Pakistan’s plate is full with multiple internal problems needing immediate redressal but most unfortunately, the government’s priorities are all misplaced and clueless. Its factory of terror continues to operate ignoring the COVID 19 threats or the recent PIA plane crash claiming nearly 100 lives just before the Eid-ul-Fitr.
This tragedy apart, Pakistani ISI continues to engage in espionage activities through its undercover agents posted as members of the staff in the Pakistani High Commission (PHC) New Delhi. In a most recent case on May 31, two PHC staffers, Abid Hussain and Tahir Hussain were caught red handed by the security agencies in the Indian capital, New Delhi for blatantly spying for their country which is incompatible to their status.
Espionage activities are a universal phenomenon but to target India to obtain intelligence when the whole world is combating the menace of COVID pandemic, Pakistan stands exposed for its unethical actions showing complete disregard to the human problems. Complicit in espionage activities at this juncture is most uncalled for. The Government of India did the right thing in giving a demarche to the Pakistani Charge de Affaires (CdA) in New Delhi protesting and ordering expulsion of the two staffers against whom there is a solid evidence of spying.
Pakistan, on its part, was quick to react on the expulsion order though its statements are feeble, faint and far from convincing. In an apparent bid to cover up, on May 31 an official communique issued from Islamabad alleged that the Indian expulsion of the Pakistani staffers were part of a persistent, pre planned and orchestrated propaganda launched by a virulent anti Pakistan media campaign. This half hearted defence doesn’t augur well as ISI has a long and tainted track record of espionage activities against India.
Pakistani intelligence system has always been offensive, indiscreet and devoid of any professionalism. Lacking subtlety, its operations are invariably exposed by the Indian counter intelligence agencies. The same happened this time too leading to the Pakistani staffers being declared Persona Non Grata (PNG) and eventually their expulsion. It may be recalled that in 2016, one Mahmood Akhtar, working undercover as a Pakistani spy, was arrested by the Indian authorities for pro active espionage activities. Akhtar was an army officer belonging to the Baluch regiment of the Pakistani army, on deputation to the ISI, which assigned him operations in India leading to his arrest exposure and expulsion.
There are innumerable such cases of Pakistani spying against Indian interests with special thrust on garnering intelligence related to Indian cantonments particularly Meerut, Kolkata, Jhansi and New Delhi. There have also been abortive attempts to espy designed to penetrate into the Indian armed forces. As it is, the diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan are now at its lowest. The recent expulsion is a major jolt to the already deteriorating ties. As seen in the past, Pakistan may like to retaliate by fabricating a case implicating an Indian staffer posted in Islamabad leading to one or two expulsions as ‘tit for tat’. That would look very immature on part of a fledgling country like Pakistan where its intelligence machinery, managed by the all powerful military’s ISI, prevails over an elected government. This apprehension is based on Pakistan’s earlier illogical and illegitimate actions against Indian diplomats and staffers. In 1992, an Indian diplomat, very senior, posted in Islamabad was beaten very badly by the Pakistani intelligence resorting to even torture. There are countless other cases too where Indian personnel were beaten up ruthlessly in addition to aggressive surveillance on their movements.
Such physical assaults are symptomatic of a deep state which has no diplomatic niceties or civilised norms as Pakistan sadly excels in such barbaric modus operandi. Saner elements, though minuscule in number, within the Pakistani establishment, often hope that the military detaches itself from the medieval mindset in resorting to brute and offensive methods of spying especially when the priority seems to be to contain the spread of the pandemic.
Other than spying, Pakistan has stepped up its infiltration attempts in Kashmir and as I wind up this column, a recent infiltration attempt is foiled on May 31. Three Pakistani sponsored terrorists have been killed neutralising its misadventures in Naushera and Rajauri sector in Kashmir. It’s, therefore, seen that Pakistan is fully engaged in espionage and infiltration activities meriting universal condemnation and immediate curbs.
(Writer is a security analyst and columnist on security and topical matters. The views expressed are personal.)