’s confession was extracted through torture. The Indians claim that Jadhav was kidnapped by Pakistani operatives in Iran and brought to Pakistan by force. Indian officials dismissed Islamabad’s claim Jadhav was carrying his Indian passport when the Pakistanis captured him, saying that no undercover intelligence officer operating abroad would be carrying an Indian passport. New Delhi has warned of “serious consequences” if Pakistan engages in “premediated murder” by executing Jadhav.

Some observers have noted that Jadhav was tried by a secret court martial, which signifies a radical break from standard practice. Moreover, the public announcements about his fate were made by the Pakistani military, rather than the civilian government, which is unprecedented. This leads some analysts to the conclusion that the Jadhav case is being handled solely by the military, which is trying to use Jadhav’s case to dissuade the government in Islamabad from reaching out to India with an offer for negotiations. There are also suggestions that the timing of Jadhav’s sentence might indicate that Islamabad hopes to exchange him for one or more of its intelligence officers that are being held by India.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 17 April 2017 | Permalink

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Pakistan removed spy from US at CIA’s request

ISI HQ

ISI HQ

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A Pakistani intelligence officer was quietly removed from the United States last April, after the director of the CIA complained about him to his Pakistani counterpart. According to The New York Times, which aired the revelation last weekend, the then Director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, had “a tense conversation” with Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), which led to the removal “within days” of the ISI officer. The officer in question is Mohammed Tasleem, whose diplomatic cover was that of attaché in the Pakistani Consulate in New York, but whose actual task was monitoring the political activities of the sizeable Pakistani diaspora in the United States. According to the FBI, which briefed the CIA about Tasleem earlier this year, his intelligence activities centered on pressuring politically active Pakistanis in the United States to refrain from speaking publicly on ‘controversial issues’. FBI counterintelligence reports claim that, on at least one occasion, Tasleem posed as an FBI agent, in order to extract intelligence from a member of the Pakistani community in the United States. The Times spoke to members of Pakistan’s ex-pat community who allege that the ISI systematically approaches Pakistanis speaking openly about ‘national issues’, such as the indigenous insurgency in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, the disputed Indian region of Kashmir, or Pakistan’s appalling human rights record. Read more of this post

Obama’s Afghan plan includes expanding CIA ops in Pakistan

Predator drone

Predator drone

By I. ALLEN & J. FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The Obama Administration’s plan to increase US military presence in Afghanistan includes expanding the CIA’s work in neighboring Pakistan, a country with which the US is officially not at war. An article published yesterday in The New York Times notes that the President has authorized the CIA to expand its Predator drone assassination program to include strikes in places like Baluchistan, which are outside Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas and far from the Afghan-Pakistani border. This development represents a major policy victory for the hawkish wing in the Pentagon’s senior leadership, which has been pressing Obama’s advisors to expand CIA assassination operations deeper into Pakistan since November of 2008. It also further reveals the Obama Administration’s policy preference toward undercover operations with a strong deniability proponent. Read more of this post

Advisors tell Obama to expand covert war inside Pakistan

Baluchistan

Baluchistan

By I. ALLEN and J. FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Reports are emerging today that the Obama White House is considering intensifying US covert operations and CIA drone airstrikes deep inside Pakistan. If carried out, these operations will be taking place in Pakistan’s vast Baluchistan province, and would represent a major escalation in the so-called “war on terrorism”. Until now, strikes by US unmanned drones, operated by the CIA, have been strictly limited to Pakistan’s semi-autonomous tribal areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border. But The New York Times report that “at least two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for broadening the target area” to include Baluchistan. Additionally, the paper reports that several of the President’s advisors favor “conduct[ing] cross-border ground actions [deep inside Pakistan], using CIA and Special Operations commandos”. Read more of this post