One can argue whether the timing of giving consular access to Kulbubshan Jadhav — the ringleader of Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)’s Balochistan network — is bad optics when Pakistan and India are eyeball to eyeball on IHKashmir.
But Kulbushan is a living testimony to India’s clandestine proxy war being waged against Islamabad. Pakistani security agencies have more than once uncovered networks by the RAW to fan violence and lawlessness in the country.
The Jadhav network was focused on Balochistan supporting separatists and staged spectacular attacks on Pakistan’s armed forces. As time passes by new details are emerging of how Pakistan is facing a non-conventional warfare being waged by the intelligence duo — RAW-NDS in Afghanistan.
Their modus operandi is becoming clearer and the main vulnerable transit route for their allied "assets" into Pakistan is the Pak-Afghan border region in Balochistan.
Recent reports suggest the RAW is very much in charge of running terror networks in Balochistan. It (RAW) has circulated a menu-like open price list to all groups including TTP, LeJ Al Alami, militant factions of TTA, whereby prices have been fixed for any terrorist activity they undertake in Pakistan. "If you do IED this much will be paid, if you attack a school, kill children, so and so amount", and the list goes on. "Only proof you need to produce for claiming bounty is a video evidence to prove".
One estimate suggests that a suicide attack likely cost in the region of around Rs4 million. The more casualties, the high profile is the hard target, the more is the amount being paid.
Now they have started using more sophisticated time bombs as latest terrorist incidents in the province were caused by remote devices. Up to two million rupees are paid by the RAW handlers for such operations.
Interestingly, some terror groups use ransom money as seed investment in terrorists activities: kidnapping for ransom in Balochistan is being operated by these terror outfits from across the border and after video evidence they get their bounty in Kandahar.
The RAW is in cohort with NDS and operates out of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan’s border Town, near Chaman border. Such is the closed coordination and level of cooperation between the two agencies that the RAW officers shadowing Afghan NDS officers on every desk of NDS office.
Local vulnerabilities perfectly play into the hands of the RAW operatives: interestingly of late, the militant groups are united and using the Balochistan border region to get to the province and then transit to the rest of the country; there are groups in the region of 5 to 9 as sleeper cells operating in Balochistan in transit: they include the left over TTP, LEJ, LEJ Alami, and ISIS-linked elements. "Recently we have smashed one network in Loralai region of Balochistan, but they are increasingly exploring our vulnerabilities,'' said an intelligence source.
One vulnerability is the porous Pak-Afghan border where it is almost impossible to plug gaps in short amount of time and without proper technological use, men guarded posts are susceptible to corruption and breach by these groups to get into Pakistan; though, border fencing may help reduce the gaps. Then the invisibility of plans of the incidents is another challenge.
This is why the RAW has been recruiting and running the separatist outfits like the BLA and BLA out of Afghanistan providing money, weapons and sanctuary both in Kabul and Delhi. Just across the border from the Pakistani town of Chaman, local sources confirm that militants are trained in seven camps in sabotage activities and targeted killings. They get up to $1000 paid for various activities, ranging from firing rockets to targeting installations and projects. Cash is paid via the illegal currency exchangers, called "Hundi mechanism" to militants and pro-RAW tribal chieftains.
With the impending Taliban-US talks, the RAW is trying to move the top leadership of BLF and Chinese-focused BLA Acho groups out of Afghanistan to India, UAE and European countries and help settle down providing them fake passports and travel documents.
The RAW is systematically spreading propaganda against the government, the army and the ISI. It organises Balochi language courses in India for their agents via Baloch teachers. It is also involved in psy-ops and leveraging social media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Via fake social media accounts, RAW is disseminating massive propaganda and disinformation to malign Pakistan. Thousands fake blogs and websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts were being run by the RAW to supports its operations against Pakistan in the cyber world, focusing on Balochistan.
India’s proxy war has a strategic objective: as the prospects for the development of Gwadar port in Balochistan has moved from the mere concept to reality, Delhi is hell bent upon subverting the project equally enjoying plausible deniability. Gwadar is the centrepiece of a link between Pakistan and China through CPEC—flagship project of BRI.
The port, which will make the people of Balochistan prosperous by creating economic opportunities will also likely be pitted against Chabahar port of Iran which currently India is working on. India is not happy with the Chinese presence at Gwadar as it works against the Indian aim of being the sole Indian Ocean regional power, with its alarmingly expanding vast naval capacity.
For India, to prevent the development of Gwadar, the best tool is to keep the temperature boiling in the province by supporting groups opposed to the CPEC.
Interestingly, the chattering classes in Pakistan are still harping on the narrative that terrorism is home-grown phenomenon in Balochistan for which credit goes to the smartness of the enemy. "This is such a sophisticated warfare that we should give credit to enemy for dividing us on identifying the real motive behind terrorism, and failing not to explain to people their modus operandi using criminal terrorists groups for destabilising the country", beautifully summed up by a terrorism expert. (Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan, and ex-adviser to the Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with BBC World Service. He is also Chairman of Centre for Geo-Politics & Balochistan)