The two countries RAW and the ISI belong to are like cheese and chalk
Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace is a compilation of conversations between Research & Analysis Wing (1999-2000) boss A.S. Dulat and Inter-Services Intelligence chief (1990-91) Asad Durrani. Writer and journalist Aditya Sinha was the moderator and Harper-Collins the publisher. It is a book that shouldn’t have been written.
As a votary of free speech, I am not against the contents of this book or the right to freedom of expression of its authors. What I find objectionable is Dulat and Durrani sharing more than dais. It implicitly brackets RAW with the ISI, thus injecting moral equivalence in public discourse regarding the two agencies.
RAW is the spy agency of the world’s largest democracy, a country that has behaved itself throughout its existence; it is a responsible, peace-loving sovereign nation. It hasn’t grabbed territories of its neighbours; in fact, it has been the victim of land grab by China and Pakistan. Further, India has not trained or sent terrorists to other countries. Yes, RAW is active and its agents do what their counterparts in other agencies do, but nothing like, say, 26/11 has been attributed to it.
The ISI, on the other hand, is an out-and-out terror organization, created and mandated to spread jihad around the world and trouble in the neighbourhood. It has birthed, nurtured, aided, and armed some of the worst terrorists in the world. It is run by bloodthirsty, bigoted fundamentalists who recognize no code of civilized behaviour.
India is a secular, plural democracy where the military is under civil control; it respects peace, amity, and brotherhood in the world
Therefore, by becoming a co-author of a former ISI director general, Dulat has bestowed a semblance of legitimacy upon Durrani but also the ISI itself. After all, Dulat or any other person who has held high office would not share the dais with somebody like Dawood Ibrahim. The very fact that he has done so with Durrani is an implicit acceptance of the ISI as a legitimate body. It is like saying, ‘You are morally at par with us.’
But this is not true. To begin with, the two countries RAW and the ISI belong to are like cheese and chalk. India is a secular, plural democracy where the military is under civil control; it respects peace, amity, and brotherhood in the world. India has never tried to rule or dominate others. In 1971, after it had comprehensively defeated Pakistan and broken it into two, it didn’t occupy the eastern part, which later became Bangladesh; Indian troops withdrew with a fortnight of the Pakistani surrender. New Delhi didn’t even unduly pressure Islamabad to accept its demands on Kashmir. This is the reason that no country in the world has problems with India.
On the other hand, Pakistan and Pakistanis are seen with suspicion across the globe. They are usually regarded as troublemakers, even in Arab countries. Fellow Muslims like Afghanis hate Pakistanis. This is not to say that all Pakistanis are devils, but ISI folks are. All of them, surely the top brass, one of whom has been bestowed respectability by Dulat.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.